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Favored at Home Again: The Penultimate Game Preview of the 2023 Season

| December 29th, 2023


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?

I.

Always.

Like.

THE.

Chicago.

Bears.


The Football Bit

I got nothing.

How many times can I write the same thing about Justin Fields?

How many times can I write the same thing about Matt Eberflus?

Sometimes a season just needs to end and that is definitively the case for the 2023 Chicago Bears. This season needs to end, and the organization needs to make their decisions at quarterback and coach. Nothing will change this coming Sunday. Nothing will change the Sunday after.

I hope the Bears beat the Falcons because winning is more fun than losing and they already are guaranteed a top two pick in the draft. That is the entirety of what’s at stake at Soldier Field, a potentially fun afternoon.


The Movie Bit

Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest is one of the most remarkable films I have ever seen.

First, a plot summary, in the briefest sense. The film is a domestic drama, but the domicile in question is the home of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, situated directly outside the high walls of the concentration and extermination camp in question. Throughout the film, we engage the Höss family as if they were any other German family, i.e. the stress of visiting in-laws, the drama of a work transfer, etc. We watch in detail as Rudolf, the family’s patriarch, locks the doors and turns out the lights each evening. We see birthday cakes and visits to the local creek for recreation.

We never see the atrocities of the camp. But throughout the film, we hear constant reminders of what is happening inside those walls. Gun shots. Screams. The most horrifying cinematic soundscape I can remember.

There will be time, years, to discuss this film further. Glazer might be the modern Kubrick; he’s made three other films (Sexy Beast, Birth, Under the Skin) and each is brilliant. But for now, I want to use this space to encourage you to find Zone of Interest and sit with it. It is a film that questions the very nature of how we construct narratives of history, and how those narratives are consumed. Glazer has said the film is “not a history lesson, it’s a warning.” That warning haunts me.

This is the film of the year.

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My New Year’s Resolution? Beat The Atlanta Falcons

| December 28th, 2023


Matt Eberflus continues his final stand this Sunday as he takes on an Atlanta Falcons team that finds itself in a similar position to your Chicago Bears — neither team controls their playoff destiny despite playing in lackluster divisions, both offenses added weapons in the offseason and have subsequently underperformed, but the play of each team’s defense has kept each team alive despite the turmoil on the other side of the ball.

Neither team can make the playoffs with a win this weekend… but both teams will likely be eliminated from contention with a loss. Thus, for both Matt Eberflus & Arthur Smith, this New Years’ Day matchup is do-or-die. That sets the stage for a riveting football game.

Nick and I dove deep into this matchup (and the current state of the Bears) within the latest episode of Bear With Us, including discussion topics like…

  • What went well against the Cardinals on offense? How did they score so easily early? What did Arizona do to curb the offense in the 2nd half?
  • Who played well on defense last week? Who played poorly?
  • Where do the Bears match up well with Atlanta on defense? What weak links in the Falcons’ offense can they exploit?
  • How does Chicago’s offense match up with Atlanta’s defense? What kind of day will this be for Chicago?
  • Holiday chatter & game score predictions
  • And much, much more…

It’s one of our best episodes yet — check it out and let me know what you think!

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Bears Fall to the Falcons in Atlanta: Some Thoughts

| November 21st, 2022


The Bears are at a very interesting point in their organizational development. The wins and losses simply don’t matter. And the quarterback has displayed he’s capable of being one of the most dynamic, exciting players in the sport. So, where exactly are we supposed to focus our attention? Here are a few thoughts.

