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Across The Middle: Tightening Pace’s Leash

| November 29th, 2017

The Bears could’ve had the best coaches in the history of football and they still would’ve lost to the Eagles by 20 points.

Say what you will about John Fox and company — and it’s probably all fair — but the hard truth is that the Bears don’t have enough good players. A lot of that is due to injury. Losing their top two receivers and all four starting linebackers is a tough blow. But still, they should be able to put up a fight!

Let’s look at who was available Sunday against Philadelphia:

  • Markus Wheaton is paid like a starter.
  • Nick Kwiatkoski should be a starter at this point anyway. Christian Jones has played like one.
  • Deiondre Hall, Deon Bush and Hroniss Grasu should all be starters.
  • Jon Bullard was drafted to be a major piece. He shouldn’t be warming the bench behind a journeyman at this point.
  • Pernell McPhee has turned into a ghost.

I like Ryan Pace. Most fans do. I’d argue his plus decisions far outweigh his minuses but nowhere near as much as the losses outweigh the wins.

The Bears are at a crossroads.

They will, and I still believe should, allow Pace to hire the next coach. But what if they’re 3-8 next year too? Do they just hit the reset button again? How long can they reasonably expect this loyal fan base to be patient? They are currently suffering through one of the worst four-year stretches in team history.

I’ve long said the primary reason I wouldn’t want to hire Jim Harbaugh or Josh McDaniels is because they’d want to be Pace’s boss too, but I’m no longer sure that should stop the Bears. New England, Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans all have their coaches in charge of the rosters. If Jim Harbaugh calls up George McCaskey and says he wants to the keys to the franchise, has Pace done enough for the Bears to justify saying no? Even if you look at first time head coaches the last two years, two of the big fishes were handed the keys to their franchises in Miami and San Francisco. That doesn’t include Sean McDermott, who was given what he asked for after a month or so on the job.

We have months to debate the coaching pedigrees of Harbaugh, McDaniels and everyone else, including whether or not they deserve such power. That’s not the point. The point is, how can we be so sure that Pace does? To be clear, this isn’t a call to fire Pace. I think he’s shown that he has an eye for talent. I just hope the Bears don’t let a great football mind out the door simply because Pace has a solid draft record.

Hopefully the problem is simple as needing a new coach and another off-season to build depth. I’m just not entirely sure that’s true. This is Year Three, the Bears should be much further along. Blame Fox all you want, but Pace has blood on his hands too. Here’s to hoping he can get it cleaned up.

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Letting Jim Harbaugh Coach Elsewhere Will Be a Decade-Long Regret at Halas Hall

| December 12th, 2014

harbaugh

Here what’s I know about Jim Harbaugh’s coaching career.

His first head coaching job was at San Diego and he led the Toreros to program bests in every conceivable way.

His second head coaching job was at Stanford where the Cardinal had been a Pac-10 doormat since Ty Willingham left town. He won 4 games. Then he won 5 games. Then he won 8 games. Then he won 12 games. 12 games. At Stanford. A university that had never won 11 in the entirety of their footballing existence. (And before you credit Andrew Luck, go take a look at John Elway’s W-L record at Stanford.)

His third head coaching job is at the San Francisco 49ers. He is 43-17-1 and has appeared in 3 NFC title games and a Super Bowl. In the 8 seasons prior to his arrival, the Niners did not record a single winning season.

Jim Harbaugh isn’t a good head coach. Jim Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the entire world of football and he is available. That does not happen often. It’s happening now. The Bears will regret it for many years if they don’t become serious players for his services.

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New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| December 11th, 2014

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip never amounted to much of a show but this is one of my favorite five minutes in TV history.

The Saints are horrible. The Bears are slightly more horrible. So why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

WHY ELSE?

  • If the Saints didn’t win a Super Bowl a half decade ago they’d be the Chicago Bears. Their sideline is lousy with coaches shouting at one another, their defense is in the tank and now will have 2013 first-rounder Kenny Vaccaro on the bench, their offense shows up every other month and they are coming off a humiliating thrashing at the hands of the also-terrible Carolina Panthers. That was remarkably their fourth consecutive loss at home – a place where they’ve dominated the sport in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era. It’s bad in New Orleans but…
  • …if you are miserable in New Orleans, you must not like drinking or eating or music or joy.
  • 40 carries, 271 yards, 6.8 yards a clip, 2 touchdowns. That is what the Panthers did to the Saints with a wasteland of an offensive line and a combination of Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton, Mike Tolbert & Fozzy Whittaker.
  • Cam Newton is the fifth most sacked quarterback in the NFL. The Saints didn’t get near him.

2014 Draws Comparisons to 2009

The 2009 Chicago Bears were 3-1 heading into their early-season bye week. They came out of the bye and lost 8 of their next 10 games, including defensive embarrassments against Cincinnati, Arizona and Minnesota. The team was dead and buried.

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Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers Game Preview

| September 11th, 2014

The Bears usually win their first game of the season and the city of Chicago erupts into a sea of champagne-soaked celebration. Then the rest of the season happens. This year the Bears have lost their first game and Rahm Emanuel announced all restaurants, bars, churches and public toilets are closed until further notice.

Said Rahm: “May the streets smell of hobo urine until the Bears are in the win column!”

Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

WHY ELSE?

  • Let me think…
  • The Cowboys had a ton of success running the ball against this 49ers front but suffered from Tony Romo’s complete unwillingness to make the football game competitive. Expect the Bears to take the same approach. Forte, Forte and more Forte. Slow the game down. Take the crowd out of it. This should be a thirty rush attempt night for the Bears and if their adjusted offensive line holds up they should be able to keep things close.
  • Niners offense was non-existent in second half against the worst defense in the league.
  • I think the Bears secondary matches up well with the 49er options on the outside, especially if they use Jennings inside on Vernon Davis. (They can’t expect to cover Davis with any of their linebackers or safeties. It isn’t possible.)
  • The Bears outside threats, if healthy, match up well against every secondary in the sport with the possible exception of Seattle. San Fran is down to second and third-stringers so a healthy Marshall/Jeffery combination could be in line for a big night.
  • Is it even possible Mel Tucker’s primary (and perhaps only) point of emphasis this week won’t be containing Colin Kaepernick in the pocket? If Kaepernick is gouging the Bears defense for huge chunks of yards and first downs serious questions can be asked about what happened Tuesday through Saturday in the defensive meeting rooms. If Kaepernick beats them from the pocket, so be it.
  • These games are the reason Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young are in Chicago. They are not only talented rushers but also smart, disciplined ends.
  • Bears actually have two linebackers with the speed to spy Kaepernick: Bostic and Shea. I’d expect both to play that role Sunday night, with Bostic getting a majority of the snaps.

A THOUGHT ON JAY CUTLER

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