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

Welcome back to the 4th installment of On the Clock: proving that teachers have much more time on their hands to smoke dope and watch NCAA highlight videos than we let on. Speaking of: those last two articles? Yeah, 2500 words that can mean absolutely nothing if the draft doesn’t play out the way that all the pundits seem to think it will. Since I wrote them, I’ve seen several more players mocked to the Bears at 43 and 50, so I’m going to use this last preview piece to try to cover a few more players not included in the original 12 that I DIY “scouted” earlier this week. I’d like to be able to tell you this is the last piece in the series, but when it comes to draft stuff I’m more George Lucas than I’d like to admit; by next Friday I could be publishing “On the Clock 9: the Argument for Taking a Punter at Pick 43”.

 

Noah Igbinoghene- CB Auburn
Once again, while the Bears wait it out and see if teams ahead of them in the early second like Carolina, Jacksonville, and Indy pick up that second wave of potential starting corners, Igbinoghene could be the Bears selection at 43 or 50. However, his frame (5’10”- 198) and his lack of time playing CB (two seasons after being converted from WR) could push teams into using him exclusively as a slot corner. He defends the run super well for such a small player, but I’m gonna be honest, most of his highlight reel is him getting away with pass interference and he only had one career interception at Auburn. I don’t think he’s the fit for this team, but if you’re wondering why I even put him on here, its because he crushed it against Georgia this year and we all know how much Bulldogs tape the Bears front office watches.

Tee Higgins- WR Clemson
Higgins being available when the Bears pick would be a stretch, but crazier things have happened and I think if he’s there at 43 the Bears go and get him. I’ve seen him mocked all over the place (including the first round Raiders pick obtained from the Bears), but it seems like now he’s being talked about like an early to mid second round pick, and possibly one of the better options of that second tier. Higgins would instantly make the Bears offense better and wouldn’t need any sort of real effort to get him touches. He gets open on his own and his tape shows a player who maybe doesn’t have the whole route tree down, but I mean he’s 6’4”, he averaged 19.8 yards a catch last year, oh and he ran a 4.43 at Clemson’s pro day. Several websites have him going to Houston at pick 40, but if Bill O’Brien fucks this one up too the Bears will thank Brandin Cooks and smile politely as they announce a major steal.

KJ Hamler- WR Penn State
If the Bears are looking for a player to provide almost exactly what they’ll be going without now that Taylor Gabriel is off the team, KJ Hamler is the pick at 43. Hamler has juice and all I see is him destroying everyone off the line. He has what looks to be an incredibly similar skill set to Gabriel, and since offenses like Nagy’s are predicated upon finding players that fit the system instead of vice versa, Hamler might be wearing the Blue and Orange next season. He has issues with drops and durability, which means he isn’t the finished product and to be honest I don’t know if I’d want another slot-type receiver, but from looking at it from a purely “let’s stretch the defense” perspective, Hamler is a pick that makes a lot of sense.

Amik Robertson- CB Louisiana Tech
Holy shit, you guys. I had been sleeping on this guy as soon as I saw that he was 5’8, but then I watched his highlight tape. I know JustBombsProductions tend to be a little hyperbolic, and I don’t wanna go too crazy with The Ringer’s player comps, but the names I got from my research were Tyrann Mathieu 2.0 and Steve Smith, but a Cornerback. So I got curious and watched the tape and I was blown away by how physical Robertson is. He’s out there laying dudes out and gave me the same Kyle Dugger vibe of “grown ass man nerfing a bunch of dorks”. His ball skills look great, his physicality is outstanding, and if he’s as scrappy as the tape and his scouting report says, he’s a dark horse for a Bears pick and will certainly win over the fans. Dude looks like Tim Jennings but hits like Adrian Amos. He played for a small school, but if he’s as competitive as they say he is he will be using that as motivation.

Grant Delpit- S LSU
Your desire to see the Bears take Delpit with one of their two second round picks is entirely tied to how many tackles you saw him miss last year (an average of one a game). His sudden inability to wrap up has been shrugged off by those who say he played all of last year injured, but is a frightening thing against NFL competition where one missed tackle can end in misery for the entire defense. If you aren’t dissuaded by his near Chris Conte-esque tackle numbers, Delpit is an absolute stud with great ball skills, a tremendous ability to go sideline to sideline, and the ability to be a playmaker from anywhere on the field. The Bears could do much worse than drafting Delpit, because if he his tackling returns to it’s 2018 form, he could be a major star in the making.

 

Well friends, this series has come to a pause for now, but there’s still quite a bit of time before the NFL Draft comes to us live from a series of bougie living rooms and basements so who knows how much stuff I can crank out before then. Take care of yourselves, wash your hands, and please pay for me to have a PFF Premium account before I have to start an OnlyFans page.