  • Justin Fields is banged up and the Bears should consider putting him on ice next week. The game doesn’t matter for the Bears. Get Fields in the best shape possible for the final stretch of the year. If that means missing a few weeks, so be it.
  • Jack Sanborn is the answer for the Bears at inside linebacker. Take the Roquan Smith savings and build up these lines this spring.
  • Luke Getsy has been calling the offense that best suits the personnel, specifically the offensive line. But the team can’t go the rest of the season slow-playing Chase Claypool into the offense or ignoring what Velus Jones can potentially provide. This coaching staff has to maximize the developmental potential of these coming games and get these guys involved.
  • Seems that Cairo Santos has a pretty definitive range as a kicker. He maxes out at 55 yards. Not an inch more.
  • It is an understandable storyline, but I don’t make much of the Bears not winning these games late. The Bears can’t line up and throw the ball when the opposition know they have to. They don’t pass block well and their receivers don’t separate. Most of the explosive plays this offense produces are a direct result of the athleticism of the quarterback. And that is difficult to utilize with a minute left on the clock.
  • The Bears had several major breakdowns on the offensive line in this game. Not plays where guys were beaten but plays where guards didn’t even attempt to block the pass rusher in front of them. Is this a system thing? If so, it might be time to dramatically simplify things upfront.

I never direct the comments section, but I do have a request. Below, I want you to comment on how you think we should approach these games for the remainder of the season. Start each with APPROACH so I can easily locate the on-message comments.

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Week 11: Bears at Falcons Game Prediction

| November 18th, 2022


Three Things I Think Will Happen:

  • Cordarrelle Patterson will cut the Bears to ribbons, rushing for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns, and catching another 3-4 passes on pivotal third downs.
  • Justin Fields will keep the train rolling, and he’ll do it with his arm. Yes, he’ll get his 50-75 yards on the ground, but this week Fields will go over 300 yards passing for the first time and once again be one of the biggest stories in the sport on Monday morning.
  • There will be under 1.5 punts in the game.

Chicago Bears 34, Atlanta Falcons 30

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Week 11: Bears at Falcons Game Preview

| November 17th, 2022


Let’s bowl, let’s bowl, let’s rock and roll…

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears this Week?

I.

Always.

Like.

THE.

Chicago.

Bears.


Stats of Relevance

  • Due to the emergence of Justin Fields, the Bears are now rushing for 201.7 yards per game. That’s obviously best in the sport. The Falcons are fourth in that category, but they are FORTY yards behind. The correlating stat is also interesting. Chicago has thrown the fewest passes (208) in the league, while Atlanta has thrown the third fewest (231). Passing aficionados might want to spend their Sunday watching the FIFA documentary series on Netflix.
  • Of the teams in the top ten (including ties) in sacks, only the New Orleans Saints have a losing record. There are so many interesting stats in the NFL these days, but the sport still comes to playing well at quarterback and stopping the other guys from playing well at quarterback.
    • Chicago is 28th in sacks. Atlanta is 31st.
  • These teams are very similar. Is turnover differential the reason for their differing records? No. Both have a turnover differential of 0.

Three Bears Who Need to Start Playing

(3) Chase Claypool. Kadarius Toney was acquired by the Chiefs around the same time the Bears acquired Claypool and the former is already a prominent contributor in Kansas City’s offense. Come up with a dozen plays for him and run them.

(2) Velus Jones Jr. It must be “tough love” coaching because benching Jones on Sundays makes no sense otherwise. Jones has speed and this offense desperately needs it. Who cares if he is struggling with his route tree? Who cares if he misses a few blocking assignments? Put the ball in his hands a few times each Sunday and see what he can do with it.

(1) Alex Leatherwood. It is time to see everyone in the offensive line room. This is a pivotal eight weeks of evaluation, and the Bears can’t waste a day of it.

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Foles Takes Over: Rapid Fire Response to the Bears Winning Their 3rd Straight

| September 28th, 2020

Read this Tweet. Now, read it again. This quote from Nick Foles illustrates why many, including myself, argued he should have been the starter from day one. He is a smart, competent quarterback. The sham quarterback “competition” could have cost the Bears wins. Thankfully, it didn’t. Foles is now the quarterback. And the Bears are undefeated.

Rapid fire.


