I’ve been trying to come up with something passion-fueled to say this morning, but honestly yesterday’s Bears game was one of the most ho-hum performances I’ve ever seen.
The Bears’ offense surprised early and moved the ball with ease, but ultimately their UDFA Rookie QB struggled with turnovers late and became yet another Bears QB that can’t seem to score points in the 4th quarter.
The Bears’ defense held the Saints’ offense to a hair over 300 yards on the day (and a very solid 4.9 yards per play), but when you take a look at Derek Carr’s passing chart it becomes clear that Chicago didn’t challenge the Saints to do anything dangerous and the Saints offense willfully obliged. For the fourth time in the Eberflus era, this resulted in zero sacks and zero takeaways on what must’ve felt like an easy day for New Orleans.
This game played out so similarly to the rest of the Matt Eberflus era that I don’t have it in me to get mad about results like this anymore. You could say it was ‘Disappointing, but not Surprising’ and I’d agree with you. Chicago’s defensive head coach needed his offense to be the leaders today, and ultimately that was too tall an ask for a Rookie UDFA QB playing against DVOA’s 8th toughest defense in football. As usual, that added up to a loss.
Oh well. Onwards to Thursday!
Nick and I recorded a podcast where we talked through the ups, the downs, the ins, and the outs of Chicago’s latest loss here:
Your Turn: How do you feel about yesterday’s game?
Amidst swirling rumors that foretold Matt Eberflus’ impending doom, the Chicago Bears shook their fist at destiny and blew out the Washington Commanders on the road. Given that the Bears were 5.5 point underdogs, it’s safe to say that no one expected this result — but this morning? I’m much happier for it all the same. Who doesn’t love a win?
The Bears’ big Thursday Night victory brings up a series of questions the team will look to answer over their next few weeks:
But rushing to answer any of these questions too soon could lead to a foolish answer in the long run — for now, let’s all sit back and enjoy a weekend of stress-free football. Cheers!
This Bears season has gotten off to the worst start possible — they haven’t just lost two winnable games, they haven’t just watched the coaching staff struggle, but the QB that carried the weight of the franchise into the 2023 season looks like the most worry-fraught version of himself imaginable. Right now, every part of this football team is ugly to watch.
Worse yet, if you listen to the early portion of the Twitter Spaces that Jeff and I recorded pre-game, it’s as if we could see this loss coming. After so much struggle in Week 1, how far could the team truly bounce back in Week 2?
It’s heartbreaking. If Chicago loses to the Chiefs next week (and certainly if they lose to the Broncos the week after), the season may be over before it fully started. So how do we assess the blame?
Let’s start at the top. Matt Eberflus took over for Alan Williams as the defensive playcaller in yesterday’s game, but the results were every bit as uninspiring as they were the week before.
It’s not as if the Bears didn’t try to make changes — Matt Eberflus called quite a few blitz/pressure looks early, but Baker Mayfield and the Buccaneers offense handled the extra rushers and punished the Bears with the brutal efficiency of a bona fide NFL offense.
Now 2 weeks into the 2023 season, the Bears’ defense has allowed an almost perfect passer rating on 3rd & 4th downs — that’s unacceptable. It’s one thing to understand that Chicago’s defense lacks talent in the front 4, but to invest the money and draft picks that they did into their defense & produce so poorly on key downs is untenable for a coach that specializes in that side of the ball.
Bears defense against the pass on 3rd/4th down:
– 20/23 (87%), 282 yards (12.3 Y/A), 3 TDs
– Eight 15+ yard receptions allowed
– 1.012 EPA/dropback allowed (32nd by about double lol)
– 157.3 passer rating allowed
— Brad Spielberger, Esq. (@PFF_Brad) September 18, 2023
Expectations for this defense were never high, but after signing 3 new defensive linemen in Free Agency (DeMarcus Walker, Yannick Ngakoue, Andrew Billings) and drafting 2 more with Top 70 picks (Zacch Pickens, Gervon Dexter Sr) I think it’s fair to expect better from this unit than what what may be the worst results in football for the 2nd year running.
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?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s nothing quite like NFL Week 1, is there?
After months of roster additions, subtractions, and schematic changes, the NFL’s 32 Teams will finally take the field this weekend and show us who’s here to content, who’s here to pretend, and everything else in between.
But between you and me, 15 of the 16 NFL games scheduled for this weekend might as well not exist — the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at 3:25PM in the first game since Aaron Rodgers’ departure and it’s the only game on my mind.
How are the Bears going to attack the Packers’ defense? What are the Packers looking to do on offense? Moreover, who’s going to win? Nick Whalen & I put together a hell of a game preview on today’s episode of Bear With Us, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts in print. Let’s get into it.
Keep an eye out for the Packers’ official Friday injury report. Explosive Packers WR Christian Watson was listed as a practice non-participant on Wednesday (hamstring injury), and if either he or WR Romeo Doubs (DNP — hamstring injury) can’t play on Sunday Jordan Love will be left throwing to rookies in his first 2023 NFL start.
That may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn’t — with TE Tyler Davis already on IR, Love’s Sunday receiving weapons could consist of:
The Packers also need OT David Bakhtiari (knee) and EDGE Rashan Gary (knee) to play big roles on Sunday’s game despite injury limitations, which may be difficult for each veteran based on what their bodies can do and where each player is within their recovery timeline.
