Bears at Chiefs Game Preview: And Over the Cliff a Season Now Goes…

| September 22nd, 2023

Robert Altman’s Kansas City (1996)

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?







Preparing for Decimation 

Here are my three easy ways to make Sunday’s game a more palatable experience for you, the Bears fan.

(1) If you drink, start drinking at kickoff of the early games. You don’t have to go crazy, but you don’t want to be angrily staring at the television screen as Fields stands endlessly in the pocket, failing to notice both his wide-open receivers and Chris Jones sprinting at him. I recommend 2-3 drinks during the early window, with an option for rapid acceleration as Bears/Chiefs gets out of hand.

(2) Parlay the Chiefs ML with whatever bet you like for Sunday Night Football. You’re not getting anything when the Chiefs win the game, but if you parlay them with either the Steelers OR the Raiders on Sunday night, you’re suddenly in the +odds. If the Bears win, you’re happy! When the Bears don’t win, you’ll have a chance to win a few quid come the evening hours.

(3) Disassociate yourself emotionally. I know this is easier said than done but give it a try. I have personally not invested one ounce of emotion into either of the first two contests this season and I’m the better for it. This is not a good football team. They are poorly coached. They are poorly quarterbacked. And neither of those things is going to radically improve in the coming months. The ceiling for this season is “eh” so why invest more than that?

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Bears at Bucs Game Preview: In the Land of Strip Clubs, the Bears Must Arrive at the 2023 Dance

| September 15th, 2023

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?







The Second Week, or Why this Game Matters

Everybody is down in the dumps, especially those fans who spent the last six months absurdly taunting other fans on social media with dumb phrases like “Fields is going to own the North” and “King Poles.” The Bears are still, quite obviously, not a good team. But no objective analyst expected them to be a good team. We did, however, expect them to be a far better team than was seen at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Forget a grain of salt. Week 1 should be digested with the tonnage of salt that is dumped on Michigan Avenue in anticipation of a January blizzard. That is not to say one should ignore the failings of the Bears against the Packers. But looking around the league, it was quite obvious that half the sport (if not more) was not ready to play regular season football. Joe Burrow couldn’t complete a pass. The Chiefs couldn’t catch. The Giants, with their supposedly top head coach, forgot they had a game. And then there is whatever Josh Allen was doing Monday night.

The Chicago Bears goals for the 2023 season do not change with Sunday’s result. This Bears team can still play relevant football in the month of December. They can still mount a campaign that inches near .500. But in order to do so they have to find a way to win Sunday in Tampa. With Kansas City looming in Week 3, they must do everything in their power to avoid an 0-3 start. (And one could argue a 1-1 start would give the Bears an opportunity to erase the sadness of Week 1 with a Week 3 upset.)

But perhaps most importantly, this program needs to overcome the building toxicity around it and deliver a solid effort. No more somber faces on the sideline. No more complaining about fans to the media. The Bears need belief, and belief only comes with victories. And this club hasn’t had one of those in a long time.

A Single Sentence on Several Films of 2023

Bottoms. Emma Seligman’s up-and-down comedy has a tour de force final half hour that’ll make it the most rewatchable film of the year.

Oppenheimer. Flashy and beautiful, Christopher Nolan’s historical epic is also a dramaturgically flimsy and emotionally hollow experience.

Past Lives. The foreign darling of the art house scene, Celine Song’s film is a lovely, if minor, effort.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. If serving no other purpose, this James Mangold-helmed fifth Indy picture has erased the jaundiced memory of the disastrous fourth installment and given one of Hollywood’s finest action heroes a suitable ending.

King Coal. This documentary tone poem, set in central Appalachia, could have been the natural heir to Barbara Kopple’s brilliant Harlan County, USA, but instead is a politically muddled and incomplete work, lacking the depth more voices from the community could have provided.

Note: The First Lady of DBB and I are seeing Barbie tonight, after several failed efforts to check it out. I’ll have thoughts on it next week. 

Five Key Points

  • The Bears defense must limit Tampa’s big play potential, if it exists beyond Mike Evans. The Bucs had four scoring drives in their game vs. the Vikings, and they tell the story of an offense that struggles to move the ball with any authority. The drives were:
    • 4 plays, 0 yards (FG)
    • 7 plays, 61 yards (TD)
    • 16 plays, 75 yards (TD)
    • 10 plays, 38 yards (FG)
  • Kirk Cousins was not good against the Bucs, but that was mostly on Cousins. Even with his errant tosses and multiple fumbles, he still produced 344 yards in the passing game. The plays will be there down the field for the Bears.
    • Two things have to happen for the Bears. Eberflus and Getsy must allow their quarterback to fling it and Fields must deliver the football, down the field, on time. Neither happened in Week 1.
  • The Bucs gave their three backs – Rachaad White, Sean Tucker and Chase Edmonds – a shot, totaling 24 carries at only 2.5 yards per clip. Todd Bowles won’t care if the run game is successful. After watching Bears/Packers tape, he’ll stick with it for four quarters. (Tucker seems the most explosive of these backs by a sizable margin.)
  • Ignore Minnesota’s rushing stats in the opener. Alexander Mattison was only given 11 carries and that offense is clearly going to be pass-first/pass-often. The Bucs gave up north of 120 yards per game rushing in 2022 and the Bears should be able control the game on the ground. The biggest question is whether this coaching staff will acknowledge the energy Roschon Johnson brought to the unit when on the field; Johnson looks like the kind of bruising back that can wear an opponent down over four quarters.
  • Three defenders the Bears have to identify and deal with on every snap: Shaq Barrett, Antoine Winfield, Anthony Nelson. When the Bucs disrupt the pocket, they most often do so with these three guys. Barrett and Winfield are to be expected, but Nelson was all over the field against Minnesota.