Football

Welcome back to our short series to hopefully get you a little more fired up for the draft that takes place in two short weeks, but let’s be real: anything that falls under live sports is just going to kill it since we’re all dying for something that isn’t a rerun. I’ll gladly take watching Mel Kiper talking over college football highlights instead of rewatching The Town for the tenth time in April.

Today we’ll be looking at some of the players that I’ve seen mocked to the Bears should they happen to stand pat and select players at picks 43 and 50.

 

The Linemen: 

The case for going after someone on the offensive line is painfully obvious to anyone who watched the Bears play offense last year. Protection was inconsistent and the run blocking was spotty at best. With the retirement of Kyle Long, the Bears need to shore up the inside of their line and hope the outside of the line continues to progress. Below you’ll find short scouting reports on two players the Bears could be looking at if they are still available in the second round.

Lloyd Cushenberry: IOL, LSU
I’ve seen Cushenberry mocked to the Bears, admittedly a lot less recently than initially. Throughout this process it looks like his stock has dropped a little bit after a superb week of workouts at the Senior Bowl lifted his stock to right around where the Bears pick. It looks like he will be there when the Bears pick in the second round, and while he has been touted as an almost immediate starter, there will undoubtedly be people wondering if Guard could be better filled between Alex Bars and Germain Ifedi while the Bears make a sexier pick here.

Caesar Ruiz: C, Michigan
Ruiz presents a similar upside if picked by the Bears as Cushenberry, however Ruiz is unquestionably the best interior offensive lineman in the draft this year. Bears fans might be bored by the pick, but watching any of his highlights will shut their stupid mouths quickly. His tape is dominant and it’s quick to see why he’s the most heralded prospect of the bunch. He would fit perfectly in Matt Nagy’s offense, since he has the speed and strength to peel off combo blocks and get to the second level on runs out of Nagy’s preferred read option look. The real question is if Ruiz will still be there at 43, given that he is being mocked anywhere from there on the low end all the way up to picks in the mid 20s.

 

The Receivers:

The 2020 wide receiver class is so stupid stacked with talent that it could go down as one of the best classes in NFL history. Since the Bears won’t have a crack at any of those top prospects, they could be looking at a wide receiver that isn’t the total package yet and needs a bit of time to develop. This is unfortunate when you look at how slow Javon Wims and Riley Ridley are coming along, but if the Bears added any of the following players I think the offense would instantly improve drastically. However, be advised that all of these players have also been previously mocked to any and all of the Bears division opponents.

Brandon Aiyuk: Arizona State
Aiyuk brings the speed and ability to go over the top that Taylor Gabriel brought the Bears when healthy, but while Gabriel was 5’7” and 168, Aiyuk is 6’0” and 205. Watch his highlight video and get excited. Aiyuk has tremendous breakaway speed and can take any route to the house. He causes separation that just can’t be coached or schemed, and on his highlight package there’s a double move he puts on an Oregon DB that made me laugh out loud.

Jaylen Reagor: TCU
Apparently Jaylen Reagor can squat 620 pounds, which is absolutely bonkers, but watching his tape shows someone who looks much faster than his combine 4.47 40 yard dash (and instead more like his preposterous 4.22 hand-timed 40 at TCU’s recent pro day). His pro comps are Stefon Diggs and Percy Harvin according to The Ringer, but unlike Harvin his tape is filled with him making high-point catches that you wouldn’t expect a 5’11” guy to make. He might make a better outside WR and therefore a better fit for the offense, but who knows if he can still win those jump balls against CBs that are 2-4 inches taller than him. As an added bonus, he runs the reverse so well it reminded me of early Randy Moss, back in those Vikings days when you held your breath every time he touched the ball.

Laviska Shenault Jr: Colorado
I had no idea who this dude was until draft season, but if there’s someone with better tape out there I haven’t seen it yet. I love this dude’s tape and will be a sucker and probably draft him in fantasy, which might actually be me putting a curse on him. Shenault is all over the field, bodying out DBs on slant routes, making contested catches in traffic, and also running the Wildcat with crazy success. Basically, he looks like Cordarrelle Patterson. He breaks away with a beautiful second gear, and if he does get caught, well, he led all draft eligible receivers with 46 broken tackles in the last two years. Most of the scouting reports I’ve seen on Shenault mention his lack of polish as a proper WR and how he will need an innovative offensive mind to get him involved, and maybe that makes Chicago an optimal fit for him.

