Bears at Bucs Game Preview: In the Land of Strip Clubs, the Bears Must Arrive at the 2023 Dance

| September 15th, 2023

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?







The Second Week, or Why this Game Matters

Everybody is down in the dumps, especially those fans who spent the last six months absurdly taunting other fans on social media with dumb phrases like “Fields is going to own the North” and “King Poles.” The Bears are still, quite obviously, not a good team. But no objective analyst expected them to be a good team. We did, however, expect them to be a far better team than was seen at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Forget a grain of salt. Week 1 should be digested with the tonnage of salt that is dumped on Michigan Avenue in anticipation of a January blizzard. That is not to say one should ignore the failings of the Bears against the Packers. But looking around the league, it was quite obvious that half the sport (if not more) was not ready to play regular season football. Joe Burrow couldn’t complete a pass. The Chiefs couldn’t catch. The Giants, with their supposedly top head coach, forgot they had a game. And then there is whatever Josh Allen was doing Monday night.

The Chicago Bears goals for the 2023 season do not change with Sunday’s result. This Bears team can still play relevant football in the month of December. They can still mount a campaign that inches near .500. But in order to do so they have to find a way to win Sunday in Tampa. With Kansas City looming in Week 3, they must do everything in their power to avoid an 0-3 start. (And one could argue a 1-1 start would give the Bears an opportunity to erase the sadness of Week 1 with a Week 3 upset.)

But perhaps most importantly, this program needs to overcome the building toxicity around it and deliver a solid effort. No more somber faces on the sideline. No more complaining about fans to the media. The Bears need belief, and belief only comes with victories. And this club hasn’t had one of those in a long time.

A Single Sentence on Several Films of 2023

Bottoms. Emma Seligman’s up-and-down comedy has a tour de force final half hour that’ll make it the most rewatchable film of the year.

Oppenheimer. Flashy and beautiful, Christopher Nolan’s historical epic is also a dramaturgically flimsy and emotionally hollow experience.

Past Lives. The foreign darling of the art house scene, Celine Song’s film is a lovely, if minor, effort.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. If serving no other purpose, this James Mangold-helmed fifth Indy picture has erased the jaundiced memory of the disastrous fourth installment and given one of Hollywood’s finest action heroes a suitable ending.

King Coal. This documentary tone poem, set in central Appalachia, could have been the natural heir to Barbara Kopple’s brilliant Harlan County, USA, but instead is a politically muddled and incomplete work, lacking the depth more voices from the community could have provided.

Note: The First Lady of DBB and I are seeing Barbie tonight, after several failed efforts to check it out. I’ll have thoughts on it next week. 

Five Key Points

  • The Bears defense must limit Tampa’s big play potential, if it exists beyond Mike Evans. The Bucs had four scoring drives in their game vs. the Vikings, and they tell the story of an offense that struggles to move the ball with any authority. The drives were:
    • 4 plays, 0 yards (FG)
    • 7 plays, 61 yards (TD)
    • 16 plays, 75 yards (TD)
    • 10 plays, 38 yards (FG)
  • Kirk Cousins was not good against the Bucs, but that was mostly on Cousins. Even with his errant tosses and multiple fumbles, he still produced 344 yards in the passing game. The plays will be there down the field for the Bears.
    • Two things have to happen for the Bears. Eberflus and Getsy must allow their quarterback to fling it and Fields must deliver the football, down the field, on time. Neither happened in Week 1.
  • The Bucs gave their three backs – Rachaad White, Sean Tucker and Chase Edmonds – a shot, totaling 24 carries at only 2.5 yards per clip. Todd Bowles won’t care if the run game is successful. After watching Bears/Packers tape, he’ll stick with it for four quarters. (Tucker seems the most explosive of these backs by a sizable margin.)
  • Ignore Minnesota’s rushing stats in the opener. Alexander Mattison was only given 11 carries and that offense is clearly going to be pass-first/pass-often. The Bucs gave up north of 120 yards per game rushing in 2022 and the Bears should be able control the game on the ground. The biggest question is whether this coaching staff will acknowledge the energy Roschon Johnson brought to the unit when on the field; Johnson looks like the kind of bruising back that can wear an opponent down over four quarters.
  • Three defenders the Bears have to identify and deal with on every snap: Shaq Barrett, Antoine Winfield, Anthony Nelson. When the Bucs disrupt the pocket, they most often do so with these three guys. Barrett and Winfield are to be expected, but Nelson was all over the field against Minnesota.

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How the Bears Beat the Bucs: Split Em & Hit Em

| October 21st, 2021

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are favored over the Chicago Bears by anywhere from 12 to 13.5 points, depending on the sportsbook of your choice. But this is not an unwinnable game for the Bears. There’s a path. Will they take it?

[Note. This space will operate like Robert Quinn’s positive Covid test on Monday will keep him out of this game.]


