Football

That about sums it up.

I’ve said it before, but just to reiterate, I’m hardly a football expert. Just a Bears fan who’s as frustrated and disappointed as you are. Tonight was ugly, as ugly as it’s been, because other than the Saints game the Bears have been in every one and just missed here and there to lose. This was being outclassed, which hurts as a fan more than anything.

What makes it far worse is the lazy-ass narratives that come out of it. Yeah, we know Mahomes was taken 10th and Trubisky 2nd. This is such an easy branch to reach for when someone wants to sound right and profound. It’s over now. And it’s not fair to use that to judge Trubisky. To judge Ryan Pace? Absolutely, and it will almost certainly be his defining moment, probably for worse. But you have to keep those separate.

That doesn’t mean Mitch should be absolved. He was bad tonight, but so was everything. The gameplan sucked. So did the o-line. The defense was kind of helpless. We could do this all day. And those things have happened far too often this season.

I know everything now has recency bias, especially in the NFL where things change so much from year to year. But we’re still only 12 months removed from probably the most fun Bears team of our lifetimes (depending on how old you are). No one wanted anybody fired or cut then. It can’t be completely negated. Now, other than Allen Robinson no one has taken a step forward, and that team is basically still here. Is that on Pace? Maybe, maybe that’s everyone’s ceiling. Or is that on Nagy? Combination thereof?

If the Bears lose next week, their two-year record will be 19-13. That hardly seems like a fireable record. Remember, this team punted Lovie Smith after a three-year stretch of 29-19, and that sent them on a five-year spin-cycle of idiocy. You have to be careful on these things.

Also some history. Remember that John Fox was forced on Ryan Pace after he was hired, and he had to tailor a team to that idiot. That doesn’t mean those three years should be completely erased from the records or the evaluation, but weighted less heavily than you might normally. Again, when he’s had the run of the place, 19-13. And to repeat myself, that only means that next year is the make-or-break for everyone.

As I’ve said, the ship of Mitch being great has sailed. But I don’t see that we have to give up on good, though it seems a readily available thing to reach for right now. He missed Allen Robinson on a deep throw that could have started this game on a different note. And it’s another in the category of throws the Bears had to have, as I’ve catalogued. Hit those five throws, and the Bears probably have 10 wins right now. At least nine for sure. And if Mitch is never going to be that guy who hits those throws, and he might never be, well then it’s time to move on.

But fuck, Josh Allen is a playoff QB. So’s Kirk Cousins. So’s Carson Wentz. A year ago, you wouldn’t have swapped any of them in here. All that means is everyone gets one more spin. Matt Nagy isn’t solely responsible for the mess that Mitch is now, but he’s got a hand. A big one. Can he accent what Mitch does well next year? Is there anything? We’ll find out, because there aren’t many other options. You want to ride on the Andy Dalton merry-go-round? That’ll land you with y0ur dick in the dirt as well.

It sucks, because that team last year was so much fun and this one has been such a goddamn drag and you can’t remove the emotion out of it when it comes to the Bears. Especially when they’ve pretty much been a calamity for most of our lives. It’s beyond old at this point.

But we can do better than lazy. At least we’re going to try.

Football

 @

RECORDS: Chiefs 10-4 @ Bears 7-7

KICKOFF: 7:15 pm

TV: NBC 

I’m sure you all read that headline and thought, “please, no, not a post about why this team would be Super Bowl bound with Patrick Mahomes“. Guess what? I WOULD NEVER.

No, this is about what could have been for a team that looked on the cusp of becoming NFC contenders a scant 11 months ago crashing and burning into the mess you and I have been subjected to for the better part of the last four months. And while there were some pretty tall expectations, it’s reasonable to expect minimal changes within the organization and coaching staff. Some might clamor for major changes, but Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy, Chuck Pagano and most of the other coaches will remain for the job of cleaning up this mess of a campaign, which arguably starts this week.

The first test is how to get your team up and motivated for a meaningless game in late December, one that’s played a mere week after your slim playoff hopes ended at the two-yard line as time expired against the most hated of rivals. The Bears will need to find that energy as they host the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, a game that Mahomes and Andy Reid desperately need to win if they’re to secure a bye for what looks to be a loaded AFC playoff field.

The Chiefs enter playing possibly their best defensive football of Reid’s tenure. The uptick on that side of the ball coincides with a 5-1 stretch, seeing KC secure their fourth consecutive AFC West title. The Chiefs have held opponents to 212 passing yards or less in five of six games during this streak, helping them to get into the top team passing defenses in the league overall for the year. They will have a true test this week, though, as Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky has averaged over 295 yards passing the last four weeks and gone over 330 yards twice. Mitch has been using his legs to greater effect as well, something KC hasn’t really had to deal with in games against the likes of Drew Lock, Derek Carr, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers.