Michael Pittman: USC
Most scouts don’t expect Pittman to be around when the Bears pick, which would be a shame because damn, he is so polished. When watching him play, he looks a lot like Allen Robinson and throughout this draft process he has often drawn comparisons to the Bears’ best offensive player. With that in mind, he is unbelievably talented and blocks as well as he runs routes. He has highlight tapes of him straight up Mossing college DBs, and while he might not fill the Taylor Gabriel/Tyreek Hill burner role in the offense, he is certainly capable of dominating NFL defensive backs. If the Bears got him and had him line up opposite Allen Robinson, I think Anthony Miller makes the Pro Bowl simply because safeties would be so preoccupied with shading towards the outside guys that Miller would feast on single coverage looks or filling the middle seams against Cover 2 or Cover 3 looks.

Is drafting an IOL or WR irresponsible when the Bears defensive secondary is missing half their starters from last year, and 3 of the 5 DBs that were on the field during their phenomenal 2018 season? I guess that’s up to the front office to decide. I have a feeling if the Bears stay at 43 and 50, you could see one of these names in a Bears jersey next season, and that’s not too bad. I think a lot of the signings Pace made in the second wave of free agency were designed to allow him to look at the best player available at almost every slot, so we’ll see! Shit, now I’m excited for draft season all over again. I hope you are too. We’ll be back on Thursday for part 2: the DB Derby.

Football

2019 is going to be the type of football year that you just want to throw in the trash, hoping that things get sorted out in a positive manner and you can mostly forget the things that transpired on the field. That’s essentially the case for the Bears pass catchers save for what passes as the brightest spot from the team, but also includes arguably the darkest, deepest hole (outside of QB…) and Ryan Pace’s second biggest miss of the 2017 draft.

On one hand, you have Allen Robinson being the monster wide out everyone wanted when he signed in the 2018 off-season and the emergence of second-year receiver Anthony Miller into a legit threat on any play. On the other, you have an underwhelming group of wide outs behind them, a one-dimensional backfield passing attack and a tight end room that’s stinkier than David Kaplan’s nose (because it’s firmly planted somewhere inside Tom Ricketts colon, GET IT??).  The team ranked in the lower third in just about all receiving categories, and if you read the rushing post from yesterday and quarterbacks on Monday you don’t have to squint to pick up on the theme of the 2019 Chicago offense. It sucked.

The highs were the type that felt squandered, the lows all disasters that played a part in the unacceptable offensive output – to varying degrees.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Good

Allen Robinson. That’s essentially your list. Robinson was the steady, go-to security blanket all season and pulled in 98 of 154 (!!) targets for just under 1,150 yards and seven scores, roughly one third of the entire receiving production on the team. He’s been everything the team needed and wanted when they gambled and signed the oft-injured Robinson two years ago, and Pace would do well to rip up the final year of his contract because 1) He’s more than earned new paper/$, 2) a new deal would actually improve the Bears cap situation for 2020 and beyond (ARob counts $15M against the cap with just $10.5 in actual dollars in 2020) and 3) who in the fuck else are you trusting on this roster going forward, especially after 2020?

Anthony Miller shone at times this season, especially standing out on Thanksgiving in Detroit with a 9/140 line. While he came up big during the min- revival stretch later in the season, he was inconsistent on the whole. But you if you want to argue that was more product of his environment in this slap dick offense you’d get no more than a “fair” from me. Miller is still an injury case, however, as he’ll rehab this spring from the exact same shoulder surgery that ended his 2018-19 campaign. Still, he lands in the positives and the Bears will need him back and building on his success in 2020.

The Bad

The rest of the wide out group left a whole lot to be desired. Taylor Gabriel was the benefactor of three TD catches in a half against the atrocious R-words in Week 3, but again suffered from concussion issues and only played parts of nine games. Rookie 4th round pick Riley Ridley hardly saw the field, working through a litany of nagging foot and leg injuries before totaling a whopping six catches over the final three contests. Javon Wims filled in admirably, again, but when he’s consistently on the field you’re probably in some trouble with your personnel; he’s best suited for ST duty in the opinion of yours truly.

Tarik Cohen was the only real contributor out of the backfield, and while he was used quite a bit (79 catches, 104 targets) all but 19 of his 456 yards were via YAC, meaning he was hardly targeted past the line of scrimmage all year. That’s your #2 in targets, averaging 5.8 yards/catch, often being targeted BEHIND the line of scrimmage. Fun!

The Ugly

The tight end group may have been the worst ever in Chicago Bears history, at least in terms of the modern game. No individual player went over 91 yards FOR THE SEASON, and the two leaders at 91/87 were preseason practice squad players JP Holtz and Jesper Horsted. Big money man Trey Burton got hurt in August, never really got to full health, and submitted to injury in November, landing on IR with all of 24 catches for 84 yards. Pace’s pet Adam Shaheen continued to impress no one but his boss, again dealing with a myriad of injuries and totaling 9/74 line. He now boasts 26 catches in 27 career games since being drafted in the 2nd round of 2017. Blocking TE Ben Braunecker was used in the passing game. Bradley Sowell was active at the position for a few games; that should tell you all you need to know about this shit ass group.

