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.