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ATM: Improved Line Play Key to Bears Finish

| December 10th, 2019

The Chicago Bears will go only as far as Mitch Trubisky takes them, but they need the offensive line to hold up so they can see exactly what the quarterback can do.

The line play has ranged from awful to mediocre until the last two games when we’ve seen holes opening up. It certainly appears that the unit is beginning to come together, which will be important for both the immediate and longterm future of the club.

Trubisky earned all the headlines after his dynamic performance against Dallas, but lost in the shuffle was the dominant performance by the offensive line. They didn’t just get the better of one of the best defensive lines in the league. They bullied them in what was unquestionably the best performance the Bears blockers have had all year — and maybe in several seasons.

That was the second straight game in which the Bears controlled the line of scrimmage. Trubisky was hurried just six times and hit once on Thanksgiving, according to Pro-Football-Reference, as the Bears also gave their runners 40 yards before contact on 23 attempts. Compare that to a week earlier when Bears rushers had just 25 yards before contact on 26 attempts. (The advanced data for the Cowboys game won’t be available until Wednesday.)

The difference was seen in Trubisky too. While he wasn’t pressured that much against the Giants, it was enough to throw him off as he had 10 of what PFR deems to be bad throws, compared to just four against Detroit and four against Dallas.

The Green Bay Packers know how much pressure impacts Trubisky and they blitzed him 17 times in Week One. They got home a fair amount, sacking him five times, hitting him five more, and hurrying him seven times.

Trubisky was bad that game, but he didn’t have much of a chance to be good.

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Rival Roundup: The Bears Are Good, But Must Be Better to Win the NFC North

| October 11th, 2019


We’re just over a quarter of the way through the 2019 season, and the bye week makes it the perfect time to assess where the Bears stand, both as an individual unit and in relation to the rest of the NFC North.

Rivals:

Green Bay Packers

Right now the Packers are the top team in the NFC North. They’re currently 4-1, and 2-0 in the division. Most likely they beat the Lions on Monday and become 3-0, which would be a boon to their playoff hopes. They also have the second easiest remaining schedule in the division.

Both the defense and run game have improved for the Packers, and much of the tension that hung in the air during the end of Mike McCarthy’s tenure seems to have dissipated under LaFleur (despite initial reports that he and Rodgers were clashing). Rodgers isn’t putting up his usual numbers quite yet, but as long as they’re winning, he seems perfectly content with that.

It’s early and a lot can still happen, but it’s quite possible that Week 15 in Green Bay could hold even more significance than usual in the Bears-Packers storied rivalry.

Detroit Lions

The thing about the Lions is, they’re actually kind of good. They’re also still the Lions.

They could very easily be 4-0 right now instead of 2-1-1. They blew a significant fourth quarter lead against the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener that ended in a tie, and they kept pace with Mahomes and the Chiefs right up until the very end of their Week 4 matchup.

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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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Week One: Packers at Bears Game Preview

| September 4th, 2019


The Game Poem

Walk with me,

into that dark, dark corridor called Hope.

Believe with me,

though believing is a slippery slope.

Join me on this journey

to a place we never dared go.

Dream what I dream,

’tis impossible to know.


Trite, Boring Thoughts on Football

  • Khalil Mack is going to get his pressure on Aaron Rodgers but it’s hard to believe the Packers will let one of the best defensive players in the game ruin the game. That means the Bears will have to generate pressure from elsewhere and they have plenty of options. Akeim Hicks and Roquan Smith up the gut. Leonard Floyd off the opposite edge. Buster Skrine from the slot. If Rodgers gets comfortable, he’ll dice up any defense. Chuck Pagano and the Bears can’t let that happen.
  • The expectation is this will be a vastly-improved Packers defense. Maybe, maybe not. But the Bears have an element of surprise in Week One they haven’t had in years. How are they going to use David Montgomery? How will the Packers cover Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen, if they’re on the field at the same time? What will change for Mitch Trubisky in year two of the system? One would imagine Mike Pettine’s approach will be “stop the run and make Trubisky beat us”. But has any Andy Reid disciple operated his offense that way?
  • The last three Bears/Packers games at Soldier Field have been decided by one possession. (3 point loss, 7 point loss, 7 point win.) Both sides know this game is going to be close. The Bears lost a few stalwarts on their coverage units and have a question mark at kicker. If special teams determine the outcome Thursday night, the advantage swings to Green Bay.

The Three Best Opening Numbers in Musical History

There are many not making this list that will surprise people. “Tradition” is a masterful illustration of the Fiddler themes. “Fugue for Tinhorns” perfectly sets up Guys & Dolls stylistically. “Magic To Do” was a marvel in Bob Fosse’s original Pippin staging. But it’s my list. Fuck off.

