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Three Off-Season Approach Questions with [REDACTED]

| February 15th, 2021


The NFL personnel man I refer to as [REDACTED] has been a friend of mine for more than a decade. He’s not a cultivated source. He’s a guy in a high-profile NFL gig and his family lives in my neighborhood. He’s also one of my most valuable resources in the league. So I asked him three questions.

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DBB: I won’t ask you to weigh-in on the Houston situation, or any other front office, but give me your general response to the Deshaun Watson availability.

[REDACTED]: Unthinkable. But based on what is happening down there, totally predictable. I will weigh-in on Houston. Nick (Caserio) aside, those are not good people running the program. Deshaun is above all a truly good person. He sees the caliber of individual leaving the organization and the caliber of individual staying and he knows which groups he belongs in.

As for the trade itself, I don’t envy Nick’s position. Three first round picks are nice but they’re not Deshaun, you know what I mean? You can hit on all three and not equal the value of a player of his status and ability. And none of the quarterbacks rumored to be in the packages back to Houston are half the player he is. Nick almost has to take this further along so he can convince his fans he had no other choice but to trade him. He has to exhaust his options.

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DBB: Many Bears fans believe Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are in a “lame duck” season. I’m not one of those people, but it seems to be the general perception. You’ve been in a front office, in that spot. Can you describe the experience?

[REDACTED]: Yeah, it sucks. 

First thing, and I have told you this previously, nobody I spoke with believed Ryan or Matt was getting fired. And if they were, both would have been hired again within 12 hours if they wanted. I would have pushed hard for us to bring Ryan in but he’d more than likely go back to Sean. 

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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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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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“Ted, George…I Fucked Up.”

| October 28th, 2019


Ryan Pace wakes up.

He kisses his wife on the forehead. Tells her he loves her.

He walks downstairs and pours himself a cup of Lavazza. (I assume Pace is like me and has the kind of coffee maker he can set the night before.) Maybe he makes some toast. Dry. No butter. Maybe he fries and egg or two. He sits at the kitchen table in silence.

Coffee works.

He takes his dump.

Showers.

Dresses for the workday. His favorite suit. He needs it today. This is not his normal workday and he knows it.

He gets into the office an hour earlier than normal to prepare and stares out the window, waiting to see the cars of Ted Phillips and George McCaskey arrive.

They finally do. It’s time.

“Ted, George,” he says, “I fucked up.”


In the modern NFL, missing on the first-round quarterback can set a franchise back years if you let it. The Bears can’t let it. Today, the entire organization has to acknowledge they chose the wrong guy. It’s difficult. It’s painful. For Pace, it’s somewhat humiliating. But it is necessary if the team hopes to contend for a title in in the next few years. Because they will not contend for anything with Mitch Trubisky playing quarterback.

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DBB Weekend Show Featuring Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times [AUDIO]

| September 22nd, 2017

On this episode of the Weekend Show:

  • Jeff breaks down the BS surrounding the Bears not playing Mitch Trubisky, including their “plan”.
  • Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times on injuries (“too big, too strong”), Loggains/Fangio (I got him leaning Loggains) and the main event at QB – where he disputes much of what Jeff believes, including arguing for an actual plan based upon the career of Drew Brees.
  • Reverend Dave on Patriots fans in London, with a special shoutout to St. Croix and Puerto Rico.
  • Music from The Beatles! New opening number! Same closing number!

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Three Thoughts For Another Week of the Offseason

| August 14th, 2017

Mini-primer for the week ahead…

  • Ryan Pace praising competition at all positions is a drastic shift from “Mike Glennon is our starting quarterback and we’re pumped about that”. Remember, Pace put his neck (and arguably career) on the line when he moved into the two slot for Trubisky and NO ONE was more enthralled by the kid’s preseason debut. But again, Trubisky’s success isn’t the story to watch. Trubisky is going to have the same ups and downs any rookie has. Watch Glennon. If he continues to struggle – and he’s not good so that should be expected – the Bears will have no choice but to move quickly into the future.
  • Three different trustworthy individuals, all on the ground in Bourbonnais, told DBB there was no way to argue Eddie Jackson wasn’t one of the two best safeties in camp. This, coupled with reports of Jackson getting time with the ones in practice, leads one to believe EJ will soon find himself lining up beside Quintin Demps in the starting defensive backfield.
  • Bears waiver claim of Roberto Aguayo is just…odd. Most of Pace’s maneuvers, position-by-position, have been understandable. Even the Glennon signing made sense as long as there was a correlating move. But how he’s handled kicker is bizarre. Cutting an aging Gould for a mediocre Barth. Cutting Barth’s popular and accurate challenger early this summer, creating a completely competitionless position. Now signing one of the worst draft picks of modern times? Taking one of the most mentally fragile players the league has seen and putting him in front of one it’s most angry, impatient fan bases? Asking a guy who couldn’t make extra points in the perfect conditions of Tampa to now come kick in arguably the third most difficult kicking building in the league behind the Meandowlands and Heinz Field? Seriously, what’s the point?

Another week begins. (And these practices become far more important…because they are secret.)

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