The RBs outside of Cohen weren’t as bad as the TEs, but that group was paced by David Montgomery‘s 25/185/1 line, a bit underwhelming after all the buzz about him “doing it all well” after the draft. FA Mike Davis caught all seven of his targets before he was cut, and the coaching staff failed to get $5M man Cordarrelle Patterson involved in any meaningful way.

Any Hope?

No? Not really? Robinson should get a new deal, possibly very soon, but after that it’s a big ol’ shit sandwich. Miller has the injury history, Gabriel might need to retire (but at least they can save $4.5M in cutting him) and Ridley looks to have a long way to go. This group lacks speed…so maybe just try Patterson out there instead of running him on 3rd and short?? Whoever gets hired to help run the offense would do well to get Cohen involved more down the field and in the slot, potentially, along with Patterson. The speed exists on the team, just not sure these dummies can harness it properly. Maybe some further passing work for Montgomery to keep teams guessing too.

The TE room is all signed for next year, and Burton somehow has so much guaranteed money that they can’t just cut him. The depth pieces are all okay, but this group screams for improvement. Can they sign Austin Hooper if he hits FA? Pace will need to get creative to clear enough space for such a move.

Pace and Co. have quite the overhaul on their hands this off-season.

Final Grade: C-

Football

vs.

RECORDS: Cowboys (6-6)    Bears (6-6)

KICKOFF: 7:20 pm

TV: Fox 32

RADIO: WBBM 780

Welcome to survival Thursday at Soldier Field.

Mitchell Trubisky looks to keep his Bears alive in the NFC race with a third straight improved performance and third straight victory to match, looking to take the team over .500 for the first time since the post-bye beating at the hands of the Saints. To do so the Bears will have to best a Dallas team headed in the opposite direction.

The Cowboys come to town after back to back losses against the AFC East, dropping consecutive games to New England and Buffalo to even their record at 6-6. It’s been a maddening season in Big D, with the ‘Boys see-sawing over and back down to the .500 mark all season. They’ve (mostly) handled the weak parts of their schedule, sporting a 6-1 record against teams .500 or worse, but are winless against any team with a winning record.

Jerrah has given Jason Garrett like four votes of confidence now and publicly stated the last two weeks he won’t make a coaching change in season, but if the Cowboys continue to slide and somehow piss away the easiest division in football he juuuuuust might break that promise. Dallas enters the final quarter of the season with a one game lead over the underachieving Eagles, but a Week 16 date in Philly looms.

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have done their part, along with Amari Cooper, making what they can out of an offense that features scant few weapons outside of those three. Jason Witten is back from his attempt at the booth that failed miserably, but his return is only slightly more encouraging than his time on MNF. the defense struggles to create turnovers, especially interceptions, so the opportunity is there for Mitch, Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller to keep the good times rolling through the air.

Rod Marenelli’s (Hey, we know him!) defense has left his young CB Jourdan Lewis out to dry in the slot with his scheme that relies predominantly on pressure from the front four. The Cowboys are 15th in the league with 32 sacks and generate a good rush and containment with their front seven, but it’s left Lewis to handle a lot of responsibility in the middle of the field and slot receivers are feasting, especially of late. Julian Edelman went for 8/93 and former Cowboy Cole Beasley torched his former club for 6/110/1 on Thanksgiving in his return. This all lines up very well for Miller to build on his 140 yard performance last week and continue his narrative turnaround.

While the Bears could see many opportunities to exploit of offense, the defense will again be without a number of big time contributors, namely Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks for one more week and the highly doubtful Prince Amukamara with a hamstring. The Bears have cover in the form of Kevin Toliver and Buster Skrine, but it’s still a big inactive for a defense that needs to be tough in a very important home tilt.

The X factor in all this might be a non-football factor: Trubs history in primetime games at home. Can you the young QB overcome his shaky performances in the spotlight at Soldier Field and keep the dream of an unlikely playoff berth alive? It’s only five games, but a TD/INT/QB rating comparison of 5/9/60 vs 44/25/86 in all other home games is a pretty sizeable contrast. Mitch has put a few encouraging performances together, but the Cowboys represent a much tougher solve than the Lions and Giants.

The defense will also have it’s hands full with Zeke Elliott, who will no doubt look to exploit a banged up Bears front seven both on the ground and through the air. Zeke hasn’t exactly been a force this year, especially in the rushing game, but he’s still dangerous enough to take a game over as evidenced by his two-TD performance on just 68 scrimmage yards in Week 11 against the Lions. Kyle Fuller should be on Cooper most of the game and he’ll be busy with an average of just under 10 targets a game to the former Alabama WR.

