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The Psychology of Uncertainty & Being a Bears Fan

| January 18th, 2018

Human beings don’t react well to uncertainty. We don’t know how to handle it. We hate it so much in fact that, given the choice, we actually prefer to *know* that something bad is going to happen to us as opposed to being unsure. A study in 2015 showed that most people would rather know for certain that they’re going to get an electric shock than to not be able to predict it. The uncertainty caused a bigger stress response than knowing without a doubt that they were going to get hurt.

At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that’s fascinating Emily, but what the hell does it have to do with the Chicago Bears?”

Well if I had to think of one word to describe how I’ve felt about the Bears the last few years, the word would be “uncertain”. Not in terms of devotion, mind you. I’ve always been pretty ride or die with my sports teams. When I say uncertain I’m talking about having no real idea what to expect from them on any given Sunday since 2012.

Again I can already hear some of the comments. How could you possibly be uncertain about the Bears? They suck! They’ve sucked since 2006! The Cutler era was terrible! They’re basically the Browns! And I get why it feels that way. I totally do. But it isn’t accurate. For a quick comparison:

Last Won Their Division
Bears 2010
Browns 1989

Last in the Playoffs
Bears 2010
Browns 2002

Last Winning Season
Bears 2012
Browns 2002

Number of Wins the Last Three Seasons
Bears 14
Browns 4

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Data Entry: Bears Offense Found Better Balance in 2nd Half of 2017

| January 8th, 2018

When the Bears were on their bye week back in November, I looked at Chicago’s play-calling tendencies over rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s first four starts. In that study, I found that Dowell Loggains’ offense had been incredibly predictable through those four games. The team basically ran the ball if it was 1st or 2nd down and 10 or less and threw it if it was 2nd and 11+ or third down and anything.

This is obviously not a sustainable way to run an NFL offense, so let’s look at how those trends may have changed in the 8 games the Bears played after the bye. As before, all statistics come courtesy of the fantastic NFL play finder from Pro Football Reference.

1st down

In Trubisky’s first four starts, the Bears ran it 72% of the time on first down, but those numbers shifted dramatically following the bye. They actually passed more than running on 1st down in the last 8 games, with only 46% of their 1st downs featuring runs (I should clarify here that throughout this article passing plays are those which were called to be a pass, so either a pass attempt, sack, or QB rushing attempt, while runs are rushing attempts by anybody other than the QB. This assumes all QB runs are scrambles, which might slightly skew the data, but the Bears didn’t call many designed runs for Trubisky this year).

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Data Responds: Bears at Vikings

| December 31st, 2017

Sorry for the break the last few weeks. I haven’t been able to watch games live due to various holiday scheduling hijinks. Darn that real life for getting in the way!

Before we get into today’s game specifically, reports are that John Fox will be fired today. I won’t miss you as Chicago’s head coach.

In general, this game looked very much like a disinterested team playing out the string on the road for a soon-to-be-fired coaching staff against a hungry opponent playing to lock up a first round bye.

Offense

  • The Bears got the ball to start and opened with a heavy set Jordan Howard run into a stacked box for no gain. On their 2nd drive, they followed that up with a Jordan Howard run into a stacked box for -4 yards. Shockingly, both drives ended in 3 and outs. Oh how I am not going to miss that.
  • On Chicago’s 3rd drive, they threw the ball on 1st down! You’ll be surprised to find out that not being incredibly predictable actually worked. Of course, the Bears followed that up with a FB dive into a 9 man box on 3rd and 1 (why is Michael Burton still a thing?), which lost yardage and forced a punt. Before they could get the punt off, the Bears took a delay of game penalty, because of course.
  • Rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky had a bad rookie moment that resulted in a safety. Under pressure, he kept backing up until he was in the end zone, which was the mistake. He then threw the ball away to pick up an intentional grounding penalty, which is a safety in the end zone. My complaint is not with the grounding, but with the fact that he backed up into the end zone first. He could have taken the sack at the 3 yard line, and needs to know the field position situation there.
  • Trubisky also had a terrible throw in the fourth quarter where he missed a wide-open Dontrelle Inman because his feet were not properly set. Despite a clean pocket, he did something weird where he torqued his upper body, which caused him to put the ball far too wide and out of bounds. Those mechanical issues, and the corresponding accuracy concerns, have been a repeated problem this offseason, and are the #1 thing Trubisky needs to work on this offseason.

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Four Thoughts on the Eve of John Fox’s Final Game as Bears Head Coach

| December 30th, 2017

John Fox will lead the Bears one more time, tomorrow, in Minneapolis. These will be my final thoughts on the Fox tenure.


