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ATM: Defensive Performance Makes Championship Dreams Valid

| December 11th, 2018

After holding one of the ten best offenses in the history of the league to just one legitimate scoring drive, Super Bowl dreams no longer seem far-fetched for the 2018 Chicago Bears.

Yes, they have to take care of business the rest of the season and any playoff run is going to require Mitch Trubisky to be infinitely better than he was Sunday night. But now that we’ve seen the defense be that good, there’s no reason to put a cap on what the Bears can accomplish this season.

Say what positive you will about the Bears teams of the early-to-mid 2000s, but they never faced — much less beat — an offense like the 2018 Bears just did.

  • 2005 Bears held a Carolina team that averaged more than 24 per game to just three but then got smoked in the playoffs by a legendary Steve Smith performance.
  • 2006 Bears limited the fifth-ranked Saints to 14 points, but that’s still not really comparable as indoor Saints and outdoor Saints are very different things.
  • 2010 Bears played two top-three offenses and gave up 26 and 36 points in those games respectively.

While the defense’s performance Sunday makes the games against Brock Osweiler, Eli Manning and gimpy Aaron Rodgers even more confusing, it also gave validity to their claim as a potentially historic defense. If they can do THAT to the Rams, they can beat anybody — especially when you consider the defensive issues the other top scoring teams have.

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On Sunday Night Against the High-Flying Rams, the Bears Re-Established Their Home Field Advantage

| December 10th, 2018

The 2017 Chicago Bears were 3-5 at home, winning only one game in their building after October 22nd. The 2016 Bears were 3-5 at home, winning (again) only one game at Soldier Field in November and December combined. The 2015 Bears? Glad you asked. 1-7 at home. That win came on October 4th.

The home of the Chicago Bears has been a wonderful place to play football. If you’re not the Chicago Bears. Not any longer.

Sunday night the Bears won their sixth game on the lakefront in 2018. It is the first time they’ve registered six home wins since their Super Bowl-losing campaign of 2006. And they did it as underdogs. They did it against the team with the best record in the league. They did it against one of the sport’s best offenses, and the game’s most lauded offensive mind. An offensive mind so fertile it can memorize TEN names.

But it wasn’t just what happened that resonated. It was how it happened. There were four primary components to Sunday night’s victory.

I. The Crowd

The Soldier Field faithful knew this was a massive game and acted like it. Their raucousness was bursting through my television set in Queens, NY.

II. The Weather

As predicted here, the boys from Los Angeles were desperate to trade-in Navy for Santa Monica Pier as quickly as possible.

III. The Defense

They held the Rams to 214 total yards and an average of 3.5 yards per play. They sacked Jared Goff three times and intercepted him four times. They were, in a word, dominant.

IV. The Running Game

The much-maligned rushing attack finally had their breakout performance, setting the tone and keeping the opposition on their cold, cold sideline.

There was also a fifth component.

V. The Nagy Element (Also called “Fun, Fun, Fun”)

In many ways, this vintage of the Chicago Bears has restored some of the most endearing qualities of the franchise’s history.

Celebrating every interception with an elaborate dance? This is an organization that once did a music video in the middle of the regular season to announce their coming Super Bowl title.

Handing off to fat guys at the goal line. Hell, the Bears did this in a Super Bowl.

But faking the hand off to a fat guy and throwing a touchdown pass to another fat guy? That’s next level. That’s the Nagy Element. That’s the kind of fun-loving, fuck-it-why-not shit that has permeated every single aspect of the franchise. You can see it on the sideline. You can hear it on the 400 level. You can see it in the “Club Dub” videos across Bears social media.

The head coach of the Bears is constantly telling his players to “have fun out there”. They are. And so are we.

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Bears Beat Rams, Cementing Playoff Position and League Stature

| December 10th, 2018

Photo credit: New York Times.


Last night paid it off. Was it perfect? By no means. But on a cold night in Chicago the 2018 Bears provided their moment; their signature (regular season) victory. Rapid fire…

  • Trubisky was terrible. There’s no reason to sugarcoat it. Young quarterbacks are going to have games like this and all you can do is hope they grow from it. Mitch looked antsy in the pocket, was sailing balls to wide open receivers and made 2-3 decisions you simply can’t make. (The pick at the end of the first half was inexcusable.) Jared Goff was worse. And that’s why the Bears won.
  • Kyle Fuller’s interception late third quarter was the most important play of the game. Fuller’s had a brilliant season but it was clear in that moment this Bears defense wasn’t going to be defeated. Fuller shouldn’t just be going to be the Pro Bowl this season. He should be named an All Pro corner. He’s been the best in the NFL.
  • Eddie Goldman registering a sack/safety made me incredibly happy. Goldman is the unsung hero of this defense; the most important component of the league’s second-best rush unit. (New Orleans is quietly great against the run.) He deserves to fill the stat column every once in a while.
  • Aaron Donald did nothing. Who gets the credit? Everybody. But it starts with James Daniels.


  • Injuries may be the story that lingers from Sunday night. Bryce Callahan’s looked the most serious. Leonard Floyd delivered his most complete performance in years but couldn’t finish it. Bears need both of these guys down the stretch.

