Normally this space, at this time, features what I call “rapid fire”. Because I insist on having new content by the time Chicago wakes up, which I arbitrarily deem to take place at 5 AM CT, “rapid fire” lets me pile a bunch of random thoughts, with absolutely zero structure, onto the blog. I don’t promote it on Twitter. I’m not particularly proud of it. It’s basically twelve or thirteen bullet-pointed Tweets. It’s not filler. But it’s close.
Yesterday’s performance by the Chicago Bears requires more than a mailed-in Monday. Because yesterday’s performance by the Chicago Bears was about a championship caliber team delivering a championship caliber performance in the face of adversity. Their defensive battery – Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith – were not on the field. Their young quarterback was out for the game (and seemingly far longer) before most of the Soldier Field faithful got to their seats. They had every excuse Sunday to lose. And instead they did what we have come to expect in this new Matt Nagy era: they dominated their opponent.
It’d be easy to write about Khalil Mack today. He’s the most explosive defensive player in a Bears uniform in my lifetime. (Did the Raiders trade him to the Bears…on purpose?)
It’d be even easier to write about the The Two Nicks, Williams and Kwiatkoski. These supposed depth pieces looked like All Pros.
It’d be even easier than that to write about Chase Daniel, a journeyman backup many fans wanted cut this summer because he failed to develop rapport with Tanner Gentry in fake games. Yesterday he recorded a 101.4 passer rating against one of the league’s best defenses. (And yes, this was slightly higher than Aaron Rodgers fared a few weeks back.) Did he have to do much? No. Did he do exactly enough? Yes.
[Check out Peter King’s excellent post-game conversation with Daniel HERE.]
Many thought the Minnesota Vikings would win yesterday and assert themselves in the NFC North. Even those who picked the Bears had a difficult time seeing the contest as anything but a tight one. There were five individuals picking this game in the Sun-Times sports section. Three had the game 13-10. One had the game 15-12. One had a shootout at 21-20. Five picks with an average differential of 2.6 points.
The game was decided by ten and it didn’t feel anywhere near that close.
The Bears don’t just have a defense capable of winning the Super Bowl. They have a defense capable of being one of the best in the history of the sport. They are brilliant at every level and fifteen or more deep. The Patriots will likely continue at the top of the rankings as they won’t face a professional offense until you put up your Christmas decorations. But this unit is the best in the NFL and not only will they keep every single game close, they’re going to win most of them. On their own. No matter who is playing quarterback.
Sunday was supposed to be a twelve-round heavyweight fight between two of the best teams in the NFC. Instead it was 89 seconds of Tyson v. McNeeley. The Bears didn’t just beat the Vikings. They beat them up. They demoralized the entire organization. When the final whistle blew, the media were questioning the coach and the receivers were questioning the quarterback.
Adam Thielen: “At some point, you’re not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards, even with the best running back in the NFL. That’s when you have to be able to throw the ball. … You have to be able to hit the deep balls.”
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) September 30, 2019
The NFC is up for grabs, folks. The Rams look shaky. The Saints are a shell of themselves without Drew Brees. The Cowboys have to prove they can win the big game their head coach never wins. There is a one certainty right now in the whole of the conference: the best and most consistent unit plays defense in Chicago.
Mack was interviewed by Deion Sanders Sunday night on that nightmare of a television program on NFL Network. When asked about the defense he said, “We feel like we’re just warming up.” Just. Warming. Up. If they get to max temperature, they’ll be playing in Miami on February 2nd.