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Trubisky vs. Watson: Week 14 Game Preview!

| December 11th, 2020


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…but this is a team in complete freefall.


A Personal Note

This blog started in 2005. But 2006 was the first year things were taken seriously around here and that coincided with a magical run to the Super Bowl. From that season until Jay Cutler’s injury in the middle of 2011, it was a pleasure writing about the Chicago Bears daily. They weren’t perfect, by any means, but they were interesting.

But from then until now – with the exception of the 2018 mirage – it has been exhausting. Just think about all the mistakes this franchise has made:

  • Jerry Angelo was not a great GM but the team went to the NFC title game in 2010 and were 7-3 before their starting quarterback got hurt in 2011. The team decided THAT was the time to fire Angelo? (I wrote then that it was not and was slaughtered for that opinion.)
  • They hired Phil Emery, a candidate on very few radars. (Folks close to Ted Phillips have told me this is the most distinct regret of his time with the Bears.)
  • Emery fired Lovie Smith after the 2012 season. Lovie was 11-5 in 2010, 8-8 (Hanie) in 2011 and 10-6 in 2012. And was fired.
  • With reigning Coach of the Year Bruce Arians sitting in a hotel room, desperate to coach Cutler and the Bears, Emery hired CFL legend Marc Trestman to lead the Bears. It didn’t look like all that bad a choice in year one. Year two was a different story. Kromer rats out Jay to the media, then confesses. Jay is benched for Jimmy Clausen and Reverend Dave and I are forced to sit through it live.
  • Bears hire Ryan Pace. Pace hires John Fox. Is that the coach he wanted?
  • Pace drafts Trubisky over Watson without so much as meeting with Watson. Fox admits he was kept in the dark during this process. What’s odd about that? I KNEW THEY WERE DOING THIS THE MORNING OF THE DRAFT! But again, my connections are at the President/ownership level.
    • What both of these decisions show clearly is the Bears are not functioning as a single organization. They are separate entities, with separate intentions, trying to weld those intentions into a cohesive plan. And that doesn’t work in the NFL.

Mistake after mistake after mistake. Exhausting.


Fun Christmas Song Performances: Volume I

I’m in Christmas mode. (And I have no interest in writing a breakdown of Texans v. Bears. Honestly, who cares?) Here are some fun performances of great Christmas songs. I’ll add a few more to this list over the next few weeks.

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Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin, A Very Murray Christmas

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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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Wildcard Weekend Gambling Guide!

| January 3rd, 2020

Four games. I’ll give you a bet for each. (All odds courtesy of DraftKing Sportsbook.)


Saturday 3:35 PM Central

Bills at Texans (-2.5)

Over/Under 44

My heart is all-in for the boys from 716 but Josh Allen, facing a good pass rush, on the road, terrifies me. Look for Allen to use his legs a bunch in this one but I still don’t see Buffalo producing enough offense. If this line were a point higher, I’d go the other way. Begrudging Bet: Houston -2.5. 


Saturday 7:15 PM Central

Titans at Patriots (-5)

Over/Under 44

Bill Belichick will go into this game with a one-track mind. If the Patriots stop Derrick Henry, they win. But Henry has quietly become the best back in football and New England struggles upfront against these bruising-type runners. I don’t know if Tennessee wins this game but I like them to keep it close. Bet: Tennessee +5.


Sunday 12:05 PM Central

Vikings at Saints (-8)

Over/Under 50

I thought the Saints were in the best team in football in 2017. They lost in the playoffs on a ridiculous play.

I thought the Saints were the best team in football in 2018. They lost in the playoffs on a ridiculous call.

I think the Saints are the best team in football in 2019. They’re not losing to Kirk Cousins. Bet: New Orleans -8.

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A Look at the QB Situations of the Potentially-Available Head Coaching Gigs

| December 22nd, 2017

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images (Edited)

The question I’ve been asked most since getting to Chicago: “Do you think Trubisky will be a positive when looking for a new coach?” My answer each time has been a definitive yes because I truly believe it will.

But I decided that, instead of leaning on my gut, to poll my two pals in the league on the question, factoring in all of the potentially-available gigs and their quarterback situation. I’ve grouped the teams into categories.

(I’ll be referring to my friends as AFC GUY & NFC GUY.)


Colts

They get their own category because think of the waters GM Chris Ballard has to navigate. When he’s looking to hire a coach in January he may not be able to tell the candidates whether Andrew Luck, their franchise quarterback, will require an additional surgery sidelining him six months or more. He won’t be able to tell the candidates if they have a franchise quarterback in 2018 or not.

NFC GUY: “Chris is going to have to sell that job. And every potential coach will want to know if they’re considering drafting a quarterback early.”


Bucs / Titans

These are two jobs that, should they come open, will come open with a quarterback in-place. But…do you want them?

  • Marcus Mariota has questions to answer regarding his play in 2017. Because he’s been awful. Said AFC GUY: “If he’s not hurt, he’s a problem.”

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Wildcard Saturday Open Thread

| January 7th, 2017

The Picks For Today

Oakland +4 over HOUSTON

You’ve heard the stat all week. Connor Cook is the first quarterback to make his first start in the postseason. And he’s doing so against one of the league’s best defenses. The gambler in me is screaming, “TAKE THE TEXANS!”

