Bears Should Be Uneasy About Amukamara’s Late Season Performance. And Other Points of View.

Bears

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune reviews the cornerback position as the Bears enter the off-season:

    “[Prince] Amukamara set a bold goal of 10 interceptions before the season, and while that didn’t happen, he played with confidence after going through a contract season each of the previous three years. Having some security allowed him to just go out and play. He had a pick-six in the Week 2 victory over the Seahawks and added interceptions against the Lions and Rams. Amukamara had 66 tackles to lead the position and three tackles for a loss with two forced fumbles. The passer rating against him was 82.9, and he tied for 19th in the NFL with 83 targets, per [Pro Football Focus].”

    Amukamara had a good year but I fear that he was exposed a little bit in the last few games. He had 7 pass interference or defensive holding calls against him. All came in the second half of the season including one playoff game. Three came in the last two games against the Vikings and the Eagles.

    Having just signed a 3 year contract last offseason with $18 million guaranteed, Amukamara isn’t going anywhere but the Bears have to be at least a little worried that teams were trying to take advantage of Amukamara more as the season wore on and as teams adjusted to what they had going on defense. Add the fact that they might seek a replacement for Bryce Callahan at nickel cornerback rather than investing significantly more cap space into the position and this is one of the few areas of uncertainty for the Bears this offseason. It will be interesting to see what general manager Ryan Pace decides to do at the position.

  • Biggs also answers your questions:

    “Do you think Ryan Pace would sign Matt Nagy to a healthy contract to keep him around for a long time? — @flowersdevonte

    “Nagy has a healthy contract right now, one that runs for four more seasons through 2022. He’s not anywhere close to becoming a coaching free agent. The Bears actually signed Nagy to a contract that runs one year longer than Pace’s deal. I wouldn’t have any concern. If the Bears continue to be successful, I fully expect them to take the steps necessary to retain Nagy. I would be surprised if the team contemplated a new deal for Nagy until he has two years remaining on the current contract. There is a lot of football to be played between now and then, but coming off a successful 12-4 season when Nagy was named Coach of the Year, I can understand why you would broach the topic.”

    As do I. But I agree that there’s no rush here.

    There are a lot of coaches around the league that have a lot of success their first year. Adam Gase in Miami won 10 games and made the playoffs as a rookie head coach. The team fell back into mediocrity after that and he no longer has a job there.

    Nagy did a great job and making the playoffs was a huge accomplishment. But he’s an offensive head coach and, let’s face it, the offense wasn’t up to snuff the second half of the season.

    Some of that was being conservative by design to not put your number one rated defense in a bad spot with turnovers. But some of it was the not yet fully implemented scheme run by a not yet fully developed quarterback.

    Add the uncertainty that comes with a new defensive coordinator for that defense and no one can really be sure what’s going to happen.

    I’m optimistic that the new regime will do well. But if it was my money I’d want to see more before I shelled out a lot more of it unnecessarily.

  • Biggs answers another one:

    “Is pass rusher a high offseason priority given the lack of depth behind Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd? — @schechschech10

    “From the standpoint that no team ever looks at its depth chart of pass rushers and says, ’We’re good here,’ sure, it will be a priority. But very few teams have a pass rusher with the talent of Mack. They’re not going to go out and pay another pass rusher. They’ve got a ton of resources invested in that area. Will they always be looking for players to push for a spot on the roster? Absolutely. Maybe they look to bring back Aaron Lynch or seek a replacement for a role player. But it’s not going to be a greater priority than that.”

    I don’t think many people are going to agree with me here but I’m going to continue to insist that the Bears depth at pass rusher isn’t that bad. One of the first signs of improvement I noticed in 2018 was the play of the younger pass rushers and defensive linemen during the preseason.

    Are they guys who are going to be spectacular and replace the production of a Khalil Mack if he’s injured? No, of course not. But Sam Acho is adequate and players like Isaiah Irving and Kylie Fitts look to me like they could hold their own and give average production if they had to play. In other words, they’re good back ups. And it’s important to know that these players are still getting better and could take the next step if given the chance.