Split Em, or What Must the Bears Do on Offense:

  • Abandon the run.
    • This is a team that salivates at the thought of an opponent running the ball on first and second down. It allows their pass rush can tee off on third and their terrible secondary to take a deep breath. The teams that have had offensive production against them have taken the opposite approach.
      • When the Cowboys scored 29, Zeke and Pollard totaled 14 carries. Dak Prescott threw for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns.
      • Sony Michel was given 20 carries by the Rams against the Bucs and totaled 67 yards. (The Rams had a pretty significant lead in this game.) Matthew Stafford threw for 343 yards and 4 touchdowns.
      • This is a game where Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd should log snaps and see targets. And it would be a nice opportunity to throw the football to Jimmy Graham a few times.
    • Jalen Hurts was terrible throwing the ball against Tampa but his legs became a serious weapon as the game progressed. This is another reason to run this game plan through Fields. When it’s not there, let him run. His legs might be their only productive option on the ground.
    • It would also be nice to see Fields with the ability to throw the football away on an EARLY down. On third downs, he’s trying to force the issue to keep the chains moving. But on first down he should be far more willing to fling a ball into the sixth row if there’s nothing available downfield.


Hit Em, or What Must the Bears Do on Defense:

  • Pressure up the gut.
    • There’s no reason to belabor the point. Tom Brady has been playing in the NFL since the 80s and people have been writing the same stuff since the 80s. The only way to make him uncomfortable is to get him off his spot; pressure him up the middle. This will be far more difficult without Quinn.
  • Tackle the quick toss.
    • Brady’s been as accurate as any quarterback in the league this season and he has brilliant short-yardage options in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Gio Bernard, etc. If the Bears continue to tackle as they have, especially at the safety position, it’s hard to imagine the Bucs not going 70 yards for a score on what looks like an innocuous 5-6 yard slant.
  • Take one away with JJ.
    • Sean Desai has a difficult decision to make with Jaylon Johnson. Where does he deploy him? If he chooses to take one receiver away, that receiver should be Evans. Godwin and Brown do more of their work underneath the defense. Evans is the homerun hitter. Preventing the homerun might be the key to keeping this game competitive.

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Week Five Game Preview: Bucs at Bears on Thursday Night Football

| October 7th, 2020

How much does a pirate pay for corn?

Buck an ear.

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears.

And I think the offense will get better in the weeks to come. Do I think they’ll be at full stride tomorrow? No. But I think signs of progress will be evident, as they work towards getting the new quarterback up to speed.

On Brady’s Bucs…

As always, you can go look at the statistical rankings and draw your own conclusions on Tampa’s strengths and weaknesses. I watch the Short Cuts of all their games on Sunday Ticket and try to give you in-game insights.

  • Tom Brady’s approach isn’t particularly different than it was in New England. Every once in a while he’ll take a deep shot (Scotty Miller is his guy down there) but his bread is still buttered by the quick toss, intermediate stuff to tight ends and small white receivers and a diverse collection of screens. When Brady’s in rhythm, he’s unstoppable. When he’s pressured out of that rhythm, he’s been giving the defense opportunities to make plays on the football.
    • It could be a product of age, but Brady’s arm strength seems to come and go over the course of a game. He had no zip on the football early against LA. He was flinging it in the third quarter.
    • Mike Evans has become a possession receiver. And a good one.
    • The injury report will have a massive say in what this offense looks like tomorrow night. Most of the skill guys in Tampa are on their report.
  • Ronald Jones power runs are the tone-setters for this offense but Jones has been a real asset in the passing game lately. Will be an interesting test for Roquan Smith, coming off arguably his best game as a Bear.
  • Defense can be attacked vertically, especially on early downs. If the Bears think they can take the same approach they took Sunday and try to bully the Bucs on first downs with the run game, they’ll find themselves behind the chains all day long. (The Chargers had zero success with early-down runs.) When the Bears find themselves chasing down and distance, they need to expect Todd Bowles to bring pressure and attack that pressure with the screen game.
  • An element of the Bucs passing game that the Bears must be ready for is the tight end verticals. O.J. Howards is out for the season but don’t be surprised if that injury doesn’t increase Rob Gronkowski’s role in the game plan.

In Honor of the Buccaneers, My Five Favorite Big Screen Pirates

(5) Steve the Pirate, Dodgeball


(4) Captain Hook, Hook


(3) Pirate King, Pirates of Penzance 


(2) Smee, Disney’s Peter Pan


(1) Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride

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Week 8: East Rutherford, New Jersey Jets at Chicago, Illinois Bears Game Preview

| October 26th, 2018

Chicago, IL – December 26, 2010. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and this is the first must-win of the 2018 campaign. If the Bears are going to mount a serious challenge for the NFC North they have to be 5-3 after eight games. That record will more than likely give them the division lead at the halfway point with five division games remaining.

