Five Questions, with Five Games Remaining

| November 29th, 2023

(1) What do we make of Matt Eberflus’ defensive success? The Bears are now 9th in yards allowed per game, with the game’s best rush defense. The addition of Montez Sweat has dramatically improved their pass rush, seeing sack and interception totals rise. Eberflus has been a net-minus as a head coach, but he’s been a net-plus as the defensive coordinator, with only the late-game collapses against Denver and Detroit marring his 2023 record. This defensive program is clearly working. Will continued success over the final five games be enough for him to keep his job?

(2) What about the availability of high-profile offensive minds? Frank Reich, a terrific OC with clear ties to Eberflus, is now available. Josh McDaniels, a bad head coach but good OC, is now available. Eric Bienemy will be available (and should be in demand as a head coaching candidate) come January. Could Eberflus sell the front office on his defensive success with a retooled offensive structure?

(3) Is the quarterback’s tenure in Chicago officially over? If the season ended Monday night, that answer would surely be yes; the lack of week-to-week consistency would not prohibit the Bears from using one of their high draft picks on a quarterback prospect. Fields has ability; he is a brilliant runner capable of making dynamic plays off-script. But if you listened to Troy Aikman on Monday night, you heard an analyst incredibly skeptical of Fields’ ability to play the position from the pocket. Folks in the building share that skepticism.

(4) Where will the Carolina pick land? The Bears don’t have a particularly good team left on their schedule. It is likely they finish 2-3 or 3-2 over the final five, with the latter moving their own draft pick outside the top ten. Carolina’s finish will play an important role in the composition of the 2024 roster. If they finish with a top two pick, it feels a sure thing that the Bears hit restart at the quarterback position. But what if Carolina win a few games down the stretch and that pick falls outside the Caleb Williams/Drake Maye realm? (Side note: I’ll be rooting for the Bears to take Drake because then we can call him The Hotel.)

(5) How much money are the drops costing Jaylon Johnson? If Johnson could catch, he would be a pick-six machine, and those drops are the only thing preventing him from entering the “best corner in the league” conversation. Eddie Jackson’s career is over, but the Bears have productive young players throughout their secondary. Poles should just suck it up and Johnson what he wants to avoid the tag ballet that follows situations like this. The dropped pick sixes have actually rendered Johnson cheaper than he should be.

Tagged: , , , , ,


Bears Currently Winning Race For First Overall Pick

| November 13th, 2023

With the Arizona Cardinals looking more than functional in a big win over Atlanta, your Chicago Bears are once again in possession of the #1 overall pick.

In a season that’s seen nearly everything go wrong for Chicago, a positive like the Carolina Panthers’ 2023 implosion is not one to be taken for granted. Without Ryan Poles’ move to pick DJ Moore, the potential 2024 #1 overall pick, and even more draft assets from the Panthers’ pockets, Bears fans would be left discussing whether or not a win like last Thursday’s had sabotaged their future — instead, they can bask in the glory of a pair of Top 5 draft picks and a very reasonable chance at a franchise-changing Top 2 pick in 2024 (more on that another day).

No win is guaranteed in the NFL, but if we take a look at the Panthers’ upcoming schedule they’ve got quite a few doozies ahead.


  • Playing a great defense like Dallas is never easy for a young QB, plus Dak and the Cowboys’ offense always seem to shine against poor opponents
  • The Panthers’ division rivals (Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans) have each lost winnable games recently & should be motivated to ‘get right’ against Carolina
    • Also, with the Bucs currently sitting at 4-5 after yesterday’s win, there’s a very reasonable chance that the Buccaneers will carry playoff hopes into their Week 18 contest
  • Tennessee & Jacksonville each host the Panthers, only adding to those games’ difficulty
  • And then there’s the Packers, but with Carolina facing Green Bay so late it’s worth wondering whether the Packers will finally see their injured defenders (Jaire Alexander, Quay Walker) return & bolster a struggling unit. Those additions may tip the balance.

I couldn’t be more biased — I want the Bears to pick at #1 again, after all — but there’s a very reasonable chance the Panthers win 1 game or less going forward. If that’s all they manage to win, they currently hold Strength of Schedule tiebreakers over the Giants, Cardinals, and Patriots and would ultimately deliver the first pick in the 2024 draft to Chicago. An exciting thought.