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Week 14: Rams at Bears Game Preview, Volume II

| December 7th, 2018

…continued.


Why the Bears Will Win

  • Soldier Field. The Bears are simply a different team at home (5-1), where they’d be undefeated if not for a special teams meltdown against the Patriots. Sunday night this high-flying Rams offense is going to experience 20 degrees on the lake. It won’t bother the Bears. It won’t bother their crowd. Will it bother Los Angeles? I have images of the 2005 Atlanta Falcons and 2013 Dallas Cowboys in my head. High-powered, warm weather offenses that boarded their buses to the airport midway through the third quarter.
  • Mitch’s Return. Trubisky’s ability to stretch the field with his arm and extend drives with his legs was sorely missed during the Chase Daniel period. And this is a defense that can:
    • Be exploited at the back end, with Marcus Peters having a nightmare season and Aquib Talib slowly working his way back from injury.
    • Leave huge gaps if they don’t get home to the quarterback. Russell Wilson put up nearly 100 yards on the ground in his last meeting with the Rams.
  • Jared Goff vs. Bears Secondary. One thing that stands out watching is Rams tape is the alarming number of wide open receivers Goff has over the course of a game. (The Chiefs game was an embarrassment.) But Goff was challenged last week in Detroit and probably delivered his most inconsistent/inaccurate performance of the 2018 season. Aside from a few breakdowns at the Meadowlands last week, this Bears secondary usually forces opposing QBs to hit 4-5 good throws to mount a scoring drive. In these conditions, with this pass rush bearing down, that will be a challenge for Goff.

Tweet of the Week


Why They Won’t.

  • Aaron Donald. James Daniels and Cody Whitehair have never seen anything like Donald in current form. I’m not quite sure many guards/centers have, as the man is coasting to the Defensive Player of the Year prize. Donald may not dominate for sixty minutes but he’s sure to make a big play (or three) at critical moments of the game, especially if he decides to line up over the struggling Bryan Witzmann.
  • Run Defense. The Giants may have laid something of a blueprint for attacking Vic Fangio’s aggressive pass rush. (Eli Manning hinted at such during his weekly radio spot on WFAN New York.) Run right at it. Yes, it helps to have a back of Saquan Barkley’s quality but the Rams have that in Todd Gurley. So Fangio should expect McVay to follow the Shurmur template and run Gurley directly at Khalil Mack for much of the evening. If Gurley gets going, the Rams will be unstoppable.
  • Shootout. If this game gets moving in a particular direction, are the Bears really prepared to go toe-to-toe with a high-powered offense? Are they prepared to score 40 if they NEED 40 to win? They have the scheme. They have the talent. They’re more equipped than any time in history to engage such a battle but they’ve never actually done it. The Rams are seasoned as playing such games. They play them every other week because they don’t defend well.

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Week 14: Rams at Bears Game Preview, Volume I

| December 6th, 2018


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and I like this moment for this team.  This game is the litmus test. This game will tell us whether to be content with taking the first big step and making the postseason or whether the 2018 Bears are capable of challenging the best teams in football for a Super Bowl title. Any result is an interesting one.


The Aaron Donald Limerick

There now lives a monster at tackle

Who moves with the burst of a jackal

He’ll rip up your guard

Leave him battered and scarred

Then cover the QB in Spackle™


Three Thoughts on the L.A. Rams

  • There really is no way to describe what Aaron Donald is doing this season. The last two games for the Rams – against Kansas City and Detroit – have been dogfights. In both of those games, Donald turned the tide with sacks and forced fumbles. He has four sacks and three forced fumbles in those two games ALONE. This is not a good Rams defense. You could argue this is a BAD Rams defense. But they make big plays and they feature the best player in the entire league through the first twelve games of 2018.
  • This is a prolific, well-coached offense. But the best defense they’ve faced on the road this season is Denver and in that game they mustered only 23 points. (With Todd Gurley rushing for more than 200 yards!) Rams were also up only 16-13 on the Lions in the fourth quarter last week until Donald did his thing. The approach for the Bears defense here is simple: keep the Rams in third-and-long and then get home with the pass rush. But that’s kind of the game plan against every offense.
  • The Rams allow more than five yards per carry, putting them near the bottom of the league. No, I’m not going to predict the Bears to have a breakout game on the ground. The dog ain’t gonna hunt in 2018. But this is a game where the creative run game – Gabriel and Cohen outside – and Mitch Trubisky’s legs should pay dividends. The Bears need to do everything in their power Sunday night to keep the football out of Jared Goff’s hands. That means running the ball and moving the chains.

Tomorrow: More Analysis & Prediction!

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Four Games To Look Forward to in 2018

| May 10th, 2018

Greetings, Bears fans! Happy to be back!

A lot has happened since I went on hiatus. Some free agency moves have been made, the draft is done, and guess what? I’m officially excited about football again!

