Bears at Bucs Game Preview: Covid, Cale, Cover.

| October 22nd, 2021

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

But let’s be honest: it’s quite difficult to like the Bears in this spot. The Bucs are inevitably going to score a bunch of points and the way to beat them is to score more. Does anybody believe a Matt Nagy offense can win a shootout, even with a rookie quarterback who looks like he’d thrive in that situation?

The Bucs are scoring 32.5 points per game. A great Bears defensive effort should be able to keep them in the 24-8 range. So the Bears will need 30. Do they have it? Doubtful.

HughesReviews: The Velvet Underground

I’ve always thought the great documentaries fall into two categories. The content docs captivate you with information. Alex Gibney is the master of this form (Enron, Client 9, Going Clear, etc.), but the binge-worthy, true crime doc drug – of which I must admit an addiction – has elevated the medium from high art, coffee shop conversation to pop culture phenomena. (Tiger King felt like the most talked about documentary in the history of the country.)

The form docs are a trickier enterprise. Whether it’s Errol Morris’ interrotron locking into the eyes of Robert McNamara or DA Pennebaker’s fly-on-the-wall witnessing Elaine Stritch’s cast recording breakdown or Barbara Kopple’s penetrating look at the coal miners of Harlan County, the form docs seem to change the way we look at the world by changing the way that world is framed for us, the viewer. (Great recent examples are 2019’s American Factory and Minding the Gap.)

The great music docs almost exclusively fall into this latter group. Sure, The Sparks Brothers was an intriguing look at an intriguing band, and History of The Eagles was endlessly entertaining, but ultimately those films are limited by how much the viewer actually cares about the work the band produced. (In both the aforementioned cases, my level is somewhere near zero.) The great music docs – The Last Waltz, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Stop Making Sense – captivate you with the originality of their storytelling.

What is so stunning about Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground is how intimate the experience feels. (It definitely helps that I saw it in a theater and not on my couch, with the ability to pause and take piss breaks.) The filmmaker’s decision to rest the faces of his subjects on screen for extended periods of time had a near-hypnotic effect. You find yourself studying Lou Reed and John Cale as younger men. You find yourself searching their faces for clues to a puzzle that’s never been solved. And all the while they are mapping out their journeys to the band. It’s thrilling.

I’ll write more about this film in the year-end piece. But I want to use this space to encourage you to see the film. (It is on Apple+ if you can’t find it in a theater near you.) Whether you like the band or not – and I do not – it’s one of the more remarkable documentaries every produced.

Stats of the Week

  • Here’s a stat I’m inventing: Success Index. This is where I take where a team ranks at a particular discipline on offense and then look where they rank at attempting that discipline. You want a deviation as close to zero as possible. If you’re the best rushing team in the league, you want to run the ball most. (The Cleveland Browns currently achieve this. They are first in yards per carry, yards per game and total carries.)
    • Bucs are the 7th worst rushing team in the league in YPC, 5th worst in YPG, and run the ball 5th least in the league. This is a total deviation of 2. Which is very good.
    • Bears are the 12th best rushing team in YPC, 7th in YPG and run the ball 7th most. This is a deviation of 5, and that makes sense. It shows the Bears actually aren’t elite at running the ball but their commitment to it has led to productivity.
      • If you want to find large deviations you can look to the Jaguars, Chiefs and Broncos. All three should run the ball far more than they do.
    • Bucs are top of the league in passing YPG and first in the league in attempts. Deviation of 0.
    • Bears are last in the league passing YPG and next to last in attempts. Deviation of 1. The Bears should see a significant uptick in attempts this week so it’ll be interesting to revisit the numbers next week.
    • Is there a takeaway? Yes. These two teams know who they are on offense. The problem is one of the teams stinks.
  • The most significant advantage for the Bears in this game is in the pass rush department, where they hold a 21-12 sack lead. But that advantage will be mitigated by the absence of Robert Quinn, who has made it impossible for opposing offenses to roll their protections exclusively to Khalil Mack’s side.

  • Leonard Fournette has 54 carries and 13 catches over his last three games. This is no longer a situational player. He’s become a versatile, every-down back. And the Bears should expect a lot of him Sunday.

Bold Bears Prediction

Justin Fields over the last three games: 17 attempts, 20 attempts, 27 attempts.

This week, he blows by those totals, and throws 40 passes.

Tweet of the Week

Just really good content here, as usual, from an Adam Jahns Joint.

Game Prediction

I’m anticipating a productive loss.

What does that mean?

It means the following three things will occur:

(1) Robert Quinn’s absence will allow Bruce Arians to keep Khalil Mack from wrecking the game. Brady’s quick delivery – and just overall quarterbacking brilliance – will be on full display as he is given time to pick apart the non-Jaylon Johnson parts of the secondary. (I once watched live as Brady embarrassed Charles Tillman in a blizzard. He’s not human. You just have to accept it. 2020 was an anomaly.)

(2) Matt Nagy isn’t much of an offensive mind but he must understand this is not the week to feed Khalil Herbert. The Bears will struggle finding a rhythm early but Fields will look up to the challenge come the second half and have his best statistical game. (Some will write this off to “garbage time” but Fields will actually make this a game.)

(3) Bears cover.

Tampa Bay Bucs 28, Chicago Bears 20

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