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An Emotional Return, For Me and the Bears, on Thanksgiving Day

| December 2nd, 2019


Johnny Brogan tends the bar at the Copper Kettle in Woodside, Queens. He’s been behind the sticks for twenty-four years, mixing Bloodies and pouring thick pints of the black. He’s there on Thanksgiving. He’s there on Christmas. He’s there, seemingly always, the front man of my local saloon since moving to the neighborhood a decade ago.

Thursday, the bar was empty when I sat down fifteen minutes before kickoff. Brogie, as he’s known in the community, put an Amstel Light and pint of club soda in front of me. This was going to be a long day of drinking and I had to pace myself. I ordered a bowl of potato leak soup to lay something of a base. No bread. (I’m off bread.)

I approached Bears at Lions the same way I’d approached the last month plus of Bears football: with passionate indifference. The team – and more importantly the quarterback – lost me entirely with their shambolic performance against the New Orleans Saints. And the weeks since have been a slow drain of any emotional juice I might have pumping through my supporter’s veins. This is a rare mode for me to be in, as I’ve always espoused the “we’re only guaranteed 16 of these a year” mentality. But it happens.

Then it stopped happening.

Sometime on Thursday, things changed.

I don’t know why.

I don’t know exactly when.

But sometime during this Thanksgiving game, I found my hands clenched together tightly. The Amstels were going back quicker. The pacing started. The bathroom trips multiplied. Nerves. Anxiety. Even Brogie noticed. “Only seen you like this during the Masters,” he said, referring to my nerves watching Tiger wrap-up number 15 earlier this year.

Maybe it was the kid quarterback, playing with shattered confidence and a bum shoulder, putting his teammates on his back in the second half, delivering several of the best passes of his young career.

Maybe it was Roquan Smith, flying all over the field, reminding us all why he was considered one of the best young defenders in the sport coming into the season. We’ll never fully understand the mental sabbatical Smith took mid-season. But if he plays like that, we won’t remember it either.

Maybe it was seeing promising talents like Anthony Miller and David Montgomery dominate. Finally. And for the first time in 2019, having a sense that this offensive project under Matt Nagy makes some sense. That these fellas can deliver in this offense.

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Week 13: Bears at Lions Game Preview & Prediction

| November 27th, 2019


It’s rather pointless to write these breakdowns every week. The Bears have a terrific defense and an abysmal offense. That’s what they’ve shown for two and a half months. That’s what they’ll show the next month and a half. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts heading into Thanksgiving.

  • Bears defense is 4th in both yards and points allowed per game. Lions are 29th in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed. This is once again a monumental mismatch of defensive units and would lead one to assume, especially with the nightmare that is the Chicago offense, it’s going to a slow, boring, low-scoring game. (But a good opportunity to chat with some family members?)
  • Here is the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett on Jeff Driskel’s performance (Grade: F) against the Redskins Sunday: “Jeff Driskel had his worst start as a Lion on Sunday. He ran for 63 yards on nine carries and kept several drives alive with his feet, but he also threw three interceptions and should have thrown a fourth. Driskel badly underthrew Marvin Jones on a interception with 48 seconds to play that set up Washington’s game-winning field goal and nearly threw a pick-six one play earlier. He did have 207 yards passing and a touchdown, but he didn’t see a wide-open Kenny Golladay on the goal line on third-and-4 when the Lions had to settle for a second-quarter field goal and he missed an open Jones in the end zone on a deep shot in the third quarter.”
    • Driskel is playing, per Chucky P.
  • Can the Bears convince themselves they are still in a playoff fight? No. But it’s unlikely even the Thanksgiving showcase will be enough to motivate this Lions team. (There were even rumors on CBS from Jason LaCanfora – who is unreliable at best – that the Ford family might consider making major changes should the team no show this game with the Bears.) While many of us in Bearsland are bemoaning this disappointing season, Thursday could be one of those truly awful days for a Lions fan base that has experienced their share.
  • Mitch Trubisky’s numbers (under Matt Nagy) vs. Matt Patricia’s Lions defenses: 39-53, 528 yards, 6 TDs and a passer rating around 140. He’s played his best football against this opponent, although both of those performances were at home. (Chase Daniel started at Detroit last year.)
  • One sneaky stat line for the Bears. They are second in average punt return yardage and third in average kickoff return yardage. They’re the best return team in the league. And that might have a massive impact Thursday.

Chicago Bears 23, Detroit Lions 16

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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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Short-Handed Bears Beat Lions, Cement Lead Atop NFC North

| November 23rd, 2018

Not the most compelling game ever played but the kind of result good teams get. The Bears played three division games in twelve days and went 3-0, outscoring the Lions (twice) and Vikings 82-58.

This three-game stretch solidified them as one of the better teams in the NFC and it would now be a terrible disappointment if there was not a football game at Soldier Field in January. 

