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ATM: This Packers Week Pivotal For Pace, Trubisky, Pagano.

| December 29th, 2020


We are about to find out if this Chicago Bears run is real. That’s exactly how it should be.

Ted Phillips and George McCaskey have spent their entire lives as football bosses trying to catch up to the Green Bay Packers. Trying to prove they belong on the same field. Trying to make it a rivalry game once again. They remember Week 17 in 2010, when a pitiful performance by the Bears allowed the Packers to get into the playoffs and start a Super Bowl run that included winning the NFC Championship Game on Soldier Field.

The biggest problem with the run the Bears are on is we don’t have a clue what it means. Blowing out the Texans and Jaguars is nice, but the loss to Detroit was ugly and playing close with Minnesota wasn’t great either. The Bears have established they are not a bad team. But are they a good one?

Their QB still makes too many mistakes. Sunday was the third time he has thrown an interception in the end zone in five games and was also the third time he has fumbled in Bears territory. (This time, he was lucky enough to recover it himself.) But most quarterbacks are flawed. You can live with the flaws as long as they come up big in the big moments. This is Mitch Trubisky’s chance to do just that.

A good performance by Trubisky in a win would seem to cement him as the team’s quarterback in 2021. His play during the current winning streak hasn’t been stellar, but it’s been good enough to suggest that he’s better than the other options for 2021.

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A Pragmatic Pause: If Bears Win Next Two, Pace/Nagy Should Be Allowed to Finish Season

| December 3rd, 2020


The story feels written. The outcome assured. After the full-team collapse Sunday night in Wisconsin, it will surprise no one if, at season’s end or sooner, George McCaskey and family fire Ryan Pace, fire Matt Nagy and reassign Ted Phillips within the organization, away from football operations.

But for those wanting these changes to take place yesterday (or the day before) it is time for a pragmatic pause. Because while this season feels over, it is not actually over. The Bears face the bad Lions, with an interim coach and lame-thumbed quarterback, Sunday at Soldier Field. They face the bad Texans, who were apparently popping PEDs like Sweet Tarts, in that same building the following week. If they win both of those of those games they will be 7-6 and viably challenging for spot in the tournament.

And making the tournament still matters. The Bears, for as bad as they’ve looked offensively through this five-game losing streak, are one game out of the 7th spot and a game and a half out of the 6th spot currently held by Tampa, a team they have beaten. Just because this current incarnation of the club has zero shot of winning the Super Bowl doesn’t mean a playoff berth ceases to be an achievement. Winning these next two games would, if nothing else, earn Pace and Nagy the right to complete this 2020 campaign. That’s it. It would allow them the opportunity to fix the mess they’ve created. Is that likely? Of course not.

If the Bears lose EITHER of these next two games, the time for pragmatism ends. A seventh loss with three (or four) to play ends the dream of January football. And not making the playoff field in a year where the NFC has this little depth is certainly cause for termination. If the Bears lose either of these next two games, Pace and Nagy should be fired the following day. (The Ted reassignment can happen whenever.)

Will making changes in-season have any tangible impact? Unlikely. A few reasons:

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Embarrassing Loss to Green Bay Must Signal End of Pace/Nagy Era.

| November 30th, 2020


The Bears didn’t just lose to the Green Bay Packers Sunday night. The Bears were thoroughly embarrassed in primetime, in front of the whole of the football world, with the franchise’s matriarch in the building. The Bears suffered the kind of loss folks remember years later. Remember where they were. Remember what they felt.

I felt nothing. Not before the game. Not during. Not after.

Was the defense bad? Of course it was. This was one of the worst defensive performances since Trestman and Tucker bussed out of town. But some of the best defenses in the league spent Sunday on their backs. Did you see what Tennessee did to Indianapolis? What Kansas City did to Tampa? Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers ran circles around Chuck Pagano and his unit. But even if this was the best defense in the sport, the team would have no shot.

Because the bigger issue remains. Every single one of us watching that game knew the Bears were incapable of competing once the Packers got into the high-20s. This is the historic, fundamental flaw of this organization. As soon as the scoring starts to resemble NFL 2020 and NFL 1971, the Bears don’t stand a chance.

And the GM should pay with his job. 

In last week’s game preview, I gently suggested this game would represent “rock bottom”. What I didn’t expect was for the broadcast crew of Mike Tirico and Tony Dungy to talk about this team’s offense like they were actually working their way through the twelve steps. Those two men, who have seen a lot of football, knew what they were looking at: an offense incapable of competing consistently at the professional level. An offense that, if the defense has a bad game, was totally incapable of holding their end of the bargain.

And in the third quarter, that Bears defense quit.

They quit.

