Week Six: Bears at Ravens Game Preview

| October 12th, 2017

The Bears entrusted their franchise to this man.

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. And Monday night reinvigorated me.

What’s Next For Mitch Trubisky?

What impressed me about Trubisky in his Monday night debut was the moment never got too big for him. He was poised. He was under control. Did he make a few mistakes? Of course. The kid was making his first professional start! But he recognized the errors and owned up to them post-game.

The talent premiered. Now it’s about improvement. What should we be watching?

  • The Roll Right, Cross-Body Throw. This was the most prominent “mistake” he made in his debut and he made it differently each time, culminating with the game-ending interception. (All three, interestingly, were throws to Zach Miller on plays that has essentially broken down.) Biscuit has to understand how much steam those throws lose and how quickly NFL defensive backs close on the football. Often the smart play is just tuck it and get a few yards with your legs or throw the ball into the sixteenth row.
  • The Left Side of the Field. Trubisky did most of his work to the right half of the field which, if you read this blog, was fully expected. But Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been DC for Nick Saban (Michigan State, mid-90s) and Bill Belichick (New England, mid-2000s). Those men approach defensive football the same way. They want to take away the thing their opponent does best. Trubisky should have to open up the field Sunday.
  • Cadence. The offensive line never looked comfortable Monday night partly due to their being off the snap. They also had a few pre-snap penalties, with Charles Leno clearly not knowing the count on several plays, including the strip sack of Trubisky. Are those on the quarterback? Possibly. Only the players actually know. But it’s now on Trubisky to get this group comfortable and that only happens with time and experience.

Tweet of the Week

Three Reasons the Bears Will Win

  • Now that Mike Glennon is on the bench, Joe Flacco is arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. Rating barely above 70, a touchdown-interception ratio of 4-6 and averaging 165 passing yards a game is something you might accept from a rookie but not from a player occupying about $50M of dead cap space in 2017. This is not a game the Bears will have to chase with their passing game. Flacco will keep it close.

  • Ravens are historically a great home team. But during their last two contests at M&T Bank, against Jacksonville and Pittsburgh, they failed to score ten points each time. This offense isn’t any good in any building.
  • Bears will have success running the ball on this Ravens defense, allowing around 125 yards on the ground a week, and that will open up the play action for Mitch Trubisky. Biscuit’s passer rating against Minnesota was nearly 100 points higher when using play action. Expect the Bears to use it often and look like an improved unit in this second week of the real season.

Three Reasons They Won’t

  • Mistakes & Penalties. Is there any reason to expect the false starts and holds and OPIs to suddenly disappear this week?
  • Kerouac. Bears have a -3 point differential in their three toss-up games at home. They have a -43 differential in their two road, blowout losses. Those losses came at the hands of their previous starting quarterback but remember, Trubisky is still a rookie making his first start on the road.
  • The Ravens create turnovers, with 12 this season. The Bears? Don’t. They are once against sporting an historic low turnover differential at -9. A game like this could very well be determined by field position as neither will have much success attempting to mount 80-yard drives. Turnovers will tell the tale.

Game Show Host Follow-Up

Got more emails on my game show host rankings than anything since my off-the-booze diary. What this probably means is you people out there prefer when I don’t write about the Bears. There were four names people wanted to include. I’ll discuss them now.

  • Bill Cullen. Okay, I get it. Five people emailed me about Bill Cullen like I’d never heard of him. I have heard of him. I studied this shit. But if I was ranking my ten favorite ice creams, vanilla ain’t getting anywhere near that list. If I was ranking my ten favorite beverages, water isn’t on there. I like and appreciate both vanilla ice cream and water. But if I’m starting a game show, Cullen ain’t on my short list.
  • Regis Philbin. Regis hosted a few short-lived shows in the 70s but I really short-changed him in my ranking. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire brought the game show to primetime, back to the mainstream, and Regis was the perfect host. Was he good enough to knock Chuck Barris off the list? Probably.
  • Dick Clark. I never liked Pyramid in any of its million incarnations for one simple reason: the answers were on the screen. Why the hell would you watch if you couldn’t engage the game yourself? So Clark could have been the greatest host of all-time and it wouldn’t change the fact that I wasn’t going to watch.
  • Simon Cowell. I’ve long debated if we should consider these “talent” shows game shows. Structurally, they are similar. People have to do things to win money and stuff. But the feel is so different. I don’t think it’s possible to compare what Cowell did brilliantly on American Idol to what Wink Martindale was doing on High Rollers. And was Cowell even a host? Wasn’t Seacrest the host? Anyway, I’m leaving the whole enterprise out.

My Favorite Thing About Baltimore

Don’t Gamble But If You Do…(4-1)

40 is a low number for an over/under but I think this game is going to land safely under. Only one time has either of these teams scored more than 24 points this season and it took an E.J. Manuel appearance for the Ravens to achieve that. This has all the makings of a 17-14 game.

Video of the Week, Volume I

Two legends…both gone too soon.

Don’t Be Surprised If…

…the punt game plays a pivotal role in this game. Punter is not a position I think can be judged by any particular stat line. But here’s a punter-related stat that could be worrisome for the Bears.

  • Sam Koch has punted the ball 26 times. 9 have been returned for a total of 38 yards.
  • Pat O’Donnell has punted the ball 24 times. 10 have been returned for a total of 102 yards.

So you would think the explosive play is more likely to come from the Ravens. But Chicago and Baltimore have each settled on regular punt returners in Tarik Cohen and Michael Campanaro. Both have pedestrian statistics. Yet Cohen is the far more explosive player and looked close to breaking one Monday night.

Video of the Week, Volume II

Barry Levinson made several movies set in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Avalon tells the story of the emigration of Jewish immigrants. Tin Men is a wonderful movie about aluminum siding salesmen, featuring great performances from Danny DeVito, Richard Dreyfuss and Barbara Hershey. Liberty Heights is sort of a Baltimore Bronx Tale.

Diner is the masterpiece.

5 More Things To Know About the Ravens

  • Jeremy Maclin drew a season-high eight targets Sunday against the Raiders. He’s been signed to be their number one receiver but his season high is 56 yards in the opener.
  • Baltimore’s pass defense is very good statistically. Opposing QBs completing only 53.7% of their passes to a passer rating of 66.1. That’s second best in the sport in both categories.
  • Terrell Suggs just won’t age. He has four sacks this season and has been the Ravens most consistent rusher off the edge. Trubisky will have to be aware of his presence all afternoon.
  • Rookie Marlon Humphrey played for Jimmy Smith Sunday and impressed John Harbaugh with his moxie and toughness. He didn’t shut down Michael Crabtree but he never backed down.
  • Ravens right tackle Austin Howard is a hard-working player but this could be a potential mismatch for Leonard Floyd. With a statue at quarteback, have to imagine Fox and Fangio let the kid loose.

Game Prediction

Bears take a 10-6 lead into halftime and open the third quarter with a 9 play, 77-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a Trubisky scramble into the end zone. Flacco turns it over twice in the second half and the Bears cruise to Trubisky’s first career victory.

Chicago Bears 23

Baltimore Ravens 13

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