8 REASONS FOR HOPE 8 REASONS FOR CAUTION

 

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8 REASONS FOR HOPE 8 REASONS FOR CAUTION

Ok 3-1 is good especially after that opening night debacle but how good are we? Well, we’re 0-1 against teams winning teams and 2-0 against losing teams, and 1-0 against 500 teams. How will it be when we play the Rams or the Chiefs or the Saints or the Packers again? Hard to say.

Do we need Trubisky to win? Is Chase Daniel more accurate? Doesn’t it seem the Bears defense has improved from last year?

Like in the Big Lebowski, lots of ins, lots of outs lots of strands in old duder’s head. 

I wouldn’t take Oakland for granted and I know Jon Gruden will be up for it as much as Khalil Mack, and then we go into the bye week which will give Trubisky some time to heal. 

All is good. Isn’t it?

REASONS FOR HOPE

  1. Even when compared to the past Bear defenses this one looks great.
  2. Even with key players out the defense looks great.
  3. The pick up of Ha Ha Clinton Dix looks like we stole one from the Packers, than the usual other way around.
  4. On the offensive side doesn’t Allen Robinson look like he makes every catch he dives for?
  5. David Montgomery is a bruiser and I like how he always knows how to fall forward and make guys miss.
  6. I like how for the most part we’ve protected the ball on the offensive side.
  7. Eddy Piniero!!! Way better than we could’ve hoped for at this point.
  8. To not have Roquan Smith or Akiem Hicks and still do what we did to Minnesota is way impressive.

REASONS FOR CAUTION

  1. At some point you have to take shots down the field and spread out the defense, we haven’t really.
  2. Nagy’s play calling sometimes looks a little questionable, like running Chase Daniel when we had no backup QB behind him.
  3. Great teams destroy worse teams, we let them hang around at the end.
  4. Is this about as good as we can expect from Trubisky or does he still have upside?
  5. What happened to rolling Trubisky out more?
  6. Is a great defense alone enough to win a championship?
  7. From what I’ve seen Trubisky doesn’t know how to just get down when the play is a bust.
  8. So few passing TD’s in a pass dominated league is a bad sign.

 

PREDICTION——-BEARS 21 RAIDERS 14

 

BEARS VIKINGS WEEK 4

 

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The infuriating part of watching the Bears, any year really, is they hoodwink you into thinking you might have something only to really let you down when you need it.

Is this Sunday’s game against the Vikings more of the same? Is their defense good enough to carry this team on its back? Can the offense not make any mistakes and score a few touchdowns?

Save for the twilight zone two years of Marc Treastman where the Bears were almost last in the NFL in defense it’s all a song we’ve heard before.

I don’t know of many teams that have won it all with just defense? Let’s take a look.

2000 Ravens number 1 defense number 14 offense

2002 Buccaneers number 1 defense number 18 offense

2008 Steelers number 1 defense number 20 offense

2003 Patriots number 1 defense number 12 offense

1990 Giants number 1 defense number 15 offense

I don’t know what this really shows if anything but it does seem to me to say it’s doable. Right now the Bears have the number 8 defense and the number 28 offense. Those number better improve or January will be cold again.

Prediction——-Bears 21 Vikings 17

 

DO YOU HAVE A FRIEND TO HAVE AN ONGOING GAME TEXT WITH?

 

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The best part of Sunday’s game aside from the W, the offense scoring a touchdown, and knowing we have a great defense, was texting back and forth with my friend Buster. 

Buster is a made up name, to protect his real identity. He’s a rather famous Chicago lawyer (I think famous anyway) but his running commentary is pretty bang on.

Just a simple cut and paste here with some touch ups and edits.

ME:    That packer game was so tough to watch……even I nodded in and out of it. Reminded me of The Twilight Zone.

BUSTER:   Horrible.  So disappointing.  I am really starting to hate Nagy’s play calling after really liking it last year.  Bad mix last week, no balance, no plan. 