If I had to guess, I expect one of the Packers’ 2nd year WRs to make it to gameday (likely Doubs, as his hamstring injury occurred before Green Bay’s 3rd preseason game), but the absence of even one 2nd year WR puts tremendous pressure on the Packers’ rookies to carry the offensive load on Sunday. And, as we’ve learned, featuring rookies can be a scary prospect.
Today we pick up where we left off yesterday as we break down Saturday’s offensive standouts. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Editor’s Note: Check back with this article throughout the day — as I produce more All-22 cutups, I’ll update this article to include more analysis
Ja'Tyre Carter, you have my attention!
The #Bears kept Carter, a 7th round pick, on the 53-man roster throughout 2022 and he showed us why on Saturday. He's got good feet that create strength in the run game and long arms that latch well in pass pro. Footwork in pass pro looks… pic.twitter.com/3Rxyk3DDlZ
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 14, 2023
Football is back this weekend, baby! Thank goodness!
Since it’s impossible for us to know what players & teams are working on during camp sessions, “evaluating” the videos we see from practice (especially the videos from practices without pads) feels rather silly. Thus, after reading Training Camp reports for ~2 weeks, I’m ready to watch downs where the stats get recorded.
The Preseason may not count towards the Bears’ overall record, but it’s full of:
That’s not a perfect recipe for glimpsing the future of the 2023 Bears’ season, but it should be more than the scraps we get through
The players seem to take the preseason seriously (well, as seriously as you can take a team you aren’t game-planning for) as evidenced by the comfortable play of QBs like Patrick Mahomes preseason (222 yards and 3 TDs while completing 18 passes on 26 attempts), Tua Tagovailoa (179 yards and 1 TD while completing 15 passes on 16 attempts), Geno Smith (256 yards and 0 TDs while completing 39 passes on 45 attempts), and plenty of other QBs where strong preseason showings very quietly signaled good things to come.
Don’t take the above paragraph too seriously, preseason performance certainly isn’t a sure thing, but this time of year is all about fun anyways — let’s have some this weekend!
I can’t wait to see what surprises Saturday afternoon has for us. Will Chase Claypool carry his camp dominance into the game? If the starters don’t play, does that mean multiple series of Tyler Scott, Ja’Tyre Carter, and other young guns? At which position (and when in the game) will Terell Smith get his first reps? My mind is racing just thinking about the possibilities.
Based on reports from around Chicagoland, the offense struggled in yesterday’s practice — so much so that Justin Fields mentioned in his presser that “It’s really good to have days like this.” and that in his opinion it’s good for the offense to go through adversity in these early stages of training camp.
Here’s my issue: I don’t want to wet blanket everyone else’s wet blanket attitude, but we’re talking about football practice. This builds on Tuesday’s article, but the toughest part about this time of year is how much we, as outside observers, could never know about what’s going on in practice.
Is Justin Fields working with new throwing mechanics for the first time? Is Fields going out of his way to force tighter-window throws than usual in effort to get comfortable on gotta-have-it throwing downs? Would he have attempted these throws if he wasn’t wearing his red jersey? If he would’ve, does that make the practice picks (that many NFL pundits think are a consistent sign of pushing limits in Training Camp) better or worse?
Personally, this week has felt full of unnecessary hand-wringing by anxious Bears fans — I get it, we’re all dying to know whether Justin Fields has taken that elusive QB “next step” or not, but unfortunately we’re going to see our answer displayed on the practice field over the next few weeks.
Procedurally, I like hearing that the Bears are working Fields as a pure passer (sounds as if they aren’t letting him scramble in 11-on-11 or 7-on-7 drills and the defense isn’t leaving a spy to cover him, which tests Fields’ arm as much as possible) and trust that they’re doing all they can to help him succeed at all levels. Whether he does or not is up to him.
In the meantime, I treated myself to a bit more of DJ Moore’s tape and had a lot of fun digging up gems. Here’s a few of my favorites:
1. DJ Moore is the whole package as a WR, and on this route he:
He’s the real deal, should be fun next year.
Lmao DJ Moore is a menace in 1v1 coverage 😂
The DB is trying to take away his outside shoulder but Moore beats him across his face anyways, wins the physical battle, literally holds him away from the catch point with his right arm, and pulls in an underthrown pass.
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) August 1, 2023
I don’t know about you, but I loathe uncertainty.
Will Justin Fields take the next step this year?
Can any of the Bears’ young DL step forward and save their pass rush?
Chicago will finally beat the Packers on Week 1, right?
Questions like this eat at me whenever I think about the 2023 season, and for good reason — each question’s answer is a massive domino that could swing Chicago’s year.
But as excited as I am that the Bears are back in pads today at Halas Hall, I want to caution everyone from drawing any hard conclusions from these football practices — after all, Training Camp isn’t the indicator we tend to want to make it, for better and for worse.
Us fans, so starved for football after 7 long months of offseason, want to take every video clip and use it as proof of QB progress, the skill of a rookie WR, or even the efficacy of a Defensive Back, but in reality these football practices are so full of chaotic experimentation, new installs of offensive/defensive terminology, coaches pushing boundaries, and rapid chemistry-building on both sides of the ball that mistakes become common (even intended) and lead to sloppy practices like the Bears had just yesterday.
To some, Fields throwing multiple INTs in a practice may seem like cause for alarm. On that note, take a look at early reports from the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals’ first day in pads and see what beat reporters had to say about the soon-to-be AFC Champions:
— charles (“you look good” – andy reid) mcdonald (@FourVerts) August 4, 2021