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

What if maybe, just maybe, this Bears team isn’t as good as we thought? Sunday evening in London provided the Bears an opportunity to show the world that they are indeed the Super Bowl contenders that they think they are. Then, unfortunately, the game began and the oft- celebrated Bears team was punched square in the dick. Time, after time, after time. To see an opponent physically dominate the Bears on defense AND offense was a surprising as it was disappointing.

But why were they dominated? The answer is because the more I see this offense, the more I believe that Matt Nagy has been figured out. We’ve blamed Jordan Howard. We’ve blamed Mitch Trubisky. We’ve blamed the O-Line. But really, the blame needs to fall on the shoulders of the guy who is calling the plays. I get it – Nagy is cool. His players like him. He’s great with the media. That’s all great, but it doesn’t mean dick when you can’t score points with any sort of consistency. This loss and this unspectacular season are on Matt Nagy.
Should we really blame Nagy for a team that came out flat, and stayed flat? Probably not, but if you are looking for excuses, you can blame the overseas travel, the late week arrival in London, and of course, a plethora of injuries to key players. However, any or all these excuses should not have resulted in the type of ass kicking that Raiders orchestrated. Don’t kid yourself, the Raiders were the better team today and if not for some hideous turnovers by Derek Carr, the Bears very well could have been shut out.

Where did it all go wrong? It started early folks. The entire first half had the look of the Raiders playing the role of the Chicago Bears. They pressured Chase Daniel on almost every drop back and parlayed that with an epic run defense that held the Bears to a grand total of 16 rushing yards. The 17-0 first half whitewash could and should have been even worse had Richie Cognito, who is a certifiable crazy person, not committed a questionable personal foul penalty that forced the Raiders out of field goal position. The 1st half numbers tell you all you need to know about how this team started:
Points 0
1st Downs 2
Total Yards 44
Passing Yards 28
Times Sacked 3
Turnovers 1
Rushing Yards 16
Penalties 3
Time of Poss. 10:07

Meanwhile, the defensive unit formerly known as the Bears was not much better, giving up the following:
Points 17
1st Downs 14
Total Yards 208
Passing Yards 109
Times Sacked 0
Turnovers 0
Rushing Yards 99
Penalties 0
Time of Poss. 19:53

The 2nd half afforded the Bears the opportunity to cash in on some nonsensical Derek Carr decisions, but this was a game in which you were never comfortable with the way things were going. Chase Daniel looked like a backup quarterback most of the day, which is troubling since Mitch Trubisky is essentially a glorified backup at this point. Daniel finished 22-30 for 231 and 2/2. On the surface, this isn’t the worst of days. However, both INT’s came at the most inopportune of times and he also had a terribly thrown ball picked off which was negated by a penalty. One positive we can take from Daniel’s performance is that there will not be any talk of a QB controversy this week; so, we have that going for us…which…is nice.

Still, with all the shit we saw from the Bears, this team was still in position to win the game. Late in the 4th quarter, The Raiders would have to go 97 yards to score a touchdown and win. 97 yards against the leagues best defense? Not happening right? Well, you know what happened. The Bears forced a punt, but where called for running into the punter. Then they give up a fake punt for a 1st down. Then Derek Carr put on his big boy pants, made some great throws, spread the ball around to 5 different receivers, and delivered the most impressive drive a Bears opponent has had all season. Touchdown Raiders. Game. Over.

Where does this leave us heading into the Saints game in 2 weeks? Well, we are looking at a Bears team who is lucky to be 3-2 and very likely could or should be 1-4. It would be a damn shame to waste this generationally talented Bears defense on a team that can’t score points with any consistency. I am afraid that is what we are going to continue to see from this team moving forward this season.

Football

I know you’ve seen the stat. It’s pretty damning.

Since the start of the 2018 season, it’s as follows:

Yikes.

