Football

It’s Clear That Bill Belichick Does Everything

People just have to stop hiring from the Belichick coaching tree, because it’s a great way to back up your franchise into a universal depression. Maybe Bill O’Brien is the exception (although the next time the Texans do anything meaningful please call me), but we’ve seen enough of Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, Charlie Weis and Matt Patricia on their own to know that they clearly never did anything in New England. At least we got one in the division though.

The Lions were actually around the playoff picture, and sometimes in it, before Matt Patricia the obese rapist showed up. And even the most beef-stuffed Bears fan who thinks the forward pass should be outlawed can tell you that Mitch Trubisky sucks to high heaven against zone coverage. Fuck, it’s what Belichick figured out about Jared Goff in three minutes, another system-produced QB who had to be told exactly where to throw the ball. Any kind of disguise, and neither can figure out where the ball should go and goes into convulsions that end with the ball in the other team’s hands.

But if you simply keep playing man, then everything is exactly as it looks and Mitch can actually pick-and-stick throws. Which he did pretty much all of Thursday afternoon, and the Lions are now basically the only team that Mitch has authored genuine, NFL adult drives against. On a short week when everything is supposed to be ragged, and the Bears defense kind of was, the Lions made Mitch look real. That’s not easy to do.

It’s obvious that Belichick plans everything, does everything, and then lets his assistants wear a headset and talk even though they’re probably not hooked up to anything. They get to play NFL Coordinator. They’re Gary Coleman talking to the president from his desk in that Christmas episode of the Simpsons. When McDaniels takes over the Pats after Belichick has four simultaneous strokes, they will immediately go 2-45. And then every Pats fan will be screaming for Trot Nixon to take over as coach. Just watch.

The Lions Are A Thanksgiving Tradition We Can All Enjoy

I’ve seen a lot of suggestion that the Lions should be removed from Turkey Day, and NBC getting a night game now is something of an admission that Detroit and Dallas shouldn’t be the only hosts. But there’s something about the Lions on that special Thursday that I wouldn’t want to lose.

Maybe it’s because they’ve always played in a stadium that gave off the feeling of a garage or airplane hangar. There’s always been something underground about either the Silverdome or now Ford Field. Like they whole place has been sequestered from society. It’s not always like that. You can tell the Superdome is in the middle of New Orleans just by watching a game there. But not in Detroit. It’s quiet and dark and weird. It’s a tradition we can’t figure out how to get rid of, so here it is from some holding pen we built. It doesn’t even feel part of the same country. Or world. It’s almost a lab experiment on some oil rig/ship in international waters.

And think about that time of day on the holiday. The game starts before any cooking or really anything is going on, or just about. So it’s a nice gathering point. And then after about five minutes of watching these dopes, you have no problem getting the day’s festivities started because you realize you’re not missing anything. Unless it’s your team playing the Lions, and then it’s just a nice boost to the day.

I think I’d be lost without it.

Despite Their Best Efforts, The Bears Almost Always Will Talk You Into It

Deep down, you knew you’d be here. As bad as the Bears looked for most of this season, as infuriating as the losses have been, you could never fully convince yourself you wouldn’t care come December. It’s funny, because before last year started, most of us would have accepted the Bears merely playing meaningful games in December, no matter how they turned out. They just got it reversed.

Maybe it’s the full week in between, when you have time to talk yourself into anything, twist the evidence however you want, before the actual game makes whatever statement that you can then twist to fit your own narrative the six days following that. But here we are, and here I am saying, “Well you can’t trust the Cowboys on the road in December, and then Hicks will be back and even though he won’t be full-strength he certainly helps and they should have beaten the Packers last time, and maybe they’re finally distilling the offense down to what Mitch can do somewhat well and really they’d only have to miracle a win against the Chiefs at home before needing only to club Kirk Cousins again to make the playoffs and that’s easy enough….”

But hey, it’s better than just running out the clock. Have you seen the Hawks and Bulls lately?

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

vs.

RECORDS: Lions 3-4-1   Bears 3-5

Kickoff: 12pm

TV: CBS 2

THAT DORK LOOKS LIKE JAM: Pride Of Detroit

Do you get the impression the Bears would rather play on the road these days? A home date with the Lions should be a joyous occasion, and it usually has been in the past, but considering the air around the Bears and the suddenness with which Soldier Field can turn toxic, you really feel like the Bears had better score on their first drive or it’s going to bet poisonous in a hurry. They might be booing at the pregame tailgate. Mitch Trubisky pointing at the TVs screaming, “DEATH!!!” isn’t going to help the cause much.

So the Bears will have to turn it around against what’s normally their favorite punching bag, and really everyone’s favorite punching bag. Luckily, the Lions contain some things that could really help the Bears if they’ve conditioned themselves during the week to change. Sadly, they also contain the Bears destruction within them as well.