(1) People need to stop revisiting how and why Fox was hired. There was no conspiracy. Ownership did not inflict Fox upon Ryan Pace. It was a simple process.

  • When the Bears hired Pace, Ernie Accorsi and ownership believed it would be wise to pair the young GM with a veteran head coach. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
  • Accorsi had known John Fox for thirty years so the coach’s surprising availability was an ideal match.
  • Accorsi and ownership asked Pace to meet Fox.
  • Pace met him. For a long time.
  • Pace decided to hire him. If Pace had called ownership and said no, Fox would not have been hired. Did ownership clearly want him to make this decision? Yes. Did Pace feel pressured to make it? I’ve been told by someone who really knows that Pace didn’t need pressure. He liked Fox a lot.

Everybody. Was. On. Board.


(2) Fox took over the worst defense in the history of the Chicago Bears. That’s not hyperbole. That’s fact. And today that unit is ranked 8th in the NFL, even while suffering a series of debilitating injuries and playing half the season with no pass rushers. There are a lot of factors why but the John Fox is leaving the Bears in far better shape than he found them.

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Week 17: NYE Bears at Vikings Game Preview

| December 28th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. And I like them even more after seeing their young nucleus live. This week I’m peppering the preview with a couple of my favorite finales in musical theatre history. Why? Because I run things around here and realistically can do whatever the hell I want.


Poem

Enter twenty-eighteen.

Never has the calendar been more desperate for change.

Daylight approaches, I promise.


Fiddler

As great as Fiddler on the Roof is, and I think it’s the greatest musical ever written, it is never quite given enough credit for how bold it is in its storytelling. Fiddler is not a tragedy but it ends tragically, with the Jewish citizens of a Russian village forced to leave their home, Anatevka. The song is a funeral dirge, a self-deprecating requiem for a way of life these people know they’ll never find again. But there is optimism in this dour ballad, even if it’s difficult to find. Because these people are going to a new world, a new frontier, creating a new America.


Some Thoughts on the Actual Game

  • There is a scenario wherein the Vikings are not the second seed in the NFC playoffs. Far-fetched but it exists. And that should be enough to motivate them all week. And if they’re motivated, the game is over. At halftime Sunday the Bears led the Browns 6-3 in one of the more lifeless halves of football ever played. If the Bears play a similar half in Minneapolis they’ll be down two or three touchdowns because the Vikings are simply not the Browns. They’re quite good.

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Across The Middle: Dave Toub Could Help Bears Follow Jags Model

| December 20th, 2017

Fans wanting the Bears to follow the Rams model should prepare themselves for the fact that it isn’t that easy. What the Jaguars have done, however, could be replicated next year by hiring Dave Toub.

The comparisons to the Rams are easy. An outgoing veteran head coach who appears to have lost his way, a young quarterback, stud running back and good defense. But is there a Sean McVay available for the Bears to hire?

The hot names are Josh McDaniels, Matt Nagy and Pat Shurmur. McDaniels without Tom Brady wasn’t thought to be an offensive genius, Shurmur had some of the worst offenses in the league in St. Louis and Cleveland and Nagy has one year as an offensive coordinator under his belt.

The other part of the Rams turnaround is that McVay was able to bring a defensive genius with him (Wade Phillips). I have no idea who the next crop of coaches would bring as I don’t see Vic Fangio returning if he doesn’t get the head job. Dom Capers figures to be available, but only because he isn’t getting the job done in Green Bay. Other potential candidates include Mike Pettine, Chuck Pagano and Mike Nolan. Not the most exciting collection of coaches.

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The 3 Best & Worst Games of John Fox’s Bears Tenure: Part II (Worst)

| December 19th, 2017

Now onto the worst games…

Honestly this was a lot harder to narrow down because the John Fox era has sucked something fierce. There are many, many games that you could make a case for, but after careful consideration I present to you the three worst games under John Fox.

#3. November 13th, 2016

Chicago @ Tampa Bay: Buccaneers 36, Bears 10

You remember that really dominant win against the Vikings I discussed yesterday? How the Bears had a bye week, and therefore plenty of time to get healthy and plan for a Tampa Bay team that was mediocre at best? Yeah, they ended up getting the crap kicked out of them in what was possibly Cutler’s worst performance as a Bear. He turned the ball over four times, including both a pick six and a fumble in the end zone that led to a safety. Jordan Howard also lost a fumble making it five turnovers on the day against a team that had previously struggled at getting takeaways.

