PIGS IN A BLANKET FOR GAME DAY

 

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With the off week its a good time to practice fundamentals and get back to the basics. Most Chicago Bear fans I think it’s safe to say know the importance of good food to go with the game. 

My Dad always had something really tasty going on for game day, and I’d like to share some of what he did. I’d also like to share some of the other possibilities out there for ideas for columns in the future.

Food, football, fun. Maybe you have a person in the house that isn’t as crazy a fan as you. Maybe they don’t want to be left out. Maybe they can help make the food. It ain’t rocket science.

It’s always a good idea to make the game a whole family and friend experience if you can.

First, every game has to have chip and dip. It’s as essential as water is to wine. If it’s just you, plastic bowls are fine, but if you’ve got a group watching the game with you it’s better to invest in some good quality bowls. Every special lady friend I’ve ever known has noticed the difference.

In Wisconsin, where I live we have a Breakstone’s Sour Cream, 16 ounces that covers six people but I always get two. Breakstone’s is the most expensive and clearly the best.

Then get an onion soup mix. I like the dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix or the Mrs. Grass version of that and one packet for each 16 ounces of sour cream is how it breaks down. 

As far as the kind of chips to use it really depends on taste. I like a chip that can hold up to the dip and Ruffles is my favorite. One bag with a group of six should do it, but I always buy two. Tortilla chips are also good.

After the chip and dip is set up you need a kind of main course to make the fans go ooh and aah, and what my dad would do is make what he called “Dad’s Dogs.” 

Hillshire Farms Little Smokies Cocktail Dogs are what they’re called here in Wisconsin, and one 16 ounce package for six people does the trick. Get a pound of your favorite cheese. I love em all but Cheddar, Colby and Havarti are my faves. Get a sweet onion and an 8 ounce can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. 

Heat the oven to 375°F. Unroll the can of dough and separate into 16 triangles. Cut each triangle lengthwise into 3 narrow triangles. Place sausage on shortest side of each triangle and roll it with a little chunk of cheese and chopped onion. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with your favorite beverage. Even though many people I know love a beer and a bloody on Sunday, I’ve grown fond of Cherry Coca Cola Zero. 

My Dad would always try to plan it out so the dogs came out right at kickoff time, a tricky plan and he didn’t always do it right on time and could be seen running from kitchen to family room like the madman he was until he just bought a little tv for the kitchen, and then he was, as he liked to say, “high in hog heaven.”

Other ideas for future food columns include——other finger foods, pizza, brats, burgers, cheese and sausage platters, smoked salmon from Alaska to name a few. 

Bon Appetit and Bear down!

SUCCESS AND CONFIDENCE

 

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You could argue that Matt Nagy had the perfect game plan called for the Bucs.

You could argue the Bucs defense has been awful all year.

You could argue the Bears defense is looking like one of the best in the league and Khalil Mack is on his way to an MVP season.

Or the favorite I’m sure—-you could argue that Mitchell Trubisky when given enough time and is decisive enough might have the makings of being a star. 

6 TD passes? A Bear QB?

Whatever they did to simplify things I think also should get mention here too. Whatever works keep doing it until they stop you. It doesn’t have to be a complicated game. They have fast guys. Somebody’s usually open.

If you give enough time to a good NFL QB he should be able to march down the field.

I always remember what the late great Buddy Ryan said about pressuring the QB. He said essentially, “we’re not going to just let sit back there and pick us apart.”

Does it take elite level QB play to win the super bowl? Does it take big numbers on offense and defense? Those are great subject to discuss another time.

What the Bears did to the Bucs is what good teams do. They dominate by scoring a lot of points and playing great defense.

If you’re like me at the end of the year, if the Bears have a chance at making the playoffs, when you’re eating your breakfast in December you can’t get enough Bear stuff to read. I love looking at the Points For versus Points Against differential and how for the better teams the difference is larger and they’re usually in first place. They also have lots of sacks, turnovers, and touchdowns. They get home field advantage. You get the point.

One last thing to mention is Tarik Cohen. In this column you’ve heard me mention him every week. Well he finally got the chance to be featured and the little guy played like I thought he would—-like he was one of the best on the field. He’s a matchup nightmare and he could be very, very good maybe even great.

But for now Trubisky steals the show. He looked so calm and at ease, and hit guys in stride with beautiful throws.

No greater teacher guides a young man more than success and confidence.

Whoo whoo! 3-1!

Keep Taking Baby Steps

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I know you want sexy. That you want that 15 to 19 yard pass play in the middle of the field hitting the tight end in stride on a skinny post and marching like the Patriots with a potent offense threatening to score every time you touch the ball.

I know that’s what you want and if you were paying attention after the second Bears touchdown where they marched down the field with short passes and runs you saw Matt Nagy whispering into Mitch Trubisky’s ear before commercial.

That right there is why I feel good about this team. The fact that Nagy knows what it’s like to be QB1 and the fact that Trubisky is humble enough to want to learn is all reason for hope.