Prediction: Bears 29, Cowboys 27

 

Football

Well, the Bears won. Somehow. Just barely. The local boys escaped Ford Field victorious and are now the least convincing .500 team in the league at 6-6. Are we going to spend another week and a half pretending this win is symbolic of a team finally putting it all together? The offense looked better than it did almost all season, save a handful of stupid penalties. Anthony Miller feasted on a pisspoor Lions defense, Allen Robinson looked good, and Mitch made a handful of great throws. The gameplan was solid, but once again it’s hard to differentiate between a mediocre team looking good because they planned well and a team who just happened to beat a far inferior team. Mitch went 29/38 for 338, finishing his line with 3 TDs and 1 INT, but still made a handful of head-scratching plays. That 3rd down in the red zone where he decided to run laterally instead of get the almost assured key first down? Great QBs don’t do that unless their name is Lamar Jackson.

The Bears came out making David Blough look like the next great Jeff Driskel-esque QB, but after the first 14 points that Detroit put up in the first quarter, they managed 6 the rest of the way. The Bears bent but didn’t break, and it was nice to see them bring pressure in key moments. It’ll be interesting to see if Prince Amukamara comes back healthy, because any serious winning streak will require a healthy defensive backfield since Dallas, Green Bay, Kansas City, and Minnesota are the teams left on the schedule.

The Good: Mitch looked great, the wide receivers played outstandingly (even Javon Wims put up good numbers), and David Montgomery runs HARD. If the Bears invest heavily in the offensive line this offseason he could put up some incredible numbers next year. Nick Kwiatkoski looked great again, and it makes me wonder if this is indeed the last season Danny Trevathan will be playing for the Bears. Kyle Fuller saved the game with a key third down tackle inside the 5 yard line, holding Detroit to a field goal. He played great all game. Eddie Jackson is back in the stat column and everything feels right.

The Bad: The Bears were determined to lose this one in the 4th, didn’t it seem? Bad penalties plagued the last Detroit drive before Roquan and Eddie teamed up to end the game, and though the Bears committed only one more penalty for four more yards than the Lions, it sure seemed like they came at the worst times. Once again the line play was uneven, and the Bears couldn’t bring consistent pressure with the front four once again.

The Ugly: I had to watch this game with my family who I love but also my mom’s friend who was pretty much yelling “OMG SPORTSBALL DID WE WIN” for the entire second half. I need a fucking nap.

If this team wins 10 games, they deserve to make the playoffs because the changes they’d need to make to get there would signify a serious righting of the ship and who knows? Stranger things have happened.