  • And yet another one:

    “One of the Patriots’ best and most consistent, yet unsung, players over the past few years has been left guard Joe Thuney. He put on a clinic in the Super Bowl. Aaron Donald lined up over him initially, then Donald was moved to the left side of the line. What a testament. Thuney was drafted in the third round the same year Cody Whitehair was taken in the second. Do you see any chance the Patriots let him become an unrestricted free agent after next year and could he potentially sign with the Bears? I don’t see Kyle Long around much longer and I think Thuney could be a great pickup. — Terry M., Hawthorn Woods, Ill.

    Thuney has been a terrific young player for the Patriots and it’s hard to imagine them not at least working to extend him before the start of next season. If Thuney remains healthy and does reach the open market 13 months from now, he’ll likely command a huge payday. You might not see Long around much longer, but I don’t know if I see the Bears going big for a guard in free agency. It’s one thing to pay a guard big money that you’ve drafted, developed and used on a cost-controlled rookie contract. It’s another thing to pay the kind of premium required to sign a player at the outset of free agency, especially at guard.”

    A couple things here.

    1. Thuney is a very good guard. But make no mistake, the Patriots stopped Donald because they double teamed him virtually every play. Thuney had a lot of help and if the Rams moved Donald to the left side, its only because they thought tackle Ndamukong Suh might have a better chance against him one-on-one.
    2. The Bears are getting to the point where they have to keep an eye on their cap. Eventually they are going to have to pay quarterback Mitch Trubisky and that won’t be cheap. They are gong to have to ask themselves how much money they want to invest in the offensive line. Charles Leno and now Bobby Massie are on reasonable deals but they are gong to want to keep Whitehair, who is probably the best of the bunch, and he might not be so easy to sign. I’m not so sure the Bears jump into a signing on the offensive line any time soon.
  • Rich Campbell, also at the Chicago Tribune reports that the Browns have signed Kareem Hunt, ending speculation that he might be headed to the Bears:

    “[Browns general manager John] Dorsey released a 245-word statement as part of the Browns’ announcement of the signing. He acknowledged the complexity of questions about signing Hunt but cited his relationship with Hunt in explaining the decision that ’he deserves a second chance.’

    “Said Dorsey: ’There were two important factors: One is that Kareem took full responsibility for his egregious actions and showed true remorse, and secondly, just as importantly, he is undergoing and is committed to necessary professional treatment and a plan that has been clearly laid out.”’

    Hmmmm… he took full responsibility, eh? Like when he lied to the Chiefs about the incident and only came clean after video of the incident came out and he knew the jig was up?

    Hunt strikes me as being similar to many athletes in situations like this such as Ray McDonald, who was briefly a Bear before once again finding himself in trouble for allegedly attacking a woman. He’s a con man who has grown up as an athlete who people believed because they wanted to believe him.

    Hunt is a talented running back. People who want talented running backs on their team are apt to believe that he “took full responsibility for his actions” even though the evidence clearly shows that was not the case until he could no longer deny his guilt.

    Let’s tell this like it is. This wasn’t a Ray Rice situation where an instant of anger led to a fist being thrown faster than the brain could catch up. The video showed Hunt as an out of control animal who attacked this woman like a mad dog for almost two minutes.

    Professional help or not, Hunt is a ticking time bomb who is just waiting to explode again.

    Knowing this, signing players like this puts fans in a terrible position. You want to root for your team. But how do you do it knowing that they signed such a player? To this day, I can’t watch Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger without visions of a college girl being raped in the back room of a bar in Georgia. Having to watch players like this prevents fans from fully enjoying what should be an entertaining experience.

    Thanks heavens the Bears didn’t sign Hunt. They and their fans are better off without him and his ilk.

  • Biggs answers another question:

    “What was the deal with Taquan Mizzell taking snaps away from Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen? — @jgrythefireguy

    There have been multiple questions about this, and while I agree it seemed Mizzell was forced onto the field a little bit in the second half of the season, we’re talking about a very small percentage of plays. Mizzell was on the field for 66 offensive snaps over the final nine regular-season games. He was the only running back on the field for a total of 18 snaps. He was on the field with Cohen for 28 snaps (nearly half of the 66), so it’s not like he took a lot of playing time from him. Mizzell was on the field with Cohen and Howard for 16 snaps. Howard and Mizzell were on the field together for two snaps. Mizzell was on the field with fellow running back Benny Cunningham for one snap, and on one snap Mizzell, Cohen and Cunningham were all on the field. Mizzell got a total of nine carries and was targeted with 10 passes, catching eight of them. So I don’t think there’s a lot here. He didn’t really take many snaps away from the other backs and he certainly didn’t take many touches from them. Mizzell was performing well in practice and coach Matt Nagy wanted to create some game opportunities for him.”

