Football

The Bears won’t get to see Kirk Cousins Sunday. Because the Vikes have nothing to play for, they’re the 6th seed who will get murdered by the any of the Packers, Saints, or Seahawks. Which is unfortunate, because seeing Kirk Cousins is usually high comedy. Until now, because it might be what’s coming for the Bears.

You probably know the records by now. Cousins is 6-30 against teams with winning records. 0-9 on Monday night. Not much  better in other primetime games. Whenever the Vikings need Cousins to be good, he’s been terrible. This includes last year’s finale when they needed to beat a Bears team that essentially had nothing to play for. And the Bears whacked him around simply because they felt like it.

Cousins changed the narrative around him a bit after the first Bears games this year, where once again the Bears sat on his head without Akiem Hicks. He threw 22 TDs and just two INTs before last week. There was some hope in Minneapolis that maybe he’d turned a corner. And then he took a big shit against the Packers on Monday night, ending the Vikes’ hopes for the division, once again puking it up against a good team, and the Vikings are left with all the same questions.

And this could be the Bears’ future. Not Cousins, of course, as he’s slotted to make all the money in the world for one more season yet. But if the Bears decide to move on from Mitch Trubisky, and that’s still a rather sizable if, they choices from there are of the same ilk of Cousins. Andy Dalton? He has the same amount of playoff wins that you do. Cam Newton? One Super Bowl appearance that he pissed down his leg in and one other playoff win where he didn’t even break 200 yards and both of those were five years ago. Teddy Bridgewater? Way more questions than answers. Phillip Rivers and his arm that was 107 years old when he was 25?

All could be steadier than Trubes, that’s for sure. And maybe steady is all the Bears need that figures to be at or near having a contender-level defense next year (especially with a healthy Hicks). But you’d be asking QBs to do things they haven’t proven they can do or haven’t done in a very long time. How’s that working out for the Vikings, who in the Cousins era will have one wildcard berth and a playoff tonking to show for it?

Bears fans should know that once you get on the QB carousel, it’s really hard to get off of it. Maybe you draft someone in the second or third round you really like and hope they just provide competition for Trubisky, thereby still keeping your QB costs down so you can have the rest of the roster in place. That’s the other thing about the names available. They’ll still cost a lot. Cousins himself has a $31M hit next year. Any of the others really coming that much cheaper?

Maybe paying $9M with reasonable competition through the draft doesn’t sound so bad here.

Football

The Bears Defense Is Now A Comic Book Villain, Or Weapon, Or Both, I’m Not Sure

It dawned on me somewhere in the third quarter yesterday, probably just after the Bears stripped Kirk Cousins first thing in the second half on a drive that was supposed to turn the momentum of the game, that watching a great defense in football is not all that different from watching your team have a true ace in baseball. It’s just that the former is the latter with the music turned way up and sex club lighting.

Still, it’s a kind of visceral to watch one team or player simply swat away anything the other team is trying. Yesterday was little brother-big brother basketball, where no matter what the little tyke does it just gets ruthlessly swatted away into the next yard in a valuable life lesson that sometimes there’s nothing to be done. The Bears made plays from everyone and everywhere simply for the enjoyment of it. Because they felt like it. It was damn near pornographic.

I wasn’t the only Bears fan who greeted the hour before the game with trepidation, when news of Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith (for whatever reason) missing out became official. That was the middle of the defense against the league’s best running attack. It seemed the worst possible combination of absences against the Vikings.

The Bears just rolled out Roy Robinson-Harris, Nick Kwiatkoski, and Nick Williams and watched them strut, dance, and pose all over the Vikings. Kwiatkowski used Dalvin Cook as his own Spartan shield at one point. They never missed a beat. While Ryan Pace’s tenure will be defined by whatever Mitch Trubisky becomes, it has to be said he can spot talent on the defensive side of the ball consistently.

There was something efficient about Lovie Smith’s defense, the other great defense of recent Bears vintage. They were happy to give up yards because they knew teams couldn’t be patient or clean enough to trickle down the field without fucking up or turning the ball over. They would get you eventually.

This one doesn’t wait around. They don’t give you anything. All they take is your soul. They come after you. And from every angle. Lovie’s team waited for you to fall into the bear trap they set. This Bears defense actively chucks you into it and then pours gasoline on you while twirling a Zippo and grinning all the time.