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Audibles: Scheduling, Coaching, Movies & Other Stuff.

| February 14th, 2019


Scheduling Notes

Two things have leaked regarding the 2019 Chicago Bears schedule: (1) Packers are rumored to open the season on Thursday night at Soldier Field. (2) Bears will be in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day…again. What do these two reports mean, if anything?

  • That’s 1/8 of the schedule not being played on Sunday. And with the Chiefs, Rams, Saints, Eagles, Giants and Cowboys on the schedule, don’t get used to that Sunday routine. This team is going to be in primetime a lot. And anybody who knows me knows I really, really, really hate it.
  • The league should stop putting games as important as Packers at Bears in Week One. They won’t but they should. What’s becoming obvious is teams are no longer considering the preseason a viable method of preparation and it seems most don’t start playing decent football until midway through October. (The Pats waited until January last season.) I’d like to see the NFL use the first four weeks of the season to play exclusively the non-conference schedule.
  • I know the league’s instincts will be Chiefs at Patriots as the Sunday night opener. But if the league were smart, they’d put the Browns in that spot. Elevate that franchise. Excite a fan base that hasn’t seen a relevant primetime game in years. (And a game as potentially important as Chiefs at Pats should be played on Thanksgiving night.)

Coaching Staff Complete

From Pat Finley in the Sun-Times:

Bears coach Matt Nagy finished up his round of hires Friday, promoting two coaches to finish up the team’s defensive staff.

Sean Desai, a Bears defensive quality control coach for the past six seasons, will serve as the team’s safeties coach. Deshea Townsend, who was hired to coach the Bears’ defensive backs last month, had his title changed to secondary coach. Bill Shuey, who spent last season as a defensive quality control coach, has been named defensive pass analyst/assistant linebackers coach.

I have absolutely nothing to add to these two paragraphs.

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Playoffs Aside, 2018 Regular Season Established Bears as NFC North’s Best Team

| December 31st, 2018


The 2018 Chicago Bears played six games against the NFC North this season. The same number they always play. But these six were different.

Yes, the Bears were 5-1, with a point differential of +44. Yes, they were 3-0 at home, with a point differential of +24. But it was more than the numbers that told the story of these Bears. It was how and when they handled each opponent. Let’s look at them.

  • Green Bay Game I set the tone for the entire season. The Bears left Lambeau on the opening Sunday night knowing they should have won, knowing Kyle Fuller should have caught the game-clinching interception, knowing they were the better team. Matt Nagy didn’t let that game bring his team down. He used it as inspiration. It worked.
  • Detroit Game I was a bloodbath. The 12-point victory didn’t represent how lopsided the ballgame was. But the result was still important because the Bears had been struggling with the Lions for the last several seasons. No longer.
  • Minnesota Game I was the biggest regular season game at Soldier Field in a decade. In primetime the Bears had to prove they were the favorite to win the division. And from a hotel room in Paris, in the middle of the night, I silently watched them do just that.

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Bears 24, Packers 17: Rapid Fire Reaction to a Division-Clinching Victory

| December 17th, 2018


This was not a clean effort by the Chicago Bears. But just think about that. The Bears played sub-par ballgame and beat Aaron Rodgers to clinch the NFC North. This simply has not been possible for the last decade. More thoughts…

  • Mitch Trubisky was great. He was calm and smart under pressure, decisive and accurate with the medium-range passing game and also flashed a few moments of absolute brilliance, including the the left sideline/cross-body toss to Shaheen and the bullet to Bellamy over the middle. This might not have been his flashiest box score but it might have been his best performance of the season.
  • But I’m sure today someone will write that Trubisky can only go to his first read or that he struggles throwing to his left. Why? Because the Bears played Sunday at 1 PM and most national guys didn’t watch the game.
  • Aaron Rodgers did something yesterday I haven’t seen from a QB. Every time Khalil Mack got near him, he switched the ball to the opposite arm. Rodgers knew Mack was going to get him. He wasn’t going to let him get the ball. Smart stuff. (And I don’t know how to write about Mack anymore. He’s everything a superstar player is supposed to be.)
  • DBB will be sending Lou Malnati’s pizza to Jon Gruden today. Updates will be available on the blog over the next few days.
  • Tarik Cohen’s season: 88 carries, 405 yards (4.6 per) and 2 touchdowns. 68 catches, 710 yards, 5 touchdowns. And he’s also the best punt returner in the NFL. The Bear are not division champions without him.

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