ME:    Exactly!! Me too. You have to take your shots to stretch the field. Reminds me of Lovie’s teams—-no turnovers no wins.

BUSTER:    Yep.

ME:    Remember Bob Parsons? Used to be the coffin corner was the 20 and in.

BUSTER:    I do remember him. Was our punter for a long time. 

ME:     I do notice Cohen running north and south which is about time and Montgomery getting a lot more touches.

BUSTER:    Mix does look better this week. There goes Trubisky again. He really is not very good. Overthrowing wide open receivers. 

ME:   Yeah I know. What happened to drafting a QB every year? And Pace didn’t need to trade up one spot!!!

BUSTER:    Agree! I think he could have got Trubisky late in the 1st round.  If he drafted Mahomes we would be headed to the Super Bowl. 

ME:    At some point you gotta cut bait but not there yet.

BUSTER:   Yeah he is adequate and we don’t have better.  There he goes again. 10 yards over the head of his target.  No downfield touch at all. 

ME:    Ugh. 

BUSTER:  Someone needs to call Pace out at this point.  

ME:    I know. Something is really off about Nagy’s play calling.

BUSTER:   Especially when we get near the red zone, which was a strength last year. Think I am going to stop watching. This is just awful. 

ME:    It’s an old brand.

BUSTER:  Oh my lord. 7 points. Who would believe?

ME:  Patterson looked pretty good on that play.

BUSTER:  Yeah. They called that play at the perfect time. Unlike last week. 

ME:   Yeah. I liked Patterson before they signed him, too.

BUSTER:   Great speed. You’d think he would be on the field more.  

ME:    Yeah exactly another Nagy kind of gap.

BUSTER:   It’s weird. None of his past teams used him a lot. Wonder what is up with that? 

ME:   I think it may have been his returns I was thinking of.

BUSTER:   Yeah.

ME:   That roughing was a horrible call.

ME:    God Mack is good.

BUSTER:    Agree on both.  Good that we held.  

ME:    You know I think the NFL has a lot vested in the Bears doing well …..I always have really.

BUSTER:   At least competitive. 

ME:   There’s so many fans…. 

BUSTER:    Guess who….25-36, 383 YDS, 4 TD?

ME:    Your guy.

BUSTER:   Mahomes. Is one TD pass too much to ask?

ME:   Trubisky 11-17 and 79 yards no TD’s.

BUSTER:   Not even a first down after Denver was on the field for that long drive. 

ME:    All I can say is Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson won Super Bowls. 

That’s the best I got.

BUSTER:   Yeah. That was a different NFL when low scoring teams could win. Our offense looks broken.  

ME:   Yeah even the worst teams’ offenses don’t look this bad…….

Hit that oxygen guys!

BUSTER:   Our offense killed our D. That 3 and out in the 4th quarter after a long drive was inexcusable. 

ME:   Great call by Fangio going for it on 4th.

BUSTER:   On the road at high altitude……….Fuller!!!!’

ME:    OMG! 

BUSTER:   What a time for that. 

ME:   I wanna say it’s about time but that would assume you can really control such things.

BUSTER:   Great interception.

ME:   Yeah if the defense can force turnovers it’s a whole different thing

Btw….great ongoing game texts. 

BUSTER:   Yeah….Needed one more first down. 

ME:   Yeah no guts. No confidence in Trubisky……Defense is gassed

Are you watching? 

BUSTER:   Yeah but disgusted. 

ME:    I love that he would go for two. 

BUSTER:    Can’t believe we called time out on 4th down. We do the most stupid things from a coaching perspective. Really down on Nagy. 

ME:   Yeah me too. I picked em to lose in my blog.

BUSTER:   Good. We deserve to lose. Hope they go after Nagy now. I am done watching for the year. Not kidding. I don’t want them to win. 

ME:   Yeah. 

BUSTER:   Game over.

ME:   Damn was that lucky.

