Football

Do you know who the quarterback of the Washington Redskins is? No? Well, when the Bears face the Redskins this week on Monday night, they will be going up against a quarterback who is quietly having as good of a season of anybody not named Mahomed or Prescott. Redskins QB Case Keenum–yes, Case Keenum–has started the season by putting up the following gaudy numbers:

There is not a single stat on this line that an OC, HC, or GM wouldn’t be ecstatic about. Now take it a step further and realize that every stat is better than what Mitch T is doing here in Chicago. Pay especially close attention to the 70% completion number, the 300 yards/game, the 5-to-0 TD to INT ratio, the two sacks taken, and finally, the 111.2 passer rating. If, and it’s a big if, these numbers continue through the next 14 games, Case Keenum will be in line for a Pro-Bowl appearance and more importantly for him, a huge pay raise heading into unrestricted free agency. Could this be a guy that is brought in to replace compete with Mitch Trubisky next season? Only time will tell, but I’m not counting it out and I’m not not excited about it.

Monday Night Football Matchup

Enough about next season, what can we expect for Keenum on Monday night? For one, you can anticipate most of his throws to be completed 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. Last week against a very good Cowboys defense, Keenum’s throw chart looked like this:

What also stands out is Coach Jay Gruden’s affinity for both traditional screen and tunnel-screen looks. 12 of Keenum’s 37 attempts were within two yards on the LOS. Additionally, only three passes over 20 yards were attempted. What all this means is that the Bears linebackers will play a significant role in pass coverage; something that they struggled with against Green Bay in the opener when Jimmy Graham was able to get open for much of the game.

The Redskins QB throw chart in Week 1 against an Eagles defense that quashed the Bears in the playoffs last season was very similar within that 10-yard range. However, the screen package was not as evident as most of the short passes were the 3-7 yards range. Keenum’s overall performance against the Eagles was uber-proficient:

In Comparison

Just in case you were wondering, here is a quick snapshot of Mitch Trubisky’s performance against what amounts to same Eagles defense last year:

My biggest takeaway from comparing these charts was that Keenum was vastly more effective on virtually the same amount of attempts. What is ultimately most maddening about the overall comparison is that Keenum was undrafted while we all know where Mitch was drafted and what was given up to get him. Fuck!

Can Case Keenum Beat The Bears By Himself?

On Monday night, Keenum will ultimately be responsible for how his offense performs. The Redskins running game is brutal; rushing for 28 yards and 47 yards in their first two games. Adrian Peterson will go down as one of the greatest dads running backs in NFL history but it’s not 2009 anymore and Peterson is probably best suited not suiting up. The dire running back situation puts the onus on Case Keenum and his receivers to carry the franchise. Keep an eye on rookie Terry McLaurin, who has been phenomenal thus far with almost 190 yards and two TDs thru two weeks. However, in what appears to be an effort to ease McLaurin into the offense, he lines up exclusively on the left side of the field. If this trend continues, this will undoubtedly help the Bears match up with the electric rookie out of THE Ohio State.

So What Does This All Mean?

Reskins coach Jay Gruden is an offensive genius. He is going to find ways to match up his skill guys with linebackers and try to exploit as many of these scenarios within 10 yards of the LOS as possible. I think Case Keenum will continue to perform at an elite level and the Redskins will defeat the Bears in a very close game.

Football

In dissecting the never-ending news stream that is Antonio Brown, I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite all-time teammates. A teammate that will re-name nameless for reasons you will appreciate as you finish reading the following story. For the sake of clarity, this teammate shall be referred to as “Not Alvin Harper.” Keep in mind, this is a story best told live, but I will do my best to provide as much detail as possible in an effort to truly capture how entertaining this entire saga was.

The year was 2003, and I was playing Arena Football for the Orlando Predators. Our coach was Jay Gruden, who also happened to be our quarterback; now that’s some Arena Football shit. Jay was the best! Super funny. Always laughing. Never taking himself or the job too seriously. Loved to party. He was just a good, normal dude. So, if being the quarterback and head coach of a professional football team wasn’t enough, Jay was also the Player Personal Director who was in charge of signing and cutting all players.

During training camp, Jay decided all his receivers sucked; so he cut all of them and signed Travis McGriff and went out and traded for a guy who was arguably the greatest WR in Arena League history; not to mention a former Super Bowl winner with the Dallas Cowboys. Unlike most of us, this guy wasn’t in the AFL because he wasn’t good enough for the NFL, he was in the AFL because he couldn’t stop drinking and blowing rails. The Arena League was the perfect landing spot because there was no drug testing of any kind. Coke, Weed, Meth, Oxy, PEDs – anything and everything was acceptable. The reason being is that the AFL did not want to pay for rehab for offenders so they just decided not to drug test anyone for anything.

Once the season started, every Monday (our off day), “Not Alvin Harper” would throw a party for the team at our housing complex pool. Except this wasn’t just some guys with pizza and cans of Bud Light listening to a radio; this was a full on jam in which he would pay for all the booze, food, and a DJ. Everyone was invited. Whether it was some professionals from Dockside Dolls or some Hooters waitresses or even some homeless dudes one time. This weekly free-for-all made Tuesday morning practices especially entertaining to watch.

Virtually every football team starts their practices in the same manner: a pre-practice period, followed by stretch, followed by an individual period. The individual period for quarterback and receivers starts by going thru the route tree on air. On this one very special Tuesday practice in which I will never forget, “Not Alvin Harper” decided to not go to bed after partying through the night. He strolls out to practice late and immediately jumps into the receiver drills. The first route he runs is a simple hitch, the easiest route in football history and one that 2nd grade football players learn on day one. But on this day, “Not Alvin Harper” comes off the line, hits his five hard mark, stops, and promptly forgets to put up his hands to catch the ball. As the ball rockets off his chest, he doesn’t recognize what just happened and simply runs back to the line of scrimmage and to the back of the receiver’s line. The next route is a slant. Again, “Not Alvin Harper” comes sprinting off the line, hits his 3-yard mark, turned on a 45 degree angle. This time he remembers to use his hand to catch the ball, but he places them about two feet too far apart and the ball hits him on the facemask which knocks the ball and his helmet into the air. What happened next is the single funniest thing I’ve ever seen on a football field: “Not Alvin Harper,” after taking the ball off the face-mask, doesn’t break stride and keeps running his route completely off the field and into the locker room. As he’s running away, something catches my eye – “Not Alvin Harper” wasn’t wearing any socks or shoes. He had forgotten to wears socks and cleats and was running around barefoot thinking no one would notice.

As if this entire seen wasn’t enough, when we returned to practice, “Not Alvin Harper” was sleeping on the floor in the middle of the locker room and his car was parked on the infield dirt inside a local minor league baseball stadium that was adjacent to our practice facility.

***My favorite part of this story was that he went out three days later and caught 11 balls for 102 yards and three TDs.

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.