    To me the insistence on playing Mizzell was an indication of Matt Nagy’s dissatisfaction with the running back position.

    Howard was obviously slower, with less burst and, at least early in the season, poor vision. To me he looked hurt but there are no reports indicating that was the case.

    Cohen is a nice little back who can make plays but his size is occasionally a liability.

    Together the two made for a “thunder and lightning” combination that could be valuable but there were definite limitations to each that Mizzell, who was putatively more of a “do it all” back, would have alleviated had he been better. For example, Biggs continues in a later article as he quotes a scout on what the Bears might find in this area in the third round of the draft:

    “If you are taking a third-round or a fourth-round guy, it’s not going to be an elite player necessarily but someone who has a complete skill set. Jordan doesn’t have that. He can’t run routes. He can’t catch. So they don’t have to be elite; they have to be complete.”

    I agree that Mizzell was not good enough to fill this role or that of a return man, which the Bears briefly positioned him as.

    Like Biggs, I’m quite sure the running back position and, probably, the tight end position are at the top of general manager Ryan Pace’s list of positions to revamp.

  • Dan Durkin had this interesting comment for The Athletic regarding Mitch Trubisky’s contractual future:

    “[The Bears] have the luxury of Mitch Trubisky being on a rookie deal through the 2020 season. Keep in mind that the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) also expires in 2020. So it’s possible that fifth-year option — a protection afforded to teams to retain first-round picks for a fifth season after their rookie deals expire — could be eliminated in 2021 if the players association (NFLPA) pushes for an end to the provision when negotiations for the next CBA commence. That will be an interesting aspect to monitor for the Bears.”

    Indeed it will.

    Durkin’s comment is an uneasy reminder that the CBA is coming to an end and with that comes a lot of uncertainty. If Trubisky turns out to be a top ten quarterback, that uncertainty for the Bears will be many times higher than usual.

    Assuming he continues to develop, the Bears could push for a Trubisky signing after 2019. It would be unusual given the current fifth year option which would ordinarily secure Trubisky through 2021 but, as Durkin says, if the next CBA doesn’t have it, Trubisky is an unrestricted free agent after 2020 when the Bears would normally be thinking about negotiating an extension.

  • Biggs also had a comment some time ago about some of the things the Bears did on offense in the playoff loss to the Eagles. I never got around to commenting on it.

    “I didn’t care for the two-point conversion call. Send outside linebacker Khalil Mack in motion on another gadget play with offensive lineman Bradley Sowell lined up in the backfield and then try a shovel pass to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, maybe the skill position player least likely to break a tackle for an extra half-yard in the sea of humanity in the middle of the line? Sure, it’s easy to second guess a play call that doesn’t work, and the Bears have been so good with unconventional stuff at the goalline, but it’s a different situation if the Bears are leading 17-10 with 9:04 remaining. Much different.”

    I was amused to find out from a friend in Green Bay that Packer fans were up in arms about the Bears use of gadget plays. They seemed to think the Bears were doing it because they are arrogant. This was their reason for wanting to beat the Bears so badly at home at the end of the season. As if they needed an excuse.

    I don’t think the Bears are running these plays because they are arrogant. Nor do I think the reason most fans and media give, that they are “fun” is the primary reason. I think its because its just really hard to score in the red zone and the closer you get, the harder it becomes.

    The Bears didn’t really have a red zone weapon, a big receiver that they could depend upon to reliably beat a defensive back one on one in a short field. I also don’t think that some of the throws that are required to make those plays work are Trubisky’s forte.

    So the Bears went to those gadget plays not out of arrogance but out of desperation. It was an indication of yet another limitation to their offense and was yet another reason why tight end is probably high on their list of wants.