BUSTER:   Feel good for Piniero. Can’t believe he made that. 

ME:   Yeah feel great for Piniero. You know one last note……..when Trubisky gets out of the pocket he’s pretty good, no?

BUSTER:   Yeah. That was the first time they threw downfield all game.  That is what is so concerning.  The offensive game plan is awful.  They really need to get their act together, especially with such a great defense.

2019 NFL PREDICTIONS

Lots of fun to predict a season at the beginning of one and then go back and see how you did later.

Will the Pats continue to dominate? Can anyone stop them? Do the Bears have a shot?

Apologies to the Chicago Tribune for stealing the 2019 PREDICTIONS idea part for part but it seemed a great way to force myself to look into my crystal ball, and plus it was a damn clever way of doing the predictions. So without further adieu here is “my” 2019 PREDICTIONS——-

NFC NORTH

Bears

Vikings

Packers

Lions

NFC EAST

Eagles

Cowboys

Giants

Redskins

NFC WEST

Rams

Seahawks

49ers

Cardinals

NFC SOUTH

Saints

Falcons

Bucs

Panthers

AFC NORTH

Steelers

Ravens

Browns

Bengals

AFC EAST

Pats

Jets

Bills

Dolphins

AFC WEST

Chiefs

Chargers

Broncos

Raiders

AFC SOUTH

Texans

Colts

Jags

Titans

NFC WILD CARDS: Seahawks and Falcons

AFC WILD CARDS: Chargers and Colts

NFC CHAMPION: Bears over Eagles

AFC CHAMPION: Chiefs over Pats

SUPER BOWL WINNER: Bears

MVP: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

COACH OF THE YEAR: Frank Reich, Colts

 

OFF WITH YOU ME LAD, AND BE LIVELY

 

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It seems like every year I go through this futile exercise of rooting against the Patriots only to find that they are again on the verge of yet another championship and begrudgingly admit they’re probably the best of all time.

It’s like complaining because the sky is too big, or that there are too many waves in the ocean.

The Patriots are like the Bailey Brothers in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. You just can’t keep them down.

Maybe it’s the rest of the world that is the scrooge of Mr. Potter trying to stop them. 

Or maybe the world never did stop them and is with George and his Angel, Clarence at Nick’s getting loaded. “Mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon, light on the clove——off with you me lad and be lively.”

One thing for sure is that the whole world has gotten so tired of watching them, like they’re almost forced to. No matter how beautiful and uniquely Frank Capraian or Bill Belichickian, and no matter how much they’re a cut above the rest. 

Most everyone finds themselves at some point rooting for the bad guys, even when or especially when the same good guys are winning all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I really do love it when the good guys win. It’s just hard when you want to see somebody else take the reins.

What did Barack Obama say to console all the petrified Democrats when Donald Trump became president? Something about people wanting that new car, and that new car smell?

Anyone that gets too high, like Dr. Seuss’s Yertle the Turtle, there seems to be a very human urge to knock them down and give somebody else a chance the climb up.

Businesses are constantly doing this, knocking each other over and reinventing themselves. The flow of our entire world economy cannot be afraid of that sometimes rather intimidating voice telling you you absolutely must change.

If you talk to poets you’ll find that they’re trying to say something that nobody else has said yet. If 99 out of 100 people use the word cute to describe a baby, a poet might use the word, exe—cute, and use it in such a way to make the baby better than all of the cutes put together.

So all this got me thinking about everything that will be happening on Super Bowl that is way better than the New England Patriots.

5) Most people wake up Super Bowl morning and have a Super Bowl Breakfast and I am no exception. Eggs, sausage, potatoes, cheese, english muffin and cream cheese, all covered with chives. I guarantee Tom Brady won’t be eating anything nearly as good. Maybe when he retires. When is that going to be exactly?

