Week 16 Thoughts from Around the NFL

| December 28th, 2021

All that remains for the 2021 Chicago Bears are the decision on Ryan Pace and the firing of Matt Nagy. Dissecting these individual games just seems like a pointless enterprise. So, after a few days of watching the rest of the league, here are some thoughts on those games, and perhaps some lessons the Bears can learn (but not really).

  • Justin Herbert’s numbers don’t reflect how bad he was Sunday in Houston. And that’s not an uncommon occurrence this season. He’s had 5-6 flat out poor performances and it’s a reminder that becoming a great QB in this league takes time and even immense talents like this face road blocks.
    • Side note: Lovie Smith coached a brilliant game against the Chargers.
  • Josh Allen was as good against New England as a QB can be and if his receivers caught the football consistently the Bills would have won by 30. Buffalo is going win their final two games and be a team to reckon with in the tournament.
  • Nobody compiles more hollow statistics than Kirk Cousins. And Justin Jefferson has had enough, questioning just about every aspect of the organization postgame. The Vikings should listen to him because he’s one of the best players in the league and his statements are the statements of leaders.
  • How are the Rams not worried about the Matthew Stafford Experiment? Stafford’s season-long numbers are solid but he’s now prone to these blowup games where he looks like a third stringer. Does anybody trust him to win multiple playoff games?
  • The Giants are under the spell of Joe Judge and, while I understand their reluctance to fire another coach, they are making a mistake by not doing it. His postgame press conferences have been the most embarrassing I can remember, continually claiming progress that no one on earth by he can see. Judge was handpicked for this gig by Bill Belichick, but Belichick has proven an inability to produce the kind of coaching tree that many legendary coaches produce. The Giants are lucky Mike Francesa no longer has the country’s most prominent sports radio platform.
  • The initial three frontrunners for the Jags head coaching gig – Doug Pederson, Jim Caldwell, Byron Leftwich – are the right guys. And while it might not be conventional, the team should have each meet with Trevor Lawrence before making the decision. That relationship could define the franchise for the next decade and Lawrence knows more about offensive football than the team’s owners.
  • I am not a Bill Simmons guy (generally) but his Monday “Guess the Lines” podcasts with Cousin Sal have been excellent this year. Kyle Shanahan’s record, Michele Tafoya’s sabbatical, Kyle Murray as the new Mr. October, the Vegas Raiders as Michael Myers, etc. It’s also a nice way to recap an NFL Sunday if you’re not interested in the excruciating (and frankly, boring) detail of Robert Mays and The Athletic pod.
    • On the latter podcast, I just don’t understand the approach. It is Monday morning. At that stage, most of us have watched MAYBE three games. When Mays and Nate Tice are breaking down specific plays in Bengals/Ravens, I have no frame of reference. Thus, the discussion isn’t interesting. People want the specific details when it comes to the teams they follow. Do they want that across the league? I sure don’t.

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Christmas Eve Game Preview: Bears Look to Keep Momentum in Jacksonville

| December 24th, 2020

The Clubhouse Bar at TPC Sawgrass.

If you love the game of golf, and you love a few drinks, there is no greater combination of both in the world. And if this were normal times, I would have been there this weekend. Nevertheless…

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and I think this surge is real. Halas Hall was in a fevered rage after the Lions collapse. The building is ecstatic about what they’ve seen in recent weeks. And they should be.

