| December 7th, 2020

This was one of the worst losses I can remember watching as a Chicago Bears fan.

Or maybe it wasn’t? As someone who became a Bears fan years after their 1985 Super Bowl win, most of my time spent rooting for Chicago has been rife with disappointment.

As fans we can go back and forth debating the most brutal, deflating, demoralizing losses this franchise has faced, and after days of heated conversations we’d probably still be leaving out quite a few heartbreakers.

So who knows? Maybe this was one of their worst losses, or maybe it was just another in a series of forgettable bad moments, but either way this was the game where I became completely convinced that the Chicago Bears need to blow it up and rebuild in 2021.

That means at the very least goodbye Pace, goodbye Nagy, goodbye Trubisky (that has been a no brainer for awhile), and goodbye to any aging veteran the Bears are able to unload for decent draft picks.

Some of you might think I’m an idiot for taking so long to get to this point, and others will think I’m a moron for wanting to completely rebuild a team that has so much talent and promise. Either opinion is fair, but what I know is that you can’t live on promise alone, and promise is all the Bears have been giving us since the double-doink in 2018.It’s absolutely crushing Chicago didn’t get this one right. They had, and still have an amazingly talented defense. Matt Nagy is still a smart and inspirational coach. Hell, Mitchell Trubisky is still a guy who works hard, shows up for his teammates, and can make impressive, athletic plays.

It doesn’t matter.

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Super Bowl Preview: It Comes Down to QB, Take the Chiefs

| January 30th, 2020

If I’ve learned anything as a Bears fan these past few years, it’s the importance of choosing Patrick Mahomes.

The most important position in football, and arguably all of sports, is quarterback. A great one can lift an average team to considerable heights, while a bad one can bog down an otherwise elite squad in mediocrity.

Neither the San Francisco 49ers nor the Kansas City Chiefs have a bad quarterback, but only one team has a great one, and Patrick Mahomes gives the Chiefs the edge in Sunday’s Super Bowl match-up.

I expect the game to be a close one. The Niners are a very good team, with a dominant defense and strong run game. They should be able to limit some of the explosiveness of Kansas City’s offense. They breezed through their first two playoff games en route to the Super Bowl, however both the Vikings and Packers were better on paper than they ever were on the field.

In comparison the Chiefs had a more tumultuous path, going down 24-0 to Houston before scoring 28 unanswered points in the second quarter, and never looking back. And while it’s probably true the Chiefs caught a break in getting to play the Titans at home instead of traveling to Baltimore like initially predicted, you have to respect how they were able to completely neutralize Derrick Henry and the Titans’ versatile offense in ways that neither the Patriots or the Ravens could.

Kansas City’s defense isn’t as good as San Francisco’s, but they can get the job done, and I think they will benefit from a mistake or two by Garoppolo. The moment will get to him. He’s not a bad quarterback, by any means, but he’s not a star. He’s not Mahomes.

Mahomes is extraordinary. Gunslinger. Escape artist. Pleasure to watch. It’s possible he has an off day, because even the best do. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Take the Chiefs.

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2019 Bears Follow the Same Script, Over and Over and Over and Over and Over…

| November 27th, 2019

Oh what a difference a year makes. After last year’s Thanksgiving game against Detroit, I wrote an article about how much fun the Bears were to watch, and encouraged fans to have fun too, regardless of what came next:

Being a sports fan often means you’re in store for a lot of heartbreak, so take a minute to savor it when things are going well.

Many words can describe the Bears’ 2019 season, but “fun” is definitely not one of them, and no one is savoring this season. Even wins like Sunday against the Giants aren’t really enjoyable. Go watch the post-game interviews with Nagy and Trubisky and you’ll see neither is particularly pleased, even though they got the W.

The main reason I haven’t written much about the team this year is because I’m not having much fun watching. It’s not just that they aren’t very good (they = the offense = mostly Trubisky). I’ve watched a ton of Bears football over the years, and many of those teams were way worse than what we’re seeing in 2019, but I still managed to find more joy than I have this season.