First the good news. As my father would say, “The Lions defense stinkums.” They’re 27th in rush yards against per game, 31st in pass yards per game against, 27th in sacks, 27th in interceptions, and 27th in points against. So yeah, you’d think with the lack of pass rush and the lack of ballhawks and the lack of linebackers total, the Bears could actually find something they could do successfully against this outfit. Whether that’s lining up in the I more often and simply running the ball, or getting to play-action off of that, or rolling Mitch out where he’s clearly more comfortable, the Lions offer a fucking buffet of things you can get to them through. Then again, the Chargers were dressing their bus driver as a d-linemen and the Bears couldn’t crack that code until late. So no guarantees here.

The Lions defense has had various problems, including health in the secondary, but this chart is pretty telling (stick-tap to Jeremy Riesman at PoD for linking it):

Brain genius with birds living in his beard, and probable rapist, Matt Patricia hasn’t been able to get any pressure from his front four and they haven’t brought much heat either to try and make up for that. So maybe the Bears offensive line can hold up against this? And give Mitch time? Which won’t cause his eyes to drop to the rush? And maybe he can just pick-and-stick some guys in the open spaces? Am I asking too much? I probably am, aren’t I? More pissing in the wind, YAY!

Of course, it’s not that simple. On the flip side of the ball, Matt Stafford is playing at a ridiculous level, which Brian laid out here. I suppose the good news, if there is any on this front, is that he’s done his best work flinging the ball deep, which is something the Bears have given up next to nothing of this year. The plan against them has always been to get it out quick to avoid Khalil Mack ending your world, and the hope would be if Stafford and the Lions insist on taking their shots that Mack and Leonard Floyd (brief flickering signs of life last week) and others can get to Stafford to either bring him down or force errant throws. Then again, Stafford’s been so good at this he might be able to find the shots others haven’t. Then it could be trouble.

But hey, more good news. The Lions can’t run the ball for shit. Have they ever? This is just like the Lions condition, right? Like the Bears and quarterbacks? The Hawks and power plays? It’s just something they’ll never do. Anyway, Ty Johnson is averaging barely 3.5 yards per carry, and they don’t even go to him much as he’s gotten over 10 carries just once this season since he took over for Kerryon Johnson, who’s on IR with knee-knack. So whereas the Chargers and Eagles and Raiders and oh fuck let’s just stop it here pretty much ran it up the Bears giggy, that’s not something the Lions are built or even motivated to try.

The things is though, the Lions are a couple inches from being 5-2-1 or even better. The refs screwed them over in Green Bay. They had a last-second loss to the Chiefs. They probably should have beaten the Raiders last week. So they have just as much reason to look at the Bears and think they can get healthy against them as the Bears do looking the other way. Other than Mack, who will be heavily watched, Stafford is the best player on the field and is capable of winning this on his own given the right breeze.

Still, the Bears are basically built to not have a quarterback beat them. Yeah, sure, the defense hasn’t gotten the big stops they’ve needed the past two games, and even Denver drove right down the field against them in the 4th. But a lot of that was predicated on rushing attacks, which the Lions just don’t have. And does Stafford really have the patience to five- and six-yard outlet his way down the field? He might, but you have to feel there’ll be a shot or two that Eddie Jackson or Kyle Fuller can get their hands on.

So if they can keep Stafford from going power cosmic, you have to believe the Bears offense will find SOMETHING against this team. Maybe not 35 points something, but like 24? Detroit has given up 23 or more points in every game save one. The fucking Giants hung 31 on them. If Daniel Jones can go for 322 yards against this collection of lost souls, surely Mitch can have at least a decent game? Right? Right?!

This is it for the Bears, this next month. They get the Lions twice and the Giants, and a Sunday night in LA. Win those three and sneak some weird victory out of the Coliseum (where they come to see ’em), and the season isn’t lost. Hell, just take the three you’re supposed to and you’re 6-6 with at least something to hope for in December. But it has to start with one. If you can’t get this one, it’s pack up the cats time.

Football

You are what you eat, they say. If the old adage rings true for NFL coaches, you are what your team is. In that case, Matt Nagy is a colossal letdown. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but his team has forgotten where Club Dub is and Matt is the Lyft driver whose phone just died. He’s spent the last few weeks pretty much just defending Mitch, so it feels like the other areas of the team is suffering due to neglect. The Eagles game was atrocious. The Bears were penalized nine times for 70 yards which doesn’t sound too bad but a handful of those penalties were pre-snap. Nagy, as is Bears coach tradition, has also forgotten how to properly utilize his timeouts, his challenge record is spotty at best, and his clock management has been terrible this year.

Multiple games have seen Nagy attempt a hurry up offense at the end of the half with minimal timeouts remaining and the resulting quick three-and-out and punt has put opposing teams in a spot where they can try to get points instead. During the Packers game when the Bears went for it on fourth down early in the 4th while in field goal range, with a defense that was playing excellently, it dawned on me: Matt Nagy is a 17-year-old playing Madden. Sure, he’s old enough to know better than to do it, but when his system isn’t working he tries to make it work instead of playing to the situation. Running a four-vertical play against a defense that had been getting to the QB with just a three- or four-man rush is totally something your idiot teenager cousin would do right before he takes a sack and turns off the Playstation.

