I always like the Chicago Bears.
But let’s be honest: it’s quite difficult to like the Bears in this spot. The Bucs are inevitably going to score a bunch of points and the way to beat them is to score more. Does anybody believe a Matt Nagy offense can win a shootout, even with a rookie quarterback who looks like he’d thrive in that situation?
The Bucs are scoring 32.5 points per game. A great Bears defensive effort should be able to keep them in the 24-8 range. So the Bears will need 30. Do they have it? Doubtful.
I’ve always thought the great documentaries fall into two categories. The content docs captivate you with information. Alex Gibney is the master of this form (Enron, Client 9, Going Clear, etc.), but the binge-worthy, true crime doc drug – of which I must admit an addiction – has elevated the medium from high art, coffee shop conversation to pop culture phenomena. (Tiger King felt like the most talked about documentary in the history of the country.)
The form docs are a trickier enterprise. Whether it’s Errol Morris’ interrotron locking into the eyes of Robert McNamara or DA Pennebaker’s fly-on-the-wall witnessing Elaine Stritch’s cast recording breakdown or Barbara Kopple’s penetrating look at the coal miners of Harlan County, the form docs seem to change the way we look at the world by changing the way that world is framed for us, the viewer. (Great recent examples are 2019’s American Factory and Minding the Gap.)
The great music docs almost exclusively fall into this latter group. Sure, The Sparks Brothers was an intriguing look at an intriguing band, and History of The Eagles was endlessly entertaining, but ultimately those films are limited by how much the viewer actually cares about the work the band produced. (In both the aforementioned cases, my level is somewhere near zero.) The great music docs – The Last Waltz, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Stop Making Sense – captivate you with the originality of their storytelling.
What is so stunning about Todd Haynes’ The Velvet Underground is how intimate the experience feels. (It definitely helps that I saw it in a theater and not on my couch, with the ability to pause and take piss breaks.) The filmmaker’s decision to rest the faces of his subjects on screen for extended periods of time had a near-hypnotic effect. You find yourself studying Lou Reed and John Cale as younger men. You find yourself searching their faces for clues to a puzzle that’s never been solved. And all the while they are mapping out their journeys to the band. It’s thrilling.
I’ll write more about this film in the year-end piece. But I want to use this space to encourage you to see the film. (It is on Apple+ if you can’t find it in a theater near you.) Whether you like the band or not – and I do not – it’s one of the more remarkable documentaries every produced.
Herm Edwards said it best, and for the most part he was right. When you line up to play a football game, the primary objective should be to score more points than the other team. That has certainly been the approach of Matt Nagy, at least offensively, through the early goings of the Justin Fields era at quarterback. The Bears have identified their best approach to winning as play good defense, run the ball consistently, and ask the quarterback to make a play or two at pivotal moments.
But is this the right approach for the Chicago Bears moving forward, especially over the difficult four-game stretch to come? The answer is unequivocally no. And it all comes down to self-evaluation.
Forget the complexity of QBR and DVOA and all the other analytics flooding your Twitter feed. Let’s objectively look at each position group on offense for the Chicago Bears and assign them either a + (plus) or a – (minus). Let’s leave quarterback out. Plus means they’re good. Minus means they’re not. Simple.
[Side note: these evaluations are based on current usage and production. I think Damiere Byrd is a good NFL wide receiver but he’s not being used at all so what can you do?]
So if you’re Nagy and Bill Lazor, of course you’re going to be run-first, run-always, run-forever. The only two real positives on your offensive roster, around the rookie QB, are the OL’s ability to run block and the backs behind them. But this approach only makes logical sense if the primary objective is to squeeze out as many wins from the 2021 season as possible. And that should no longer be the primary goal. It should never have been the primary goal.
The goal has to be Fields.
They need to get more out of him every week.
They need to ask more of him every week.
The shirt above was actually sold by our friends 26Shirts.
I always like the Chicago Bears.
And I think Matt Nagy and the offense are going to come out a bit spiky this week. Celebrating in the locker room Sunday, Nagy owned the offense’s failings while praising the defense’s dominance. He won’t want to be in many more locker rooms like that one.
[Editorial Note: This column is being written under the assumption Dirk Koetter won’t be benching a QB with 1200+ yards through three games.]
.@ChicagoBears @52Mack_ is the defensive MVP of the @NFL through 3 games. Played all 52 snaps Sunday and is just getting into football shape. He gives the @ChicagoBears a chance to win every Sunday. The Big Mack Attack is a must in ….#BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/mPfSTbZDfS
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 25, 2018
I always like the Chicago Bears. (But a man can only take so much.)
Aside from their thumping of the Bears, on a day when Jay Cutler couldn’t stop turning the ball over, the Tampa offense was mediocre or worse for the duration of the 2016 season. Their rankings:
The fact that a team with these stats won more games than they lost is impressive. But the Bucs made two significant additions to their offense this off-season: DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. Always. Be. Adding. Weapons.
Are we really doing this again, Bears? What if it turns out injury rates DON’T necessarily regress towards the mean? https://t.co/yTMtZbfD1y
— Aaron Schatz 🏈 (@FO_ASchatz) September 12, 2017
Bears had 22 projected starters in July. 11 on offense and 11 on defense. Kyle Long, Prince Amukamara, Cam Meredith, Kevin White, Jerrell Freeman won’t be out there Sunday. Pernell McPhee will be limited. That’s 27% of their starting lineup not out there. And they’ve played one game.
Jay Cutler delivered one of the most bewildering and terrible performances from a Chicago Bears quarterback in recent memory; a memory including the likes of Jimmy Clausen and Caleb Hanie. Cutler’s decision making was putrid, accuracy was non-existence and concern for the football borderline criminal. As the game drifted away, others also aided and abetted this sporting crime, but the loss sits squarely and without bobble on the shoulders of one man: Jay Christopher Cutler.
One should not make leaps about Cutler’s future in Chicago off one performance – good or bad. But this was performance was SO bad, it will be impossible for many to resist. I can’t blame them. If Brian Hoyer were healthy Sunday, he’d have been on the field by the second quarter.
Administrative note: I’m off to France for a bit but the content will continue! Data, Andrew and myself from abroad will be here daily, playing out the string.
The Bears travel to Tampa for a match-up of two pretty evenly-matched teams. What will tell the tale?
If the Bears run it well, they win. I think they will…and do.
Each year, from Thanksgiving until Christmas, I (like many) indulge in the joy that is the Christmas movie. And it surprises me that movies and television shows still find their way into the rotation. This last year produced two new additions.
A VERY MURRAY CHRISTMAS
It’s television the way television used to be made in the days of soundstages and cigarette holders and Dean Martin. Everything about it is a throwback and it’s still completely original. The highlight? George Clooney popping out repeatedly from behind Christmas trees to deliver the chorus of Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’.
DIFFICULT PEOPLE, “DIFFICULT CHRISTMAS”
The best new comedy on television in 2015 was Julie Klausner’s Difficult People and the final episode of the season, the Christmas episode, might have been the best. The highlight? Klausner getting fired from her job as a gift wrapper for reciting the story of Capturing the Friedmans to a customer.