Football

@

Records: CHI 0-1 DEN 0-1

TV: 3:25 pm FOX 32

Radio: WBBM 780 AM/105.9 FM

Joe Flacco joined the mile high club before you: Milehighreport.com

Ah, there it is. That sinking feeling. The one that rushed in as you saw Adrian Amos come down with the back-breaking interception last Thursday night. All those lofty expectations and National media criticism crashing down at once.  All the sudden, a Week 2 trip to Denver and former Bears DC Vic Fangio that looked like a mildly challenging test in August is now a near must-win road game against the guy that probably knows your playbook better than your QB. Luckily, Fangio has many a mess of his own to clean up to make this game look more winnable than it did on Monday Morning.

Denver limps home after failing to come all the way back to beat the rival Oakland Raiders late on Monday night in what was a decent upset, all things considered. The 24-16 scoreline is misleading, as Oakland thoroughly dominated this one, pitching a first half shutout (14-0) and withstanding some late garbage time scores to prevail. The Broncos were bad in just about every phase of this one, lowlighted on defense where they gave up a 98-yard drive for a TD to open the 2nd Q and EDGE savants Von Miller and Bradley Chubb were credited with a combined ZERO pressures. Fangio was also without his former Bear FA signing Bryce Callahan, having to to watch second year DB Isaac Yiadom get picked apart play after play by guy-liner aficionado Derek Carr.

The offense and new QB Joe Flacco did little to provide bright spots, settling for FG attempts through three quarters on 215 for 6 points. Flacco led two scoring drives late, but with Oakland holding a 24-6 lead they were happy to give up completions to keep the clock going. Flacco is not going through a renaissance in Denver if he keep on the path from Week 1, especially if the Chicago secondary can take away Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders. Those two accounted for 12 of 21 completions and nearly 3/4 of the team passing totals. The ground game is very much a work in progress, with Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay spitting carries and combining for under 100 yards. As stated, the Broncos have a long journey to figuring this thing out.

Matt Nagy drags his bag of tricks, or lack thereof, to the Mile High city with plenty of answers of his own to provide. The focus for over a week has been on the abysmal offensive performance and how exactly they go about getting to average, let alone progressing to the top of the NFL’s offenses like many had hoped for in year two of Nagy-ball. Mitchell Trubisky is continuing to be coddled, with the Bears brass opting against him even speaking about his failures from Week 1. Trubs has plenty of his own work to do with reading the plays and not panicking into awful throws or abandoning pockets in half a second. His offensive line, a major strength of 2018, needs to get their shit together as well after they gave up a near league-worst 19 QB pressures to start the season. It’ll be interesting to see what tweaks, if any, are made with the stable of RBs and what that usage looks like. The major disparity of runs to pass plays will no doubt be better than 15/50, but many were confused by the usage in general of Tarik Cohen, Mike Davis, David Montgomery and Cordarelle Patterson. Unlock the backfield, and things could start to fall into place for the offense as a whole. Trey Burton‘s mystery groin injury doesn’t seem set to heal just yet, and his full participation could also be a key to opening up this offense.

The Chicago defense is hoping it won’t be wasted like many of the stout Bear D’s of the recent past. This unit looked as good as advertised, even with a few new faces and new coordinator in Chuck Pagano trying not to bungle the gift Fangio left him. The Broncos only gave up sis QB pressures in Week 1, but the Oakland rush isn’t exactly what you’d call “remotely passable” for an NFL team, and that was before Denver lost the best RT in football in Ju’Waun James. Khalil Mack and co. have to be more than eager to get after the swiss cheese right side of the line and statuesque Flacco. Eddie Goldman will be a game time decision, but with the emergence of Roy Robertson-Harris last week that may be a moot point.

Neither of these teams probably expected to come into this game with this much uncertainty, and how it plays out for the victor will be very telling of where their seasons go from here. Can Nagy sort out his shortcomings to the point the offense runs smoothly and becomes watchable, possibly even…exciting? I’d settle for boring and good for now. Can Fangio tighten up his defense enough, with so many young/new players and a new system, on a short week?