Rapid fire…


  • Chase Daniel did everything a team can ask from their backup quarterback. He moved the offense. He avoided crippling errors. Was he good? Not really. Even the touchdowns/big plays were not well-thrown balls. But he got the job done. In the modern NFL, teams need a backup QB that can hold down the fort and win some games for 2-3 weeks every season. With Daniel, the Bears have that.
  • 3rd and 1. Early second quarter. Stafford rolled to his left and had about six minutes to find an open receiver to move the chains. Why? Khalil Mack was floating in coverage. (And “floating” is the accurate word.) This is what Fangio’s defense is. Understood. But without a healthy Aaron Lynch, and with Leonard Floyd struggling to get to the quarterback, not allowing the game’s best edge rusher to rush from the edge feels negligent.
  • As Andrew pointed out on Twitter, the Bears were awful on 2nd and long all game, giving up chunk plays in the air and on the ground. This will be a focal point before they head to the Meadowlands.
  • Eddie Jackson has to be in the conversation now for DPOY now. Right now the award is Aaron Donald’s to lose, mostly because of Mack’s earlier injuries, but no defender has made more big plays in 2018 than Jackson.
  • Every week Roquan Smith makes another play. And every week it becomes more apparent Smith is going to be in the middle of the Bears defense for a long, long time.
  • The running game, or lack thereof, will be a major talking point over the next ten days. But look no further than Matt Nagy’s two-point conversion call to understand why that element is struggling. With an inaccurate backup QB, Nagy called a pass. And not just a pass. A quick, bubble screen that required timing and pinpoint ball placement. Despite what the head coach tells reporters, the answer is simple. The Bears don’t run the ball because the Bears don’t want to run the ball.
  • Taquan Mizzell is more valuable to Nagy than Jordan Howard.

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Week 12: Bears at Lions Thanksgiving Game Preview, Volume Two

| November 21st, 2018

This painting is “Death and the Miser”, Jan Provoost, Flemish primitive. It is on display at Groeninge Museum, Bruges. It is brilliant.

Back in the states today and excited to get back to full-throated coverage of this remarkable playoff push!

Game Prediction

  • First ten minutes of this game are essential. Lions will have energy; they always do in this Thanksgiving spot. But the Bears can’t afford to come out slow. If they do they could find themselves down 10-0 quickly. Not insurmountable but also not ideal.
  • Lions will be without rookie RB Kerryon Johnson, leaving LeGarrette Blount and Zach Zenner to carry the load. Is this a big deal? Not necessarily in terms of production but possibly in terms of approach. Without Johnson the Lions will become one dimensional in this game quickly. And there are very few QBs in the league capable of beating this defense by throwing it on every down. (WR Marvin Jones also looks like he’ll be missing the game.)
  • Short week. Tired legs. Quarterback nursing an injury. This is the week! This is the one! Jordan Howard will be the workhorse. And he’ll be eating some kind of Thanksgiving food on television after the game is over. (I’m just gonna keep writing this. Every week. I don’t care.)
  • This game stays close. And Khalil Mack sacks & strips Matthew Stafford late, re-cementing his status as front runner for DPOY.

Chicago Bears 27

Detroit Lions 20

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Week 12: Bears at Lions Thanksgiving Game Preview, Volume One

| November 20th, 2018


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and I give thanks for Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky, Vic Fangio & the whole lot of em.


No Analysis Needed

This is not a particularly difficult football game to analyze. These two teams played less than a fortnight ago and one of the teams, your 2018 Chicago Bears, was clearly better.

But this schedule is brutal for the Bears. Sunday night, against the Vikings, was their biggest game in many-a-moon. It was also their most emotional. Resetting in just three days is nearly impossible. Especially on the road.

This is a tough spot.


The Game Distich

Detroit will be the stage, this stuffing day

Now begins another act of the play!


Tomorrow: Game Prediction!

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| December 2nd, 2015

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• The Bears should have been running into a buzz saw. The Packers seemed to right whatever was wrong with them four days earlier, the weather conditions suited them perfectly and it was a night in which they honored one of the greatest players in their franchise’s history. Shit, Ron Wolf even referred to the field they were playing on as the house that Favre built. At no point did I think the Bears were going to win until about five seconds after — waiting for a flag — Aaron Rodgers’ fourth down pass hit the ground. How sweet it is.

• This wasn’t just a win for the Bears and it wasn’t just a loss for the Packers. The times are a changin’ in the NFC North and both teams know it.

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From the Shadows of Low Expectations, a Season Emerges

| November 30th, 2015

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Before this season began, in the shadows of low expectations, no one could have foreseen an evening like Thanksgiving night at Lambeau Field.

No one could have imagined a thirteen point outing from the home team just a year removed from seemingly scoring thirteen points a minute.

A second half shutout? Pipe dream.

No one could have envisioned the visiting quarterback thoroughly outplaying the man often mentioned in the same breath as a four-time Super Bowl champion.

No one could have guessed a secondary comprised of journeymen and kids would deliver heroic moment after heroic moment, refusing to break under the pressure of knowing a touchdown beats them. They shed multiple blockers. They batted down sure thing completions. They redirected routes and blanketed receivers on crucial downs. They did…everything.

(For video of the final four plays, you can VIEW THEM HERE ON YOUTUBE. The NFL, in its infinite wisdom, has disable embedding of their YouTube clips. Because why would you want to make it easy for those who love your product to consume it. My hatred of everything happening on Park Avenue grows daily.)

And perhaps most shocking, most unpredictable of all, no one would have believed that as the football season leaves Thanksgiving behind it is the fans of the Chicago Bears and not the Green Bay Packers who see their franchise’s arrow pointed decidedly up.

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