So Khalil Mack, on his own, has matched production of the Oakland Raiders since they made the decision to not pay him. The team a whole hasn’t fared much better, notching a 6-14 record since the deal, acquiring more future draft picks than wins. Oh, and there was the whole sideshow event this Summer with Antonio Brown, another star that Jon Gruden deemed worthy of the massive contract, only to have him throw himself out of town with tantrums before he played a snap in the Black and Silver.

Curious, that choice. To NOT give the requisite guaranteed money to a star pass rusher in his prime and then turn around and trade for an end-of-his-prime, if not twilight of his career, Wide Receiver with a history of on/off the field issues is pretty odd. But it’s not that odd when you consider Gruden, and his old school machismo persona. He took over a team he previously had coached for, but this time he had all the power he’d lusted for. He saw a 12-4 team, a playoff team, from 2016 go down it’s leg in 2017 and fall to 6-10. And then he saw the team’s best player talking about wanting the biggest contract for the position ever. All this added up to Gruden being able to show everyone in the organization who held the power. That, FRENTS, is a special kind of dick-swinging.

So what’s the matchup here? did I bury the lede?

This is the REVENGE game. The VINDICTIVENESS game. The THIS COULD BE US BUT YOU PLAYIN’ game.

Khalil Mack vs the entire soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders. Let’s see what some of the beat have been saying this week…

So Mack is good. Okay. What else…

Oh. So the guy they drafted to take over the pass rush for Mack won’t be able to play, or arguably their best WR…

Narrator: They did not, in fact, get five downs.

At least the Raider OLine is sorta prepared?

Oh.

 

If you pray, pray for the Derek Carr and the Raiders on Sunday.

photo credit up top to Kevin Fishbain
Football

vs.

 

Bears (3-1) vs. Raiders (2-2)

Sunday, October 6th 12:00

TV: Fox

London, England

Fun Fact: Winston Churchill believed non-white people were genetically inferior to white people, while also drinking enough to make Charles Bukowski look like a 14-year -old after three Natty Lites

Top of the morning, Bears fans! As you read this, we are more or less two days away from our boys taking on the Oakland Raiders, who are technically the home team at the fabled Northumberland Development Project, which I swear is the actual name of the stadium they’ll be playing in on Sunday and not something that I made up.

Let’s lead with the obvious story: Khalil Mack is returning to destroy the hopes and dreams of the team that traded him to Chicago for a handful of magic beans and a collection of Walgreens coupons. Sure, two first round picks is a high price to pay, but Mack is worth it beyond any shadow of a doubt and we know how bad Ryan Pace has been drafting in the first round. This one is going to be personal, and I am so excited to watch him get held on every single play on Sunday. It probably won’t matter how many midfielders or whatever the Raiders send to chip him, expect Mack to rule the pitch and bend rookie lineman Kolton Miller like Beckham would (I know nothing about soccer, I apologize). Khalil Mack is going to do to the Raiders what the British East India Company did to most of the world in the era of imperialism. Expect it to be NSFW.

This game feels like classic Chicago Bears football: the defense dominates and the offense, knowing how much more exciting it is to watch them play, does their best job to keep it interesting by going out three-and-out every time they’re on the field. Outside of an impressive drive to start the game and one more drive before the half, this offense didn’t inspire much last week in the absence of Mitch Trubisky, who I am also sure will be genetically modified when he comes back from injury and throw for 500 yards a game.

These games are maddening because if the Bears had a three touchdown lead for once it would be nice to see the defense get to pin their ears back and do the things that make them so fun to watch: take chances for the big play. Eddie Jackson is an All-Pro safety, and imagining him in a game situation where he’s feeling more comfortable to jump a route or two could lead to a few more team celebration photos in the opposing end zone.

