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Bears Contradict Themselves in Loss to Dolphins

| October 17th, 2018

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Walt Whitman was waxing poetic about the human condition here, but he might as well have been describing my reaction to Sunday’s loss to Miami. It was a gut punch, a heart-breaker, a golden opportunity that slipped away.

It was also exciting, competitive and full of promise.

So this week’s column embraces the contradictory nature of a game like this, both as stand-alone event, and as part of a much larger puzzle we’re still in the process of piecing together.


The Bears are a great defense AND they played terribly vs the Dolphins.

The Bears defense we’ve seen for the past four games was not the defense that showed up on Sunday.

Kyle Fuller had a solid game with two big interceptions, and the defense played well enough in the first half, holding the Dolphins to 154 yards and just 7 points. However, they collapsed in the second half and OT, allowing 387 yards and 24 points. They let Brock Osweiler and Albert Wilson beat them on bubble screens, and when all was said and done the Dolphins produced 274 yards after the catch.

That’s terrible. That’s embarrassing. That’s inexcusable. But…

  • Khalil Mack was hampered with an ankle injury.
  • They played in brutally hot and humid conditions, and weren’t used to it.
  • The refs did them no favors.
  • Even great defenses have off games.

Excuses mean nothing in the NFL. All that matters are wins and losses, but it’s ridiculous to not concede those first three issues factored into Sunday’s loss, and that as a rule, good teams can have bad games without it spilling over into the rest of the season.

Right now, I’m not worried about this defense. Not one bit. But…ask me again in a few weeks.

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Turnovers, Defensive Collapse Drop the Bears to 3-2 in Miami

| October 15th, 2018

Each week I spend a considerable amount of time assembling a game preview. Last week, other than my top ten for The Office, that time was wasted because nothing that happened Sunday in Miami made much sense.

I simply didn’t see any of it coming. And you won’t see this coming! Rapid fire!


  • Heat was the story of the game, on both sides. There were 7 points scored in the first half of this game and 49 scored in the second half. That wasn’t just adjustments. That was two defenses running on fumes.
  • Frank Gore averaged 6.7 yards per carry against what was the league’s best rush defense. With that Miami OL the question is…how?
  • Allowing an Adam Gase offense to gain huge chunks of yards and even score touchdowns on bubble screens is the equivalent of sending a cocaine addict to a rehab facility in the Pacific department of Nariño, Colombia. Stopping bubble screens is all about pursuit and tackling. Bears did neither.


  • Howard fumble. Cohen fumble. Trubisky pick in the end zone. Any of those three plays don’t happen and the Bears win this game. Simple as that.
  • Trubisky’s stats on the season UPDATED: 70.2% completion. 1,261 yards. 11 TDs. 4 INTS. 105.6 rating. Those project out to the bet season by a Bears quarterback in franchise history.
  • Trubisky still throws 2-3 passes a game he can’t throw. He’s doing what many young QBs in the league do: trying to create something out of nothing when the prudent play is to either tuck the ball and get what you can on the ground or launch the football into the seventh row.
  • But I love that he’s sliding. Trubisky is doing something few young QBs do at this level: avoiding contact at all times. Availability trumps all things.

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Week Six: Bears at Dolphins Game Preview

| October 12th, 2018

Winslow Townson, AP Images

This is a big moment for a franchise devoid of big moments lately.

Last time the Bears played, the Cubs were still the top story in Chicago and in the aftermath of their Bucs dismantling it was hard for this surging team to even find air time on local sports radio. But now the attention of the entire city is on the Bears. And everybody has one question: are they the real thing?


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and the match-up of Bears Defense vs. Dolphins Offense is about as lopsided as you’ll find on the Week Six slate. Miami is bottom five in just about every relevant offensive statistic and – watching a few of their games this week – those numbers may be flattering. I never understood the frothing over Adam Gase in Chicago, unless endless bubble screens triggers one’s salivary glands. His “system” is not working with this talent group in Miami. And this will be the best defense they face in 2018.


The Game Conversation: A (Very) Short Play

(It’s the Old Town Alehouse. Noon. Wednesday. DUKE and DICK sit in the corner, one reading the Sun-Times and the other the Trib. They do not look at each other when they speak.)

