Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
And I’m finding it very easy to ignore all of the elements of this franchise that are not called Justin Fields.
Three Questions Facing the Bears Monday Night
Question #1. Can the Bears stop Najee Harris? A lot has been made about the lack of pass rush the last two weeks but the run defense has been just as bad. Fournette averaged 5.4 per carry. Ronald Jones averaged 6.3. Elijah Mitchell averaged 7.6. The Steelers have not been a particularly good run team but they stay committed to it; Harris is fourth in the league in attempts. If the Bears don’t improve dramatically in this department they’re going to get blown out.
Question #2. Can the Bears block T.J. Watt? We have this answer already, don’t we? Nick Bosa got Fields twice. Myles Garrett got him 11 times or something. The Bears don’t have the talent on the edge or the schematic prowess on the sideline to nullify elite edge rushers. Watt has game wrecker potential Monday night.
Question #3. How much can Justin Fields do? He doesn’t have time in the pocket. He doesn’t have receivers getting separation. Fields will have to be every bit of what he was against San Francisco (and then some) to keep the Bears competitive with Pittsburgh. (Which is sad, honestly, because Pittsburgh isn’t very good.) What does that mean? Probably another 75-yard plus output on the ground to keep the chains moving. Asking that from him weekly is a recipe for disaster.
Ranking August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle
Wilson’s “Century Cycle” – all set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh – is the greatest achievement in the history of the American theatre. He is a playwright and poet of the highest order; his characters stampede across the stage, driven by love and rage and mysticism and a desperate desire to simply survive.
The cycle is ten plays detailing the African American experience in this community over a century, with each play taking on a different decade. This is my ranking. If any of these plays are being staged near you, see it. (There are good film versions of Fences, Ma Rainey and Piano Lesson streaming but the experience simply isn’t the same. These are, at their very core, plays.)
10. Radio Golf
Old Joe: That’s a nice pin you got there. That look like the flag. Nice colors. The Red White and Blue. We had a flag during the war. Company B Fourth Battalion. Fellow named Joe Mott carried the flag. He got shot in the head on the second of November 1942. He was betting against it but he lost. Lots of men died under that flag. That American flag was everywhere. Joe Mott carried it into battle but it was everywhere. In the mess hall. In the dance hall. We had a great big mess hall and they would bring the women in from the town and we’d have a great big old dance. You look up and there would be that flag hanging behind the bandstand. That flag was everywhere. You saw it in the morning when you woke up and you saw it at night before you went to bed. Sometimes you saw it in your sleep. When the time come and I saw Joe Mott fall with that flag…shot right through the head… bullet went in one end and come out the other…I don’t know where it went after that.
09. King Hedley II
King: Pernell stepped on me and I pulled his life out by the root. What does that make me? It don’t make me a big man.
08. Gem of the Ocean
Aunt Ester: You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don’t you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain’t all for you to know. It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.
07. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Cutler: Slow Drag ain’t missed a stroke. The gal, she just look at her man with that sweet dizzy look in her eye. She ain’t about to stop! Folks was clearing out, ducking and hiding under tables, figuring there’s gonna be a fight. Slow Drag just looked over the gal’s shoulder at he man and said, “Mister, if you’d quit hollering and wait a minute . . . you’ll see I’m doing you a favor. I’m helping this gal win ten dollars so she can buy you a gold watch.” The man just stood there and looked at him, all the while stroking that knife.
06. The Piano Lesson
Berniece: Money can’t buy what that piano cost.
05. Two Trains Running
Holloway: Aunt Ester give you more than money. She make you right with yourself.
04. Joe Turner’s Come and Gone
Bynum: When you grab hold to a woman, you got a whole world there.
03. Seven Guitars
Hedley: He would not call me King. He laughed to think a black man could be King. I did not want to lose my name, so I told him to call me the name my father gave me, and he laugh. He would not call me King, and I beat him hard with a stick.”
Booster: Car service. (One of the more beautiful last lines in theatre history.)
Cory: How come you ain’t never liked me?
Troy: Liked you? Who the hell say I got to like you? What law is there say I got to like you? Wanna stand up in my face and ask a damn fool ass question like that. Talking about liking somebody. Come here boy, when I talk to you. Straighten up dammit! I asked you a question… what law is there say I got to like you?
Stats of the Week
- How bad has the Bears defense been recently? After being around the top ten in both yards and points allowed for the first six weeks of the season, the defense has now fallen to 15th in yards allowed and 20th in points allowed. What was an overachieving group for much of the first two months is quickly turning into a bad one.
- Ben Roethlisberger looked awful to start the season. But his last three games? The tape doesn’t show a washed up quarterback. He’s older. He’s slower. But he has not been bad. In those three games:
- Completion %: 60, 72.5, 64.7
- TD/INT: 4/0
- Passer ratings: 120.9, 94.7, 98.4
- Steelers: 3-0
- In the red zone, the Steelers defense is allowing 3.1 yards per rushing attempt and 2.7 yards per passing attempt. Opponents are completing just 53.3% of their passes. (As always, Pro Football Reference has every stat you could ever want.) This is a top five red zone defense by every metric.
Tweet of the Week
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) November 1, 2021
Steelers will run the ball efficiently, and without significant pass rush, Roethlisberger will pick apart this secondary. It would not be surprising to see Diontae Johnson or Chase Claypool have their best game of the season. (I’d go with Johnson, who is only behind Cooper Kupp and Tyreek Hill in average targets per game with 10.5.)
Bears will stick to their game plan and try to control this game on the ground. It won’t work. Steelers run defense stifled the Browns and Nick Chubb and that’s arguably the best run game in the league. The Bears will also be overwhelmed by the Steelers pass rush, especially in the second half when they find themselves chasing the game.
Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Chicago Bears 20