Part of that stems from the expectations we all had for the Bears. They were supposed to contend for a title this year, and instead they’re likely to finish below .500. But it’s not just that. Ever since London this season has become monotonous and disappointing. It’s like watching the same boring, predictable procedural every week.

A typical episode tends to go something like this:

The Bears come out and the offense is flat. The defense plays well. Maybe they bend a little, but they don’t break. The offense has chances, but the run game stalls and the offensive line can’t block. Trubisky misses wide open receivers, and when he does manage to actually hit them in stride they drop the ball. And so it goes….

Three and out
Three and out
Three and out.

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Rival Roundup: The Bears Are Good, But Must Be Better to Win the NFC North

| October 11th, 2019

We’re just over a quarter of the way through the 2019 season, and the bye week makes it the perfect time to assess where the Bears stand, both as an individual unit and in relation to the rest of the NFC North.


Green Bay Packers

Right now the Packers are the top team in the NFC North. They’re currently 4-1, and 2-0 in the division. Most likely they beat the Lions on Monday and become 3-0, which would be a boon to their playoff hopes. They also have the second easiest remaining schedule in the division.

Both the defense and run game have improved for the Packers, and much of the tension that hung in the air during the end of Mike McCarthy’s tenure seems to have dissipated under LaFleur (despite initial reports that he and Rodgers were clashing). Rodgers isn’t putting up his usual numbers quite yet, but as long as they’re winning, he seems perfectly content with that.

It’s early and a lot can still happen, but it’s quite possible that Week 15 in Green Bay could hold even more significance than usual in the Bears-Packers storied rivalry.

Detroit Lions

The thing about the Lions is, they’re actually kind of good. They’re also still the Lions.

They could very easily be 4-0 right now instead of 2-1-1. They blew a significant fourth quarter lead against the Arizona Cardinals in their season opener that ended in a tie, and they kept pace with Mahomes and the Chiefs right up until the very end of their Week 4 matchup.

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Bears Need to Answer “Yes” to These 3 Questions

| September 11th, 2019

The Chicago Bears have played one game in 2019, and it was soul-crushing.It was also just one game.

Of course they can still be the team we hoped they would be this year, but there are three vital questions they need to answer. If it’s “yes” to all three, I don’t see why Chicago isn’t in the playoffs come January. If the answers are “no”, we could be in for a long season.

Can they stay healthy?

This is both completely obvious, and something the Bears have little control over, but it’s still one of the most crucial pieces to having success this season.

After Thursday it’s clear there’s no regression on the defensive front, and the only way they don’t continue to be one of the most formidable units in the NFL is if key players suffer significant injuries.

Similarly, even though the offense was an absolute embarrassment against Green Bay, we know there’s still plenty of talent on that side of the ball as well. Keep them healthy, and we’re sure to see it. With one game in the books and 15 to go, all we can do is hope the team stays as healthy as possible the rest of the way.

Can they find reliability and consistency at the kicker position?

The Bears’ search for a kicker defined their preseason, and after exhaustive tryouts they decided Eddy Pineiro was their best option.

Pineiro had an inconsistent training camp, a decent preseason, and against Green Bay went 1/1 with a 38 yard field goal before proceeding to send the kickoff out of bounds on the very next play. So far he’s been the very definition of mixed bag.

Pineiro seems like a good kid with a strong leg, and maybe, just maybe has the potential to be an upgrade from last season. That said, do I feel confident that he can march out there and reliably hit 40+ yard field goals in high pressure situations? Not yet, at least. There’s just not a big enough sample size. Fortunately for Pineiro, he has a whole season to prove himself. For both his and the team’s sake, he better.

Can Trubisky be good enough?

It’s been six days now, so there’s no need to belabor the point. Trubisky played like garbage in Week 1. Yes, Nagy called an awful game. Yes, the offensive line was atrocious. But he was still very bad. It was a frustrating, bewildering performance, and he deserves all the criticism leveled at him, but one game doesn’t give us the final answer here.