Kirk Cousins Still Has A Terminal Case Of Being Kirk Cousins

His overall numbers, thanks to one drive at the end of the fourth, don’t look all that bad. But once again, when faced with any quality on the other side of the ball, Cousins pissed down his leg and then asked his teammates to clean it up. Cousins either held the ball too long or didn’t sniff out blitzes or the rush in time. He missed the couple of open shots he had.

With a division opponent, the most enjoyable thing for a Bears fan is to have a QB and/or coach just good enough to break your heart. Cousins and Mike Zimmer will win just enough games to give Vikings fans hope, only for it to be hilariously and gloriously dashes in the most violent way possible. And right now it’s this Bears defense that will do it.

Cousins didn’t get much help from his coaches. Their only drive that produced points came in a no-huddle, which flattened out the Bears rush a bit. They should have been going with that far earlier, seeing as how they couldn’t block anyone normally.

But that’s the Vikings. They’re never going to get it right. Something will always go off the boil. They’ll fuck it up. We lost the Blues. I’m glad the Vikings are still here.

Tony Romo Still Sucks

Don’t try and tell me otherwise. He makes odd noises and in about five years he’s going to sound like drunk Terry Boers. He never shuts up, and his analysis is barely middling. He sounds like an air raid siren. Predicting the play ahead of time isn’t really the job. Give me Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts every damn time when the Bears have to be on CBS.

 

Football

What surprised you more? How well Chase Daniel played, or, how bad the Minnesota Vikings are?

The answer to the first question is obvious. Chase Daniel is a serviceable NFL backup who a.) knows his own limitations, b.) plays within himself, and c.) excels in a system that favors a quick hitting, short yardage passing game over a five- or seven-step drop progression driven scheme that looks for the big play. Daniel finished his day 22-30 for 195 and one TD. Of the eight incompletions, there were four drops, which obviously makes his accuracy all the more impressive. To step in cold and operate the offense arguably better than the starter is a tribute to Daniel’s practice habits and knowledge of the offensive system. Given the investment the organization has in Mitch Trubisky, I don’t envision a quarterback controversy. However, it seems pretty clear that Matt Nagy trusts Daniel and feels more than comfortable with him running the offense.

The answer to the second part of the question above is far more difficult to answer. The Vikings prized run-game finished with 40 yards on 16 carries while the NFL’s leading rusher Dalvin Cook accounted for 35 of those yards on 14 carries. The Bears knew Kirk Cousins wasn’t going to beat them, so they tee’d off on stopping the run and did just that. Cousins finished the game with a respectable 27/36 for 233 yards. These numbers are actually more impressive than they looked as Cosuins was dodging a legit Bears pass rush all day. Cousins was sacked six times and was under intense pressure on almost every five-step drop he took. The Vikings defense yielded only 269 total yards, which wins most Sundays – except when you are going up against the generationally talented defense that is the Bears outfit.

The one player who will benefit more than anyone else by having Daniel under center is Javon Wims. Wims grabbed four balls on five targets, including the Bears longest pass play of the season, a 37-yard connection down the right sideline. Daniel and Wims developed their familiarity with each other by taking second team reps in practice as well as running some scout team offense together. A potential Wims emergence would be extremely valuable to an offense that is struggling to find a #2 receiver behind Allen Robinson.

This brings to mind my weekly mention of Anthony Miller. Miller had two catches on Sunday for 11 yards. – this is same number of catches that the ghost of Adam Shaheen had. I am at a loss when trying to figure out why Miller continues to be a non-factor in this offense. Could we have been wrong about him and his potential? Is he still not healthy? I don’t know these answers, but if Miller continues to disappear, this offense will not be able to sustain any sort of consistency.

Speaking of consistency, for the 4th time in as many games, the run game was atrocious. Nagy made a concerted effort to get David Montgomery the rock. However, 21 touches for 53 yards with a long of seven yards are not what we are looking for from a lead back. I respect and endorse a commitment to the run, but with this O-Line, I’m sure we are not going to see Montgomery in the conversation for Rookie of the Year.

While Montgomery struggled, Tarik Cohen made the most of his seven total touches, highlighted by a 10-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Cohen had a chance for a huge day, but bobbled a perfectly thrown Chase Daniel throw down the sideline which would have resulted in a huge gain and more points on the board.