Truly, I don’t know how anyone, besides those who thrive on constant negativity (or those aiming to write for the Tribune), could consider this offseason anything short of a huge success for Chicago. The only move Ryan Pace made that I even slightly disagreed with was not matching the Saints offer for Cam Meredith, but honestly letting him walk is small potatoes compared to all the great additions made in 2018.

Of course there’s still the potential for roster moves and shake-ups (and God forbid, serious injuries) between now and the start of the season. Still, we have a much clearer idea of who the Bears are and what they’re going to look like, and damn it if they aren’t looking pretty, pretty good.

I figured I’d put all this unbridled enthusiasm to good use by making my return to DBB to discuss the four games I’m most looking forward to in 2018:

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Wildcard Weekend Game Predictions

| January 4th, 2018

There are 11 playoff games. My best record against the spread was 7-4 in 2014. This year I will take that record to the woodshed.


Tennessee at Kansas City

Saturday – 3:20 pm CT 

Pick: Chiefs -9.

For some reason I’ve been watching a bunch of Titans games lately, mostly to look at Mariota, and something is very clear: the Titans are terrible. Kansas City was 6-2 at home this season and are quietly coming into the postseason on a four-game winning streak. (The Matt Nagy bump?) This profiles as the weekend’s only blowout. Lay the points! 37-16 Chiefs.


Atlanta at Los Angeles

Saturday – 7:15 pm CT

Pick: Atlanta +6.5.

I don’t know why I think this but I think there’s a big effort somewhere in this Falcons team. I’m not sure they can win this game on the road because they don’t have a consistent bone in their collective bodies but I still need Jared Goff to win a playoff game before I can get fully on the Ramwagon. 27-21 Rams.


Buffalo at Jacksonville

Sunday – 12:05 pm CT

Pick: Bills +9.

I’m just banking on this game being unwatchably low-scoring. 16-9 Jags.


Carolina at New Orleans

Sunday – 3:40 pm CT

Pick: Saints -7.

These teams played twice this season. Saints won both. Total score: 65-34. If this game were in Carolina I think a Panthers upset would be in-play but I’m having a hard time seeing it in the dome. I’ll be rooting for Chico and the boys but that egg they laid in Week 17 against the Falcons is tough to shake from my mind. 30-17 Saints.

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The 3 Best & Worst Games of John Fox’s Bears Tenure: Part I (Best)

| December 19th, 2017

The John Fox era is coming to an end in Chicago. All those “what-if” scenarios about the Bears winning out after dominating the Bengals can be put to bed after Saturday’s beatdown at the hands of the Lions. So for my first post on DBB I’m going to look back and reflect on the three best and three worst games of the John Fox era.

Since we’re trying to stay positive in Bears fandom, I’ll start with the good. As of writing this John Fox only has 13 wins as Bears coach; three of which came when Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley were under center. So really I’m looking at 10 games here. Slim pickings, but you work with what you’ve got.

Best Games

#3. November 15th, 2015

Chicago Bears @ St. Louis Rams: Chicago 37, St. Louis 13.

This win marks the second biggest margin of victory of any Bears win under Fox. It followed a thrilling comeback win in San Diego against the Chargers the previous week, making it the second time that season the Bears managed to string two wins together in a row. (They have never managed three in a row under Fox.) Jay Cutler went 19/24 with 3 TDs, no turnovers, and a career high passer rating of 151.0. It was decisive, dominant, and damn fun to watch. It put the Bears at 4-5, which after a 0-3 start was a happy surprise. You could see the improvement in the team, and more importantly, you could see that they were buying into John Fox’s message and methodology. It felt like it could be the beginning of more good things to come.


#2. October 31st, 2016

Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears: Chicago 20, Minnesota 10.

Coming into this game things weren’t great for the Bears or John Fox. Rumors that week circulated that Ryan Pace had hired outside consultants to evaluate day-to-day operations and that Fox was potentially one bad game away from being fired. Jay Cutler was returning from a thumb injury with many under the opinion he had fallen out of favor with Fox, and had Brian Hoyer not gotten hurt the previous week against the Packers, might not have returned as a starter at all.

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Bears Dominate Rams on the Road: Rapid Fire Recap

| November 16th, 2015

Chicago-Bears-Shea-McClellin-vs-Rams

Did anyone see this coming? Did anyone see the Bears going into an opposing stadium and thoroughly dominating the home team? Seriously. Any home team. The Bears were underdogs by more than a touchdown and played like Super Bowl contenders. It was impressive. Rapid fire…

– Jeremy Langford is a star. Speed, toughness, the works. If you wondered if Matt Forte was returning in 2016, you can stop wondering. Langford and Carey are a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield.

– Jay Cutler just continued to do what he’s done all season, except Sunday he was able to pile up some stats to support his excellent play. What’s been most remarkable about Cutler’s season is he is doing all this with a makeshift offensive line and without his receiving corps ever being healthy at the same time.

– Shea McClellin looked as good at middle linebacker as he’s looked all year – attacking the line of scrimmage and tackling in the hole. Easy to see what Fox and Fangio like so much about him at the position.

– McClellin’s strip of Tre Mason remind you of anyone? Sure as hell did for me.

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