Bears at Steelers Game Preview: Ranking August Wilson’s “Century Cycle” & Predicting Another Bears Loss

| November 5th, 2021

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.”

02. Jitney

Booster: Car service. (One of the more beautiful last lines in theatre history.)

01. Fences 

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?

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,


Some Fun Tweets to Lighten the Mood

| September 28th, 2021

Nick Foles: “Offense isn’t working.”

Ben Roethlisberger, Volume I.

Ben Roethlisberger, Volume II.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,


Data Entry: Breaking Down Trubisky’s Interceptions

| January 23rd, 2018

In his rookie season, Mitch Trubisky got to play 12 games and throw the ball 330 times. In those 330 attempts, he threw 7 interceptions, which is actually pretty good. That rate – an interception on 2.1% of his throws – was 12th best in the NFL among qualified passers, ahead of established veterans like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers.

As that list above shows, there’s more to being a good quarterback than simply not throwing interceptions. But avoiding interceptions is an important part of a quarterback’s job; in no small part because they can be game-changing plays that make it a lot harder to win.

But not all interceptions are created equal. Sometimes it’s the quarterback’s fault, sometimes it’s on the wide receiver, and sometimes it’s hard to tell. In general, I think you can group them all into one of four categories:

  1. Bad decision. These are throws that should never be made because the receiver isn’t open and a defender has a good chance at an interception. Bears fans have seen plenty of these in the last 8 years from balls being chucked up into double or triple coverage.
  2. Bad throw. The target is open, but the pass is off target. The problem here comes not in the choice to throw but in the throw itself.
  3. Miscommunication. The quarterback thinks the wide receiver is running one route, the wide receiver runs another route, and the defensive back is the beneficiary.
  4. Receiver error. The receiver is open, the pass is good, but the ball bounces off of the target’s hands and gets intercepted.

The first two are both the fault of the quarterback, though in very different ways. The third one makes it pretty much impossible for us to assign fault. The last one is the fault of the target.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Data Responds: Bears vs. Steelers

| September 24th, 2017


  • Bears win! It’s been so long I’ve forgotten what that looked like. Hell, I had forgotten what it looked like for them to have a lead, as this was the first game that happened at any point since the first half of week 15 last year.
  • Good teams find ways to win close games, and bad teams find ways to lose them. Despite trying their best to throw this one away with a litany of stupid plays, the Bears still found a way to win. Hopefully they can build off of this going forward.


  • We’ll start with the good and focus on all three running backs, starting with a monster day by sophomore Jordan Howard, who looked like his rookie self for the first time this year. He ran hard, was decisive, and finished runs with power. Holes were there better than they’ve been so far this year, but credit Howard for playing better as well to take advantage of it. Howard did have a 3rd quarter fumble (though on replay it looked like he was down) that let the Steelers back in the game, and he had to leave the game twice with his injured shoulder in the 2nd half. Still, he came back and finished the game in OT, and finished with 138 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Just for good measure, Howard also led the Bears with 26 receiving yards.
  • Tarik Cohen rebounded from a poor week 2 effort as well. He made a big play in the first half and a huge play in OT that jump-started the Bears’ offense and should have won the game (he was incorrectly ruled out of bounds, costing him a tochdown). His electricity showed up in limited touches (though 16 is still too many). Perhaps equally important, the Bears finally started using him properly. His small size means that he can’t sustain as many touches as he’s been getting, so this week they started using fakes to him to open things up for others. They ran him around on a fake reverse several times, and this helped open up the running game for Howard.
  • While we’re talking about running backs, Benny Cunningham was back from an ankle sprain today and made a few nice plays on 3rd down. Twice he caught checkdown passes way short of the sticks and turned them into a new set of downs for the Bears.
  • Now for the quarterback, which is a lot less fun to talk about: it’s been 3 weeks and 3 bad games for Mike Glennon, who completed 5 passes (none of them to wide receivers) on 8 pass attempts for 31 yards in the first half. Despite this incompetence, the Bears still held a ten point halftime lead; just imagine how good this team could be if their quarterback wasn’t completely terrible. It stunts their entire offense, from the play calling to the run game.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears Game Preview

| September 21st, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. But that hourglass has been flipped.

When Trubisky?

There are three possibilities, as I see it, for the Mitch Trubisky era to begin in Chicago.

Possibility #1: Monday night, October 9th – Vikings at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon eats the hardest four-game stretch of the Bears schedule (and subsequent 0-4 record). The Bears would then have 11 days to prepare Trubisky for the Vikings and they’d be able to create an event atmosphere at Soldier Field that night.

Possibility #2: Sunday, November 12th – Packers at home

Under this scenario, Mike Glennon gets the entire first half of the Bears schedule. This would certainly require him playing better than he has through two games. Then Trubisky gets the bye week to prepare for a debut against the team’s oldest rival at Soldier Field. Would the fans get pumped up enough by his first start to fill the building? I think they might.

Possibility #3: Mid-game

I texted both of my league connections, both high-ranking personnel guys with other franchises, and asked how they felt about bringing in a rookie quarterback in the middle of the game. The two responses were “wouldn’t do it” and “fine with it”.

Here’s what I’ll say about the idea. I would not bring Trubisky into a blowout. You don’t want him on the field down three scores, having to drop back every play. But if the Bears are down 13-10 Sunday to Pittsburgh at the half and Glennon has looked like Glennon, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to bring Trubisky into the game.

Notes on the Pittsburgh Steelers

  • QBs faced through three weeks of the season: DeShone Kizer, Case Keenum, Mike Glennon. By comparison the Bears will have faced Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers will more than likely start one of the most hollow 3-0’s in NFL history.
  • A player I knew nothing about who absolutely jumps off the screen is LB Anthony Chickillo. The former Hurricane is in his third season and has been all over the field through two games. How do the Steelers always manage to produce these f’n linebackers? Chickillo is also a terrific pass rusher and the Bears better be wary of his location at all times Sunday.
  • T.J. Watt has been something of revelation but exited the Vikings game with a groin injury the organization doesn’t believe to be serious. If Watt doesn’t play, it’s a huge bonus for the Bears. But will that mean James Harrison can actually get on the field for the Steelers this season?

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,