DUKE: You believe in ’em?

DICK: Who?

DUKE: The Bears.

DICK: Do I believe in ’em?

DUKE: Yea.

DICK: No.

DUKE: Good defense.

DICK: Great defense.

DUKE: But you don’t believe in ’em?

(DICK takes a sip of the Old Style he smuggled in because the bar refuses to serve the legendary beer.)

DICK: No. But I’m willing.


Why the Bears Win

  • Miami has struggled to pressure the quarterback and that seems to be what will be required to keep the Nagy/Trubisky offense in check. If the Dolphins don’t send extra players into the backfield, Trubisky will have options all over the field. If they do, they better get home.
  • Ryan Tannehill has been awful his last two starts. He’s completing around 56% of his passes for a total of 285 yards. His TD-INT is 1-3. His quarterback rating for the two games is 52.65. Other than Josh Allen, Tannehill has been the worst quarterback in the league over this two-game stretch and now Khalil Mack is coming to south Florida.
  • Miami’s offensive line was humiliated late by Cincinnati. Just read some of the coverage from Sunday’s game and you’ll find reason to believe Mack, Akiem Hicks and the rest of the DL may be able to feast upon this mostly-journeymen offensive line, including former-Bear Teddy “Ballgame” Larsen. When there’s pressure on Tannehill, like most quarterbacks, bad decisions ensue.

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Rounding Up the Division Rivals (And Looking Slightly Into Their Futures)

| October 4th, 2018

Four games in the books, which means we’re a quarter of the way through the regular season, and it’s time for the first edition of “Rivals Round Up”. This is a new feature wherein I’ll take a look at how things stand in the NFC North.

And we’ll start at the top.


Chicago Bears, 3-1

Almost a week later, and last week’s win still feels every bit as good as it did on Sunday. (If you’re a Cubs fan like me, the Bears’ early season success might be the only thing getting you through this first week of October.) Chicago leads the division for the first time in years. They’ve won three games in a row for the first time, again, in years. And Mitch Trubisky’s offense took a hugely positive step forward with a dominant performance over Tampa Bay.

Oh, and that Khalil Mack guy? He’s pretty good, too.

Next Opponent: Miami Dolphins.

I don’t love that Chicago’s bye week comes so early this year, and after last week I’m antsy see them play again. But I expect the Bears to stay focused, keep learning, and go into Miami next week without missing a beat.

The Dolphins crashed back down to earth last week after a 3-0 start, getting pummeled by the Patriots 38-7. They play the 3-1 Bengals in Cincinnati this Sunday. Ryan Tannehill is having a nice season and seems to function well in Adam Gase’s system.

However, their offensive line is shaky and I fully expect the Bears to put pressure on him the entire day. On the defensive side, the Dolphin’s secondary will definitely be a step up from what Trubisky faced against Tampa. They’ve managed a league-leading nine interceptions in four games, so Mitch will have to play smart and stay accurate to keep from making costly mistakes.

Game Prediction: It won’t be another Bears blowout, but I think they earn their fourth straight win in Miami: Bears 24, Dolphins 17

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Two

| September 17th, 2015

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I’m putting $100 on each of these bets all season. Will be keeping my total down below. (For those of you who are not gamblers, if you lose a $100 bet you actually lose $110. If you push a $100 bet, you lose the $10 vig.)

Tennessee +2 at Cleveland

Anti-Manziel pick. When I watch Johnny Football on an NFL field he reminds me of a young kid wearing his father’s suit. His lack of awareness inside the pocket is usurped only by his lack of understanding that the men sharing the field with him are faster and smarter than just about every player he faced at Texas A&M. Titans 23, Browns 16

St. Louis -3 at Washington

Washington v. Miami was the worst game played last Sunday. Neither deserved to win. Now the Redskins, without Desean Jackson, face the most ferocious defense in the NFC? Rams win on the road. Rams 20, Redskins 7

Jacksonville +6 vs Miami

Line is too high. Simple as that. Dolphins 24, Jags 21

 

Record Through One Week: 1-1-1

(-$20)

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Thoughts on the First Preseason Game

| August 14th, 2015

allen

General Note

Having not watched the game live, I was following along on Twitter and with a few friends via text message. It was absolutely astounding the level of hysteria permeating the Tweets whilst my friends were all texting me things like, “they look ok” or “not much to actually learn from this crap”. When I woke up this morning and saw some of the work by the illustrious Chicago media, I expected to be viewing a train wreck. That was not the case. My thoughts on the game last night were overall positive.

