Football

TAG TEAM, BACK AGAIN!

The gridiron guru Tony and I are back after yesterday’s Bears draft chat to breakdown how the rest of the North drafted and I swear to science if the Packers just unearthed another 10+ year starter at QB I’m committing hara-kiri and calling it an NFL fandom career…

Wes French: Tony, lets get right to it…are the Packers stupid like a fox or just plain stupid?

Tony Martin: Wes, my friend, you are truly the gift that keeps on giving. Here I am, thinking I have to go back to watching that shitty Waco show on Netflix and you slide back into my inbox to talk more football? Miraculous.

As for the cheese heads, I think they really fucked up taking Jordan Love. I love that they have a notoriously fickle QB who wants at least one more run at the title and they instead did something that does not help the team at all and alienates their biggest star. I’ve said for the last week that the Packers are a handful of players away from a championship, and they actively hurt their chances with their pick. It’s rare for a pick to hurt a team in April, but the Pack managed to pull that one off. I went to Green Bay’s website and looked at their articles about the draft which are so hilariously full of spin you’d think it was a Trump presser. There’s a bit in an article by Mike Spofford where they say that Green Bay didn’t feel like there were any receivers available at the end of the 1st that could take a starting job over Devin Funchess, Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow, Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown, which might be the take of the century. Then to draft a RB in the second in an already crowded backfield? Pure schadenfreude, my friend. I feel like Brian Gutekunst watched Jerry Krause in the first episodes of “The Last Dance”, turned to his family, said “Hold my Spotted Cow”, and traded up to alienate his talent.

Is taking the heir apparent a few years early a decent move anymore? The current trend in the NFL is to try to win that championship during a QBs first contract to maneuver around the salary cap, so Love sitting for one year makes sense but not 2, 3 or 4 years. I think the Packers are trying too hard to eventually become San Francisco, with a run first offense to be run by a game manager, so as Green Bay slowly dismantles it’s current core, expect them to refocus on the defense in the attempt to do what the 49ers have done. I think this is the first sign of a slow, painful rebuild, and it couldn’t have happened to a more obnoxious organization.

WF: My Packer fan pals are in the mega-spin zone right now trying to justify it. One keeps saying “14-4, they’re gonna be fine. It’s a new brain trust, let it play out”; a few others are trying to talk themselves into Funchess like receivers on their third team in as many years are the reliable type; and one special friend of mine is slowly losing his shit more and more by the day.

I really do think you can back up and justify the Love pick if you kinda squirm to the side and squint real hard. The part that makes it tough is what you mentioned about the new path being to use the window of QBs on rookie deals and splash cash on whatever you need most. Rodgers is well known to have a contract that kills them with dead money if he’s moved the next two years and there’s also the part where he’s a fucking all-time great at the position. I get the injury coverage concern, but shit how many times is their solution going to involves drafting a QB as Aaron’s State Farm on the field instead of bolstering his weapons/protection?

Could you imagine if instead of moves for mediocre/shit backup QBs they’d been using most draft capital/literal capital to give him more help? And then they back it all up with a fucking RUNNING BACK in the 2nd Round, one that can’t catch to boot? I don’t give a shit what the rest of the draft looks like, to me these moves mean a white flag on the Rodgers era and getting a head start on what’s coming after. They can say they have a team in place to contend, and if (when) it goes south they can use the line about this window closing and trying to retool on the fly and you can bet they find a way to move Rodgers next year.

TM: The Packers might have screwed the pooch, but I’d have to say I like both Minnesota and Detroit’s drafts more than Chicago’s. I love the Lions draft, to be candid. Okudah is a stud, their 3rd round pick of Julian Okwara was a solid add on who will bring serious juice off the edge, and I like D’Andre Swift a lot. I think there’s a chance they found three starters and assuming they all don’t retire to get away from Matt Patricia, they have built a pretty solid core for life post-Stafford. Luckily for the Bears, the Lions should be shitty next year but not shitty enough to get Trevor Lawrence or even Justin Fields at the top of the 2021 draft. The Lions are the Chicago Bulls of football, stuck in the worst kind of purgatory. I think Swift takes over lead RB duties early on in the season, Okudah will be put to the test with a murderers row of top tier WRs on the Lions schedule, and Okwara will be starting week 1.

WF: I feel like the Lions could only have messed up their top two selections is if they were the Raiders. The only real problem I have with Detroit’s draft is not moving back a few spots to take Okudah (or taking Isiah Simmons over him) but I think Miami and San Diego both knew they were the teams taking QBs, no one from the 5-6 spots immediately behind them was putting any pressure on them to move and they each got their man staying put. You’d also like to pair Okudah with a guy like Darius Slay…but Okudah was a huge need because they alienated and traded Slay. I do love Okwara and I think going two guards in the middle rounds is solid, but the early 2nd selection of Swift was sort of confusing. Detroit needs defensive help BADLY. There were several guys they passed on to go RB and I feel like in today’s NFL that’s a WHAMMY!

TM: The Vikings drafted 15 dudes this year. 15 dudes! That’s an entire basketball team! Sure, a lot of those guys might not make the team, but I think they struck gold late with Kenny Willekes from Michigan State in the 7th round, and I expect him to not only make the team but be someone the Bears have trouble blocking a couple years from now. I estimated the Lions nabbed at least three starters this year, but I think the Vikings could see up to 5 immediate starters from this class. Justin Jefferson snatches ankles after the catch and is a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it. I think Cameron Dantzler is going to be a project but he’s a future stud at CB- pair that with their first round corner Jeff Gladney and that defensive backfield can straight up wreck shit for the next 4 years. I personally look forward to them destroying Jordan Love while the Bears and Nick Foles are busy winning their third straight Super Bowl.