Because the question isn’t can Trubisky be great, or will he be better than Mahomes or Watson. Those are separate discussions. With the caliber of defense Chicago has they don’t need an Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. They proved that last year by going 12-4. What they need is a good QB who is comfortable in Matt Nagy’s offense.

There were multiple times last season where Trubisky looked to be exactly that, including his performance against Green Bay in Week 15 where he threw for 235 yards, two touchdowns, and helped the Bears clinch the division. That game counts in his evaluation just as much as Thursday night does.

We’re slowly getting to the point where we can start to say with some certainty what Trubisky’s baseline performance level is, but we’re not quite there yet. In a month to six weeks, if Trubisky is regularly playing more like the guy who showed up on Thursday than the guy in December of last year the Bears have a serious problem, but it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.

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The Bears Should Pass on Signing Kareem Hunt

| January 23rd, 2019

There’s only one game left in the 2018 NFL season, and regrettably the Bears aren’t in it. So naturally our thoughts turn to what might happen this offseason. Apart from the obvious need to replace Cody Parkey, I didn’t think there’d be a whole lot to talk about this early in 2019. But Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace turned heads at their final news conference by not ruling out the possibility of signing former Kansas City Chief and current Commissioner Exempt List occupant Kareem Hunt.

While this is purely hypothetical, and months away from even being a possibility, it is currently a hot topic of discussion, and Jeff asked me if I’d like to weigh in. So here goes.

Pros of signing Hunt:

He’s a talented running back who thrived in Nagy’s system.

Cons of signing Hunt:

There’s a video of him kicking a woman on the ground.

My opinion:

Don’t sign him.

In many ways it should be that simple, but I do understand that in our current reality it isn’t. So here in more detail are the reasons why I don’t think Chicago should sign Kareem Hunt:

The Bears don’t exist in a vacuum.

We can’t talk about Kareem Hunt without acknowledging the environment in which we currently find ourselves. The systemic and long ignored abuse of women at the hands of powerful men is being exposed in a way it hasn’t before, and the NFL finds itself firmly entrenched in that discussion.

From the many credible yet unproven allegations against former and current players, to cases like Josh Brown, Ray Rice, Tyreek Hill, Joe Mixon, and yes, Kareem Hunt where there is no doubt as to their guilt, it’s clear the league, along with the sports community in general – and let’s face it, the whole goddamn world – has failed to adequately demand accountability on this issue. As fans have become more aware of the seemingly endless instances of abuse and cover-ups, we’ve grown more cynical about the degree to which the NFL takes violence against women seriously, and more vocal in our pleas for them to do better.

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What to Expect When the Bears Have Exceeded Your Expectations

| December 26th, 2018

It’s the day after Christmas. There are five days left in 2018 and like many of you I’m taking a little time to reflect upon all that I’m grateful for, and what my expectations are for 2019.

This year marks the first in almost a decade that the Chicago Bears are actually going to be a factor in January. They’re playoff bound. A guaranteed three seed in the NFC, with the (slim) possibility of jumping up to two and having a bye. So when I contemplate my expectations for the team, I’m not even looking at the summer yet, I’m looking at next week. And as far as expectations go, the Bears have already exceeded all of mine.

Before the start of this season, I said the Bears needed to finish 8-8. That’s it. After so many losing seasons the first thing they needed to do was not have another. I even hedged a little on that. I said that 7-9 would maybe be borderline acceptable, assuming they were competitive and had shown real signs of progress. Even after signing Mack, I thought 10-6 was their ceiling. I was optimistic about where the team was headed, but if I had said in September I thought the Bears had a legitimate shot of winning the Super Bowl I would’ve been laughed off the internet.

It’s the last week of the year. The Bears have a legitimate shot of winning the Super Bowl. It’s not a joke, it’s just true.

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Bears are Having Fun. Fans Should, Too.

| November 28th, 2018

Greetings, Bears fans. It’s been awhile.

I started a new job at the beginning of the month, which is exciting and all that, but not nearly as exciting as the Bears being 8-3 with a (semi) comfortable lead in the NFC North as we head into the final stretch of the regular season!