My money is on Nagy, Mitch and the offense doing enough to lean on another stellar defensive performance to get Chicago it’s first win of 2019. Fangio might know how to solve Nagy, but the personnel doesn’t seem like it’s ready to execute as needed. Remember, it took three full years for the Bears to go from bottom third of the league to top five in DVOA under Vic.

Prediction: Bears 22, Broncos 13 

Football
This week the major matchups seemed to be the same on each side, so Tony Martin and I split the work for your reading pleasure. He wanted to be called “DJ Yung Milwaukee”. Please, ask him about it. 
Tony on the Broncos Defensive Front vs. Bears Offensive Line:
I’ll be spending this guest verse breaking down the Chicago offensive line and how they line up against the front 7 of Denver. I think most of us will have our eyes on this matchup but on the other side of the ball (no pressure, Wes), but honestly the Bears offensive line was a wet fart last Thursday night so there’s a real concern there for me.
Our boys came out and got blown up by Green Bay in week one. Lorin Cox @TheBearsWire has an outstanding All-22 breakdown, but the TLDR is that it’s fucking bad out there. Missed assignments, poor communication, and an overall inability to read the scheme that Green Bay was running plagued the offensive line all night. The Packers literally rushed three men and still got pressure because the Bears had no idea what they were looking at pre-snap.
Cody Whitehair looked lost when the Packers started running stunts, and James Daniels looked over-matched all night (see: that 3rd and 1 FB dive with Patterson). Pressure came from all sides of the pocket, and Mitch struggled to even set his feet or make his second read before the line was getting pushed back.
It’s not easy to think about these problems, especially paired with the fact that Vic Fangio knows this team already and has an idea of what sort of looks or schemes will work against the Bears’ offensive line. Derek Wolfe might have a huge game, but he has the potential to underwhelm if last week was any indication.
You don’t need me to tell you that Bradley Chubb and Von Miller are gonna wreck shit. Expect a lot of chips, extra blockers, and a reliance on whatever back they feel gives them the best pass protection on 3rd and long.
This one might get ugly, gang. The silver lining is that it’s still early and those tweaks can happen as the line gels, with 40% of them moving back to their “original positions”. I’m expecting this to be an area where Denver is stronger than the Bears, but I’m hoping the offense can still establish some consistency and give the skill position players opportunities to shine.
Wes on the Bears Defensive Front vs Broncos Offensive Line:
Thanks, DJ Yung Milwaukee. I feel zero pressure (as I’m hoping Mitch will as well on Sunday) since you actually asked to be called that. Anyway….
Denver Offensive Line coach Mike Munchak is likely as nervous as he’s ever been, given he’s got at least one, possibly two, starters on the shelf as he preps for Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks, Roy Robertson-Harris and the rest of the vaunted Chicago pass rush. No pressure, Mike.
The parts of the Denver OL that were able to stay healthy in Week 1 actually graded out really well (per PFF’s metrics), with steady LT Garett Bolles leading the unit to allowing only six QB pressures all night. Rookie LG Dalton Risner was actually graded the highest, likely getting a slight bump from playing between the veterans Bolles and C Connor McGovern. But you have to factor in that Oakland’s defensive front will never be mistaken for the Bears (unless it’s 2016-ish), so take those grades with a small pile of salt.
Now, those injuries. RT Ja’Wuan James is rated (and paid) as a top tackle in the league, so missing him will be a massive blow for this unit. Add in that starting RG Ronald Leary could also miss the game and Mack, Hicks, et al have to be fighting over who gets to line up over the right side all Afternoon.
Third year pro Elijah Wilkinson will take over for James, and while he filled in capably enough in a losing effort on Monday, facing the Bears is a whole other level of Hell he’s never seen. If Leary is even a partial participant we’ll see a steady dose of rookie Austin Schlottmann at Guard on the right side as well, meaning 2/5 of the line and 2/3 of the interior will be essentially starting their careers. The emergence of Roberson-Harris last week is not looking like it’ll slow down in Week 2.
The top unit was also stymied for the most part in being able to run block efficiently, helping the team to one rush of 26 yards but only producing 69 (nice) on over 20 other total carries. Chicago allowed only 47 yards to Green Bay on 22 carries of their own last week, so Denver could find the sledding quite difficult in Week 2.
Overall, this appears to a glaring mismatch, one that could potentially put the Bears over the edge so long as they can protect the football when they have it. Chicago’s edge and interior, not to mention the improving Roquan Smith and highly intelligent Danny Trevathan behind them, should have their way with the battered Denver OL all day.
I expect a lot of posing and maybe a spike or two if the Bear defense can get into the end zone on Sunday.
https://twitter.com/AdamHoge/status/1171856309454540807
Football