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Game Preview: Bears, Packers, 9/11 Pictures & Some Prognostications for the 2023 Campaign

| September 8th, 2023

There will be column writing from me throughout the season, but I am going to relegate most of my work to these game previews. I’m incredibly proud of the consistently excellent work being produced under the Schmitz regime at DBB and I hope I’ll now be able add some of my own flavor to the mix.

Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?







Three Things the Bears MUST Do on Sunday

  • Win the ground game.
    • The Bears had one of the league’s best rushing attacks in 2022, while also fielding one of the league’s worst rush defenses. In their two meetings with the Packers last season, they were outgained on the ground 203-180 and 175-155. Matt LaFleur is going to do everything in his power to make Jordan Love’s debut easier and that will include a healthy dose of the run game, putting pressure on Chicago’s weakest unit, their DL. If the Bears can’t slow Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon down, it’s unlikely they’ll slow down the Packers writ large.
  • Catch interceptions.
    • Barring a few nice throws, Love has looked nervous this preseason, and that’s unlikely to change come the opener. When he gives the secondary opportunities, they must take advantage of them. For too many years we have watched the Bears drop easy interception after easy interception, often originating from the right hand of a Packers quarterback en route to the Hall of Fame.
  • Get the fans excited early, and often.
    • This is going to be a Soldier Field ready to celebrate the dawn of a new era and the Bears have to meet the moment. Mount some promising early drives. Get points from those drives. Show that the Chicago Bears are finally ready to join the ranks of modern offensive football. (If the team comes out and runs it unsuccessfully on first and second down to open the game…well…it would be about the most tone-deaf play calling one can recall.) Too often the Bears have sent the home crowd into a lethargic malaise. Big, exciting moments on offense change that.

September 11th on Screen

Paul Schrader argues, in his seminal essay on film noir, that the “genre” is unique to America, and specifically to a post-war period (mid 40s to late 50s) that found a generation of heroic men returning from war to an uncertain future, and unsure identity. But as we commemorate the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 on Monday, it is interesting to look at a series of films made in New York City in the years after those attacks as questioning not only what it means to be a man in a post-traumatic environment, but also what it means to be the city unfairly targeted as representative of a national political identity to which it often did not and does not ascribe.

There are four films I would recommend looking at in this regard.

25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)

Unfaithful (Adrian Lyne, 2002)

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007)

Before the Devil Know You’re Dead (Sidney Lumet, 2007)

As this is a topic for a broader research project of mine, I will not wallow in the weeds here. But these are four films that I consider four of the best of this century. If you’re interested in the aforementioned discussion, feel free to email me: jeff@dabearsblog.com.

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Short Column: On Northwestern, the Poisonous Culture of College Athletics & a Potential Path to Change

| July 27th, 2023

I went to St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey, a noted football powerhouse. During the years I attended the school, 1996-2000, we were anything but a powerhouse. I don’t remember the records each season but I’m pretty certain we lost more games than we won, and the student body enjoyed the work of our mascots, the Marauder and Henchmen, of which I was a proud member of the latter, more than the play of the athletes on the field.

Nevertheless, during this period, the football players had the run of the school. When they didn’t want to go to class, they didn’t, claiming they required medical attention. When teachers challenged their absences, they were strong-armed by head football coach Rich Hansen and the athletics department. Remember, these guys were not “bigger than life” on campus. They were crappy football players on a crappy football team. Nobody was afraid of them. But that didn’t matter. The fear that existed, if that’s the right word, was of the empowered athletic department.

I thought about St. Peter’s Prep as the stories of hazing at Northwestern became national news, due to the brilliant student journalism at The Daily Northwestern. This is not the space to rehash those heinous allegations, but as the stories now circulate through the whole of the university’s athletics department, one thing is clear: the relationship between academic institutions and athletics has been irrevocably broken by an economic empowerment of those running athletic programs and a cult-like exaltation of the most comically fraudulent label in our culture, the “student-athlete.”

College athletics, and mostly college football, is an abhorrent, repulsive, corrupt business. Universities salivate over the financial windfall provided an elite football (or sometimes basketball) program and relish the increase in application rate that accompanies that success. But the culture of college football is forged on pee wee and high school fields all over the country, every day. Coaches are adorned with an absurd infallibility, as if they’re not just guys who likes whistles and got a discount on dry erase boards down the local Walmart. Parents behave like grotesqueries; surrealist portraits of what it means to be an adult and raise a child. And the children, who are still children even when they’ve enrolled at university, simply don’t know any better. That is why when these allegations surfaced against Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, his players quickly released a group statement in his support. Not because they believe their behavior as a football team was okay, but because they were never taught to know any better.

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