    Elsewhere

  • Bucky Brooks at NFL.com thinks the Arizona Cardinals should trade away Josh Rosen and pick Kyler Murray in the draft:

    “’Josh (Rosen) is our guy.’ – Kliff Kingsbury, Feb. 12

    “The Cardinals’ new head coach has told the football world that Rosen is the team’s QB1 for the future, but it is hard to ignore the dot connecting that could put Oklahoma standout Kyler Murray in the desert on draft night. In fact, I believe the opportunity to put Murray in a system designed to elevate playmakers should prompt the Cardinals to trade away the franchise quarterback they selected 10th overall last spring.”

    “’Kyler, I mean, he’s a freak, man,’ Kingsbury said in October, per KLBK-TV’s Eric Kelly. ’… Kyler is a freak. I’ve followed him since he was a sophomore in high school. Just think the world of him and what he can do on a football field. I’ve never seen one better in high school and he’s starting to show it now at the college level. I don’t have enough good things to say about him. He’s phenomenal.

    “’… I would take him with the first pick of the draft if I could.’

    “As it turns out, Kingsbury will have the chance to do exactly that, as Arizona holds the No. 1 overall pick.”

    “’Our feelings toward Josh haven’t waned or changed,’ Kingsbury said. ’I get that we have the first pick and there are going to be a million scenarios, and over the next three months they are going to come up. But Josh is our guy.’”

    “Hmmm. I would love to believe the Cardinals’ coach, but Murray’s skills are a perfect match for the team’s new system.”

    A couple things here:

    1. In my opinion, you absolutely don’t take Murray with the first overall pick.

      Yes, I know that Kingsbury effused that he would take Murray with that pick as the Texas Tech coach. But it was easy to say that then and, as Brooks points out later in the article, people can’t always be taken literally when commenting on such things as an opposing college coach. They are expected to exaggerate.

      More to the point, where you take a player in the draft has little to do with where you think he should go and it has everything to do with where other teams will take him. Murray is almost certainly less than 5’10” and has yet to show that he can throw from the pocket. He’s a risk that you don’t take with a top five pick. if you want him, you find a way to trade down and then take him.

    2. Its possible that Kingsbury is smart enough to understand what he’s got in Rosen.

      People like to think that getting a franchise quarterback is just a matter of choosing the right guy. In my opinion, they couldn’t be more wrong. It about developing the right guy. That means good coaching at the very minimum.

      Rosen had a miserable year but he was on a miserable team with a defensive head coach who had no clue how to develop him. Whether Kingsbury has a clue remains to be seen. It seems evident to me that as the need for quarterbacks has become more acute, the NFL has gotten better at developing them with some very good young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Mitch Trubisky, and Deshaun Watson coming to the fore in recent years. But either way Arizona is still going to be a bad team and probably a bad situation.

      Rosen is a classic NFL quarterback. He’s got the size and physical ability. He’s accurate and by all accounts he’s smart. He simply hasn’t had a chance to show what he’s capable of. If he is traded, here’s hoping its to a team that can fully develop him and utilize his talents to give him the best chance to succeed.

  • Having said that, I was intrigued by these comments regarding Murray that came via Peter King at profootballtalk.com:

    “’What percentage of the time,’ I asked Oklahoma coach and Murray mentor Lincoln Riley the other day, ’would you guess Kyler threw from the pocket this year?’

    “Riley thought for a few seconds.

    “’Eighty-five percent?’ Riley said. ’Ninety, maybe.’

    “Think of how amazing that is — a short quarterback who runs like a greyhound, and Riley called a similar percentage of designed passes from the pocket as many NFL teams with classic dropback passers would. Think of how the game has changed from a decade ago, when a fleet and smallish quarterback would basically be an option quarterback playing the game on the edges. Not Riley. Not with Murray. His runs? Mostly designed runs to takes advantage of a player with Vick-type tools.”

    A lot of those throws were quick hitters and running an NFL offense where you frequently have to stand tall while the pocket collapses around you is quite a bit of a different story.

    Having said that, it’s clear that Murray is a different kettle of fish when compared, for instance, to Johnny Manziel. Manziel not only didn’t show that he could throw from the pocket in college, it was proven conclusively that he couldn’t as the teams that beat Texas A&M his last year with the team were the ones that kept him there.

    Murray could prove to be one of those rare athletes like Russell Wilson who can overcome his lack of size to succeed in the NFL. Murray is shorter than Wilson and has more of an uphill battle. But you can see why a team might pick him in the top ten. Indeed, Brooks has Murray as his #6 overall prospect which, for a quarterback, means top 5 pick.