Their trip to Tennessee should be a pivot game — if Will Levis and DeAndre Hopkins can overcome the post-bye Panthers, Carolina won’t have much runway left on the schedule. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Your Turn: What, if anything, has you upbeat about the Bears right now?

Tagged: , , , ,


Chicago Bears Dominated Their Foe, Secure Future On Thursday Night

| November 10th, 2023

Coming out of halftime, Bears’ Head Coach Matt Eberflus promised the nation that he ‘had tricks up his sleeve’ in the 2nd half of Chicago’s game against the Carolina Panthers. He may not have had much more in mind than a battering D’Onta Foreman touchdown run and a suffocating defensive gameplan, but he reached into his sleeve and pulled out a gritty, ugly win on Thursday Night Football all the same.

Sometimes we don’t ask how the win happened, we simply ask how many wins the team can provide. Chicago’s latest win keeps their own playoff hopes alive (even if only technically) while pushing Carolina down a path that the Panthers may not recover from this season — with Chicago holding onto Carolina’s 2024 1st round draft selection, that’s great news for the Bears indeed.

ESPN Analytics list the Bears as having a 42% chance at the 2024 NFL draft’s #1 overall pick, with even better odds that they land a top 2 pick rather than exclusively #1. That’s great news for Chicago regardless of whether you want to see the Bears reset at Quarterback or not — as we saw in last year’s DJ Moore trade, high picks are valuable commodities that create extraordinary opportunities for the teams that possess them.

Thursday’s contest was anything but a pretty game, and chances are the results didn’t change your opinion of Matt Eberflus one way or another. If you didn’t like him before, his conservative offensive game-plan, goofy halftime quote, and bizarre decision to kick the extra point with the score at 10-15 (rather than going for 2 and playing for a 7-point lead) likely didn’t sway you now. But if the offensive line’s recent chutzpah and the defense’s clear improvement have gotten you thinking about what Flus’ vision could look like given another offseason, I wouldn’t blame you for that either.

Next week’s Detroit game looms large for Matt Eberflus — if he wants to make a statement, he’ll need to make it in his trip to Motown. But between then and now, enjoy 11 days of that winning feeling.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,


26Shirts Chicago Game Preview: Bears at Panthers

| October 16th, 2020

The Giveaway!

Thanks to Del Reid and Dan Gigante – the fine folks at 26Shirts – we’ll be giving away our collaborative Darnell “Money” Mooney shirt this week. (The shirt is pictured above and you can read all about it by CLICKING HERE.)

The Contest.

  • Guess the total yards from scrimmage for Mooney this Sunday in the comments section below. Receiving yards. Rushing yards. And if he throws a pass, that counts too. Total yards.
  • Do not put the guess in the body of a larger comment. I’m not wading through your thoughts on the electoral college to find it.
  • Make sure you don’t replicate someone else’s guess. First time the number appears, it’s locked in.
  • If nobody nails the number, or gets super close, we’ll swing this contest to next week’s game. But that’s unlikely.

Good luck!

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I think something clicked for this group in the second half against Tampa.

Panthers Game Tape

  • 10,11,12.
    • The engine of the Carolina offense lately has been former-Bear Mike Davis. But the fuel is a trio of speedsters they utilize in a variety of ways. They spread ’em out. They isolate defenders.
      • Curtis Samuel (10) has assumed an almost Tarik Cohen-like role for Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, spelling Davis in the backfield and becoming a weapon in the screen game.
      • Robby Anderson (11) has been among the best receivers in the sport this season and the Panthers are utilizing him to perfection. He’s a threat to score on every slant and if a corner is sleeping he’ll burn them over the top with his speed. For my money, he’s been a borderline All Pro through five weeks.
      • D.J. Moore (12) is a damn good player and hell to deal with on crossing routes.
  • Steady Teddy.
    • Will he take a shot or two each week? Yea. But Bridgewater’s game is think quickly, throw quickly and get the ball to the playmakers.
  • Attack the Interior.
    • Teddy handles pressure from the edge okay but he struggles mightily when that pressure comes up the middle and the Panthers have clear vulnerabilities when it comes to handling delayed blitzes and stunts, especially in the A gaps. This feels like a good opportunity to get Danny Trevathan into the flow of the season by sending him on a quarterback hunt.
  • Potential Game Wrecker.
    • Bears better pay attention to #53, Brian Burns. He spends most of his time harassing the right tackle and he’s been all over the quarterback the last two weeks. Expect Bobby Massie to get help. (If the Bears use Cole Kmet to provide that help, it could open up some plays for him in the passing game.)
  • A Tweet.