But I’m not doing it. Because I don’t think Brock Osweiler is any good and this seems like the perfect stage for him to formally end his Houston career. Not saying the Raiders win the game. Saying they keep it close.

Texans 16, Raiders 13

SEATTLE -7.5 over Detroit

Lions stink. And Devin Hester!

Seahawks 27, Lions 14

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Least Click-Inducing Headline Possible: Best to Approach Bears Opener with Nuance

| September 12th, 2016

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Football has the most schizophrenic fans in sport. The reasons why are (a) there are too few games and (b) there is too much time between them. Baseball fans get to hit the reset button every day. Basketball and hockey fans every couple of days. Soccer fans, especially European ones, never get overemotional about a result because they play a zillion matches. Football fans are only guaranteed 16 games over 17 weeks. Once the season starts, it’s almost over.

Never is that schizophrenia more on display than in the aftermath of Week One. For eight months, we wait. Postseason. Super Bowl. Free agency. Draft. Camps. Preseason. All that time, every moment, leading up to a single contest against a single opponent on a single afternoon (or night). It’s only 1/16 (6.25%) of the regular season campaign, but it just feels like so much more.

Carson Wentz is going to the Hall of Fame.

Alex Smith is the MVP.

Jimmy Garoppolo is going to fetch the Patriots eleven first-round picks.

It isn’t exciting to treat Week One with nuance, especially in Chicago. Nuance don’t get clicks in hashtag hot take culture. But the 2016 Bears require it. Yes, they lost their opener. On the road. To a non-conference opponent, a team that also happened to be one of the league’s five best defenses and a playoff team a year ago.

But anybody who expected the portrait of this young team to be fully painted on opening Sunday was nothing short of delusional. The Bears have some guarantees – Cutler, Alshon, the middle linebackers, the guards – but by conservative estimates the club started about a dozen new players on offense and defense. A dozen.

Sunday asked the questions the Bears will need to answer over the next fifteen games. They weren’t bad against the Texans. They just weren’t good enough. But unlike some of the league’s bottom feeders, the Bears believe many of the answers to those questions are actually on the roster. Kevin White and Cody Whitehair (as a center) and Leonard Floyd and HJQ won’t be judged on how they performed in Houston. They’ll be judged by how much better they are in Minnesota on New Year’s Day.

And so will the 2016 Bears. Nobody expects this team to compete for a title. And if you do, you’re just not paying attention to the rest of the league. But a fair expectation, a real expectation should be a team that improves weekly, wins games and by the end of the season makes everyone believe they are on the precipice of great things.

Yesterday the Bears led a good team, on the road, in the fourth quarter. It’s not a moral victory. It’s a sign. And the sign reads…Close.

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Analysis Adds Up: Rapid Fire Reaction to an Opening Loss in Houston

| September 12th, 2016

Thursday I wrote a column and said the game would come down to protection for Jay Cutler and Houston’s wide receivers vs. the Bears secondary. The game came down to those two things. The Bears lost both battles. They lost the second half. They lost the game.

Rapid fire…

  • Willie Young has to play better in the six-game span McPhee is sidelined. Leonard Floyd’s ability/explosiveness is obvious but the Bears need Young to be their best pass rusher.
  • If the Bears had ANY consistent pass rush they would have forced Osweiler into mistakes. He was fragile. But they made him comfortable.
  • DeAndre Hopkins is an unbelievable player. How can you get mad about the plays he was making? That was all world stuff.
  • The Will Fuller touchdown was inexcusable. But that call – in that situation – was made because Bill O’Brien saw something.
  • John Fox has to challenge that spot. It doesn’t matter if most spot challenges are unsuccessful. That was a 4 and potentially 7 point swing. The risk is a timeout. The reward is you’re still in the game.
  • Dowell Loggains. Not a sterling debut. Did the Bears not expect Romeo to start bringing pressure in the second half?

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Playoff Picks: Wildcard Round

| January 8th, 2016

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Administrative Note: We’ll resume our postseason positional analysis columns on Monday with running backs, Tuesday with wide receivers, Wednesday with tight ends & Thursday we’ll wrap up the offensive side of the ball with our analysis of the line. (Defense will come after the division round.)

KANSAS CITY AT HOUSTON

Am I willing to embrace the notion of Brian Hoyer winning a postseason game? No, I’m not. Am I willing to cast my support unabashedly for Andy Reid in a postseason game? No, I’m not. But since I picked the Chiefs to make the Super Bowl in August I might as well continue seeing red. And on a football note, the Chiefs don’t look to throw the ball downfield so their short passing attack should be able to neutralize the Houston’s greatest asset: Watt, Whitney and the pass rush. Chiefs 20, Texans 13

PITTSBURGH AT CINCINNATI

Here’s what I keep hearing from folks analyzing the wildcard round: nobody wants to play the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here’s my follow-up question: why? The Steelers controlled their road to the postseason and lost to Marc Trestman and Ryan Mallett! (And the game wasn’t particularly close.) Then in Week 17 the Steelers were horrible against Cleveland, with Big Ben throwing ugly picks to second-rate linebackers. If Austin Davis weren’t starting for the Browns and they didn’t decide to fumble away the second half, the Jets would be in the playoffs. So is Pittsburgh just going to turn it on? Bengals 24, Steelers 22

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