WF: I’m not sure how the Vikings fit 15 guys in, but theirs is the type of draft that can plug a lot of gaps on the cheap. I think the most impressive thing about the 2020 Draft in Minnesota is that they came in with 12 picks, left with 15 players AND added a 4th (from Chicago for Gipson) and two 5ths in 2021. Rick Spielman deserves a ton of credit for adding so much draft capital and value to his team. I think Justin Jefferson is fantastic and the type of receiver the Packers probably should’ve been moving up further for. I’m also a big fan of the Gladney/Dantzler picks and feel like they shored up the CB position in one draft. Not easy. OL Ezra Cleveland and S Josh Metellus are guys I heard discussed for the Bears, too, and now we get to hope they’re busts because the damn Vikings took them. Fuck that horn.

TM: Honestly what it’s all going to come down to is coaching. Our current global condition is changing how teams are interacting with their new prospects and it’s the teams that adapt best to these new circumstances that will get the most out of their picks.

Also, while we’re speaking of uncertain futures – I have a question for you: do you think this is the year where the supplemental draft is huge? If the prospect of a severely shortened NCAA/NFL season is on the horizon, do players forgo that extra season and declare? Could we see a massive second wave of players picked in July? If that is the case, would the NFL allow those players to petition for the supplemental draft en masse?

WF: I lean YES, I think the supplemental draft could see a few teams spend future pick capital on guys that decide “you know what? fuck this sitting around not playing football this Fall, I’m going” and the value for it is there. Depending on how things unfold regarding the Pandemic™ I wonder if the NFL goes even further and expands rosters/practice squads and uses them as more of a taxi squad for teams to pluck from as the world tries to find a way to 1) not kill or infect too many millions more while 2) NOT GIVING UP THEIR NFL SUNDAYz!

TM: Okay before this gets buried, I LOVE the idea of a taxi squad in the NFL. It’s a brilliant idea, and maybe they could expand it to 2 taxi squads, one of veteran players and one of prospects. Holy shit I’m so into that idea.

WF: It makes way too much sense, so it’ll never happen. But if it does YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST,,,,FOLKS!

Football

Friends, foes, fellow Packer haters, welcome back to On the Clock: Round 2 edition. Today, I’ll briefly touch on how our fellow NFCN teams fared in the first round and then look forward to the second day of the draft.

Also, unrelated to the NFCN teams or the Bears, the best moment from last night was CeeDee Lamb’s girlfriend trying to look at his phone and him snatching it back from her, clearly trying to keep his side piece a secret. You can’t coach that hand quickness, and he’ll fit in perfectly in Dallas, where he can invite his mistress to the quarantine-violating house parties his teammates throw. A classic Jerry Jones pick.

Detroit Lions: CB Jeff Okudah
Consensus here is that the Lions made a smart pick by staying at 3 overall and not trading back, and I’ve gotta agree. We’ll know exactly how great Okudah is by the end of his rookie year, since he’ll be expected to match up against Allen Robinson, Devante Adams, and Adam Theilen (maybe- we’ll get to that in a minute) twice a year each, and then DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans/Chris Godwin, and AJ Brown. It’s a murderers row of top tier NFL wideouts, so Okudah is facing a trial by fire. With that series of upcoming opponents, the Lions made the right call to fill a need, until 4 years from now when he’s demanding a trade or retiring to get away from that garbage organization.

Minnesota Vikings: WR Justin Jefferson, CB Jeff Gladney
Justin Jefferson is a great player who snatches ankles before and after the catch like a point guard. His highlight tape is just disgusting, and the analysis all seems to say the same thing: this was a consensus great pick, but after the edible kicked in I was a little confused because he was primarily a slot WR in college, and the Vikings traded away their best outside WR this offseason. Adam Theilen works out of the slot quite a bit, so it seems like a square peg/round hole situation. Is Theilen going to kick outside primarily to best play to Jefferson’s strengths? Is Jefferson going to be expected to play outside? If the Vikings can figure out how to use him correctly, Jefferson is going to be a nightmare twice a year.

Also, like a lot of people, I laughed when the Vikings took Jeff Gladney at pick 31, when Kristian Fulton, Trevon Diggs, and a haul of other secondary help was available, but Gladney is a solid pick. He’s physical, and a huge improvement over the departed Xavier Rhodes. It pains me to say it, but I think Minnesota improves on both sides of the ball with their picks, unlike…

Green Bay Packers, QB Jordan Love
Y’all, I could not stop laughing when Green Bay decided that time is a flat circle and Aaron Rodgers-ed Aaron Rodgers. I was truly nervous that the Packers would add an interior run stopper after getting thrashed by San Francisco in the NFCCG, or the second wide receiver so Aaron Rodgers isn’t throwing to Devante Adams and a handful of dweebs with hyphenated last names found in the discard pile of some small school’s draft class, but yet here we are.

It’s a smart pick when your team is playing well but not going to be a serious title contender, but I truly believed that the Packers were one stud skill position player away from getting over the top and challenging Kansas City next year, and instead of Denzel Mims, Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman, or literally anyone else, Aaron Rodgers is now in charge of training his replacement. I think Jordan Love will be a good to great NFL QB, but it’s fucking hilarious that the front office chose to plan for 4 years from now when they were one game from the Super Bowl last year. People are going to rake that organization for that all offseason, and I’m fucking here for it. This draft pick is essentially the organization telling Rodgers to inject bleach to prevent the coronavirus, but instead of Anthony Fauci running in and being like “no, don’t do that”, you’ve got Ted Thompson there alone, laughing as he sends all the emails from the rubes that bought “stock” in the organization straight to the trash folder.

