The Psychology of Uncertainty & Being a Bears Fan

| January 18th, 2018

Human beings don’t react well to uncertainty. We don’t know how to handle it. We hate it so much in fact that, given the choice, we actually prefer to *know* that something bad is going to happen to us as opposed to being unsure. A study in 2015 showed that most people would rather know for certain that they’re going to get an electric shock than to not be able to predict it. The uncertainty caused a bigger stress response than knowing without a doubt that they were going to get hurt.

At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that’s fascinating Emily, but what the hell does it have to do with the Chicago Bears?”

Well if I had to think of one word to describe how I’ve felt about the Bears the last few years, the word would be “uncertain”. Not in terms of devotion, mind you. I’ve always been pretty ride or die with my sports teams. When I say uncertain I’m talking about having no real idea what to expect from them on any given Sunday since 2012.

Again I can already hear some of the comments. How could you possibly be uncertain about the Bears? They suck! They’ve sucked since 2006! The Cutler era was terrible! They’re basically the Browns! And I get why it feels that way. I totally do. But it isn’t accurate. For a quick comparison:

Last Won Their Division
Bears 2010
Browns 1989

Last in the Playoffs
Bears 2010
Browns 2002

Last Winning Season
Bears 2012
Browns 2002

Number of Wins the Last Three Seasons
Bears 14
Browns 4

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Data Responds: Bears at Eagles

| November 26th, 2017

Well that was ugly. This one felt like a few drubbings the 2014 Bears received after the Bears had quit on Marc Trestman. The John Fox era is officially over, though we almost certainly still have to endure 5 more games before it becomes official. Hopefully those games aren’t all this ugly.

The Bears were never going to win on the road against the best team in the NFL, but they looked completely unprepared in every possible way. They picked up penalties, had zero creativity or imagination anywhere, and were generally outschemed, outcoached, and out-executed.

I’m not going to focus much on coaching, because this staff is obviously finished, but one particular atrocity deserves special attention. Facing 3rd and 17 from their own 1 yard line, the Bears called time out to save half a yard from a delay of game penalty. That’s bad enough, but the worst is the offense had only 10 men on the field after an injury time out gave them more than 2 minutes to prepare. That’s a team with comically inept coaching.

I’m going to focus most of my specific observations on the first half, because quite honestly I didn’t pay as much attention after that. The 24-0 halftime deficit meant the game was over by then anyway (honestly, it was over well before halftime).


  • Mitchell Trubisky threw an early INT on an inaccurate throw, and it caused the coaching staff to turtle back into their worst habits. It was a long time before they let him throw past the line of scrimmage again, and even then that only came on 3rd and long. Instead, they chose to repeatedly run out of heavy sets into loaded boxes. You might be surprised to learn this was not an effective strategy.

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| November 4th, 2015


• Before getting into football talk, I want to thank everyone who for their kind words after the passing of my father. It was obviously a difficult week, made more difficult by the Bears.

• We all want to believe the Bears are a drastically different team because they have John Fox leading the way instead of Marc Trestman, but in their last two games they have played almost exactly like they did under Trestman. I get there is a lack of talent, but they have just as much as the Lions and the Vikings, there’s no excuse for them to lose either of those games the way they lost them.

• If the Bears and the Vikings were to swap quarterbacks, the Bears would have the first pick of the draft and the Vikings would win the Super Bowl.  Don’t listen to what you read on Twitter, Bridgewater is bad. Meanwhile, there aren’t 10 quarterbacks in the league who are better than Jay Cutler right now. There may not even be five.

• So, why did Adam Gase decide to take Cutler out of the game for most of the first half? Look at the Bears first six games and they were at their best when Cutler was moving around and making things happen. I get that he didn’t think they could block the Vikings’ front four, but by continuously throwing slip screens, he gave them no chance. As soon as he stopped doing that, the Bears started moving the ball. It isn’t difficult to figure out.

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Everything We Learned About the NFL This Season.

| February 3rd, 2015


Top NFL Teams Separated By Merely a Play

Look at the fates of the NFC’s best teams in the month of January.