Football
Tony: I’m thankful for you, King. You have bestowed upon me the right to not have to talk about the Bears for one more day, and that alone is the gravy on the turkey of my heart.
The Detroit Lions aren’t much more fun to talk about, but they have plenty to be thankful for, primarily the incredibly low bar their fans have for them. I have a friend who is a Lions fan (bless his heart), and when asked to describe the 2019 Lions, he simply said: “Every single aspect of the team has *at best* underperformed except for Matthew Stafford who through 8 games was having a career year… then he broke his back. He tried carrying this team on his back but those sacks of shit were too heavy.”
Shout out to John, who also made music back in the early aughts under the pseudonym Major Applewhite which is probably the best solo act name I’ve ever heard.
As if losing Stafford with broken bones in his back wasn’t enough, apparently Jeff Driskel is also on this week’s injury report. The Lions tried to sign Josh Johnson since he played for them in the preseason (his 13th NFL team!), and were blocked by the XFL.
Once more for emphasis: VINCE MCMAHON IS SCREWING THE DETROIT LIONS. Bret Hart must work for them or something. That’s so fucking sad I’m just gonna stop talking about it.
As it goes, I’d like to compare the Lions to a side dish that you’ll be munching on while digesting terrible football on Thursday: Green Bean Casserole. I fuck with casserole, and I think GBC is a prime one. I’ve seen a lot of people on my social media feeds ripping on GBC, and I gotta say: fuck them.
Cream of mushroom soup- decent (the Lions run defense, in theory)
Green Beans- decent (Darius Slay)
French Fried Onions- dope (your Matthews Stafford)
The Green Bean Casserole is literally more than the sum of it’s parts, a hodgepodge of shit thrown together that tastes amazing.
Fun fact: Green Bean Casserole was invented by Campbell’s in 1955.
Additional fun fact: the last Lions NFL Championship was in 1957.
One of those things sucks, and the other doesn’t.
Wes: Tony, You’re the real King for coming up with and reminding me to do these tandem matchup posts all season. I’m thankful for our weekly banter in this lost shit storm of a Bears season.
The fans around Chicago aren’t thankful for much regarding their football team, but the Bears themselves are thankful for individual stand outs and a very convoluted and confusing path to the postseason, but still a path nonetheless. Take a trip with me on that path, will you?
  • Bears win out, finishing the season with six straight victories for a 10-6 record
  • Rams, Eagles and Panthers all finish 9-7 or worse
  • Packers win the NFC North
  • Minnesota loses at least three of their remaining games, finishing 10-6 and losing the tie-breaker to the Bears on H2H wins OR Seattle loses their final five games and finishes 9-7
Phew, that’s a lot. There’s actually a way the Bears could get in at 9-7, but there are so many more specific weekly win/lose arrangements in that scenario that you’re all going to be thankful for me NOT sharing it. Just know it’s all moot if the Bears can’t string together the wins on their own, and that starts with a big statement road win in Detroilet on American turkey booze day.
The Bears also need to be thankful for a handful of stand out performers on this underachieving nightmare squad. Allen Robinson is top five at the WR position but most casual fans would probably fight you on that because he’s stuck in a poorly run offense with a struggling young QB. I shudder to consider what this all might look like without ARob in 2019.  Khalil Mack may have been absent from the stat sheet coinciding with the losing streak, but without his first few games and performance against the Giants last week (all without his pal Akiem Hicks) we’re probably talking about silver linings instead of faint playoff hopes.
Role players like Nick Kwiatkoski, Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen (who should probably be more than a “role player”…) have helped in a big way via Special Teams, plugged holes and played the next man up role perfectly to keep things from going horrible to catastrophic. So thanks to underappreciated few.
To me, the Bears individual standouts combined with the rest of team most closely resemble Thanksgiving Stuffing (or dressing if you wanna be a weirdo about it). Stuffing always, ALWAYS, has great components within. Bread? Sausage? Celery? Sage? That’ll do it. But no two Stuffing recipes are alike, and sometimes you get dried fruit in there. Or random vegetables. Or your aunt goes wild on the seasoning. Or your lazy ass uncle bought bags of croutons that are salty as hell. Some jerks even refuse to cook at least a portion INSIDE the bird. Idiots.
The 2019 Bears are Stuffing, because for every tantalizing ingredient like Arob and Mack, there’s too much salt or someone over thought it and added raisins and cranberries and three kinds of mushrooms without considering to just build a solid base first.
Here’s to hoping your Stuffing this year goes back to basics and just makes sure it’s a delicious, not looking to do more than it needs to. I can only assume Matt Nagy’s Stuffing takes 10 hours to prep and includes no less than 70 different ingredients.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
Football

Bears get a win, they actually break 300 yards of offense…and everything is still shit, right?

Wes French: It’s pretty shit, yeah. Defense was solid, but the two missed FG by NY were the difference, and that’s not real encouraging.

I think Mitch is hearing what’s been said lately too, because he made a point to not only call out the performance (his most passing yards on the season) as not good enough but also had some choice comments about what worked and what he’d like to do more of – moving pockets, hurry up offense and play-action.  Somewhere Brian is screaming “I BEEN SAYIN!”

Brian Schmitz: Things are mostly shit, yes. But I saw some bright spots. Allen Robinson is a legit NFL receiver and should go to the Pro Bowl. Khalil Mack was dominating once again, a much needed lift for the entire team. Mitch was OK, which is an improvement and as we have all said since July, all Mitch needs to be is not terrible.

Tony Martin: I was so glad that I chose watching Red Zone over the Bears game, and since I’m a masochist I’m also looking forward to watching it tonight. However I kept seeing Leonard Floyd flashing which was really nice!

I know they’re 5-6 but they’re 1-0 since I bought a Bears lighter at the gas station ironically. I’ll gladly take credit for this W.

With all the talk of the Bears QB going forward and the underwhelming names available via trade or free agency in the offseason, is still the best result Mitch finishing these last five games strongly? The defense should still be good next year, which means they really only need an average offense…

Wes: Mitch playing well or well enough week by week is something we know can happen. I think with those comments in the post game he put the onus squarely back on Nagy/coaching staff. You know what I do well, let me do more of it. I think if there’s something I’m looking at real closely the last five games it’s the running scheme. 66 yards against the 23rd ranked run defense is unacceptable. Take out Mitch’s 19 and you’re under 50 yards from your running backs, including a dreadful 1.7/per carry from David Montgomery. This was supposed to be the guy that fit the scheme perfectly. Between Mitch and Montgomery, maybe it’s the scheme that needs changing more than the players executing.

Tony: It’s a coin flip between looking at a replacement for Mitch or working on putting him in the best place possible to manage a game. Personally I’d like to see the latter. Let’s reinvest in the offensive line and tight end positions and scheme to the players they have, instead of the players they want. If Nagy is as creative as he was touted to be, let’s see him design new stuff instead of just shoehorning in stuff that looked good in KC, because this team sure as hell doesn’t have a Travis Kelce or an equivalent offensive line.

