Four Lessons From the Final Four, Volume I: Packers & Bills

| January 18th, 2021


“It’s All About the Quarterback”


How good do you think Allen Lazard would be on other teams? Robert Tonyan? Marquez Valdes-Scantling? The answer is simple. They’d be irrelevant.

How many teams could lose their starting left tackle – a star at the position – and not miss a beat? The answer is simple. Not many.

Fans of teams that don’t have a quarterback whine about the offensive line. Fans of teams that don’t have a quarterback criticize the front office for a lack of playmakers on the outside.

Fans of teams with quarterbacks, great quarterbacks, don’t get the opportunity to complain about those issues because the quarterback covers them. The quarterback reads the defense, gets into the right protections, and gets the ball out fast when necessary. The quarterback makes the weapons outside better by getting them the football whenever a mismatch presents itself.

The Packers lucked into Aaron Rodgers, and they were in the position to let him sit on the bench for three seasons and develop. This year, in drafting Jordan Love, they risked not being improved in 2020 because they know it’s more important to have a great quarterback when Rodgers is done (if that ever happens) than another solid piece in the secondary for this coming season.

It’s all about the quarterback.


“Be Patient”


Josh Allen was not only one of the least accurate passers in the league his first two seasons, he was one of the least accurate passers in the history of the league his first two seasons.

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Divisional Round Weekend Gambling Guide

| January 15th, 2021

Saturday 3:35 PM CT – Rams @ Packers

Aaron Rodgers to score a touchdown: +550


There’s logic here.

The Packers are going to move the ball. They’re going to get the ball into the red zone. And then they’ll have two major issues when it comes to scoring: Aaron Donald disrupting the run game and Jalen Ramsey taking Davante Adams away. Rodgers’ improvisational skills will be on full display when he takes the ball over the goal line.

Saturday 7:15 PM CT – Ravens @ Bills

Total points even: +106


Five of the the last eight Bills games have ended in even points. So if you’re getting plus odds on that bet, you have to take it. This game was looking like a low-scorer when the forecast called for a snow storm at kickoff but now that forecast has changed and it’s just going to be a typical, cold, blustery Buffalo evening.

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ATM: This Packers Week Pivotal For Pace, Trubisky, Pagano.

| December 29th, 2020

We are about to find out if this Chicago Bears run is real. That’s exactly how it should be.

Ted Phillips and George McCaskey have spent their entire lives as football bosses trying to catch up to the Green Bay Packers. Trying to prove they belong on the same field. Trying to make it a rivalry game once again. They remember Week 17 in 2010, when a pitiful performance by the Bears allowed the Packers to get into the playoffs and start a Super Bowl run that included winning the NFC Championship Game on Soldier Field.

The biggest problem with the run the Bears are on is we don’t have a clue what it means. Blowing out the Texans and Jaguars is nice, but the loss to Detroit was ugly and playing close with Minnesota wasn’t great either. The Bears have established they are not a bad team. But are they a good one?

Their QB still makes too many mistakes. Sunday was the third time he has thrown an interception in the end zone in five games and was also the third time he has fumbled in Bears territory. (This time, he was lucky enough to recover it himself.) But most quarterbacks are flawed. You can live with the flaws as long as they come up big in the big moments. This is Mitch Trubisky’s chance to do just that.

A good performance by Trubisky in a win would seem to cement him as the team’s quarterback in 2021. His play during the current winning streak hasn’t been stellar, but it’s been good enough to suggest that he’s better than the other options for 2021.

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Embarrassing Loss to Green Bay Must Signal End of Pace/Nagy Era.

| November 30th, 2020

The Bears didn’t just lose to the Green Bay Packers Sunday night. The Bears were thoroughly embarrassed in primetime, in front of the whole of the football world, with the franchise’s matriarch in the building. The Bears suffered the kind of loss folks remember years later. Remember where they were. Remember what they felt.

I felt nothing. Not before the game. Not during. Not after.

Was the defense bad? Of course it was. This was one of the worst defensive performances since Trestman and Tucker bussed out of town. But some of the best defenses in the league spent Sunday on their backs. Did you see what Tennessee did to Indianapolis? What Kansas City did to Tampa? Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers ran circles around Chuck Pagano and his unit. But even if this was the best defense in the sport, the team would have no shot.

Because the bigger issue remains. Every single one of us watching that game knew the Bears were incapable of competing once the Packers got into the high-20s. This is the historic, fundamental flaw of this organization. As soon as the scoring starts to resemble NFL 2020 and NFL 1971, the Bears don’t stand a chance.

And the GM should pay with his job. 

In last week’s game preview, I gently suggested this game would represent “rock bottom”. What I didn’t expect was for the broadcast crew of Mike Tirico and Tony Dungy to talk about this team’s offense like they were actually working their way through the twelve steps. Those two men, who have seen a lot of football, knew what they were looking at: an offense incapable of competing consistently at the professional level. An offense that, if the defense has a bad game, was totally incapable of holding their end of the bargain.

And in the third quarter, that Bears defense quit.

They quit.