The defense didn’t fare much better, allowing Jameis Winston to throw for 312 yards and two touchdowns. Oh and this was also the game that Kyle Long tore up his ankle and was lost for the rest of the season (not to mention a good chunk of this one). A lot of the blame for this loss falls on Cutler, but the Bears had two weeks to prepare a game plan to beat the freaking Buccaneers and maybe turn the second half of their season into something worth watching. Instead they come out and lay a giant goddamn egg, spoiling whatever bit of goodwill they had built up in beating Minnesota two weeks before.


#2. September 28th, 2017

Chicago @ Green Bay: Packers 35, Bears 14

You didn’t really think we were going to get through this without mentioning the Mike Glennon era, did you? While it only lasted four games, it felt like four lifetimes.

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The 3 Best & Worst Games of John Fox’s Bears Tenure: Part I (Best)

| December 19th, 2017

The John Fox era is coming to an end in Chicago. All those “what-if” scenarios about the Bears winning out after dominating the Bengals can be put to bed after Saturday’s beatdown at the hands of the Lions. So for my first post on DBB I’m going to look back and reflect on the three best and three worst games of the John Fox era.

Since we’re trying to stay positive in Bears fandom, I’ll start with the good. As of writing this John Fox only has 13 wins as Bears coach; three of which came when Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley were under center. So really I’m looking at 10 games here. Slim pickings, but you work with what you’ve got.

Best Games

#3. November 15th, 2015

Chicago Bears @ St. Louis Rams: Chicago 37, St. Louis 13.

This win marks the second biggest margin of victory of any Bears win under Fox. It followed a thrilling comeback win in San Diego against the Chargers the previous week, making it the second time that season the Bears managed to string two wins together in a row. (They have never managed three in a row under Fox.) Jay Cutler went 19/24 with 3 TDs, no turnovers, and a career high passer rating of 151.0. It was decisive, dominant, and damn fun to watch. It put the Bears at 4-5, which after a 0-3 start was a happy surprise. You could see the improvement in the team, and more importantly, you could see that they were buying into John Fox’s message and methodology. It felt like it could be the beginning of more good things to come.


#2. October 31st, 2016

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears: Chicago 20, Minnesota 10.

Coming into this game things weren’t great for the Bears or John Fox. Rumors that week circulated that Ryan Pace had hired outside consultants to evaluate day-to-day operations and that Fox was potentially one bad game away from being fired. Jay Cutler was returning from a thumb injury with many under the opinion he had fallen out of favor with Fox, and had Brian Hoyer not gotten hurt the previous week against the Packers, might not have returned as a starter at all.

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Lions Beat Boring Bears, Sealing Fox’s Fate

| December 17th, 2017

Matt Marton – USA TODAY Sports (Edited)

Any hope John Fox had of remaining the Chicago Bears head coach faded Saturday afternoon in Detroit with another lackluster performance. The Fox Bears did what they’ve done every time a bit of optimism has crept into this franchise during his tenure: flopped. And flopped with gusto. Rapid fire!

  • Trubisky’s interceptions will certainly be the story because this quarterback is always going to be the story. But there was far more positive than negative from Tru Saturday. With this coaching staff and these receivers, the Bears are never going to erase a three-score deficit on the road. But if that’s what it takes for the Fox and Loggains to finally let their rookie QB throw the ball around and make the mistakes he has to make, so be it. Trubisky gets better on games like Saturday’s. He doesn’t get better when he’s throwing 14 passes on third-and-long.
  • The pick in the end zone is the throw Trubisky can’t make. Wanna bet he doesn’t do it again?
  • One thing that should excite fans re: Tru is the number of times Lions CBs thought they’d get their hands on his passes and didn’t come close. The kid throws a fastball and the Lions couldn’t catch up with it. (Sadly, neither could several Bears receivers.)
  • Sacks are sacks. They’re going to happen. But I don’t like the hits Trubisky is taking on scrambles and broken down plays. Those are the ones that end seasons prematurely and the Bears need a healthy Trubisky working with his new coach in January.
  • Something that maybe interests only me. Mark Sanchez, in civvies, headset on, staring at the play sheet, completely engaged. Mike Glennon, dressed as the backup, staring into space. Sanchez is going to end up being a coach in the league.
  • Some of the Bears penalties are inexcusable. Eddie Goldman’s personal foul on opening drive. Prince holding on third-and-long. But they’re not even remotely surprising because Fox’s Bears have been undisciplined since day one. Fox and his media minions can bitch about talent all they want but under Fox, good players do stupid things.

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