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What Do You Write When There’s Nothing to Write About?

| January 3rd, 2022


You see them sprouting up across the internet.

“Five Things the Bears Can Learn from Their Game with the Giants.”

“Which Bears Have Something to Prove Sunday?”

“Why Bears vs. Vikings Matters.”

There is nothing to learn.

Nobody is proving anything.

It doesn’t matter.

These are the sad facts of playing out the string, down the stretch of an NFL season, especially when there’s major organizational change coming in the off-season. It was nice to see the Bears put on a fun show for their fans Sunday at Soldier Field, harassing a Giants offense that would politely be described as sub-professional. Matt Nagy’s team has not quit, and the schedule has presented them with some beatable opponents, keeping the season from being an embarrassment.

But while we all want to find value in each of the 17 games we are given to watch each year, the truth is there’s little to be found in these contests. And there is a certain disingenuousness to writing about them with any level of seriousness. (Star Trib columnist Jim Souhan actually used a game quarterbacked by Sean Mannion as “final proof” that Mike Zimmer should be fired in Minnesota.) There is rarely any correlation between how a team finishes one season and how they begin the next one. There are simply too many variables, too much turnover.

And a week from today, Monday January 10th, a new era will begin for the Chicago Bears. Coach Nagy will be fired; a very good man who just never developed into a very good coach. GM Ryan Pace likely will too; a solid talent evaluator paying the price for whiffing on his two most important decisions. All focus will shift to finding their replacements. The final games of this season will be completely forgotten.

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Chicago Bears (Personal) Classic: Bears Lose 2000 Season Opener to Vikings, But…

| June 17th, 2021

2000 was one of the more forgettable seasons in Bears history. They lost their first five games. They went into the bye 1-7. They scored more than 16 points only twice in those games.

But this game was memorable to me for a few reasons.

  • This was the first fall of my collegiate life and I watched this game at the ESPN Zone in Times Square. (Which, as far as theme restaurants go, was the best in NYC.) I had been watching Bears games, until that point, alone, in tiny sports bars in New Jersey, with illegal satellites picking up Chicago sports. Now the Bears were in front of me on a massive screen and there were Bears fans EVERYWHERE around me.
  • It was impossible to watch this game and not think the Bears had a quarterback. Cade McNown was electric. Big arm. Accurate. And he used his legs to keep drives going and put points on the board. His final stat line 27-41, 290, 2 TDs, 0 INTs. Passer rating of 102.7. Two months later he was inactive. Four months later his career was over.
  • It is still amazing to remember what Randy Moss did to the Bears consistently before the arrival of Charles Tillman. It’s item 1A when it comes to the Tillman Hall of Fame argument. (Item 1 is the punch.)

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Bears at Vikings Game Preview Volume II: The Stakehouse.

| December 18th, 2020


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and after a few weeks in the darkness of Quitsville, I’m back!


The Stakes

The Bears are 6-7. And this might be the most important game ever played by a 6-7 team.

If the Bears win Sunday, they’ll be 7-7, with Jacksonville on deck. (8-7) That’ll bring the Packers to town, with Tim Boyle likely starting, and a playoff spot likely on the line. If the Bears win Sunday they will be playing meaningful football for 17 weeks at a minimum. That’s how the late Giants owner Wellington Mara defined a successful season. And knew a bit about football.

But winning, especially with another superior offensive effort, would also continue to change the narrative around the head coach. Nobody is firing a head coach who is eight games over (minimum) in his first three years. And if the quarterback pitches another triple-digit quarterback rating? How could the narrative around him not alter slightly as well? Wouldn’t the Bears have to start considering a 2021 prove it deal?

Now if the Bears lose Sunday, their season ends. If they lose Sunday and deliver another lackluster offensive effort against the Vikings, Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky go back under the bright interrogative lamps of media and fans. (Hard to imagine Ted Phillips and Ryan Pace won’t be there regardless of these final games.) A loss flips the fourteen-day hourglass and the sand shuffles through on January 4th. That’s when we’ll find out who among the leadership is coming back in 2021.