  • Tarik Cohen’s loss can’t be understated. But one would think Cordarrelle Patterson will see a significant increase of offensive snaps and Anthony Miller will assume the punt return duties full-time. Question. Why not use Ted Ginn as the punt returner? He was electric in that role at Ohio State.
  • Two of the more telling moments of this broadcast were sideline cuts.
    • After Mitch was benched, Kyle Fuller made it a point to go over to him and give him a fist bump. Mitch wanted nothing to do with it but the moment mattered. Mitch will still be needed by this time at some point this season.
    • As Nagy and Foles were scheming later in the game, Mitch was seated on the bench, alone. Yes it sucks getting benched but Mitch needed to be right up beside them, listening to everything, devouring the concepts, learning. It’s great that he did the Zoom conference call with reporters after the game but the Zoom conference call isn’t making him a better quarterback.
  • Don’t have the snap counts yet but Danny Trevathan played more than I expected. And not particularly well.
  • Did Mitch Trubisky throw a single deep sideline route in bounds?
  • Trubisky’s interception was awful but from all reports the Bears were considering making a QB change at halftime. That tells me Nagy was infuriated by the Miller deep miss late in the second quarter. Nagy had been setting it up the entire first half and Miller had three yards on the secondary. That’s an easy touchdown for most, if not all, starting quarterbacks in the league.

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DBB Week Three Game Preview: Bears at Falcons

| September 25th, 2020


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And they have started the season 2-0 without playing anything resembling a complete game. Maybe we’re seeing what they are offensively, a group incapable of consistency due to the failings of the quarterback. But defensively, they’ve been far more bend-don’t-break than one would expect. Once the pass rush hits stride, that should stop. That begins Sunday.


Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons

  • Hayden Hurst is a problem. And the Bears have not shown a particular ability to contain tight ends, with both Hockenson and Engram delivering solid performances in weeks one and two. (Moving Trevathan from the starting lineup may help sure up this issue.) When Matt Ryan has time in the pocket, he’s looking deep down the left sideline to Ridley or over the top to Jones. But when he senses pressure, Hurst is becoming his most reliable target.
  • Takkarist McKinley (#98) is the team’s best edge rusher, and he’ll attempt to bull rush Bobby Massie on most passing downs. But he’s the only reliable factor on their front four. When they need to create pressure, they’ll bring John Cominsky (#50), often as a blitzer from the inside. (He’s listed as a defensive end but he sure doesn’t seem to play there very often.) If the Bears identify those two players and neutralize them, Trubisky will have plenty of time to look down the field.
  • The Falcons seem soft in the middle of both their offensive and defensive lines.
    • On offense, they rely almost exclusively on their passing game in short yardage. Yes, they’ll occasionally hand one to the fullback to get ten inches but on 3rd and a couple they haven’t been able to get any push up front through two weeks.
    • On defense, they’ve been in shootouts so they’re allowing 372 yards per game in the air. But when Dallas needed to get the game back under control, they handed off consistently to Ezekiel Elliot and there were gaping holes for him. Can’t imagine the Bears don’t think they can control this one on the ground.

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Data Responds: Bears at Packers

| September 29th, 2017

Two road games, two blowout losses for the 2017 Bears. Green Bay won the first quarter 14-0 after a great opening drive, followed by a 3-yard touchdown after Mike Glennon turned it over on Chicago’s first offensive snap. Things stayed quiet until the end of the first quarter, when a 47 minute lightning delay led to what felt like the start of another game.

Of course, the Bears still had Mike Glennon in at quarterback, so nothing changed. He turned the ball over 3 more times and shut down the entire offense with his incompetence before racking up just enough garbage time stats to make his performance somewhat defensible if you squint (stop me if you’ve heard that before).

Coaching

  • We’re starting here tonight, beginning with the continued ineptitude making appropriate personnel decisions late in a blowout. With all the practice the Bears’ coaches have gotten in these situations in the last few years, you’d think they would be great at it by now, but they’re not. Down 28 points in the 4th quarter, the Bears rode Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, their two best offensive players, to a meaningless late touchdown. Zach Miller, their best tight end who has made a career out of going to IR, played while rookie Adam Shaheen sat on the bench. Why? This is literally a fireable offense if the team’s management cares about their personnel at all.

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