Can Chase Daniel keep this offense running as smoothly as my first car, a 95 Ford Escort with one functioning door? That might be all it takes to win with the way this defense is playing. A beat-up defense ethered Minnesota’s offense so badly last week that it literally caused team dysfunction. They’re wrecking homes at an Ashley Madison rate, and you can’t compete with that kind of efficiency. Chase will be asked to manage the game, and while that’s a major regression from what we all expected going into 2019, if it means a Bears W, I’ll take it. I’m expecting Javon Wims to catch a touchdown in this one, and if I’m wrong I’ll buy everyone reading this an order of fish and chips*.

*Not an actual guarantee, but hey I did learn that the British call french fries “chips” because it’s short for “chipped potatoes.”

Honestly, I just want to see notable Red-Assed goober Jon Gruden have a shitty day. He’s a total heel, but not in the fun heel way a la Dusty Rhodes. Gruden has X-Pac Heat (for those unfamiliar, X-Pac Heat is when wrestling fans hate a wrestler not because of effective heel work, but because they are unlikable as a human being/suck at wrestling). If I can’t get WALTER to come out and hit Chucky with a lariat, I’d hope the Bears could make him regret pretty much everything he’s done since taking over creative control of the Raiders and doing exactly two things:

1. Cutting or trading everyone that made this team interesting or fun
2. Ruining how cool it is that I got a dope throwback Raiders Starter jacket three years ago

Derek Carr is overrated, and is at best a middling QB who wants to be Tony Romo for a new generation. Josh Jacobs has potential, but isn’t there yet. Jacobs, Darren Waller, and Tyrell Williams are the best things going for this Oakland offense. This is a team that was in need of a Dolphins-esque rebuild, and they entrusted it to a fucking clown and I feel bad for the 10-15 good to great players on the roster.

This game could go a number of different ways. I can see it being anything from a 24-3 laugher in favor of the Bears, or the Raiders could shock us all and pull out a close one. When in London, nothing is guaranteed, except for Allen Robinson‘s dominance (16 catches, 213 yards, 2 touchdowns in 3 career games in London), because he’s the best Zed receiver taking the pitch on Sunday.

Prediction: Bears 27, Raiders 10

Football

Maybe I and many others are just biased because of how annoying he was on Monday Night Football on ESPN for so long. We can be a vindictive lot. Still, there really is only one organization that Jon Gruden could have gotten another job for, and that’s one as equally fraudulent as he is. Step up and be counted, Oakland/Vegas Raiders. It truly is a match made in heaven. But then, no one likes cashing in on nostalgia quite like the Raiders, who haven’t won a playoff game in 16 years.

It was that long ago when Gruden made a name for himself, mostly because he scowled on the sidelines, which he most certainly didn’t practice in a mirror in his office every day, that football commentators mistook for CARING SO DAMN MUCH. Sure, he got a label as a quarterback whisperer as he guided Rich Gannon to a 1st-team All-Pro season, which is a harrowing sentence to write. Somehow people forgot that Raiders team then completely screamed at its shoes in AFC Championship game at home to a Ravens team that didn’t have an offense.

Yeah, Gruden’s Raiders got screwed in the tuck-rule game the following season. It certainly broke the whole organization.

Oh right, Gruden won a Super Bowl. When he was hand-delivered to an already-made team with a Hall of Famer at every level on defense. Somehow, Al Davis’s kid didn’t seem to notice that the Buccaneers never won a playoff game with Gruden after that. And here are the QBs he “whispered” to “greatness”: Brad Johnson’s decline, Brian Griese, Chris Simms (whom he had to have, remember), Bruce Gradkowski, and Jeff Garcia. Real murderer’s row there.

But none of this matters to Mark Davis. All that matters is sizzle, even if it’s own feet into the pavement outside the Vegas Strip where his palace to excess and stupidity grows daily. He desperately wanted to move to LA to be a name. That didn’t work. So now it’ll be Vegas, where a lawsuit from a cocktail waitress at The Palms almost certainly awaits.