The Game Haiku

From Ed, the chants come.

J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets!

Silence, ladderman!

The Asshole From the Haiku

Why the Bears Will Win!

  • Prolific Bears Offense.
    • Chicago has scored 48-28-31 in their last three.
    • Jets defense has allowed 30+ in three of their last four games, and are bottom third against the run, pass, overall and in turnover differential.
    • This is a game that should allow Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky and the entirety of the offense to flourish. Especially at home.
  • Sam Darnold vs. Bears Secondary.
    • The Jets are decimated by injury at wide receiver, with Robby Anderson being their only viable outlet on the outside.
    • This week they signed Rishard Matthews after needlessly cutting Terrelle Pryor a week ago. When you’re trying to find contributors on the waiver wire after Week 7, things aren’t where you want them to be.
    • The Jets drop a million passes, often into the hands of defensive backs.
    • Darnold leads the league in interceptions with ten. Kyle Fuller is tied for the league lead with three interceptions.
  • Bears NEED the Game. It is only their seventh game of the season but all one has to do is listen to comments from coaches and players to realize they feel a sense of urgency right now. Matt Nagy said the Bears are “in a valley” and need to get out. Roquan Smith and Mitch Trubisky – the young leadership of this team – wouldn’t accept “close” a week ago and both stated unequivocally it is time to get a win. The Bears are a touchdown favorite at home to a rookie quarterback. Good teams don’t lose in that scenario.
  • Text From My Brother: “If the Bears throw it to back in the flat or the tight end over the middle, we can’t cover it.” Yea, I think the Bears can do these two things.

Why They Won’t

  • Bears Rush Defense. Both New England and Miami got every yard they needed on the ground, with the Dolphins flat out dominating the line of scrimmage and pounding Frank Gore into the second and third levels. The Jets are one of the rare run-first teams left in the league. Everything they do offensively flows from the two-headed monster of Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell. With Powell on IR one would expect rookie Trenton Cannon to play a larger role at Soldier Field. The Bears can’t let the Jets keep the game in second/third-and-short.
  • Todd Bowles Loves to Blitz. It’s how he made a name for himself as a defensive coordinator, matching Bruce Arians’ offensive aggressiveness on the defensive side. Bowles will want to send pressure at Trubisky from every direction and try to force the young QB into mistakes. Bears will need outlets ready. (They don’t need to look much further than last week’s tape to see how Flip/Cousins handled this.)
  • Special Teams. The three best return men in football will now be facing the Bears in three consecutive weeks and the Jets’ Andre Roberts is a top five kick and punt returner. The Bears allowed the Pats to score on specials; a cardinal sin. But with the Jets, they can’t allow Roberts to flip field position. Make the Jets play on long fields and the Bears will find themselves on short ones.

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Spotlight on the Coaching Candidates: Todd Bowles

| January 12th, 2015



The Bill Parcells coaching tree has been the most profitable of the modern era, yielding six Super Bowl titles since 2000. The reason? Parcells teaches his coaches to coach the whole field, not just their specific positions or unit. He breeds men who can run the room a la Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin and Sean Payton.

From a Sheil Kapadia piece for Philly Mag:

While Parcells was making a name for himself as the head coach of the New York Giants, he faced Bowles, a safety out of Temple, twice a year.

“I noticed that he was making their secondary calls and adjustments and and all those things as far back as those days,” Parcells said during an interview with Jon Marks and Brian Baldinger on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Later in the piece, Bowles discussed the impact Parcells has had on his coaching career:

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Diving Into the Offseason: GM Interviews, Coaching Candidates & the Free Agent List

| January 5th, 2015


  • Bears set to interview Lake Dawson (Tuesday) and Chris Ballard (Wednesday) for their GM position, per Adam Schefter. You know what I’d like to see from the Bears this week? Once they identify the guy they want, hire him. If Ballard is the guy they’ve truly wanted since even before they fired Phil Emery a week ago (as was suggested in multiple locations), don’t let him leave Halas Hall Wednesday without discussing terms of the contract and scheduling the press conference for Thursday morning. The firings of Emery and Trestman were decisive actions by owner George McCaskey. Let’s keep that decisiveness going.
  • Here’s what worries me about Todd Bowles: his sideline demeanor reminds me of Marc Trestman and Lovie Smith and Dick Jauron. Bruce Arians described Bowles as “soft-spoken” and haven’t we seen how sideline stoicism plays in the city of Chicago? You can call this a non-issue if you like but the lack of fire and passion from the Bears has been a major issue over the last two seasons. McCaskey should be looking for a man to change that.
  • Second thought on this. Jim Fassel coached the Giants to a Super Bowl appearance during his time with the Giants but he was a nightmare off the field and was way too lenient with his players inside the locker room. Longtime Giants owner Wellington Mara wanted to follow Fassel with the polar opposite. He went to Tom Coughlin. Giants won two titles.

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