 

Now, the part you care about: Players Available

The Bears pick at 43 and 50, so there are 10 teams ahead of them. Do they hold pat and wait for Kyle Dugger, Jeremy Chinn, or Grant Delpit? Do they move up to get a crack at drafting Xavier McKinney, Antoine Winfield Jr, Tee Higgins, Denzel Mims, or Trevon Diggs? There are some stud players still on the board, and I waited until this morning to type this up to see what the recent mocks have the Bears doing, so let’s take a look:

USA Today:
(43)- Jaylon Johnson (CB- Utah)
(50)- Cole Kmet (TE- Notre Dame)
Grade: D (Ew I hate this so much) 

CBS Sports:
(43)- Kristian Fulton (CB- LSU)
(50)- Tee Higgins (WR- Clemson)
Grade: B+ (This would be a solid haul based on Fulton’s ability)

Sports Illustrated:
(43)- Jeremy Chinn (S- SIU)
(50)- Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL- LSU)
Grade: A- (This is the most likely scenario)

SportingNews:
(43)- Kristian Fulton (CB- LSU)
(50)- Josh Jones (T- Houston)
Grade: B (The Bears can do better and if they pass on Cushenberry to draft a backup tackle I’ll cry)

Bleacher Report:
(43)- Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL-LSU)
(50)- Jeremy Chinn (S- SIU)
Grade: A- (This is also a very likely scenario)

The Bears are looking at an embarrassment of riches given the various slides up and down the board and a couple of head-scratching picks at positions of need (Jaylon Reagor at 21?). Also, early 2nd round picks are a lower cost to move up to get, so you better believe that if Ryan Pace truly thinks someone like Xavier McKinney is worth the loss of later round picks, he’ll do it (see Anthony Miller).

I might not have a ton of faith in Pace at this point, but the Bears are a couple spots away from playoff contention given league-average QB play. The free agent signings empowered Pace to play around a little bit if he thinks he can find a star at CB, S, or IOL, so I’m gonna rank my top 10 players remaining for the Bears that are still available at the beginning of round 2:

1. Xavier McKinney- S
2. Trevon Diggs- CB
3. Tee Higgins- WR
4. Antoine Winfield, Jr- S
5. Lloyd Cushenberry- IOL
6. Grant Delpit- S
7. Denzel Mims- WR
8. Jeremy Chinn- S
9. Kyle Dugger- S
10. Michael Pittman- WR

If I’m Ryan Pace, here’s what I’m doing:

Option 1: Trade Up
Bears trade pick 43, 163, and 200 to move up to pick 34 and draft Xavier McKinney, and then take Cushenberry at 50.

Option 2: Trade Back
Bears trade 43 or 50 to get some 3rd/4th round players and I cry. However, if the Bears get a stud at their remaining 2nd round pick, I guess it could be okay. I’d rather see them get less for pick 50 than deal 43, unless Cushenberry is sliding, in which case the Bears trade 43 and still get interior line help.

Option 3: Stay and go BPA
This is classic Pace, but if the Bears are in win now mode, he needs to get “his guy” today.

I’m pumped for today, y’all! I hope you are too.

Over/Under the amount of fans dressed like “Superfans” for the pick announcement: 1.5

Football

In The What I Learned Category, It’s Probably The Coach: This has been the big debate about the Bears all season, and will be this offseason and even into next season. It won’t be helped by Patrick Mahomes swaggering on in here next week either, but that ship has sailed. The fact is the Bears can win with Mitch Trubisky at the helm, whether or not it’s as fun to watch as Mahomes would have been.

To me, the ship on Mitch being great has sailed too, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be good. And good, with what this defense can be in the next year or two, is enough. Maybe more than enough. But as we’ve gone week to week here I’ve started to lean from “Mitch doesn’t have it” to “It’s Nagy.” And maybe a little of the offensive line mixed in.

There have been a few things that could have caused Matt Nagy to go off the deep end. The throwing up all over himself as KC offensive coordinator in the playoffs is only two years ago. Repeating that feat with the Bears last year, and then trying to blame the kicker for all of it is still fresh in the mind as well. And maybe Nagy is trying to overcompensate for losing his marbles (mental and the ones down there) in the playoffs this year by being fully creative all the time.

Again, we know what Mitch does well. Rollouts, actually running the ball, play-action. Pick and stick. This should have been the whole game plan from Week 2 on when Week 1 didn’t go so well. It hasn’t been until lately, and then it basically went away again in Green Bay to the point that even Mitch was bitching about it in the post game presser.

The Green Bay defense is certainly better than what had come before, and going to show you a lot of looks. But at some point you’ve got to do what you do well and figure out the rest. Nagy has outthought himself pretty much the entire season, and a better-than-it-feels season from the defense is now going completely to waste.

That doesn’t mean this is unsalvageable, because it’s far from it. All it takes is Nagy seeing what is in front of him, and maybe a tight end and one or two changes on the line. And then presto, it could be 12 wins again. But sometimes admitting things about yourself is the hardest thing to do. Is anyone going to tell him?

I Love Akiem Hicks But Don’t Want To Watch Him Play Again This Season: As fun as Khalil Mack was to watch last year, Akiem Hicks might have been just as much. Regularly putting two linemen on their ass and destroying entire offensive gameplans by himself, and looking like he was having a blast doing it, the joy seeped through your TV. So like most Bears fans I was delighted when it was announced he’d be back, because he’s the difference between this defense being really good and something from a distant moon in a another galaxy.

And then we had to watch him clearly in a world of pain, gut through it, and for what? I can’t imagine what state that elbow is actually in, but two or three times you saw him drag that thing to the sideline and try and comprehend the pain he was in. And football players don’t like to show much. In the 4th quarter when he was just lying on the Lambeau turf for a minute, it was just a metaphor for life. You can suck it up and gut it out and think you’ve got it measured by the world always has another jolt for you to leave you in even more pain that you thought possible.

Nagy is saying he still might play in the last two games. I don’t know what the point would be other than risking literally tearing his arm off below the elbow. That’s enough.