And while I may understand the reason they weren’t able to maintain a high level of focus, there is never a time when quitting should be tolerated. To this point, the head coach has been able to cling to two factors when arguing to stay in his position: the win/loss record and the fact that his team doesn’t quit. The latter no longer exists.

The head coach should pay with his job.

Where do we go from here? Where we have gone many times previously. A friend of mine, someone who knows what is happening at Halas Hall, texted me in the fourth quarter. “The team quit…it’s over…no chance this isn’t blown up.” There will soon be new leadership for the Chicago Bears.

The modern game is about the quarterback, and about points. The Bears have failed historically in both departments.

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A Change Needs to Come: Matt Nagy Needs to Bench Matt Nagy.

| October 27th, 2020

Mitch Trubisky was benched for a lot of reasons but primary among them was his inability to run Matt Nagy’s offense. He was unable to to read defenses, change protections, get into the right play.

Nick Foles can run Nagy’s offense. The problem is, as we’re now learning, Nagy’s offense doesn’t make any sense.


Personal Note.

I like to think I’m pretty forthright with my readers around here. I don’t spend hours upon hours dissecting All-22 tape because I legitimately can’t think of anything more boring. I do, however, watch the Sunday Ticket “Short Cuts” presentation of every single game played in the NFL. These are quick, easily-digestible presentations that help cut through national media misrepresentations of players, teams…etc.

When I went through the Rams season, one thing was abundantly clear. There was 0.00% chance the Bears would have any success running into the middle of their defensive line. If the Bears were going to have success on offense they would need to spread the Rams out, get the ball to their speedsters in space, screen them to death. This isn’t necessarily the approach EVERY team should take with the Rams, but it was certainly the approach the Bears would need to take.

And they didn’t. They did…nothing. They attempted a bizarre, incoherent game plan. They ran directly at the best defensive player in the sport and then acted shocked, SHOCKED, when that approach failed.


The Questions.

What would Andy Reid be doing with Darnell Mooney? You can bet your life he’d be finding creative ways to get him the ball in space 3-5 times a game.

Why have the running backs been exiled from the passing game since Tarik Cohen’s injury?

Why is Cole Kmet – who does nothing but make plays when he’s allowed – struggling to usurp a useless Demetrius Harris on the depth chart?

Why does Jimmy Graham get pulled off the field in the red zone? This is now back-to-back weeks where Nagy is removing the team’s most intimidating red zone threat where they need him most!

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Pace & Nagy Meet the Media in Indianapolis

| February 25th, 2020


Everybody has written their “here’s what we need to hear from Pace and Nagy” column in the lead-up to today’s media session. I’ll spare you mine.

Here’s the truth: we’re not going to hear anything. This is the tightest ship at Halas Hall since I started doing this in 2005. The leadership – for the most part – does not leak. And more to the point, they do not give away their personnel strategies. So don’t expect them to discuss their quarterback room or available tight ends. Don’t expect them to reveal their self-evaluations along the offensive line.

Expect optimism. There are reasons for it.

Expect cliches and platitudes. This is American sports, after all.

Expect lies. And lots of them.

Expecting more is a mistake.

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Nagy Has Tried to Salvage Trubisky. Those Efforts Have Failed.

| November 18th, 2019


There can be no argument that any element of an offense as bad this Bears’ offense is performing to an acceptable level. Not the play caller. Not the offensive line. Not the skill guys. Nobody. But as this space has reported for the last several weeks, one can not adequately evaluate this offense because what’s being run is not Matt Nagy’s offense. What’s being run is a dialed-back, remedial version of the offense that the overwhelmed quarterback can supposedly “handle”.

And now it’s clear he can’t even handle that.

What took place Sunday night in Los Angeles was the culmination of months and months of frustration from the head coach. Call it a benching or don’t. That’s up to you. But Mitch Trubisky was healthy enough to finish the football game and Matt Nagy did not want him to do so. The reasons are many.

The calls at the line are consistently wrong.

The protections are consistently wrong.

The decisions by the quarterback with the football are consistently wrong.

Said a source within the organization to DBB Monday morning, “They are down to the bare bones. I’d be surprised if they are running 25% of the playbook.”

Think about that for a moment. For years, Matt Nagy has developed the offense he would run in the NFL when he finally had his own team, his own chance. For two years, he’s been installing that plan. And ten games into his second season, he’s been forced to throw three quarters of that plan into the trash because the man they thought was a franchise quarterback can’t run it.

When Matt Nagy met directly with ownership, he made it clear to them he was going to do anything and everything to try and salvage Mitch Trubisky. It’s hard to imagine that will remain his mindset much longer.

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Bears Pull Plug on Trubisky, Fall to 4-6

| November 18th, 2019


Two weeks ago, Matt Nagy pulled the plug on his offense. He realized the quarterback wasn’t capable and went to a simpler, easier-to-execute version. It worked. Kind of. Last night, Nagy broke. He couldn’t watch it anymore. And he pulled the plug on Trubisky. This will now be the story for the next six days. And we all knew it was coming.