My last blog post emphasized the importance of the three straight divisional games the Bears have just completed. At the time, I wrote that if the Bears were able to go 2-1 in that stretch, it’d be a huge boon for their chances to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

I thought it’d be hard, but doable. More than anything I thought it’d give us a clear idea of who this team is and what they are capable of achieving in 2018. My exact words:

It’s already clear this Bears team is different from what we’ve gotten used to watching in seasons past. Just how different remains to be seen. Check back with me after Thanksgiving.

Well, it’s after Thanksgiving. I’m 5 lbs heavier and 500% (not a math major) more confident that the Chicago Bears are a damn good football team. Not only good, but extremely fun to watch, in part because you can tell how much the players are enjoying themselves.

And why shouldn’t they? Most teams in the NFL are mediocre, some straight up suck, and handful of teams are actually good. The Bears have been mediocre to awful for years now, so this season has been an absolute revelation as a fan, and frankly if you’re not enjoying yourself I’m not sure what could possibly make you happy.

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After Peterman, Division Challenges That Will Define Bears Season Await

| October 31st, 2018

We’re halfway through the 2018 NFL season, and the Bears sit atop the NFC North at 4-3.

This team is one win away from equaling the total number of wins they had last season, and frankly after watching Monday night’s game between the Patriots and the Bills, and knowing that Nathan Peterman is likely Sunday’s starter, if they aren’t at 5-3 by the end of Week 9 this might be the last article you read from me because I will have gone into some state of catatonic shock.

Now I know what some of you are thinking (fearing). The Bears we’ve come to know over the last few years have had a propensity to lose games they absolutely should win. It was a defining feature of the John Fox era.

Many of you might point to the Bears loss in Miami a few weeks ago as another sign that this team still struggles to put away lesser opponents. While I admit the loss to the Dolphins has grown more and more frustrating after seeing both the current landscape of the NFC North, as well as the increasingly poor play of Miami, I stand by my article two weeks ago. It was a painful loss, but not necessarily a bad one.

Apart from that, this team has done well in beating opponents they’re supposed to beat.

  • The Week 2 win against Seattle looks more impressive (and important) now that the Seahawks have won 4 of their last 5 games.
  • They rightfully demolished a terrible Tampa team.
  • While they kept it a little closer than we all would’ve liked against the Jets last week, they made the adjustments and pulled away when they needed to, winning by 14.

I fully expect Chicago to do the same thing this Sunday against the Bills. If they don’t, I’ll have to reevaluate how I view this team, and what they’re capable of in 2018. But from my perspective, after Buffalo is where the real challenge begins.

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Bears Contradict Themselves in Loss to Dolphins

| October 17th, 2018

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Walt Whitman was waxing poetic about the human condition here, but he might as well have been describing my reaction to Sunday’s loss to Miami. It was a gut punch, a heart-breaker, a golden opportunity that slipped away.

It was also exciting, competitive and full of promise.

So this week’s column embraces the contradictory nature of a game like this, both as stand-alone event, and as part of a much larger puzzle we’re still in the process of piecing together.

The Bears are a great defense AND they played terribly vs the Dolphins.

The Bears defense we’ve seen for the past four games was not the defense that showed up on Sunday.

Kyle Fuller had a solid game with two big interceptions, and the defense played well enough in the first half, holding the Dolphins to 154 yards and just 7 points. However, they collapsed in the second half and OT, allowing 387 yards and 24 points. They let Brock Osweiler and Albert Wilson beat them on bubble screens, and when all was said and done the Dolphins produced 274 yards after the catch.

That’s terrible. That’s embarrassing. That’s inexcusable. But…

  • Khalil Mack was hampered with an ankle injury.
  • They played in brutally hot and humid conditions, and weren’t used to it.
  • The refs did them no favors.
  • Even great defenses have off games.

Excuses mean nothing in the NFL. All that matters are wins and losses, but it’s ridiculous to not concede those first three issues factored into Sunday’s loss, and that as a rule, good teams can have bad games without it spilling over into the rest of the season.

Right now, I’m not worried about this defense. Not one bit. But…ask me again in a few weeks.

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