Football

vs.

RECORDS: Chargers (2-5) at Bears (3-3)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 12:00pm

TV: FOX 32 

Radio: WBBM 780 AM/105.9 FM

Is it possible for both teams to be looking at the same game as a “get right” matchup? Sunday at noon we’ll find out which of these teams is worth saving, and which one needs to start “assessing the talent on the roster” (tanking). The Los Angeles Chargers show up to Soldier Field on a three-game losing streak, and the Bears come in losers of their last two, but really let’s be honest the Bears don’t look like they could beat the bye week so let’s just say both teams are damn near on tilt. Barring huge turnarounds, this game (which looked like a great matchup six short weeks ago) will have zero national attention and no relevancy to anyone but fantasy football players. That said if you have any Bears players on your fantasy team who aren’t Allen Robinson, you should quit fantasy football (as I glare at David Montgomery on my bench).

Something’s gotta give, right? Looking strictly at DVOA, the Bears on offense are -12.5%. That’s bad. The Chargers on defense are 12.1%. That’s also bad. The Chargers are 22nd against the run this year, the Bears are the 28th ranked rushing attack in football. I’m picturing one of those electric football games to take place when the Bears offense is on the field, in fact it might be an improvement if it was. At least during electric football the margin of error is so big you couldn’t blame the offense for being hot garbage.

Brian Baldinger (he of the amazingly disfigured pinky) had an outstanding Baldy’s Breakdown video of a Bears run that I think encapsulates the problem. In the video, a shotgun run up the gut with Tarik Cohen, Baldy shows how Nagy’s jet motion brings the DB into the box that ends up going unblocked and stuffing the run, when otherwise there’s nothing but green grass in front of the diminutive speedster. Can Matt Nagy scheme his way out of a wet paper bag and embrace the run, or is this game another seven rushing attempts game? Will Joey Bosa destroy Mitch Trubisky? Can the Bears contain the one Bosa brother I actually LIKE rooting for?

The answer is going to depend on how well the Bears defense and special teams play. Remember when the defense was getting to the quarterback, stopping the run, and forcing turnovers? Last year seems so far away right now. The Bears are getting turnovers, but have been exposed by Jon fucking Gruden by all people. Teams know to run away Khalil Mack now that Akiem Hicks is out. The linebackers are getting blown up on the second level, and the defensive backs are playing more on their heels instead of jumping short routes. The Chargers have the blueprint to beating Chicago, and Chuck Pagano hasn’t adjusted.

The special teams is so bad. So, so bad. Sherrick McManis is still in concussion protocol as of this writing, so punt returner Desmond King has the chance for a big day, assuming the Bears punt protection holds long enough for Pat O’Donnell to get a kick in the air. He was only credited with one block last week against New Orleans, but it should’ve been two; and the Bears starting defense was brought in against the Raiders to stop a fake punt and couldn’t do that either after a running into the kicker penalty moved Oakland up, a sequence that eventually cost the Bears the game. A good punt and kick return over the last two games doesn’t negate the pisspoor blocking and kick coverage.

Keenan Allen is a stud at wideout, and if the Chargers are trying to get Melvin Gordon back into form they’d be wise to run him early and often. The team has rushed for 106 yards over the last three games COMBINED, and a goal line fumble by Gordon sealed their fate last week against Tennessee. Mike Williams and Hunter Henry are also outstanding players, even if Henry is basically a slower Evan Engram and Williams is almost exclusively a jump-ball threat.

Oh, and Philip Rivers is still around, somehow. The man has been the starting QB for the Bolts since 2006, which was three Presidents, like 18 children, and countless bolo ties ago. His 11 TDs to six picks this season looks a lot more impressive than it really is, considering most of it has come via checkdowns. Let’s find out if the Bears can stop Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen from dominating with the short routes that make everyone look good statistically. Rivers is basically the upgraded Jay Cutler, with constant temper tantrums and meltdowns on various sidelines over the years, but if the Bears had Rivers during those early 2010s teams, Chicago would have at least one Super Bowl trophy.

Since around November 2nd 2016, Chicago sports has begun to worship the hallowed “players only meeting”. The Bears had one of their own this week, which is either a total indictment of Matt Nagy or just what they need to right the shit. Yeah I know that’s a typo, but if you’ve been watching this team you know why I’m leaving it in.

Final Score Prediction:
Chargers 23 Bears 6, and Virginia McCaskey comes down from the luxury box and fires Matt Nagy, making herself head coach. The Bears win out the rest of the year.