A Look at the Jaguars

  • Jacksonville is one of five teams that score less than 20 points per game and one of four teams that allow more than 30 points per game. (The Jets don’t even achieve this.)
    • After losing to the Browns and Vikings by a combined 5 points, the Jags have been outscored by 57 points over their last two games. With Trevor Lawrence only two weeks from being their next QB, it is hard to see them suddenly mustering a late-season effort and falling out of the top spot in the draft.
  • Jags can’t defend the run. They especially can’t defend the run off the edge. This should be another David Montgomery workhorse game, but don’t be surprised if Cordarrelle Patterson, barring health, gets 10+ touches to stretch out these overmatched linebackers.
    • The running game is not all that works on the outside vs. Jax. Against Baltimore, they left throws WIDE OPEN in the flat all afternoon. (I’m not sure I’ve seen something quite like it.) Trubisky doesn’t need to overthink things Sunday. If Montgomery or Mooney or Kmet are standing alone out there, feed them the ball and let them move the chains.
  • This team also gets zero pressure on the quarterback. Not to belabor the point, but they are one of the two worst teams in the league for a reason. They don’t do anything particularly well.
  • Their offense:
    • It all feeds off first-down success with James Robinson. If Robinson is getting them into manageable second and third downs, they can move the football with the play-action. Without the play-action, their receivers have a hard time getting much separation underneath and their over-the-top passing game is essentially nonexistent.
    • They do test opposing linebackers because Gardner Minshew is very good at recognizing pressure and getting the ball out quickly. He’ll hit Robinson or Dare Ogunbowale on check downs 5-6 times a game and it’ll be up to Trevathan and Roquan to limit the YAC on those attempts.

On the Notion of a “Letdown Game”

If the Bears lose Sunday, it has nothing to do with a letdown. If the Bears lose Sunday, it is because they are not good enough.

They should win. They should win handily. They should be playing a meaningless fourth quarter.

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Money Where My Mouth Is: Three Picks For Week Two

| September 17th, 2015

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I’m putting $100 on each of these bets all season. Will be keeping my total down below. (For those of you who are not gamblers, if you lose a $100 bet you actually lose $110. If you push a $100 bet, you lose the $10 vig.)

Tennessee +2 at Cleveland

Anti-Manziel pick. When I watch Johnny Football on an NFL field he reminds me of a young kid wearing his father’s suit. His lack of awareness inside the pocket is usurped only by his lack of understanding that the men sharing the field with him are faster and smarter than just about every player he faced at Texas A&M. Titans 23, Browns 16

St. Louis -3 at Washington

Washington v. Miami was the worst game played last Sunday. Neither deserved to win. Now the Redskins, without Desean Jackson, face the most ferocious defense in the NFC? Rams win on the road. Rams 20, Redskins 7

Jacksonville +6 vs Miami

Line is too high. Simple as that. Dolphins 24, Jags 21


Record Through One Week: 1-1-1


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Four Positions to Watch Tonight and the Second Preseason Game Thread

| August 14th, 2014


There’s only one more week of survival remaining for the Chicago Bears roster. One more injury-less week and the preseason will be considered a success, having only lost last year’s seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson to an injury of significance.  One more week.

Four positions to focus on tonight.

Backup Quarterback

Marc Trestman’s decision to move Jimmy Clausen into the backup role tonight means the organization has decide whom they’d like to win the spot. Both Trest and Emery have made no attempt to hide their excitement over Clausen since he auditioned for them a few months ago.

A few thoughts on this:

  1. Why play Cutler at all tonight? Jay will receive ample work next week against the Seattle Seahawks during the “dress rehearsal”. Wouldn’t it make sense to give his potential backup a few series behind a starting offensive line and with the weapons he might be tossing to in regular season action?
  2. Clausen’s biggest advantage over Jordan Palmer is Palmer won’t sign elsewhere. Bears can keep him close by without serious risk of losing him.

Third Wide Receiver

I’ve argued for months the Bears lack of depth at the wide receiver position is playing with fire and they’ve gone from relying upon an unproven 7th round draft pick who produced a whopping 2 catches a year ago to a collection of journeymen.

With Chris Williams feeling more like a speed specialist, Josh Morgan has an opportunity over the next three weeks to assume this role and his track record in the league would lead most to believe the job belongs to him.

According to Jim Miller on the preseason opener, three wides is the most utilized offensive formation in the NFL. He also said that night Jordan Lynch played Division III college football. So he could be very wrong.

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