It’s hard to know exactly what level of control Nagy has over the defensive play-calling, but that’s also been suspect. The Bears have stopped blitzing frequently, relying on the front-4 to bring pressure. Offenses have this team figured out, and the defense hasn’t adjusted from a philosophical standpoint. Matt Stafford can pick this team apart if given time, but he can also make mistakes if he is pressured. Let’s hope the Nagy/Pagano brain-trust picks that one up and doesn’t rely on Aaron Lynch to beat a left tackle in under five seconds.

The edge in this match-up has to go to Matt Patricia, right? The Lions are by no means a playoff team, but they’re a competent football team with less talent than they need to be serious contenders. The Lions don’t look great, but Matt Nagy is also not putting his team in a position to be successful. Too many of the routes being run were five-man curls or short routes that ended with a Mitch sack because an effectively run short zone defense wipes out 95% of the Bears offensive plays. When the Bears were moving the ball, it was because they were down by multiple scores and because it seemed like the first time in weeks that Nagy played to the team and Mitch’s strengths.

Even so, this offense has become so predictable that it’s hard to see how they can be successful at anything. If Matt Patricia wants to win this game by out-coaching Matt Nagy, all he needs to do is watch the tape, where the Bears offense has successfully telegraphed themselves into obsolescence.

Tell me more about the previously indicted for sexual assault head coach of the Lions, won’t you Wes?

Matt Nagy is pretty damn STINKY this year, which you’ve laid out nicely. But I’m not sure that Matt Patricia takes the edge based solely on how crappy Nagy has been in year two. 

Patricia, also in his sophomore season as head coach, is failing Detroit in ways that everyone thought he’d succeed – his defense. Detroit currently ranks 31st on defense, giving up a staggering 424 yards a game on average. This is after the team spent pretty heavily on the defensive side this offseason, bringing in former Patricia players from New England in Trey Flowers and Justin Coleman. The results on those two and the defense as a whole are clearly pretty poor, and whatever the plan was in terms of a system or tweaking said system isn’t working. 
Detroit chose to move on from the statue that is Jim Caldwell in early 2018 in favor of Patricia even though Caldwell had winning seasons in three of his four years in Detroit, albeit with some poor playoff performances. If the plan was to bring in a Belichick disciple and have him elevate your team to that next level, Patricia’s short tenure can be generously described as a disappointment. He continues the long history of coaches leaving New England and subsequently failing, usually miserably. There’s time to turn it around, but the natives are getting pretty restless in Detroit and his players seems to be on the verge of mutiny as well. 
Sure sounds an awful lot like the Lions have the same kind of issues on defense as Nagy and the Bears have with the offense: A scheme that either isn’t being executed/grasped properly by the personnel, not having the right personnel or some combination of the two. Regardless, it ain’t working. Patricia claimed him and Darius Slay spoke about his post-Raiders loss comments and they’re now on the same page, that some of the comments were mischaracterized by the media, that he sees the plays and he needs to coach better but they’re working and they’re close….sound familiar? This is all after Detroit gave up 450 yards to Oakland, including a 75-yard drive late in the 4th to seal the game while also failing to force a punt for the first three quarters. (what sort of shitty team allows the Oakland Raiders to go almost the length of the field in the 4th quarter to give up a game losing touchdown? Terrible. -Tony)
We’ve had this conversation before, most recently ahead of the Chargers game; the Bears offense is dreadful and they’re about to face a defense that’s as equally, if not more, inept than they are. SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE, RIGHT??? We’re gonna find out if the Detroit defense is just the right medicine Trubisky, Nagy and the Bears need or if Patricia can use Nagy’s poor year to get his defense back on track. This is a pretty massive week for both of these teams, kicking off stretches of four games with three they each have to feel are winnable (DET/CHI play twice between now and turkey day, sandwiched around CHI @LAR/vsNYG and DET vsDAL/@WSH). Three wins in the next four would put each team at six wins on the year and in the hunt for the Wild Card, but anything less and you’re going to start hearing about whether or not either of these guys gets a crack at year three. 
Nagy has his fantastic first season to buoy him, IMO. And maybe with a different QB the Bears look A LOT better. I think the Bears have to have a total disaster of a 2nd half for Nagy to lose his job. Patricia on the other hand, is coming off 6-10 and another losing season after the investments made and the depressing defense (allegedly his strong suit) could see him and possibly most of the Detroit front office fired into the sun. Matt Stafford isn’t getting any younger and his offense is performing well enough to win games, and none of that sentence bodes well for the defense-focused first time Head Coach staying in charge without showing progress – and quickly. Here’s to hoping Nagy can help Patricia start finding a real estate agent sooner than later.