And while I may understand the reason they weren’t able to maintain a high level of focus, there is never a time when quitting should be tolerated. To this point, the head coach has been able to cling to two factors when arguing to stay in his position: the win/loss record and the fact that his team doesn’t quit. The latter no longer exists.

The head coach should pay with his job.

Where do we go from here? Where we have gone many times previously. A friend of mine, someone who knows what is happening at Halas Hall, texted me in the fourth quarter. “The team quit…it’s over…no chance this isn’t blown up.” There will soon be new leadership for the Chicago Bears.

The modern game is about the quarterback, and about points. The Bears have failed historically in both departments.

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Week 12 Game Preview: Bears at Packers on Sunday Night

| November 25th, 2020

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…but 2020 is starting to inch towards 2014. That year, the antics of Marc Trestman and Aaron Kromer off-field fueled my disdain for that disgraceful bunch. This year, the broken offense has broken me. I don’t want to watch it anymore. And I certainly don’t want to WAIT ALL DAY FOR SUNDAY NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.

What the Packers Numbers Tell Us


Absolutely nothing.

The Packers are vulnerable at every level of their defense but the Bears don’t have an offense capable of exploiting any of those vulnerabilities.

The Bears have scored 63 total points in their four games against Green Bay under Matt Nagy.

The Bears have scored 63 total points in their last four games this season.

Why would anyone think the Bears are going to find a way to score more than that average – 15.75 points – Sunday night? And why would anyone think that will be enough to beat Aaron Rodgers?

Does the Quarterback Matter?

If Nick Foles starts, the offense will look exactly as it has over the last month.

If Mitch Trubisky starts, he’ll probably avoid pressure a few times, extending plays, but then he’ll miss open receivers down the field when he does. For those expecting Mitch to suddenly start running for multiple first downs after ANOTHER shoulder injury…why?

If Tyler Bray starts, it’s Jonathan Quinn. Craig Krenzel. Henry Burris. (It’s probably not good when your “hype video” has several bad throws in it.)

Listing My Favorite Bar in the States I Have Visited

I have never been to Wisconsin. I have never been to many states. So I decided to list my favorite bar in each of the states I have been to because I don’t want to write an in-depth breakdown of Bears/Packers.

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Thoughts From Around the NFL After Week One

| September 16th, 2020

Normally, these kinds of thoughts would be relegated to the Twitter feed once the season begins but this season is unique. With no good camp reporting anywhere, and no preseason fake games to look at it, the last five days were the first opportunity to see these 32 teams in any realistic way. So having caught at least condensed game versions of every team, some thoughts.

NFC North.

A week ago, these were the odds to win the NFC North: Vikings +160, Packers +180, Bears +380, Lions +550.

Today, these are the odds: Packers +110, Vikings +260, Bears +300, Lions +900.

These odds didn’t move because of the lunacy of Bears/Lions. They moved because Aaron Rodgers was the best player in the league Week One and the Vikings defense didn’t look like they’d practiced this summer.  (The gap closure between the Vikings and Bears is sizable for one week.) Pay no attention to the final score of the game (43-34). The Packers led 30-10 going into the fourth quarter and called off the dogs. Oh, and they scored two more touchdowns without the dogs. If Rodgers needed 60 Sunday, he could have gotten it.

NFC East.

The story in this division was a tale of two lines. Washington has a terrific collection of DL talent but it’s clear Carson Wentz and the Eagles won’t survive with their makeshift OL. Wentz was a sitting duck, sacked 8 times, and flustered throughout.

Sometimes coaches get enamored with this “next man up” bullshit and that’s clearly what happened with Doug Pederson. “Next man up” is fun to say but teams don’t have the economic freedom to create the depth necessary to execute it. The Eagles don’t have good players on their OL right now and their scheme relies upon having one of the best lines in the game. They need to embrace what’s actually happening, and change the scheme.

(The Cowboys changed coaches and looked exactly the same.)

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ATM: New Coaches Could Help Bears Solve Pettine Riddle

| July 15th, 2020

It doesn’t seem to matter how bad the Green Bay Packer defense is, the Chicago Bears can’t score on them.

That was supposed to change with Matt Nagy taking over, but it hasn’t.

In four games against Green Bay defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the Bears have averaged a pathetic 14 offensive points and 324 yards per game — the latter being a total that was inflated when the team fell behind big in the most recent match-up. Considering Pettine nearly lost his job at the end of last season as his team has allowed 22.7 points and 354 yards per game since he took over, the Bears inability to score is downright confusing.

Yes, we know the Bears generally haven’t been a good offensive team for most of any of our lives, including the last two years. But they’ve done much better against the rest of the division. Mike Zimmer has had two top-10 units since Nagy came to the Bears, but the Bears have scored 19.5 offensive points and averaged 312 yards per game, both slightly better than the Vikings have allowed on average. Same goes for their performances against Detroit. (Also consider that the Bears have gone nearly full games against both Detroit and Minnesota with Chase Daniel.)

Whether it’s Nagy, Trubisky or somebody else, the Bears just can’t seem to solve Pettine and the Packers. But they may have hired the answers this off-season.

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