There are only two possible outcomes for this game.
Outcome #1. The Bears win and nobody cares. (Maybe some young players flash and that will be exciting, but honestly, who cares?)
Outcome #2. The Bears lose and it becomes impossible for Matt Nagy to coach the team for the remainder of 2021. (Honestly, I’m not sure Nagy or Pace will still be employed Friday if this is the result Thursday. When I floated the scenario to someone in the building they responded with the simple, “Buckle up.”)
Chicago Bears 20, Detroit Lions 16
I always like the Chicago Bears.
But I’m not even sure what it is I’m liking this week. If Justin Fields doesn’t play, there is nothing to be gained on Thursday. But it’s Thanksgiving. And it’s football. And we’ll all be watching…I think.
Robert Quinn, the team’s MVP in 2021, and Khalil Mack, the team’s best player, are returning in 2022. Roquan Smith is the best ILB in the sport, Jaylon Johnson is a top corner, and the Bears have shown a propensity for finding talent at the interior DL positions. They need corners, but they’ll have off-season assets to acquire them.
While many malign the offensive line, the group is having a decent 2021, especially as a mauling/run-blocking unit. If Teven Jenkins solidifies the left tackle spot, the pass protection should be dramatically improved as well. If you believe Fields will only get better – and I do – the Bears need to concentrate their efforts on adding weapons, weapons, weapon on the outside. Again, the assets are there to do so.
(And for you schedule junkies, the Bears have two road games in the Meadowlands next season, against certainly still-bad Giants and Jets teams.)
But it will all come down to the coaching hire. Terrific quarterback play can cover for bad coaching (Aaron Rodgers won Mike McCarthy a Super Bowl) on the offensive side of the ball, but the Bears currently suffer from a lack of leadership. There is no commitment to the game day plan because there doesn’t seem to be anything resembling a game day plan. They don’t need to hire an offensive mind, or a defensive mind. There are plenty of coaches out there that can call plays. Find the guy who stands in the front of the room and inspires his players to perform at their best.
They find that guy, they win ten games in 2022.
Every year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I gorge on Christmas movies, usually updating my viewing experiences on the Twitter feed. This year, I decided to tier the films, with a little note added when explanation was required, and with a little football flair. This is a solid guide to season for you and your family. In each category, the films are listed in no particular order.
The Prospects (Thanksgiving)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Home for the Holidays
Mouse on the Mayflower
The Elite QBs
These are the top shelf Christmas movies, and I’ll be watching most of them at least twice over the next month.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Scrooge (Albert Finney)
A Very Murray Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street (original)
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas
The Night Before
The Year Without Santa Claus (1974)
The Santa Clause
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
He wrote from the heart. He included a haiku. He was tough to beat. Below is the email that secured Tim Wallace (@LogicforGood on Twitter) some frozen deep dish from Lou Malnati’s.
I’m your target demographic. Huge Bears fan living far away from Chicago. My wife and I moved to Charlottesville, from Chicago, in October 2013 with our almost two-year-old.
A month later, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, I came down with a horrific case of hand foot and mouth disease. Not fun and very contagious. My wife did the smart thing and took our daughter to her parents. They stayed there until I recovered, which was, of course, after Thanksgiving.
So I had to do my first turkey day away from Chicago alone, quarantining with a nasty, contagious, unpleasant condition.
And I had no idea what I was going to eat. I’ve never cooked a Turkey in my life, and it would have been irresponsible to go to the grocery store anyways.
I will never forget that on the day before Thanksgiving, I walked out on my porch and there was this big square box sitting there. Inside were four Lou Malnati’s pies on dry ice with a note from my Mom, “Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a little taste of home.”
Those were the best pizzas I ever ate.
Far away from my city.
Lou’s was home sweet home.
We’ll have our second Malnati’s giveaway closer to the start of the regular season. And we’ll be formally announcing a new partnership on Monday. Stay tuned!
After the ugly, hard-to-watch victory over the putrid New York Giants, Mitch Trubisky and the Chicago Bears started a new season, a new play. It’s gone a little something like this.
After a slow start on both sides of the balls – Kenny Golladay is still wide open – the Bears reinvigorated their fans and their season with a brilliant comeback, all of it on the broad shoulders of their much-maligned quarterback. Still, it was the Lions. Just the Lions. And no one anywhere near this franchise was ready to overreact.
The Cowboys were meant to be a step up in class, a championship contender suffering through a disappointing string of results. (Sound familiar?) But at Soldier Field on Thursday night, the Bears delivered their best performance of the 2019 season and the quarterback reminded everyone of his limitless potential.
Now the stage is set for the final act of this in-season play. If Mitch Trubisky and these Bears can deliver another inspired performance and beat their oldest rivals in their building, they will change the narrative of this entire campaign. Yes, not being in the tournament will be a colossal disappointment for a team with such high expectations. But that disappointment will be assuaged by getting the record to .500 or better; assuaged by finishing the season with a winning record in the NFC North; assuaged by the quarterback potentially “finding it” down the stretch.
This was a dreary, boring season. But the last two weeks have been thrilling. Now the Bears have an opportunity to complete this somewhat-redemptive tale, building confidence in the locker room and among the fans. No one will be content with 2019, no matter the result at Lambeau Field. But many will find reason to believe for 2020 should the Bears beat the Packers.
It’s Packer Week.
Johnny Brogan tends the bar at the Copper Kettle in Woodside, Queens. He’s been behind the sticks for twenty-four years, mixing Bloodies and pouring thick pints of the black. He’s there on Thanksgiving. He’s there on Christmas. He’s there, seemingly always, the front man of my local saloon since moving to the neighborhood a decade ago.
Thursday, the bar was empty when I sat down fifteen minutes before kickoff. Brogie, as he’s known in the community, put an Amstel Light and pint of club soda in front of me. This was going to be a long day of drinking and I had to pace myself. I ordered a bowl of potato leak soup to lay something of a base. No bread. (I’m off bread.)
I approached Bears at Lions the same way I’d approached the last month plus of Bears football: with passionate indifference. The team – and more importantly the quarterback – lost me entirely with their shambolic performance against the New Orleans Saints. And the weeks since have been a slow drain of any emotional juice I might have pumping through my supporter’s veins. This is a rare mode for me to be in, as I’ve always espoused the “we’re only guaranteed 16 of these a year” mentality. But it happens.
Then it stopped happening.
Sometime on Thursday, things changed.
I don’t know why.
I don’t know exactly when.
But sometime during this Thanksgiving game, I found my hands clenched together tightly. The Amstels were going back quicker. The pacing started. The bathroom trips multiplied. Nerves. Anxiety. Even Brogie noticed. “Only seen you like this during the Masters,” he said, referring to my nerves watching Tiger wrap-up number 15 earlier this year.
Maybe it was the kid quarterback, playing with shattered confidence and a bum shoulder, putting his teammates on his back in the second half, delivering several of the best passes of his young career.
Maybe it was Roquan Smith, flying all over the field, reminding us all why he was considered one of the best young defenders in the sport coming into the season. We’ll never fully understand the mental sabbatical Smith took mid-season. But if he plays like that, we won’t remember it either.
Maybe it was seeing promising talents like Anthony Miller and David Montgomery dominate. Finally. And for the first time in 2019, having a sense that this offensive project under Matt Nagy makes some sense. That these fellas can deliver in this offense.
It’s rather pointless to write these breakdowns every week. The Bears have a terrific defense and an abysmal offense. That’s what they’ve shown for two and a half months. That’s what they’ll show the next month and a half. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts heading into Thanksgiving.
Chicago Bears 23, Detroit Lions 16