    • Here’s what I see when I look at that defense. They like to rush four and sit back deep. The entire system seems predicated upon not allowing the opposing quarterback to attack over the top. And their secondary closes very well on the football, making the underneath stuff difficult to consistently hit. This a smart, disciplined group.

The 5 Best Teddies, Bridges and Water in Movie History

(#5) The Bridge on the River Kwai

The most important bridge in cinematic history.

Read More …

Tagged: ,


Data Responds: Bears vs. Panthers

| October 22nd, 2017

Well that was fun.

Chicago’s defense scored not one but two touchdowns and shut Carolina’s offense down, staking the Bears with an early lead that held up for the entire game. Even though the offense never really got anything going, this was the Bears’ easiest win in a long time.


  • The Bears were up 14 points before the offense was really asked to do anything. That shifted an already conservative game plan even farther to the safe side, making them even more predictable. As a result, they went three and out with regularity, picking up only 153 yards and 5 first downs on the game. This forced the defense to spend too much time on the field and get tired; credit them for holding up under those conditions.
  • Credit to the coaching staff for not sitting on a 14-3 lead with just over 3:00 left before halftime, like we all expected after watching their conservative approach this season. They came out and let Mitchell Trubisky throw deep to Tarik Cohen on 1st down, resulting in 70 yards and 1st and goal from the 5 yard line. They were unable to finish for the touchdown, but a field goal (plus a little rest for the defense) on that drive was key.
  • The second half offense was just plain offensive. Prior to the final drive that ran out the clock, the Bears had the ball 5 times, picked up 3 total yards, and went 3 and out five times. At least they didn’t turn the ball over, I guess, and they were able to run out the last 3:36 of clock with two 1st downs on the ground. Read More …

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


If Bears Want to Be Taken Seriously in Rodgersless NFC North, They Must Win Sunday

| October 16th, 2017

For five minutes, our eyes left the corner. That same corner where television after television has exclusively shown Bears games at Josie Woods Pub for the last seventeen years. Our eyes didn’t go far, just about six feet west to a second, smaller television above the bottles of Boodles gin. Churchill’s gin. My gin until I woke up on an  subway train at Coney Island at five in the morning.

Aaron Rodgers was down. Last time it was Shea McClellin, in navy. This time it was Anthony Barr, in purple. Different first-round edge rushers. Same bone.

Rodgers knew the second he hit the ground. A bunch of lubricated Bears fans in an underground Village bar knew it too. Rodgers isn’t playing football again this season. And while that is terrible news for a league losing too many star players each week, there won’t be many sympathetic hearts at Halas Hall or Eden Prairie or wherever the hell the Lions’ offices are.

The Rodgers injury swings the NFC North door open but will it open wide enough for the Bears – currently two games back of the lead – to find their way through? It’s still premature for this 2017 group to consider the playoffs a possibility but the Rodgers injury likely means the division will be won with ten victories instead of twelve.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,


Super Bowl 50 Game Prediction

| February 5th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 9.33.15 AM

Three questions for this game.

#1. I have no doubt Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will get to Cam Newton. But what happens when they get there? Newton ain’t Tom Brady. He’s more likely to throw Miller to the ground than be sacked by him.

#2. What happens if the Panthers offense struggles early? This is a team that hasn’t faced adversity a lot this season and certainly hasn’t faced a defense of this caliber. If Carolina doesn’t score on their first couple drives, do we see Cam Newton force things?

#3. One of the untold stories of the AFC title game was how many receivers Peyton Manning missed for big plays down the field. But the biggest stat of this game may be Manning’s interception total. Can he avoid the big mistake, especially in the middle of the field? If he does, the Broncos defense will keep the game close.

Carolina Panthers 24, Denver Broncos 20

Tagged: , ,