Packers-Bears Games With Something On The Line Are The Best And Worst: They rarely happen, which is maybe why they’re both. The past two seasons they’ve met in the opening week, which hasn’t gone well, but it’s hard to know what the stakes are. Most of this decade, one team has sucked and the other has been good (and you know what that alignment has been most of the time). Last year, by the time the second meeting came around the Packers season was over. These kinds of things rarely mean something to both teams in the long run. Of course, they all did in 2010…and look how that ended. Maybe it’s better if they don’t.

But there was something about the fading winter sunlight, the cold, and both teams having urgency and desperation that carried over into the fans and the whole experience. I don’t think I’d live through another playoff game between the two, but at the same time wouldn’t it be nice to get one over on those assholes when it really meant something? Just once?

One day.

Football

The Bears season ended when Jesper Horsted couldn’t find Allen Robinson on a lateral. That’s a sentence I just wrote. And it’s true. And it probably sums up the absurdity of what this Bears season has been. In reality, the Bears were two to three plays short of extending their hopes another week. And that’s been the story all season. For all the misery, confusion, injuries, and whatever else, coming into this one the Bears were two or three throws from being 9-4. With a play or two more and some luck, they could be 10-4 now. However you want to go about it. But this is the NFL, that’s usually the difference for most teams. There are only a couple really good teams and a couple really bad ones. Everyone else just needed a handful of results on plays to go the other way and you’re a playoff team or you’re scouting the Senior Bowl.

It was ever thus.

I’ll clean it up the best I can.

-When you lose by one score, as the Bears have had a habit of doing this year, you can point to a variety of areas or players or decisions as the main reason. I’m looking squarely at the offensive line today. Mitch Trubisky was hurried, hit, or sacked on the first 12 dropbacks he made. David Montgomery was looking at people in his grill every run as soon as getting the ball. The Bears couldn’t do much in the first half simply because they couldn’t block it. But that’s been the story all season.

-Which made this another week that Matt Nagy was too stubborn in sticking to the offense he wishes to run instead of the one he can. We barely saw any of the rollouts, or play-action, or I-formation, or QB runs that were the order of the day against Dallas. The Bears couldn’t create a pocket, and yet Nagy didn’t think of moving it until it was too late. And I’ll argue that Mitch made a lot of plays where he simply had to improvise, which should have been by design. I’m not saying Mitch had a great game, and we’ll get to him in a minute, but once again he wasn’t given much help by his coach.

The process should be starting with what your QB and offense can do and do well and sprinkle in the other stuff you want to do in time. Nagy has spent all season starting with the stuff he wants to do and sprinkling in what his offense can. We thought he had turned a corner. He didn’t.

-We generally have a policy of not complaining about officials at the top of the menu if at all, but the call on Cordarrelle Patterson on the punt turned the whole game. It was a perfect play, it just looked like it wasn’t at first, and the refs went with their gut instead of the rules. Even in our dreamiest visions of the offense, they would need turnovers and short fields and turnovers to boost them. Even if that turnover resulted in a first down or two only and a field goal, and you chalk off the touchdown the Packers got right after, the Bears win. The Bears have only themselves to blame, but they didn’t get much luck either.

-Earlier in the season, I was would make dagger-eyes at the defense when they gave up a game-winning drive when it was in their hands, as they did against Oakland, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, and did their best to do against Denver. Still, they were holding opponents under 20, which is supposed to be enough.

Today, they got it up their ass on two drives on the third quarter, and a good portion of that was just not making tackles. And that isn’t anything other than just not doing it. You have to get guys to the ground and the Bears didn’t. Back that up with only getting to Rodgers a handful to times and sometimes on blitzes, and that’s not good enough. They made enough plays to keep the Bears in it and give themselves a chance, but that’s not enough. Look anywhere you want on the unit, but in this type of game you have to bring it all. They didn’t bring quite enough.

-Right, so Mitch. Hardly perfect, hardly a disaster. Certainly competed. Could have had more interceptions on another day. Was inches from a big play with Miller on the 4th down. Didn’t make the right throws on the other fourth downs. Did make some great plays on the run. If it were earlier in the season you’d say it would be enough to work with going forward. I don’t know what you say now. But…13 points isn’t enough. You have to finish. And he was only a couple plays from finishing enough to win, but that’s what we keep saying.

-So it’ll be another playoff-less year. We’ve seen far worse Bears teams. The expectations are what make this so disappointing. But there’s more than enough to build on with this team for it to contend next year. And maybe you just make the five plays you didn’t this year to get the three to four wins you don’t have now. Football’s weird. It also sucks.

Football

vs.

RECORDS: Bears 7-6   Packers 10-3

KICKOFF: 12 noon

TV: Fox 32

YA HEY DERE: Acme Packing Company

For the last three games of the season, hopefully, the Bears will find themselves in the odd situation of not having much to gain but everything to lose. At least until the end, that is, and if everything goes right. A win Sunday would only give them the chance to have everything to lose the following week against the Chiefs, and so on to Minnesota to end the season. Wins mean their minuscule playoff hopes are still alive. One loss and they’re gone and more serious questions follow. Good time to be heading up to the house of horrors then, huh?

It was thought earlier in the year that when these two teams met at Lambeau Sunday, one team would be skating on top of the division while the other would be at best floundering around the wildcard picture. We just got the teams reversed. Because of course we did.

I would love to tell you the Packers are frauds, and most teams in the NFL are. But they have beaten the Vikings, whatever that means, and the Cowboys on the road, whatever that means, and the Chiefs on the road, whatever that means, and their only loss against what you’d call a “real” team is getting utterly clocked by the Niners in Santa Clara. We know what Kirk Cousins does against any team that retains oxygen intake, the Cowboys just showed you what they are, and Mahomes didn’t play against them. But still, that feels like I’m straining a bit to discredit the Pack. Which is an effort I’m happy to make, but at some point even I know it rings hollow.