The non-existent Bears rushing game failed to show up much against a near-league worst Packers side in Green Bay, so while the Chiefs rank near the bottom of the league in rushing yards against at 130+/game they are more likely to see that number improve than be gashed for worse. Unless, of course, Mitch runs wild like he did against Dallas on TNF a few weeks ago. Mitch is still working on his decision making, and what he does with the RPO all night will go a long way to determining if KC has any issues trying to get closer to that bye week. it’d certainly be nice to see Nagy and staff try some new things, maybe moving the line in different ways or using more misdirection/creativity to get David Montgomery some confidence in a lost rookie campaign.

Mahomes comes in seeing his otherworldly number from 2018 deflated a bit (he’s missed two+ games to injury), but the third-year QB is still making defenses pay when they give him any kind of window. Mahomes is top five in yards/game (300.5), has 23 TD against four INT in 12 games and comes in at 2nd and 6th in QBR and Passing Rating, respectively. He can and will beat you deep to Tyreek Hill (who will also simply just beat you, but only if you’re under 10 years old or female) or Mecole Hardman, or he’ll slowly kill you by feeding monster TE Travis Kelce or any one of the RBBC that seemingly 1) can all catch out of the backfield and catch well and 2) go for allll the YAC. LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, Spencer Ware…it really doesn’t matter. Reid plugs and plays at will and somehow employs backs that can do it all…it’s called a SCHEME,,, folks.

The Bears young stand ins at ILB (Nick Kwiatkoski, Kevin Pierre-Louis) and the defensive backfield (Kevin Toliver, Deon Bush) will all be tested over and over by these weapons and almost assuredly beaten unless the defensive front can create pressure – something that’s been missing since Week 1 for the Bears. Can they find some way to get pressure on Mahomes to help out their youthful next men up? Maybe Pagano has some new ideas for Khalil Mack and Co. after failing all year to get any sustained pressure.

The Bears constant is that they are inconsistent, including during this late 3-1 run to respectability. A loss here is expected, but more than wins or losses these last two weeks should be dedicated to continued learning experiences and trying any and everything to see what they’ve got moving forward. Everything should be on the table, anyone with questions should be thrown into the fire. Who knows, maybe the apprentice will catch the master and score an upset while having a little fun along the way (did you know Nagy is a Reid disciple????)

Prediction: Chiefs 38, Bears 29

Football

“This week, please don’t compare Mitch Trubisky to Patrick Mahomes. We are more than happy with the guy we got. Development takes time. Mitch’s story hasn’t even begun to be written yet. I would do it all over again exactly the same way.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                      -Ryan Pace (Probably)

Do you remember, years ago, when the Bears or Blackhawks were terrible and the only reason you would go to games was because you wanted to watch the opponent’s best player? Well guess what, this is exactly what the Bears season has become.

The KC MasterChiefs come to town led by arguably the league’s most important player, Patrick Mahomes. The KC QB has been slowed somewhat by a knee injury this season, but the numbers are still very impressive; maybe not MVP-worthy, but robust no less. Most impressive is the QB’s learning curve in regards to taking care of the football. Mahomes has thrown four interceptions this season, second only to Aaron Rodgers. The importance of ball security cannot be stressed hard enough, and because of this, Patrick Mahomes (learning from Andy Reid) and the Chiefs will continue to be relevant in this league for a long, long time.

However, as Mitch Trubisky has shown, ball security alone doesn’t equate to NFL success. For all of the criticism Trubisky receives, you can’t overlook the great job he does of limiting his turnovers. The difference is Mahomes simply does so much more. The Chiefs entire offense involves a heavy reliance on Mahomes’ athleticism; meaning their playbook is full of designed bootlegs, straight QB runs, and QB RPOs. The hardest thing for me to understand is that Trubisky is actually more physically talented than Mahomes, so why is Matt Nagy not taking advantage of this? The new NFL is all about athletic QBs who are making plays with their feet. It’s becoming more about guys like:

  • Lamar Jackson (1,103 Rush Yards, 6.9 Yards / Carry)
  • Josh Allen (4.6 Rush Yards / Carry, 9 Rush TDs)
  • Deshaun Watson (5.0 Rush Yards/ Carry, 7 TDs)

Notice I made no mention of Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, Baker Mayfield, Dak Prescott, and Kyler Murray who all can make plays outside of the pocket by design or improvising.

Running aside, then digging deeper into Patrick Mahomes’ passing tendencies, I was shocked to see how much the QB relies on throws to the left side of the field. This has been evident throughout the season, but no more so than two weeks ago against the Patriots:

As you can see, against a turnover forcing machine that is the 2019 New England Patriots, only 10 of Mahomes 40 pass attempts went outside the right hash, where more than double that amount went to the left side. What you can also see from the Chiefs offense is a reliance on throws behind the line of scrimmage and within 10 yards of the LOS.

Is this the type of throw chart we can expect against the Bears? Well, you very well may get a game like this:

Or maybe one like this:

Scary huh?

Now, don’t get me wrong, from a viewers perspective, I would love to see a game like the two above. I just don’t want it necessarily to be against the Bears. I think the home teams give a shit level will be very low on Sunday and in an effort to protect some guys from further injury as well as increase the team’s chances of a more preferred draft position in the later rounds, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mahomes went off for something like 30-35 for 420 and three TDs against a home team that hasn’t earned your trust this entire season.