4) While making the big breakfast I have a kitty that watches everything I do like he was the student and I was the professor, copiously taking notes and when its all done he comes up after class and asks for some kind of extra credit. Whether I give it to him or not, it shows real dedication. Way more than all those Super Spoiled East Coast Yakety Yaks. I mean really how hard is it to follow a team that is always winning? Find me the fans that follow when your team loses. That is the fan you go to the bank with. 

3) A lot of people have a Sunday routine, Super Bowl or otherwise. Coffee, Sunday Papers, get out the iPhone read about what’s going on in the world. Those with families do family things. I am a writer and so I have writing projects that I’m always engaged in. Whether it’s Super Bowl Sunday or New Year’s Day I am writing, and it will be this way until the day I die. Because of it I feel I am the luckiest person in the world despite all my handicaps and shortcomings. I’ll take all my problems over all that New England pomp and circumstance any day.

2) Sunday drivers. My dad always hated them. A slower more deliberate Sunday driver that slows the whole flow wouldn’t be a Sunday without them. Since the Patriots do have a reputation for cheating, maybe the Super Bowl Sunday Drivers could organize something to slow the team traveling from their hotels to Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the game. Uber, wherefore art thou?

1) Most people on Super Bowl Sunday have snacks that they are preparing. Since I’m watching the game alone I won’t be doing anything extravagant. Cheese and crackers, chip and dip, pizza and wings, cheeseburgers, something easy. Maybe three green olives and a very weak martini. I will be having something special, but nothing to fancy. 

When my beloved Chicago Bears were in the Super Bowl all those years ago I got one of my best friends at the time to drive me 3 hours away from school to where my family lived and was going to be watching the game, and I proceeded to watch every bit of pre game show that the networks would allow. But this game? No way. The game starts at 5:30 so I’ll start watching maybe at 5. 

But even though I’m complaining, I’m really not. Even though I really did think the Bears had a shot of making it to the Super Bowl this year, the fact that they got closer than they have in 8 years is worth celebrating.

Also, one last thing to keep in mind. Even though most every other civilized country has some kind of Super Bowl like event that it celebrates, right now we got the Super Bowl, and that makes us the luckiest people in the brief history of the planet, ever, New England or not.

 

UGH!!!

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I was all set to deliver this rampage against Matt Nagy. How he got outcoached by Doug Pederson. How the decision to keep Cody Parkey on the roster came back to bite him in the ass. How he decided not to get Tarik Cohen involved in the offense when the guy is his number one threat. How he seemed to get really conservative when the very thing that got him there in the first place was his willingness to take chances.

Then something occurred to me and I fell in a deep sleep thinking about how many days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

The Bears were never supposed to be this good, this first year under the Matt Nagy regime. I went to look up 2018 NFL season record predictions, randomly found Sports Illustrated, and a writer in SI who picked the Bears picked to go 4-12 and the Eagles to go 12-4. They also had the Vikings at 13-3 and the Packers at 12-4. Most places had them finishing in last place.

in SI in June they said

The Bears got better at crucial positions they had to get better at this offseason. Chicago brought in Taylor Gabriel, Allen Robinson and Trey Burton to help their second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The offensive line took a big hit losing guard Josh Sitton and the defense, while improved with Roquan Smith at linebacker, still needs to find a pass rush. It may take one more year for this group to gel.

Granted it was before the team got Khalil Mack but the point is that they got considerably better than how they looked on paper with a first year head coach.

They other thing that is incredibly encouraging is that they’re a young team. Five years ago they were ranked 29th in the league with an average age of 26. 8 and this year they’re ranked 10th with an average age of 25.7, the same as the Eagles and the Packers.

Ryan Pace did what he said he was going to do, he made the team younger, which made the team better.

Just look at what’s coming—-Roquan Smith, 21, James Daniels 21, Bilal Nichols 22, Tarik Cohen 23, Mitchell Trubisky 24, Anthony Miller 24, Jordan Howard 24. All their Pro Bowl defenders——Eddie Jackson 26, Kyle Fuller 26, Khalil Mack 27, Akiem Hicks 29 are all under 30. 