And as long as Aaron Rodgers is around, you’re never safe. Especially the Bears, who blew a 20-point lead to him in the second half when he had one leg the last time they perused the grounds up there. As Brian pointed out yesterday, Rodgers is having an average season for him which is other-worldly for just about anyone else. He also has just two INTs on the season, so at the very worst for him he doesn’t give you anything. Most of the time he’s taking everything, too. Just wonderful. And as that piece showed, he loves to pick on the middle of the field where the Bears will be dressing two backup interior linebackers. Guess where he might focus?

The Packers will tell you there’s been a new focus on the running game, and Aaron Jones’s 12 TDs would suggest same. However, their yards per game total is only middle of the pack (ha ha), and a good portion of their impressive run totals/performances have been a case of bum-slaying. No one’s impressed when you run it up Washington’s giggy, really. They’ve been stuffed by more than a few opponents, and the Bears will be hoping to do it for a second time.

They’ll tell you they have a restored defense, but again, at least in yardage, there isn’t anything the defense does that well. And again, when faced with good teams, they’ve surrendered points. 37 to the Niners, 26 to the Chargers who definitely suck, 24 to a Mahomes-less Chiefs. Now the Bears are going to have to do more than have a couple hot weeks against basketcase teams to claim to be a good offense now, but there are points to be had.

Even though their two OLBs have combined for 21 sacks, they don’t get to the QB much more than at an average rate, though still probably a test for the still working-out-the-new-kinks Bears o-line.

However, what the Packers do in fact do well, and what’s kept their points allowed totals from matching the yardage they give up completely, is they take the ball away. Lead in fumbles, in the top five in INTs. They may bend and give up plays but they make enough plays to wash that away. This is probably where the game is won or lost for the Bears, and why it might be a good idea to stick to the ground as much as possible. If only to give Mitch easier reads in play-action, and get him moving which we know he likes. Which keeps him from having to make more tough reads and throws than he’s capable of pulling off successfully.

Of course, there’s always Rodgers. There are days he just decides you lose, and there’s not much you can do about it. The return of Akiem Hicks will have everyone buoyed, but who knows exactly what and how much he can provide after 10 weeks on the shelf. Certainly not the amount of snaps you’d be used to and almost certainly not the dominant force you came to love. But it’s hard to imagine he’ll suck either, and if he gives more of a rotation on the line and keeps everyone fresher, so much the better, Kwiatkoski and Pierre-Louis will need all the help they can get.

The Bears have been able to overcome one or two Mitch mistakes the past couple weeks, but that’s one thing against the Lions or Cowboys. It’s kind of a different thing here. That doesn’t mean Mitch has to be perfect, but he likely has to be as good or better than he was against the Cowboys, which is not really a level he’s been able to stick at or exceed. Maybe now’s the time?

Hopefully the dynamic running attack we saw last Thursday sticks around, through both Trubisky and David Montgomery, instead of the RPO’s into Cody Whitehair’s retreating ass we’ve seen most of the season. Again, the widens Trubes’s margin for error.

If there’s one thing about these fucking games, as miserable as they are they are really boring. This one has a lot riding on it, and there’s probably nothing more the slobs in the hunting gear would enjoy more than ending the Bears season after starting it on the rocks in September. If the Bears get it, well, it could very well work out the Packers will have wished they put them down when they had the chance.

Bear Down.

Football

Well friends, it’s been more than three months since Aaron Rodgers last faced the Bears. Remember that kick in the dick? Me too.  So, you ask, what kind of season has the future Hall of Famer and greatest Quarterback of this generation having? Let’s take a long look at how A-Rod’s numbers this season compare to his career numbers:

2019 Completion % = 64.4%

Career Completion % = 64.8%

For all the talk we’ve heard about #12 not meshing with his new coach or not having any sort of receivers beyond Davante Adams, his completion % speaks volumes on how he has adjusted to both. In fact, at 64%, Rodgers is more accurate than he was last season.

2019 Passing Yards / Game = 250.8

Career Passing Yards / Game = 259.6

Granted, 250 passing yards per game will be the 3rd lowest of his career, and 27 less yards per game than a season ago, but Rodgers is also throwing the ball a lot less this season; 441 times this year as opposed to 597 last year.

2019 Touchdowns / Game = 1.77

Career Touchdowns / Game = 2.03

Rodgers career TD’s per game is probably a little overinflated due to the preposterous seasons when he threw for 40, 38, 39, and 45. This season, he will throw for more TD’s than he has since 2016.

2019 INTs / Game = 0.15

Career INTs / Game = 0.46

Over the last 29 games, Rodgers has thrown four interceptions. Again,  FOUR INTERCEPTIONS! This season, Rodgers will most likely throw the least number of INTs in a single season in his career.

2019 Quarterback Rating = 102

Career Quarterback Rating = 103

What really caught my eye when researching this is Rodgers’ 2011 season when he had a rating of 122.5 – that’s some playstation shit right there. Although his 2019 QB Rating of 102 isn’t close to 122.5, it will be his highest since rating 2016.

As you can see, Aaron Rodgers is having what can be considered an average season…for Aaron Rodgers. His greatest attribute continues to be ball security; which is the foremost reason teams win or lose games. Every coach I’ve ever played for stressed the importance of two things:

  • Win the turnover battle
  • Win time of possession

When your QB throws 0.15 INTs per game, you are going to the turnover battle 99% of the time you take the field – this is part of the reason why the Green Bay Packers field a competitive team every year. They drafted a generational talent at 1uarterback and had enough foresight to nurture him into a star without pressing the process. The way this organization handled their QB situation should be the template in which every other NFL operates.

OK, enough of the Aaronica Patrick-Munn suckoff session; what can we expect this week against your Chicago Bears?