Chiefs 35, Bears 10

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.

Football

The Bears are through a week and a half of practices and we’ve learned that the defense is still incredible, the beat writers LOVE the kicking  competition and no one knows if anything has improved in the play of Mitchell Trubisky.

Mitch and his development sort of flew under the radar this Summer when Cody Parkey‘s GMA appearance and the sideshow kicking competition dominated most of the offseason headlines. Training camp brought our boy Trubs back into the spotlight and all the reports have been more or less the same we’ve seen the last two years, with every great play there is an equal and opposite awful one. Inconsistency is Trubs game.

But he’s practicing against the league’s best defense! Pfft. This is supposed to be the year he takes “the step” forward and develops into the “First Division QB” that takes Chicago from mediocrity to contender for a decade.

So, is that what they’ll get?

Mitch, through no real fault of his own, is a polarizing figure destined to be measured against the two men Ryan Pace chose to pass up. The 2017 QBs taken after Trubs are routinely discussed as better than him; one (Patrick Mahomes) is an MVP already and looks like he’ll be better than most at the position for a decade, while the other (Deshaun Watson) shows brilliant flashes but has already undergone major knee surgery. You can spend literally hours talking about the merits of all three, and it will never goddamned matter. Please don’t do this. They can’t go back and draft Mahomes. Embrace that fact. Mitch is what they’ve got, and what they do to maximize what they’ve got is all that matters.

Now, how to maximize whatever Mitch is. His organization didn’t do him any favors at the start.

Mitch was essentially thrown into a garbage system coached by John Fox and a staff that knew they were all DOA once Pace took over, but were allowed to weekend-at-Bernie’s the 2017 campaign as the McCaskey’s weren’t about to pay another coach to not work for them. Mike Glennon (WOOF) was only able to help drag Fox’s body around for four weeks before the job was heaped on our young Jonathan Silverman. No Andrew McCarthy around to help carry the weight, Mitch just chucked shit up and hoped *checks notes* Dontrelle Inman or any TE/RB might catch something. Seriously, the top ten list of 2017 Bears reception leaders reads like an Iowa fan’s wet dream with FOUR tight ends. No, none of them were over 20 catches. Man, 2017 sucked.

So you have a young Quarterback that started a single year in college, thrust into a system no one cared about with sub-par players no one intended to keep around. This is a failure. Pace seemingly gets a pass for this, as in it’s never discussed, but this was a major misstep and really didn’t even begin true development for Mitch. Off to a great start.

Year two Trubisky was more fun to watch in Matt Nagy’s system but that lack of coaching in year one shown more often than anyone, I’m sure Mitch included, would like to see. He can’t help but constantly heave the ball off his back foot, but his post-snap reads are where you really see the need for improvement and reps in the offense. Mitch also tends to lean on his mobility, for better or worse. He’ll make an escape and hit a receiver or scramble for big yardage; the next play, he bails on the pocket and attempts a throw across his body that becomes an interceptable ball while he’s locked in on one target the whole time.

2018 Trubisky teased some gorgeous throws while missing wide open targets with regularity. He ranked 30th of 35 qualified QBs for depth-adjusted accuracy(sub required, and recommended. It’s $12, cheapass). Mitch was a fairly high 93% accurate on short (line of scrimmage or behind) throws, but on anything beyond that his accuracy starts declining. Sharply. (Per Pre-Snap Reads data):

  • 1-10 yards – 77.6% (24th/86.5%-1st)

  • 11-20 yards – 54.3% (27th/69.9*nice*-1st)

  • 20+ yards – 38.1% (21st/61.5%-1st)

For every pretty ball dropped in-stride to Tarik Cohen on a wheel route down the sideline there were three terrible overthrows of Taylor Gabriel on a corner post or Anthony Miller on a blown coverage in the seam that arguably result in touchdowns. Those throws have to be made. It’s what good QBs do.

From Cian Fahey’s offseason review of Mitch, “He’s a very different type of player to prime Joe Flacco, but that would be the caliber of quarterback you’re working with.”

Exciting! Flacco won a Super Bowl…He also makes a living on gaining large swaths of yardage via P.I. Not ideal.

A late season injury only blurred the lines further on where exactly Mitch is developmentally. The offense appeared almost scaled back for baby boy upon return, but the problem areas remained the same. The issues don’t seem to be about understanding the plays, but the decision making and execution of what Nagy and Co. tee up. The Playoff loss was a microcosm of his season – a perfectly timed and thrown ball into a small window to Robinson helped to set up the double-doink sadness, but only AFTER a terrible read that should’ve been intercepted a handful of plays earlier.

How Nagy works now to change Trubisky’s bad habits will define this era of Bears football. Improving accuracy and reads are mandatory, with defensive regression and kicking headaches guaranteed in 2019. It’ll also go a long way in telling if 2018 was improvement over 2017, or just a system with much better players propping Mitch up and dragging him around with them.

The good plays are great. The misses are egregious. That is what Mitch is right now – inconsistent, and the spectrum is VAST. So-so Mitch got them to Wild Card Weekend. Consistent Mitch makes the Bears a real problem for the NFC.