Saw an interesting article   

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-coaches-and-qbs-should-divorce-after-five-years-of-not-winning/

on 538 last year about how the window for new coaches and their QB’s is about five years. Of the 31 head coaches to win at least one super bowl, 27 of them won it within the first years of that team.

Jim McMahon was drafted in ’82 the same year Mike Ditka started coaching the Bears. It took them four years and they finally did it. 

Some other pillars on that team—-Walter Payton drafted in ’75. Hampton in ’79, Mike Singletary in ’81, Richard Dent in ’83, The point is it took some time.

But not too much time. In the history of Chicago Bear coaches only Ditka and Lovie Smith made had multiple playoff appearances. Ditka made it to the playoffs 7 times and Lovie Smith 2. 

Jack Pardee made it to the playoffs once, Neil Armstrong once, Dave Wannstedt once, Dick Jauron once. They were all fired soon after.

Another big point is that a team often catches fire one year only to revert back to being a mediocre team the next. There are very few Sean McVay’s who was 11-5 last year and then was 13-3 this year. That will be the challenge for Matt Nagy. Can he improve on an already incredible year? Or will it prove to be an outlier, a fluke, something he won’t be able to reproduce?

Another thing about the Bears offense that showed promise is that they have a lot of guile and at times look really competent. In the Eagles game they came back when they had to (the last drive notwithstanding). 

You hope that as Trubiksy grows more comfortable in clutch situations when the game is on the line, and that Nagy starts to have more trust in him and as an offense they can really start to control the ball when they have to. Most Super Bowl winning teams have offenses who control the ball, make big plays, and score a lot of points.

One last thought. Like a lot of fans I thought this could’ve been the year, but I think something is missing on the offensive side of the ball. A LeVeon Bell or Kareem Hunt kind of back I think is needed. Somebody great. Somebody who is a difference maker. An All Pro. For Trubisky to be that great player he has to be, he’ll need great support. 

But the number of throws that should’ve been picked off yesterday and really the whole season, leave the judgment of how good he is still way up in the air. The clock is ticking. Unless he gets really bad, he’ll have about 2-3 years to prove it.

It all stings with that typical Chicago Bear disappointment. The truth of the matter is that to be a Chicago Bear fan is a difficult proposition. In fact it’s really fu*&ing hard being a Chicago Bears fan. They’re an enormously mediocre franchise trying to sell a championship team to a hungry fan base. 

There are franchises like the Steelers, and the Niners, and the Giants, and the Patriots, and the Packers, and then there are franchises like the Bears. The difference is so palpable. The expectations are from legitimately different sides of town and walks of life. How do you change a culture like that without taking a lot of risks?

36 days until pitchers and catchers report.

108 days until the NFL draft.

204 days until Bourbonnais training camp.

UGH! 

Good bye 2018 Bears it was fun.

It’s already taking too long.

JANUARY RELEVANT!!!

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The Bears are in the playoffs and a lot of things are going through my mind. In no particular order——

How different the playoff games feel. The way the crowd can’t seem to contain itself with so much on the line.

Matt Nagy asked the fans to be particularly noisy.

A lot of writers like to play the game of who would you rather play, figuring that the weaker opponents, or opponents the team matches up well against will make it easier to get to and win the Super Bowl.

I disagree. A great team will beat other great teams no matter what the record. If they have to go on the road to do it, so be it. A great team rises to the occasion and plays their best game against another great team. A great team wants to play another great team. 

A great team will have a bunch of ultra competitive guys, too. Guys that scream and kick and scratch on each play. That play with an edge, even borderline nasty. They block well and tackle well. They believe so much in themselves no matter what. They want to help other guys on the team, too. They want to lead the team. They want a group of guys to lead the team. Everybody buys into it. Everybody believes it.

And then of course great players have to play great. Not only the great players, but also fair and good players. Some might even become famous with how they distinguish themselves in the big games.