    Where Murray is selected is going to be one of the more interesting draft stories in years. I’m looking forward to seeing him at the combine.

  • Brooks also quotes offensive coordinator Greg Roman on some some of the things that Baltimore has to do to get the most out of quarterback Lamar Jackson now that they have traded Joe Flacco to the Broncos and made him the unambiguous starter.

    “’We’ve got to develop a strong passing attack,’ Roman said. ’Lamar’s got to develop and everybody around him has got to get better in that area. Obviously, there will be more emphasis on that.’”

    “’Everybody wants you to have to fight left-handed. The best thing we can do is be able to fight with both hands. We want to be able to run it and pass it. There will definitely be more of a balance there. That’s how you win – that’s what makes it sustainable.’”

    Jackson is problematic because he lacks arm strength and he’s not always very accurate, particularly outside the numbers. Though he had some good throws over the middle in the intermediate range in 2018, his weaknesses showed and will likely continue to be a problem as the Ravens work to build a power running game to counter the game plan with 7 defensive backs that the Chargers used to beat them in their AFC Wild Card game.

    Teams will undoubtedly do what they can to take the middle of the field away from Jackson and, as Brooks points out, a strong running team needs to be able to complete deep throws when they do pass the ball to get chunks of yardage. Whether Jackson has the arm to take advantage of a good play action passing game will be an open question until he proves he can do it.

  • Antonio Brown has reportedly asked for a trade.

    Personally if I’m a football fan I don’t want this guy anywhere near my team.

    Frankly, I don’t understand him. He’s got a lucrative contract and this doesn’t appear to be about money. When he’s asked to explain his problem he’s all over the place. Take this response when he was asked to explain his strained relationship with Ben Roethlisberger:

    “No conflict just a matter of respect!. Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game.”

    The best I can tell he just doesn’t like criticism and doesn’t like having to work as part of a team. He reminds me a little bit of former Chicago Bear Martellus Bennett.

    Wide receivers in general tend to be head cases, I think. But Brown seems to take it to a whole new level.

  • Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com takes a team-by-team look at potential 2019 tag candidates:

    “Eagles: The team reportedly is considering the use of the franchise tag on Nick Foles, with an eye toward trading him. Although this approach would violate the CBA, Foles seems to be OK with it — possibly because his agents already know that he wouldn’t get on the open market a long-term contract worth more per year than the franchise tag will pay.”

    I would agree with this. My gut tells me that the payday for Nick Foles might not be what many people believe it will be.

    For one thing, you need at least two teams to drive the price up for Foles. Right now, the only team that currently makes sense for him is Jacksonville.

    But the major reason has to do with Foles’ performance, itself. He struggled for years with the Rams, admittedly under a defensive coach with a stagnant offense. But Foles wasn’t good in those years and really hasn’t been good anywhere but Philadelphia. The fear is that you end up signing a Case Keenum, who had one good year with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017, cashed in big with the Denver Broncos in the offseason, then reverted back to under-perform in 2018.

    Admittedly, Foles has come up big at the tail end of not one, but two seasons in a row now. But its what he did at the beginning of the 2018 season when subbing in for Carson Wentz that would worry me if I were considering him as a signing. Foles wasn’t impressive. In particular, his 50.7 passer rating against the Falcons in the first game of the year sticks in my mind and makes me wonder if his days as a sub-par quarterback will always be limited to those with the Rams.

    Admittedly it was only two games. But I would hesitate to commit too much to Foles right now.

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The Bears Will Need to Be More Aggressive Offensively Next Season. And Other Points of View.

  • The Bears signed Bobby Massie to a four-year contract extension, preventing him from entering unrestricted free agency. The deal is reportedly worth more than $8 million per year. That’s a pretty good price for a solid right tackle in today’s NFL so Massie must have wanted to stay in Chicago.

    Massie did a good job this year but I did wonder if the Bears were going to try to save some money by giving Rashaad Coward a shot at the right tackle job. Coward is a converted defensive line and and, though I’m sure the Bears like his future, he’s probably not ready to start, yet. He could be good depth though, probably on both sides, and it will be interesting to see how he does when he gets his chance to perform.

