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Thoughts From Inside Soldier Field as Chicago Bears Whallop the Dallas Cowboys & Keep 2013 Alive

| December 10th, 2013

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It was a cold, cold evening at the ballpark but the Bears did everything they could to warm the hearts of their loyal fans in attendance. I Tweeted the following Monday afternoon:

Tonight: Marc Trestman & Bears offense need to give season statement win in front of national audience while preserving meaningful December.

That is exactly what Trestman and the offense did last night. They out-gained the Cowboys by by 150 yards (and really more). They didn’t punt the football. When they grabbed a serious lead they dialed up the run and their offensive line put the game away. Dallas’ defense is a wretched group but the Bears did what they needed to do: they dominated at home.

More thoughts:

  • I was going to write a full column on the Jay Cutler/Josh McCown scenario but I don’t have much to say that furthers the story. Nobody on earth would make the argument that McCown is a more talented player than Cutler. But Cutler isn’t out there. He isn’t playing. And sadly his inability to stay on the field is the biggest blight on his Bears tenure. If I’m Marc Trestman, I stick with the hot hand and McCown is announced my starter in Cleveland as soon as today. (We can debate Cutler’s long-term viability and worth in Chicago when that time comes. That time is not now.)

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Last Month of Season Lacks Significant Merit Without Cutler on the Field

| December 2nd, 2013

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The Chicago Bears allowed the Minnesota Vikings to thoroughly dominate them for the final fifteen minutes of Sunday’s pivotal NFC North match-up. Because of that dominance the Bears now find themselves needing to make up two games on Detroit in the standings over the final month of the season if they wish to play a postseason game, at home, against either the San Francisco 49ers or Carolina Panthers. The playoffs are now unlikely. More than unlikely. But with or without playoff implications, the final four games of this 2013 season are not without significant merit. But an overwhelming amount of that merit depends upon Jay Cutler playing quarterback.

Sunday’s numbers for Josh McCown probably looked thrilling to the fantasy-obsessed, casual NFL fan. 63.5% completion percentage. 355 yards. 2 touchdowns. Quarterback rating through the roof. But it doesn’t require Ron Jaworski holed up at NFL Films headquarters in New Jersey with five pots of coffee and a bag of the devil’s dandruff to see McCown’s limitations at quarterback cost the Bears the ability to sustain drives and in the fourth quarter cost them the ability to put the Vikings away. McCown’s success had less to do with McCown and more to do with a superhuman performance from Alshon Jeffery.

McCown is a wonderful backup quarterback and I expect him to be a tremendous presence in the Bears quarterback room for the next few years. But every game he plays, every snap he takes, every throw he attempts hinders the development of the Trestman offense in Chicago.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Statistics, Barnwell on “That Play” & Tasering Wives

| November 7th, 2013

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PFF SAYS SHEA PLAYED POORLY

Some guy named Pete who has been anointed over at PFF Tweeted the following:

Shea McClellin: 2nd-worst @PFF grade of any 4-3 DE in Wk 9. But 2 loud sacks, so naturally NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

PFF attempts to qualify the performance of a player over the course of an entire game and thus weighs a run stop on 2nd and 3 in the first quarter equally to a run stop on 3rd and 1 with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. This is essentially what the baseball metrics folks do. They believe players play to their numbers.

But football is a situational sport. If your analytics tell you Shea McClellin played poorly Monday night, you have to acknowledge in the text of that piece the limitations of your analytics.

I responded via Twitter:

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Reviewing the Bears First Half, Previewing the Second

| October 23rd, 2013

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Most would consider the eighth game the halfway point of a sixteen game season. Those people are what I refer to as math-dependent. The Bears have played seven games and now must wait fifteen days before playing again as they lick their injury wounds. Hell, the team is off this entire week. If ever there was a line of demarcation signally HALFWAY, this is it.

So what follows are responses to the first half, thoughts on the second half and the normal awards, predictions and general folly that have filled this space lo these eight years. You’re not going to see everything below but you’ll see the things on my mind. I’ll leave it to you from there.

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To Salvage 2013 Season, Bears Must Turn to Trestman & McCown

| October 21st, 2013

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The Bears offense has emerged as one of the best in football in only seven weeks. Seven weeks was all it took to seemingly erase a decade of offensive futility. Yesterday it took a devastating injury to the starting quarterback  for that fact to become apparent. As Josh McCown stepped into a high-pressure, low-probability scenario, Bears head coach Marc Trestman dialed up smart play after smart play. He put the football in the hands of his Emery-assembled weapons and they rewarded him with a near-flawless second half. For Jay Cutler’s tenure in Chicago, an injury to the lead signal caller meant an offensive implosion and consistently dreary output. Yesterday they rallied – on the field and on the sideline.

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