Yes Trubisky threw two picks and made some really bad decisions. Yes they might’ve tried to stretch the field a bit too far. Yes they probably need to run a little bit more.

I’d like to see Cohen and Howard get more touches. Cohen particularly. Give him a chance to bust it wide open because the guy has all sorts of talent. 

It would’ve been nice to see the Bears blow that team out. Maybe they’re learning how to do that.

And what about that defense? Six sacks in a game?! It only seems logical to me that all that pressure on the quarterback is going to give those corners a great chance for more picks. Will they step up?

And Mack? My goodness! Yet another great Bear defender in the Bear tradition of great defenses. 

I’m glad they got their night games over with. A night game is more pressure on a young qb than a day game and if he’s already doing this well in prime time, what might he be?

An 83 qb rating while still throwing two picks is impressive. Why can’t he get better?

I know to be December relevant would be a dream. So let us just keep it there for now and in the mean time keep taking baby steps.

Players Need Poets

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I know it hurts. I know it feels awful so you tell yourself it doesn’t matter as much as you think. I know you have to get up and get on with it, but what a bittersweet way to start the season.

I know Matt Nagy really wanted to score a touchdown 3rd and 1 deep in Packer territory at the end of the game to make it a 2 possession game, but why didn’t he run twice with the running game that was showing up late all over that drive. Can you answer me that?

I know Kyle Fuller knows how to catch a ball thrown to him. Well, maybe not that. I know Clay Matthews obvious roughing the passer at the end of the game could’ve have been the olive branch sent from above.

Something about that Bear Packer game on Sunday Night has been falling like an empire for many years now and like the soothsayers of old Bear fans have had to watch everything crumble and be destroyed right before their eyes and still unable to do a damn thing about it.

That queasy feeling from first half to second half was a lot like eating certain kinds of food despite the warning. Is there a spirit of Anthony Bourdain in the great Bear reporting out there to help us understand?

Fate is a lot like this. You see it coming. You’ve been warned it’s coming. You’re told to leave your house because it’s coming.

There’s a feeling that’s a lot like terror that also is a defining characteristic, a knowing that even though it’s coming and you’re trying to do everything you can to stop it——YOU WON’T STOP IT!  Ask Homer. Ask Dante. Ask Shakespeare.

The only huge problem in all of this logic that I grant you has some holes in it like the second half defense is that…

I DON’T BELIEVE IN FATE!

“I believe in effort. Self sacrifice. Belief. I believe you’re supposed to give a hundred and ten percent on every play and relentlessly pursue perfection, and knowing that nothing is perfect I believe in catching excellence. I am not remotely interested in being just good.”

The immortal paraphrased words of Vince Lombardi have been enshrined like great poets into the parts of me that matter.

Even though the pain is real like every football player will tell you, I have to believe that Nagy and CO. will learn from this and get better. 

I would rather root for that to happen than hide in the albeit persuadable excuse that the Bears will never be anything more than mediocre. Just my choice.

I’m a poet and so there’s a lot of other things I believe in too. That I go back to and continue working on just like I believe that the players on that team can continue to work on.

I also believe people can change. Institutions can change. Workers can change. The world can change. I absolutely believe that these players can use this experience to get better.

Also remember the team the Bears played on Sunday was supposed to be really really good. Contending and picked to win the Super Bowl good. While the Bears were picked by nobody. 

I think for a first game they beat expectations hands down. 

Let’s start there.

Fortuna Favet Fortibus

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Fortuna favet fortibus. From the latin meaning fortune favors the brave.

The phrase and those like it kind of defines our country with many examples—-from our military, to our literature, to shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and movies like The Pacific Rim and Star Trek, even John Wick has a tattoo of it on his unbeatable body.

There’s a lot to love about the idea that God helps those who help themselves.

And now your Chicago Bears, the McCaskeys, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have decided to fight the bull with a red cape and sword and go get the best new blood in football.

The Bears are trying to be bulls and they’re telling the NFL they’re sick of waiting.

For those of you who think it costs too much consider how rare it is for teams to give up on great players in their prime. It just doesn’t happen. It’s not good business.

Now we have a player that other teams must plan on how to stop.

It’s ok to roll your eyes over why the Raiders would want to trade one of the best defenders in the league. Just shut up and pay the man the fans cry. Every team has to pay their own.

I think Jon Gruden may have overthought this or he badly wants to start over and forge a team into a bunch of little Grinder Grudenites. I still don’t get it.

What I do get is Aaron Rodgers has had galaxies of time to throw and a pocket as big as the night sky. Don’t kid yourself. Green Bay is always the team to beat.

I don’t know why Chicago and great defenses go together like Sunday and brunch but they do. It’s impossible to think of one without the other. Though many sit in luxury this is a tough business and to prove yourself you have to be better than just good, you have to be great.

Now if we can just avoid the injuries!

But whoo whoo! Here we go!