Sunday at 3:25, our beloved and disappointing Chicago Bears travel to Mile High Stadium to face the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are one of those teams that seem like the boring background noise of the NFL at the moment, being roughly about as interesting as the Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, and that Washington team. The Broncos don’t even have the luxury of being a flaming dumpster fire (Miami, the Giants), they just come out and play. Truth be told, if they weren’t on the late slate so often on Red Zone I’d forget they exist. Luckily, I got a chance to scout them on Monday and then promptly fell asleep on my couch at halftime.

However, I rewatched their loss against the Raiders and did a little bit of research on my own, so I’ll spend this article letting you know all you need to know about the Broncos so you can impress everyone at your watch party.

First off: this team does not pass the eye test. They have budding stars at WR (Courtland Sutton) and RB (Phillip Lindsay), with solid veterans to compliment them in Emmanuel Sanders and the also young but uninspiring Royce Freeman, respectively. So they go and invest in… Joe Flacco and Vic Fangio. Fangio is a brilliant defensive mind, and since Denver went defensive when selecting their head coach, they hopped on the new trend in the NFL and picked someone who once ripped bongs with Sean McVay in college to run the offense. Imagine being Rich Scangarello and getting a chance to FINALLY have an offense of your own and being gifted Joe fucking Flacco to run it. Oof.

The Defense is great on paper. Von Miller is going to be a problem and demand extra help almost no matter what, and Chris Harris Jr is an outstanding defensive back. Bradley Chubb is also a beast. Kareem Jackson is a decent corner, and it looks right now like Bryce Callahan might not play, which is a bummer. I hope nothing but good health for that dude because he is as close to a shutdown slot corner as there is in the NFL, and Bears fans appreciate good defense if for no other reason because we’ve been conditioned to expect defenders to be better than the offense. Unfortunately for this “wonderful” defense, they played terribly against Oakland. The Raiders went 10-14 on 3rd down last week and those defensive numbers don’t look good, no matter if you’re playing backyard football or in the NFL.

As for what to expect, look for a lot of slants, quick reads, and plays designed to get the ball out of Flacco’s hands as quickly as possible, he’s about as mobile as my Grandpa who candidly has never won a Super Bowl but did fight in World War II. Be on the lookout for 60/40 split between Lindsay and Freeman, for some stupid reason. Courtland Sutton will pop on screen when you watch, he’s dynamic. The Broncos sucked in the red zone last week and there has been a lot of talk about opening up the playbook, so we will see stuff we haven’t seen yet. Expect Flacco to air it out a few times, and for Vic to try to confuse Mitch into bad throws and poor reads. When the Bears offense is on the field, we’ll see exactly how much new creativity Matt Nagy has put into the playbook in the offseason, and it should be an entertaining chess match to say the least.

If the Bears are legit, games like this shouldn’t be close and we can all breathe calmly when we reflect on the what happened on Monday morning. If the Bears are truly hitting the regression button, this game could be a surprise loss. As of Wednesday the line is Bears by 3, and while my heart says that’s a good bet, recent data implies this game might be too close for comfort.