And that’s really all the Raiders have been, trading on a name made long ago that barely anyone can remember. Even the dude with skulls on his shoulder pads (who’s a grandfather now) is losing feeling in his limbs. They’re not rebelling against anything anymore, other than competence and success. They don’t stand apart from any other team. They don’t even pick fights with the NFL, as that seems to be the Patriots job, and they also win all the time. It must burn that the Pats stole the Raiders’ rep and they didn’t even bother to notice.

So here are the Raiders, squeaking along in a stadium no one wants them and they don’t want to be at with Gruden claiming he’s going to turn Derek Carr into something other than a background-filler. All he had to do was clear out perhaps the most gifted defensive player in the game, much to our delight. And it’ll be Khalil Mack who calmly lays the head of Carr at Gruden’s feet this Sunday to make his point.

But hey, Davis got his headlines, or headline. Gruden got to cash in and show everyone how smart he thinks he is while posturing for sideline cameras. In that sense, everyone wins. Except the Raiders very often.

 

Football

When the Bears face the Raiders this Sunday from Tootenham Hotspur Stadium in London, UK, Derek Carr will be under center for the Raiders. This can be considered a good thing for the Bears as Carr has struggled to recapture the success he had in his Pro Bowl seasons from 2015-2017. Now, much of the decline in productivity can be blamed on the organization he plays for as well as his supporting cast. Which are both a bag of dicks. But throwing for 19 TDs in 16 starts last season is indefensible and general really piss poor.

Through four games this year, Derek Carr has put up numbers that are very much consistent with his career stats:

2019:

  • 72.1 Completion %
  • 222 Passing Yards Per Game
  • 6 TDs
  • 3 INTs
  • 96.7 Passer Rating

Career (82 Games)

  • 63.2 Completion %
  • 234 Passing Yards Per Game
  • 128 TDs
  • 57 INTs
  • 89.2 Passer Rating

What really stands out is Carr’s 72.1% Completion Percentage this season, good for 9th best league-wide and higher than some rando’s named: Mahomes, Watson, Phillip Rivers and Ryan.

Last week against the Colts, Carr threw 31 passes. Unbelievably, only four of the 31 attempts went to the right side of the field:

I have never seen a throw chart even come close to looking like this; and to make this whole thing even more confusing, two of four right side attempts went for touchdowns. What in the fuck were Derek Carr and Jon Gruden doing last week?

Now let’s take this whole thing another odd step forward and show you that, last season, Carr was decidedly better on throws to the right side of the field:

Looking at this chart, Bears safeties should and will be cheating towards the middle of the field and right side all game as Carr is clearly garbage throwing to the left side on anything past 10 yards.

With Amari Cooper Gone, Who Can Catch The Rock?

Derek Carr and the Raiders offense relies heavily on the tight end position in the passing game. Darren Waller has been an absolute beast so far this season, and although he has yet to catch a TD pass, he leads the league in receptions, is 3rd in yards, and 2nd in passes caught for a 1st down. If Carr can get Waller matched up against a Bears linebacker from time to time, he may be able to have a big day in London.

Carr’s other option in the passing game is 5th year veteran Tyrell Williams, who has scored a touchdown in every game this season.  Williams is averaging almost 13 yards per catch with a long of 43 yards. If any of the Raiders pass catchers are going to break a long one, look for it to be Williams.

Don’t expect a lot of catches out of the Raiders backfield. Although Josh Jacobs gets a lion’s share of the carries, he has 3 receptions on the year. Jalen Richard has become more of the 3rd down pass catching threat, and has accumulated 6 catches so far, leading all Raiders running backs.

So What Does All This Mean?

Ultimately, the Bears defense and not Derek Carr is going to be the deciding factor as to whether Carr has a big game. I expect Darren Waller to be heavily involved on quick strike passing game as Jon Gruden will not allow Khalil Mack to become an even bigger story. Game tape from the last four weeks will clearly show that you cannot and will not beat the Bears if your QB is taking 5&7 step drops and trying to sit in the pocket and attack with long balls down the field.