  • Detroit loses to Dallas after a pass interference flag is announced and walked off by the game official and then ludicrously picked up. (Has anybody yet given an explanation of this?)
  • Dallas  loses to Green Bay after a Dez Bryant catch – a spectacular catch – is deemed a non-catch by one of the more ludicrous rules in the NFL rulebook. (And in my opinion a gross misinterpretation of that rule.)
  • Green Bay loses to Seattle with a ludicrous late-game collapse featuring a tight end dropping an onside kick that hit both of his hands and his face.
  • Seattle loses to New England with the worst play-call in the history of professional football, asking a non-pocket passer to pocket pass a tight-window slant route on the goal line, at the death. (And do so with the league’s most physical runner just, you know, standing around.)

In all four of these games a serious argument can be made for the losing team deserving victory. That’s how close the league has become at the top.

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With the Dawn of 2015 Comes the Opportunity to Purge the Poison of 2014 From the Bears Organization

| December 31st, 2014

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Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne!

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp! And surely I’ll be mine! And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne!

-Robert Burns


Johnny Brogan is a bartender at the Copper Kettle, an Irish neighborhood bar in the Irish neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens. “Brogy” is not what you’d call a healthy-looking man, measuring well under six feet from the soles of his worn down off-brand trainers to the tip of his meticulously-parted coif and three feet from the rear of his spine to the furthest reaches of his jolly pot. But every year, from January to April, this one-man cider receptacle gets off the drink. Not a drop. And when you ask him why, he responds with a phrase he should have trademarked, “Right for the system.”

There’s something noble about Brogy’s pious dedication to this annual ritual, whether it be medically astute or not. He believes, as all who engage in any cleanse or diet or purge believe, abstaining from the sauce over this period of time will help him live longer. He’s also Irish. And Catholic. So there’s the guilt-inspired penance factor at play. Brogy sins for nine months. He apologizes for three.

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Thoughts on George McCaskey Cleaning House Following Dismal 2014 Season

| December 30th, 2014


I didn’t have one concrete theme from Black Monday but instead several distinct thoughts. Here they are.

Thought #1 – Emotion Not a Bad Thing

Football is a game of strategy and emotion. The strategy has spawned an entire industry of newfangled NFL writers who believe the $50 they spend for All-22 access makes them the heir apparent to Vince Lombardi. (X & O writing is quickly supplanting Combine analysis and salary cap breakdowns as the most surefire way to put me to sleep.) Strategy is why coaches are paid millions, why they sleep on their couches as their families fall apart at home and why play sheets now look like Greek diner menus in Clifton, New Jersey.

Emotion is the far less dissected issue, the far simpler issue and, in my estimation, just as important.

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Preemptive Requiem for the Marc Trestman Era

| December 26th, 2014


If Marc Trestman is not fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears before the rye toast of Chicagoland browns Monday morning, the panic will be palpable.

FATHER: He can’t possibly be back, can he?

SON: No. It’s not possible.

FATHER: Why haven’t they fired him yet?

SON: They will…(wipes sweat from his brow)…they have to…

FATHER: You want butter?

SON: Jam.

Trestman’s first year as Bears head coach was defined by an explosiveness on offense never before seen from the city of Chicago’s football team. While balancing the worst defense in the history of the organization the Bears offense managed to guide the club to a .500 record, giving them an opportunity to win a division title on the final week of the season. (A game they lost purely by mental breakdowns on the defensive side of the ball.) It seemed in Marc Trestman the Bears had found their guy.

Here were the four reasons I liked the hiring of Marc Trestman in January of 2013:

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Observations from the City of Chicago

| December 22nd, 2014


(1) The city, the people walking up and down the sidewalks, universally hate Jay Cutler and it is ENTIRELY about his body language, demeanor. All of those debates and articles I have scoffed at for years are having a dramatic impact, especially on those who are more casually fans. I write columns disparaging folks like Rosenbloom and Haugh. Those columns are met with, “Why bother? Those are idiots!” Guess what? Those are the columns permeating the city.

(2) Yes there were thousands of Lions fans in attendance but I couldn’t be more impressed with the Bears fans at Soldier Field Sunday. You could feel the desperation. They wanted to stand. They wanted to shout. And when the game presented them opportunities to do so they leapt to their feet and blew out their voices. On a day where the Bears handed out the most ridiculous pin in football history (see above) Bears fans showed why they deserve to be appreciated.

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