When I hear athletes who win, they say things like nobody gave it to them, they had to take it. They earned it.

When picking whose going to win a tournament a lot of handicappers will pick a team that is on fire. That has a lot of momentum and winning a lot of games as they go into the playoffs.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Some recent Super Bowl winners that got hot as the season drove on—-The 2013 Seahawks were 9-2 in their last 11, the 2014 Patriots were 5-2 in their last 7, the 2016 Patriots were 7-1 in their last 8, the 2017 Eagles were 5-2 in their last 7.

This year’s Eagles are 5-1 in their last 6 and this year’s Bears are 9-1 in their last 10. Something’s gotta give.

If the Bears are fortunate enough to beat the Eagles they’ll go on to L.A. to play the Rams. I think they’re better than the Rams. I will also be rooting for whoever the winner of Cowboys/Seahawks is as they would then travel to New Orleans to play the Saints. It’s hard not to look ahead.

Three times the Bears have faced the Eagles in the postseason. In the 1979 playoffs they lost 27-17 on the road, in the 1988 fog bowl playoff they won 20-12 at home, and in 2001 they lost 33-19 at home. 

The three quarterbacks that started those respective games and their QB ratings? Mike Phipps, with a QB rating of 30.1, Mike Tomczak, with a rating of 56.7 and Jim McMahon who also played in that game had a rating of 75.7 and Jim Miller who started had a rating of 31.7 until he got hurt and then Shane Matthews had a rating of 17.9.

No matter how good the defense is, and those teams in the 80’s had some really great defenses, you need clean QB play. Is Trubisky poised for a clean game against the Eagles?

Everything also seems to get magnified. If a team is up by 3 points it feels like 7, 7 feels like 13, 13 feels like 20. One turnover in your own zone feels like the whole game has changed. Even the home team QB is asking for quiet because the fans are so insanely pumped up they can’t contain their own jubilation. 

The ’85 team I remember how the fans kind of took over. One long big loud scream to bring the snowflakes. 

Another part of all of this is confidence. A confident player isn’t so nervous that the jitters affect his game. He’s emotional, he’s got the right attitude, but he plays within himself. He’s totally respecting his opponent, but he’s so sure he’s going to prevail. Sometimes you don’t need facts or evidence or a compelling argument. All you need is a hunch. A feeling can be greater than anything.

Can Trubisky play like that? Will he not be asked to do too much? Can the Bears stay in the lead as they have in most of the games they’ve won? Can they not play coming from behind? 

How is Eddie Jackson’s foot feeling? How strong are the meds? Can he block out the pain? Is 60% of Eddie Jackson better than the next man up, Deon Bush?

I was listening to longtime Bear reporter Hub Arkush on the WSCR, the score earlier today and he said Khalil Mack is having a year as good as Lawrence Taylor ever had. Pretty rare air, he said. 

Can Khalil Mack simply take the game over?

I was listening to Dan Bernstein on The Score and he said that Bear fans don’t know how to feel about how good a QB is because they don’t know what one is. They can’t recognize it. Great point.

I thought Nick Foles deserved to start this year and I think he’s great. Anybody that beats Tom Brady in the Super Bowl deserves to be a QB 1. 

It’s all got me thinking about mountains and man. Man was meant to rise. He visualizes himself ascending. Women too, of course. We were born to test ourselves. The great ones are never satisfied with being just good. 

The mountain is the symbol for all that. It has different sizes for geological reasons, to be sure but also has different sizes for motivational ones. 

Somewhere on a desk, maybe there’s a list. Mount Fuji—-12.3 feet. Matterhorn—-16.9. Kilimanjaro—-19.3. Denali—-20.3. Mount Everest—-29. 

Somewhere in this Chicago organization, on a desk or in a locker or locker room the Eagles are a mountain to be challenged and will prove just how high these 2018 Bears will be allowed to climb.