Football

Our Bears crew bands together to try and pick through whatever the hell that was on Sunday. 

So…um…is that a definitive statement on who the Bears are and who they will be?

Wes French (@WFrenchman): Bleh. What a disappointing, disastrous game for the home team.

This is pretty awful and I’m not sure how it gets better. The offense has no idea what to do or how to do it. Adam Hoge said it pretty well in a post game rant last night: “To summarize…the Bears can’t run the ball, so they throw it, but the quarterback can’t hit wide open receivers and when he does, they drop the ball. And then when Nagy goes back to the running game, they fumble the ball.”
Compound that with a defense that can’t get off the field, and all those turnovers/three-and-outs setting up short fields and you have a very bad football team at the moment. You wonder how they even got to three wins, then remember that one came against a bottom franchise historically and another came via the walk-off FG. Even the Vikings win didn’t exactly show much in the way of a capable offense, and that was with Chase Daniel after Mitch’s injury. After leading the league in pressures/game with over 17 avg the first four weeks, the Bears have COMBINED for eight pressures total against the Raiders and Saints. Yikes.
I hate to say it but this isn’t even rock bottom. This could, and quite probably will, get worse. At least Allen Robinson looks fully healthy/amazing?
Brian Schmitz (@_BrianSchmitz):The blame, in order:

  1. Matt Nagy
  2. The Running Game
  3. Mitch
  4. Defense

 

I said it weeks ago, Nagy has been figured out, which happens in this league. But what is surprising is that he hasn’t yet counter-punched. He’s lost.

#2 above is really an extension of #1. To become a one-dimensional passing team with a bottom tier QB is just plain bad.

Trubisky threw for 251 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs – his best game of the year. What am I missing here? Besides the 4th quarter.

When your offense blows, and you are on the field again and again after three-and-outs, its not only physically exhausting, its mentally draining.

So, to answer your question. YES. This is both who they are and who they will be.

Tony Martin (@MrMartinBruh): I got fired this morning and even that was less painful than watching the Bears continue to shit the bed, because at least I had low expectations for that job. It’s just amazing to me how after growing up watching the offense struggle under notable chuds like Ron Turner, Mike Martz, Gary Crowton, John Shoop, Mike Tice, and Aaron Kromer, THIS is what might be the biggest disappointment. Hey Matt, I know you want to “BE YOU”, but maybe you can “BE A COACH THAT SETS HIS TEAM UP FOR SUCCESS”, or does that not matter because it won’t fit on your play card? I’ve never seen a team with so much talent look so incredibly lost.

I’m not one to make much of “they should’ve drafted such and such instead”, but Mitch is a mess. The mechanics aren’t there, and the play-calling doesn’t set him up for success. Matt Nagy insists on only using the run as a chance to get gadget touches for the receivers, since Mitch isn’t hitting them with any reliability save for Allen Robinson.
Wes: You can always count on the Bears to amplify the shit around and make it all the more demoralizing.

I gotta say, the talking points coming from Nagy are not making this seem like it’s going to change. He’s making the media out to be a problem/the problem, saying he’ll be telling his players to put the blinders on, don’t listen to the negativity, etc.

So the offense is a total mess/unbalanced/led by a kid that proves every week how little he can do…but can’t let that negativity creep in! This is starting to sound like a cult. I’m way out on Nagy/Mitch right now, and as someone that decided to just drink the kool-aid from the start of this ride, if I’m making the turn on them, they can’t have many supporters left at this point.
Tony: So, really my question is, what did Matt Nagy see in Mitch coming out of college? I know his pleas for Kansas City to draft Biscuit was a big selling point in his hiring process, so where’s the work and development he was going to instill? Mitch still has shit mechanics, admittedly partially due to an offensive line that is overmatched and a poor run/pass balance that lets edge rushers pin their ears back on every second and third down. The scary thing is he hasn’t improved. His footwork is terrible and he’d be overthrowing Manute Bol. What happened to the moving pockets, quick hitting passes that aren’t Allen Robinson curl routes, and the RB they traded up for?
Wes: Two carries. David Montgomery had one single carry per half. And he fumbled and then they never ran the ball again. I wish I was making that up.

Something else that’s starting to come up…Mitch averaged 30/yards a game last year, and that was with him pretty much not running after his injury and return. He has 21 yards ON THE SEASON this year. Maybe move the pocket, roll him out, let him run on some of these RPOs. He can’t hit an open receiver 15 yards away from a clean pocket but he can seemingly hit a streaking player 20 yards away while he himself is on the move. I don’t know man, the guy is more running back than QB, just lean on the strength unless you’re trading for a passer that can do it from the pocket.
Here’s my final thought:
If Mitch can’t make a decision on a play as simple as this, the Bears are utterly fucked.
The Bears are fucked.