We are getting force fed Cordarrelle Patterson in the run game. I get it, it’s Matt Nagy being cute. But it continues to produce absolutely nothing. Patterson is a return specialist at this point in his career, except he’s not that good in that phase anymore. Tarik Cohen needs to be taking the backfield reps that Patterson is currently getting, and if that doesn’t happen, getting Anthony Miller more involved this way is an option that needs to be explored.

Next week, the Bears take to the pitch of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to face the Oakland/Los Angeles/Las Vegas Raiders. There is no reason we can’t expect more of the same from the Bears defense, but what will we see from Chase Daniel, who will be working with the 1’s all week in practice. Another strong Daniel outing and Chicago may just have a QB controversy on their hands.

Football

vs.

 

Records: MIN 2-1 at CHI 2-1

TV: 3:25 pm – CBS

Radio: WBBM 780 AM/105.9 FM

All I’ve heard in my head this week is that goddamned horn: Dailynorseman.com

Another week, another seemingly must-win game for the Chicago Bears. Okay, maybe not MUST win, but a home date with a division rival and staring at either a share of the division lead or 4th place and an 0-2 division start. Call it what you want, but this one is big. It’s also about as close to a look in the mirror as this team gets.

Minnesota and Chicago come in with identical records, albeit early in the season, but the similarities are pretty striking:

  • Strong, steady defenses with a core that’s played together for years. Tops in the league.
  • Above average offensive lines that also have continuity.
  • Many offensive weapons, yet underachieving/lackluster QB play holds them back.
  • Both can’t conquer Aaron Rodgers, even with his bullshit supporting cast.

The starts to this season aren’t identical, but both sides have losses to Green Bay that were very winnable and one victory over terrible teams (OAK and WSH). Minnesota can boast a complete game in their victory at home over Oakland, while Chicago had some nervy moments late in their two score road victory in Washington. So what else can we glean from the early season picture? Kirk Cousins might be something Mitchell Trubisky strives to be, which honestly sucks a whole lot.

The Vikings have Dalvin Cook, though, and that’s helped to shield Cousins a bit thus far in 2019. Cook has gone over 100 yards every game so far, something a certain former Vikings stud RB never even achieved. Cook is also leaned on in the passing game when Cousins is missing Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs with regularity. You can expect a bounty of touches for Cook on Sunday as the Vikings look to protect Cousins from a scary but banged up Bears pass rush and ball-hawking secondary. It’s been a very successful formula through three weeks and there won’t be much variation in Week 4. Here it is, Khalil Mack. Come stop us.

Chicago will look to keep building on the momentum of the last two weeks and the gains on the offensive side of the ball, but that’s going to be tough sledding against the Minnesota defense. Matt Nagy has shown that he can definitely coach this team up and work through the problems of the Week 1 debacle, and he’ll need to show even more progress to carry a three-game winning streak into the London trip. The plays are there to be made, and a lot will come down to whether or not Trubisky can hit the wide open receivers his head coach sets him up with. The Vikings will pressure Mitch all afternoon, so getting another quick, rhythm-building start will be paramount to how the offense goes. If they’re stalled and struggling early, this one will be over pretty quickly. Falling behind by multiple scores against a league league leading defense is a test this team hasn’t encountered so far in 2019, and it’s not one I’m sure Nagy and the Bears can come back from.

The biggest key will likely be to further establish the running game and backfield assignments. This new look group has mostly been a work in progress through three weeks, with rookie David Montgomery gaining touches each week and distancing himself from Tarik Cohen, Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis. Speaking of Davis, where the hell has he been? Getting Davis and COhen more involved will help to confuse defenders and opposing coaches, so ideally we’ll see more of that diamond formation but with different RBs in each role so as to better disguise identical plays.

We’re going to learn a lot about this Bears team in Week 4; whether they can continue to adjust and create an offensive identity, whether they can game plan for such a standout offensive performer like Cook, whether they can counterpunch if the early game plan stalls a la Week 1. The progress is beginning to look encouraging, and a win would be another massive boost for a team with playoff expectations. Nagy and Trubisky need to embrace this moment and use it to define Chicago’s 2019.

Prediction: Bears 17 – Vikings 15