The most positive thing I can take from this week’s matchup is how well the Bears defense played against Rodgers three months ago. Granted, Rodgers & the Packers were adjusting to completely new scheme, but the Bears knew what throws Rodgers liked and didn’t like and did everything to take away his comfort zones – and they succeeded last time out. As you can see below, #12 loves to attack the middle of the field, and he really doesn’t care at what yardage he is doing it at. The Bears must protect this area, which is usually the spot on the field where small plays become chunks of big yardage.

Two weeks ago, Rodgers showed you exactly what happens when you let him attack his comfort zone:

 

How does three TDs to the middle of the field and five completions of over 15 yards down the middle seams look? Pretty scary for a Bears team that has given up some relatively big days this season to some pretty looking JV QBs.

What Does All This Mean?

It means that Aaron Rodgers will ultimately be the one player who determines the winner of this game. He will determine if the Bears season is over, or if that sliver of playoff hope remains. I expect Rodgers to be very good, far better than the last time he faced the Bears, who were far more healthy on the defensive side of the ball three months ago than they are today.

Bears 13 – Packers 27

Football

Welcome back to THE VAULT, where it’s always Week 14 somewhere. While the 2019 Bears have their playoff aspirations dangling by the thinnest of margins, we’re in here living in the past.

For those of my dear readers who may not know, I am a high school History/English teacher and I was thinking about having my kids read “The Time Machine” by H.G Wells. I probably won’t, because books written in 1895 that read like they were written in 1895 are a tough sell for anyone, especially alternative to expulsion students that are forced to prepare for a stupid standardized test in April.

“The Time Machine” will be an irrelevant exercise for teenagers, but what about Bears fans? What will THE VAULT look like in 50 years? 100 years? Will football even exist? Will the planet even exist? I know I can’t get too deep into the radical leftist position that “climate change and humans are harming the Earth” so I won’t, but it is and we are.

So, without any further ado, let’s look at THE VAULT 2083, writing about the Peoria Bears versus the Wisconsin Rapids Packers from Smarch 18th, 2077:

Welcome back to THE VAULT, our weekly subsidized, government-funded nostalgia trip through time. I appreciate you sharing your entertainment credits with me as always, because I know that you only have 15 minutes a week that your bosses allow you to be away from your desk. Thanks for spending it with me, and I promise that I will use my accumulated credits responsibly. 

Today we’re gonna look back at the Bears vs the Packers from 2077, a game handily won by our beloved Peoria Bears 77-3, the biggest margin of victory since the Bears moved from Chicago to Peoria after the great Lake Michigan tsunami of 2058 (sponsored by BUD LIGHT- dilly dilly!) that caused Soldier Field to float all the way down to the central part of the state, and with all the remaining McCaskeys (just Virginia at the time) fleeing the country in the middle of the night, Peoria felt like the best option (a sentence never said before or after this article). As you know, the Packers were still reeling from the loss of Aaron Rodgers, who at the young age of 79 was sent to Mars to go hit on and alienate all the famous single women in an attempt to convince them to come back to Earth. 

As you may recall, this is the game that got the Packers kicked out of Green Bay, since they made a bet with new Bears General Manager Sam “brought to you by LOWE’S” Fels-McCaskey Jr over ownership of America’s second biggest small town. As you reading this may know, he had since converted the entire city to the world’s biggest Mars Cheese Castle before the military junta led by the Sons of Josh Bellamy dethroned him a bloody, cheesy uprising. Any urban explorers now know it’s haunted by the ghosts of those dead soldiers, and the only way to get past them is to throw a football directly at their chests so when they drop it you can move right past them. They can shoot a gun, but when it comes to catching passes they are no gouda. 

Those of you that remember the FEDEX Cheese Bowl of 2077 may remember that the day was paced by Khalil Mack III and his 4 touchdown passes, 3 of which went to Perg Flumpus, weeks before he was banned for life from the league for testing positive for Mango Juul pods. The Packers lone score was a dropkick through the AMAZON PRIME 3 point field goal target, just barely missing the 10 point uprights in the first year of “NFL Rock N’ Jock” rules. Chester “The Clump” Clumps grinded out 84 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown against a defense running the iconic “Cover 11” that as you know was invented by Rich “The Hedgehog” Ryan, son of Rex “The Wolfman” Ryan, who was the son of some dumbass radio DJ or something.

The Peoria Bears would ride the momentum of the Cheese Bowl victory to finish the season 21-1, and then win the first four MICROSOFT SURFACE Playoff games before losing in the WAL-MART NFC Championship to the New Orleans Football Pelicans, a game decided by the infamous broken back sack where Mack’s back cracked on impact and the loose ball was returned for the game winning touchdown. Thank god we all have free health insurance and readily available robot bones so Mack was back in black with a knack of beating the Pack. The Packers haven’t won since and I hear if they go winless again in 2083 they’re gonna be relegated to the 3rd division, the last stop before NFL teams get the death penalty. I think it’s about time they were replaced with the Arlington Heights River Rangers, personally. 

Please help me they’re keeping me here against my will and they’re forcing me to watch All-22 footage of the Second American Civil War and after this they’re gonna (REDACTED)

Football

Welcome to the new weekly look at what’s happening with Chicago’s immediate rivals, and a look around the league of the who’s who of everyone’s favorite brutal shitshow of a vice, the NFL.

Minnesota runs roughshod through Atlanta

The Vikings and Dalvin Cook ran wild out of the starting gate in 2019, posting 172 rushing yards en route to a comfortable 28-12 home victory. Cook was the star early, breaking off big chunks of yardage seemingly at will. He’d finish with 111 yards on 21 carries with two TDs. The Vikings defense was as good as Cook, blocking a punt on the first series of the game and frustrating the Falcons all day long. Four sacks, three turnovers and a shutout through three quarters gave this game a very efficiently boring feel, just what you want out of your team’s D.