It’s all at stake Sunday.

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Bears at Vikings Game Preview Volume I: Thoughts on Vikings/Bucs Tape

| December 17th, 2020


One of the strangest games of this NFL season. A myriad of thoughts.

  • Dan Bailey didn’t just miss three field goals and an extra point. He missed the four kicks by a combined hundred yards. This looked like Chuck Knoblauch throwing to first base. Kevin Na not being able to “pull the trigger” at TPC Sawgrass. Mike Zimmer was quoted postgame, “If you guys want me to fire guys for making a mistake here or there, we wouldn’t have any players.” So it seems Bailey will kick again Sunday. And that’s a win for the Bears.
  • Bailey’s missed kicks were essential. Five minutes into the second quarter, the Vikings were dominating the game and had almost nothing to show for it. What should have been a 10-0 lead was a 6-0 lead and it took only one perfectly-thrown Tom Brady pass to Scottie Miller to erase that lead.
  • There’s no reason to write about Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson. They are the two best players on this team and stopping this offense starts with them. But they’ve added a few wrinkles.
    • Irv Smith Jr. was brilliant versus Tampa. He was actually better than his stats because there wasn’t an easy catch in the four he made. Cousins is clearly looking to him as the safety valve option.
    • Seems Gary Kubiak is starting to move to more two-back sets, with C.J. Ham at fullback. And Ham is becoming a weapon in the passing game from that position.
    • Kirk Cousins had five carries for 41 yards against Tampa. But the Vikings actually called a draw for him on 3rd and short and a few times he didn’t wait for the play to breakdown. He just took off. Cousins ain’t gonna be confused for Lamar Jackson any day soon, but his legs are becoming a significant asset for the Vikings.

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FOCO Week 10 Game Preview: Vikings at Bears, Volume II

| November 16th, 2020


FOCO is giving away the product above (full description available HERE) to the winner of tonight’s contest. It’s going to be a super cold winter across the country and having a hoodie that doubles as a mask will help.

So what is tonight’s contest? Guess the total yards COMBINED for Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney receiving. (Receiving only.) For context, their totals over the last three games are 183, 229 and 130. So a wide range is possible.

As always the rules:

  • Guess must be made in the comments section below.
  • Guess must be made in an isolated comment.
    • Do not make the guess in the body of a longer comment. Do not make the guess in the thread of another discussion. I’m not going searching for your guess.
  • Pay attention! Once someone guesses 169, 169 is dead. If you repeat 169, you’re guess is void.

Good luck! On to the remainder of the game preview!


On Matt Nagy Giving Up Play-Calling

As was broken in the comments section last week, Matt Nagy won’t be calling the plays tonight. It was the only move for him to make and it’s overdue.

Will this move fix the offense? Of course not. But when your offense is performing at a level this low, you have to empty the trunk and bring out the gimp. No move is too dramatic. If changing the play-caller means even two or three extra first downs a game, you do it.

Nagy didn’t want to . I get it. “I love it” he said repeatedly about calling plays. We take this game so seriously sometimes that we forget it’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun for EVERYBODY involved. Nagy just relinquished the part of the game he loves most. That ain’t easy.

And as much as I fell this move was belated, it should still be applauded. A mature head coach is benching his stubborn offensive coordinator.


Haiku

Calling plays no more,

Nagy paces the sideline.

His headset, on mute.


Bears on the Hot Seat

Offense. Allen Robinson. There’s no doubting that Robinson is this club’s number one receiver but he is looking for Michael Thomas money. Is it too much to ask for him to win 50/50 balls? Is it too much to ask for him dominate an inferior opponent? The Bears don’t need 4-for-70 from ARob tonight. They need 11-for-140. And they need that production to occur while the game is still being contested, not in garbage time. You can blame the quarterback play all you want but great receivers elevate mediocre quarterbacks. Is Robinson a great receiver?

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