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Bears at Broncos Preview Volume I: A Call to Arms

| September 12th, 2019

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.”
                            -Shakespeare, Henry V

The moment is here for Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky.

This week.

Sunday.

In Denver.

1-1.

Don’t fuck around. Win.

Opening night was an offensive debacle. The coach was overwhelmed. The quarterback was over-matched. They were not ready to call or perform in a football game, respectively, period.

But this ain’t the 3 AM show in the lounge. This is ain’t the place to work on your material. This is the showroom and the gents are in top hats and tails. The Bears don’t have the luxury of time to figure things out.

They are in one of the best divisions in football.

They have the best defense in the league.

The moment is here.

Sunday.

In Denver.

This offense doesn’t have to be great to keep the 2019 vintage of the Chicago Bears on the league’s top shelf. It has to be serviceable, at least for now. It has to help this team stack wins until the season gets serious in November.

And doing that falls onto the shoulders of two men. Nagy. Trubisky.

Hey Matt, wake up. David Montgomery is a horse. Ride him. The quarterback is still inexperienced. Get him some quick, easy throws. You don’t get credit for the other side of the ball because it wasn’t built by you and it isn’t coached by you. Yours is the offense. Lead them.

Hey Mitch, enough. Enough with the silly throws into holiday weekend traffic. Enough with not calling your own number and getting easy first downs with your legs. Enough with making rookie mistakes because this is your third year in the league, second year in the system, and a few more rookie mistakes are going to lead to your rookie contract being your last contract in the league.

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What Do You Say: Rapid Fire Recap of Bears Loss to Packers in Opener

| September 6th, 2019

This is going to be short because Thursday night’s opener was one of the worst football games I’ve ever watched and it doesn’t deserve an extended recap.


  • The Bears allowed ten points to Aaron Rodgers at Soldier Field. And lost. The Bears sacked Rodgers five times. And lost. The Bears gave up about 250 total yards to the Packers offense. And lost. The Bears have a brilliant defense and that defense is going to win them a lot of games this year. And that’s all I’m going to say about that unit today.
  • Matt Nagy called one of the worst games I’ve seen from a Bears head coach. Whatever that was on third-and-inches. Going for it on fourth-and-ten. Not giving the ball to David Montgomery AT ALL. Sometimes Nagy calls plays like he’s smarter than the guys on the other sideline. He needs to start calling plays that put the gentlemen on his sideline in the best position to be successful. There’s no way to argue he did that last night.
  • Mitch Trubisky was awful. Don’t feed me silver lining shit about a throw here or a throw there. Last night, Trubisky looked like a backup quarterback, called into action mid-game, scrambling to find his helmet. He threw one interception. He should have thrown four. He had zero command of the offense and less awareness of the defense. That’s a lethal combination. (I guess we can postpone that contract extension talk for a bit.)
  • 1st and 40.
  • The Bears better not have too many games like this. The best defense in football won’t stay calm and quiet as their brilliant, heroic efforts are wasted by a limp, futile offensive effort. A mediocre offensive performance beat the Packers by a touchdown. This isn’t new to Chicago. But with this coach and this quarterback, it was supposed to be different. Not only did it not look different Thursday night. It looked worst than it ever has before.

Sunday in Denver becomes becomes pretty close to a must win for the 2019 Chicago Bears. And it is definitively a must perform for the offense.

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Five Thoughts on 2018’s Final Game From Inside the Building

| January 7th, 2019

Sunday’s loss to the Eagles is going to be discussed for a long time and Cody Parkey will remain the centerpiece of that conversation. But here are five (I think) unique observations from inside the building.

  • The crowd wanted to be the loudest and most intense crowd at Soldier Field in thirty years. But oddly, the defense deflated them constantly. The Eagles converted way too many third downs, and converted them with relative ease, with Foles throwing to wide open receivers under little pressure. Third down is when the lakefront faithful reached fever pitch. Building back up to that level, on a cold windy night, was not easy.
  • There was a distinct change in Mitch Trubisky after completing the 3rd-and-11 late. His confidence seemed shaken. His receivers were not winning on the outside. He wasn’t able to create with his legs because he was clearly nursing an injury. But after he completed that pass, he took control of the game. He was brilliant down the stretch and would have been the story of the game if…well, you know.
  • When the Bears spread the Eagles out, the Eagles had no answer. I wrote last week this was not a game the Bears should plan to win on the ground. That’s a great Eagles front. When Nagy spread them out, Trubisky had open receivers everywhere. Why didn’t the Bears change their approach in the second half? Why didn’t they recognize those mismatches? This was not a banner day for the coaching staff on either side of the ball.

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