This game was so well out of reach early that Kirk Cousins had a great, quiet day: 8/10, 97 yards, one passing TD, one rushing. He did fumble the ball twice and was lucky to keep both, but all in all a capable performance that won’t sound any alarms. The biggest takeaways are this defense is looking very strong, and if the offensive line and Cook/rushing attack can follow this blueprint most weeks Minnesota will be a very tough out all season. Now, if a team can stymie the run and make Cousins beat them….

Looking Ahead: 9/15 @ GB – Lambeau and the great equalizer Aaron Rodgers await. The GB Defense looked equally impressive against an odd Bears offense, so the matchup to watch is that front 7 vs Cook.

Detroit plays not to lose in the desert, somehow does worse than a loss

Matt Patricia was supposed to sort out Detroit as a defensively stout team, at the very least. They were gifted the first start of the Kyler Murray era in a road test to start the 2019 season, and for 3.5 quarters they looked pretty damn stout, ahead 24-6. Then, they somehow allowed the rookie Murray to DOUBLE his stat line in the 4th quarter alone. He went 15/19, 154 yds and 2 TDs, including the game tying toss to Larry Fitzgerald and two-pointer to Christian Kirk with 43 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 24.

Detroit was having their way for the most part on offense, especially in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Matthew Stafford is locked in with rookie TE T.J. Hockenson, who opened his career with 6-131-1 stat line. Stafford put up 385 yards and 3 TDs with no INTs, but a middling rushing attack (32 carries/111 yards) made things difficult late once they tried to burn up the clock. The defensive implosion and then lackluster OT have to be giving this team some concerns given their opponent. Credit to Murray/Kliff Kingsbury for the comeback, but that doesn’t happen without some help. Detroit has plenty to work on after a pretty positive first few hours to their season.

Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs LAC – The Lions head home in Week 2 and face a true test in the Chargers. They boast some exciting pieces on both sides of the ball, even without holdout RB Melvin Gordon. The same mental mistakes that lost a sure win in Week 1 could be a full on disaster against this much tougher opponent.

Packers do enough to hold off inept Bears

Many a word has been typed about this Chicago debacle, so I’ll spare you more of the same. The Packers defense looks very legit, and Mike Pettine is the mastermind there. Matt Nagy and his offense were not ready for the game plan in front of them, and with opportunity after opportunity handed to the Bears, Pettine’s group was there to stop them.

Green Bay did not look very strong on offense outside of a single drive, which was boosted by a wild deep ball and jump ball TD catch. Chicago’s defensive unit looked as advertised and while that’s not an easy puzzle to solve, Matt LaFleur has his work cut out to make changes ahead of another difficult matchup this coming weekend at home.

Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs MIN – LaFleur coaches his first game at home, but the task doesn’t get any easier against a Minnesota team that looked finely tuned in an easy Week 1 win. Let’s see if Pettine can keep the Pack in it late two weeks straight.

Around the NFC…

The LA Rams and Carolina Panthers played what might be a a very early preview of NFC Division winners, with the Rams leading the whole way and holding on late…New Orleans, looking to hold Carolina off, played a thriller of their own on MNF, coming from behind a few times to beat Houston at home on a walk-off Will Lutz 58-yard FG. The Saints get the NFC defending Champion Rams in Week 2…Carson Wentz and the Eagles looked awful for a quarter or so in Washington before seemingly scoring off deep pass plays at will…Not to be outdone, Dak Prescott found himself and the Cowboys down early at home to the lowly Giants before storming to a commanding 35-17 win that saw him account for four TDs.

 

Football

If Super Bowl rings were given out for pre-game hoopla, over the top predictions, and general meatheadedness, the Bears wouldn’t have needed to play another game this year – “Crown they ass” tonight and have the parade tomorrow. But always remember, the hype is just that, hype. Once the game was finally kicked off, none of the peripherals mattered anymore, and this was truly unfortunate for the Bears.

In what was a harbinger of things to come, the Bears, a 3 ½ point home favorite, limped out of the gate offensively; Managing only 98 yards in the first half and looking like a unit that hadn’t had any preseason game action to get ready for actual, live, as real as it gets, fucking games. Somehow despite their impotent offense, the Bears were able to garner a 1st quarter lead with a Field Goal. Who would have believed that a 1st quarter, 38-yard Field Goal from Eddie Pineiro would be the beginning and the end of the Bears scoring output for the night?

After the Pineiro 3-pointer, the next promising Bears drive stalled out at midfield after Matt Nagy wanted to show everyone how creative he was and ran wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson up the center’s ass on 3rd & short for a loss. If we are going to sit around and talk about how creative Nagy is and how much fun it must be to play in his system, then we must recognize when he gets too cute for his own good. This was certainly one of those instances.

A great Pat O’Donnell punt was downed inside the 10, and the defense was back on the field, which at this point in the game, was the Bears best offense. Overall, the Bears were “who we thought they were,” which is damn dominant. The Packers offense managed only 213 yards, of which 47 yards came via the run. Even future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers was limited to 166 yards on 18-30 passing while being sacked 5 times. This is the beautiful thing about this Bears team; the defense can keep them in every game, even as the offense is still a work in progress.

Thankfully for my eyes, a very boring and borderline unwatchable first half ended on a stalled Bears drive and a failed Packer Hail Mary. At this point, the game almost had a pre-season feel to it; penalties and mistakes everywhere, missed assignments, and general fuckery overall.

The 2nd half started with more of the same from Trubisky and the offense; another 3 & Out. At this point, the game felt like Trubisky wasn’t exactly struggling, there was just has not any room for him or the running game to operate. The general lack of offensive success that we saw throughout this game was more a byproduct of a much-improved Packers defense than it was of poor execution on the offensive side of the ball.