Three Thoughts on the Offense…

  • Jay Cutler to Eddie Royal is going to be this offense’s security blanket. Expect the Bears to start a lot of drives with quick outs to put them in second and six or less.
  • Will Montgomery is a HUGE upgrade at center. He attacked Suh at the line of scrimmage on several plays and frustrated arguably one of the best defenders in the sport.

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Chicago Bears Open Preseason Tonight With Meaningless Contest Against Miami Dolphins

| August 13th, 2015

BearsDolphins1985_zpsac066e3d

Things you can actually watch tonight if you have very little else to do:

  • Every person in Bourbonnais has mentioned Willie Young’s struggles to adapt to a new role in the defense. Might be interesting to see just how long the coaching staff leaves Young on the field. (This also begs the question, as many have asked, why don’t the Bears simply shop Young to a straight-forward 4-3 team with an edge rush need? What’s the purpose of having him go through this adaptation?)
  • Is anyone convinced Jordan Mills will be the starting right tackle after Labor Day? Might be interesting to see who plays well at the tackle spot once the starters have left the field, hopefully after 3 plays.
  • Is this Shea McClellin stuff real?
  • Injuries. Injuries are the only significant element of preseason games. Anybody who tells you otherwise is selling you something.

Enjoy.

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Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| October 16th, 2014

dolphins

The Bears have two games they had no business losing. They lost them both. They have no business losing to the Miami Dolphins at home Sunday. So…

Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

A NOTE ON CAMERON WAKE

Cameron Wake can ruin this game for the Chicago Bears. He is a premier pass rusher, most comfortable on the left side, and if the Bears rely on Jordan Mills to handle him solo for any extended period of time they will find themselves in a situation where Jimmy Clausen is warming up on the sideline. Of the 2014 projected starters on offense, Mills has been the only weak link and he is coming off his weakest performance of the season in Atlanta.

Wake has attacked in spurts this season, disappearing for large chunks of games, but he played his best sixty minutes Sunday. If Aaron Rodgers didn’t get the ball out of his hands quickly all afternoon he would have ended up on a cart to the locker room midway through the third quarter. Bears must use Martellus Bennett. They must use Eben Britton. They must not be afraid to take Mills out of the game and replace him with Michael Ola if Bushrod returns.

It is the most important match-up of the game. If the Bears win it their offense should consistently win all afternoon.

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With Four Games Remaining Til Bye, Bears Must Settle For No Worse Than .500 Record

| October 1st, 2014

Billete de 500

The Bears play three of their next four games on the road: at the Martz-had-no-use-for Greg Olsen in Carolina, at the Lovie-found-no-use-for Devin Hester in Atlanta and at Tom Brady and the now prematurely-buried Patriots. Sandwich in a home game against the Miami Dolphins and you have a four-game stretch that will set this season’s tone. Some teams battle for division titles. Some teams chase the top of the table all year long. How the Bears perform over these four games will position them in one of those two categories.

This is not a long-winded column. This opinion does not require a ton of explanation. When the Bears emerge from their bye week in November they play five of the their final eight games at home, including the warm weather, dome-based Saints and Cowboys in Soldier Field on cold evenings where both have been unmitigated disasters in the past. The other three games are at their division rivals. Those eight games will define the 2014 Bears.

Four out of four means the Bears are title contenders. Three out of four means they’re a serious playoff team. Two out of four means they’ll have a meaningful final two months of the season. Anything less is a crap shoot. Anything less than .500 over these next four games will be a serious cause for concern and more than likely leave the Bears with a second wild card ceiling.

To paraphrase Al Davis, “Just win…half of em…baby.”

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