But then suddenly, and finally, things changed. With about 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, something clicked in the passing game and the offense was able to establish some momentum. Trubisky hit on a few medium/deep balls (which he has struggled with his entire career) and even though the next two drives stalled out due to penalties, some continuity was finally taking place on the offensive side of the ball. Another reason to be positive at this point was that, despite being 1-11 on 3rd down, the Bears were only down by 4 points with 9:00 remaining in the 4th quarter.

A short Mason Crosby Field Goal extended Green Bay’s lead to 7 with 5:00 remaining, and soon thereafter, we reached the seasons first tipping point: facing a 3rd & 10, Trubisky found Allen Robinson for a first down inside the Packers 30-yard line. As this impressive 13 play drive continued, was it improbable to think that, even though the Bears have scored 3 points in 55 minutes, they would tie this thing up? Hopes were quickly dashed and we got our answer immediately thereafter as Mitch Trubisky hung up a corner route and was picked off by former Bear Adrian Amos to essentially end the game.

The electricity of one of the most anticipated season openers in team history had now become a deafening silence. This wasn’t just another regular season opener, it felt different, it seemed to mean more.

In the end, the Bears lost.

To the Packers.

At Soldier Field.

On their 100th anniversary.

This one stings.

It’s extremely hard to come up with any concrete takeaways after the first game of the season, however, there are a few things to question and/or consider:
• It’s fair to blame the offensive struggles on simply being out of sync, but at what point in the game or the season can we stop making excuses for a Bears offense that was average (at best) last year and flat out mediocre tonight?

• All I heard all week is how old Jimmy Graham is and how he’s a shell of his former self. Well, I’d take this dude over any Tight End on the Bears roster. Not only was he a great red zone target tonight, he was arguably the only Packers receiver who had the ability to stretch the field.

• The number of flags and stoppages kept this game from having any flow to it whatsoever. Add this to what was a very inefficient offensive performance by both teams, and it was a shitshow from a viewing perspective.

• Allen Robinson sneaky had a 100-yard receiving game; none more important than that drive saving catch on 3rd & 10 late in the game. His 13 targets were a game high.

• Anthony Miller did not produce a single catch while only being targeted 1 time. If the Bears want to be successful this year, this has got to change.

• Tarik Cohen and I had the same amount of rushing attempts and rushing yards tonight. When you talk so much about making it a priority to get this guy the ball, why is it that he so often disappears?

Football

In the NFL, the fortunes of any given team can change in just one play. What would happen to the Patriots if Tom Brady goes down in Week 1? Would the Bears even be a playoff team if Khalil Mack is out for the year? Scenarios like this are what make predicting a team’s record so hard. But, it’s an entertaining exercise, and really enjoyable to look back in March and realize how dumb I was.
So, without further ado, I present my 2019 Chicago Bears prediction:

• Week 1 Vs. Green Bay Packers
I am honestly more excited to see that Aaron Rodgers can do with a new offense than to see how much the Bears can improve after last year’s success. I truly feel like the lack of pre-season game reps will hurt Mitch Trubisky and the Pack will do just enough to win a low scoring affair.

• Week 2 Vs. Denver Broncos
Although traveling to Denver to play at elevation is never easy, I believe the Bears, who will be working off of a 10 day rest, are the more talented team and will win their first game of the season.

• Week 3 Vs. Washington Redskins
Crazy things happen when you play a Monday night road game. Although the Bears are clearly the better team in this matchup, I think they get shocked as a road favorite.

• Week 4 Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Coming off two losses and a short week, the Bears will somehow find a way to beat the Vikings at Soldier Field on a late game…wait for it…43-yard field goal.

• Week 5 Vs. Oakland Raiders
Because they are the better team, the Bears head into the bye week with a close win and even their record vs. the Brothers Gruden at 1-1.

• Week 7 Vs. New Orleans Saints
Coming off a bye week, the Bears return home and get throttled. This is one of the few games of the season where the Bears defense seems overmatched.

• Week 8 Vs. LA Chargers
Back to back games against offense juggernauts poses a problem as the Bears lose their 2nd straight for the 2nd time this season. Things in Chicago are starting to get anxious.

• Week 9 Vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Panic much? The Bears lose their 3rd straight to Eagles in their first road game in almost a month. The realization that playing a 1st-place schedule is starting to set in.

• Week 10 Vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions are exactly what this struggling team needs as the Bears blow out one of the NFL’s worst teams.

• Week 11 Vs. LA Rams
The Bears go 0-for-Los Angeles as the Rams show everyone who the class of the NFL is. Bears move to 0-3 in primetime games this season and have still not beaten a good team on the road.

• Week 12 Vs. NY Giants
A must win for a team that begins a portion of the schedule that becomes increasingly getable. Bears big in this one, which is much needed heading into Thanksgiving.

• Week 13 Vs. Detroit Lions
Three days off don’t matter as the Bears win their second straight overall and sweep the season series from the lowly Lions. This is an impressive win for a team that is having trouble with its own confidence.

• Week 14 Vs. Dallas Cowboys
Another primetime loss as the Bears enter the toughest part of the schedule with their playoff chances slipping away.

• Week 15 Vs. Green Bay Packers
The Bears keep their playoff dreams alive with a road win. The defense shuts down Aaron Rodgers and make up for the season opening loss.

• Week 16 Vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Coming into the game as a home dog, Chicago contains Patrick Mahomes and earns their first primetime win of what has become a very trying season for the offense.

• Week 17 Vs. Minnesota Vikings
With a potential playoff berth on the line, the Bears lay an egg on the road and fail to qualify for the postseason. An offseason full of questions are ahead, especially at the Quarterback position.

Final Record: 8-8 (4-4 Home, 4-4 Away); Do not qualify for playoffs. The City of Chicago burns to the ground.