  • Ryan Wilson at CBS sports thought quarterback Drew Lock showed well at the Senior Bowl in Mobile Alabama on Saturday.

    “And while [Daniel] Jones gets the MVP hardware, those watching know that Lock was the real star. He started the game and was composed from the first snap when he rolled right only to find Montez Sweat in his face, made an arm-angle adjustment to find McLaurin for a 12-yard gain. First down. Two plays later Lock pump-faked the defense out of position and came back to NC State’s Jakobi Meyers across the middle, but Meyers couldn’t hang on.

    “A series later and facing fourth-and-4, Lock rolled right and found Isabella for an eight-yard gain. It was poised, effortless – and something an NFL quarterback is expected to do. But it was the pass on second-and-10 from the South’s 26 that we’ll remember most.

    “Yes, that’s an incompletion but Lock put it the only place he could and McLaurin couldn’t come up with it. That’s the throw scouts will be talking about.”

    So let me say up front that I’m a proud University of Missouri alumnus.

    Having said that, I love what I’ve been seeing from Drew Lock. He did, indeed, look good in the Senior Bowl. Missouri switched to a pro style offense this year and by the end of the year Lock looked pretty good in it to my eye.

    I didn’t’ feel the same way about Blaine Gabbert or Chase Daniel when they came out. Both are from Missouri. So I think this is different.

    Lock may be the quarterback to keep an eye on as we roll towards the draft. These quarterbacks tend to fly up the boards the closer you get and he could be the one that catches the most attention.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

    “I understand Cody Parkey’s season was disappointing, but Mason Crosby had disappointing seasons in the past and the Packers kept him. Could this season be an anomaly for Parkey, and could the Bears look at how the Packers kept Crosby? Especially since the free-agent kickers available are bottom heavy. — John K., Parts Unknown

    “The difference between Crosby and Parkey is huge, though. Crosby had a solid reputation in Green Bay and had earned the trust of general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy. Parkey was given trust by the Bears by virtue of the $9 million guarantee in his contract. He didn’t earn it. That trust has been lost. I don’t see a scenario in which the Bears bring back Parkey.”

    I could be way off base here but I’m not so sure that Parkey doesn’t kick for the Bears next year. Yes, I know, the Today Show appearance by Parkey just days after blowing the potential game winning field goal against Philadelphia wasn’t a good look. But as Biggs himself has pointed out, its about performance on the field. Unless you are talking about a guy who did something that will take him off the field, its practically irrelevant.

    Yes, Parkey had a miserable year. He missed 11 kicks. But six of those actually hit the upright, inches from being good kicks.

    I was all in favor of getting rid of Robbie Gould at the time the Bears released him. He was obviously high maintenance and I had never warmed to his almost constant media presence (at least as kickers go). But I dislike missed kicks more than I dislike Gould and the position has been a disaster since he left while he has performed well elsewhere.

    Let’s just say that I don’t want to look back 2 years from now and know that Parkey got together with a good kicking coach like John Carney made a few minor adjustments and became a very good kicker elsewhere.

    As the questioner above implies, the Bears may be better off keeping Parkey into training camp and letting the best guy win. If Parkey performs well, I think all can be forgiven with the team. The worst thing you can do in this situation is let things that don’t really matter take precedence over performance.

  • Biggs answers another question:

    “What are the chances Matt Nagy gives up play-calling duties next year? When he looks back on his first year as head coach, do you think he will see some of the mistakes as rookie-head-coach mistakes or having too much to do? Mainly thinking about game management. — @adamdcharlton

    I’d say there is little to no chance Nagy hands off play-calling duties to anyone on his staff, and I think doing so would be a mistake. Nagy’s offensive vision is one of his strengths, and the Bears reaped the benefits this season as they went from 29th in the league with 16.5 points per game to ninth with 26.3. That’s quite a jump in one year, and there is reason to believe the offense will be more potent in Year 2.”

    “..Was he perfect with game management? No. There surely are some things he’d like to do differently. Some of those situations may be rookie mistakes as you call them. But I don’t think the Bears had glaring issues with game management, and as I have written before, when you’re simply viewing the game and not processing tons of information on the fly as a coach, it’s a lot easier to make snap decisions.”

    I’d suggest that Nagy put a coach in the booth to advise him on some of those snap decisions, particularly those involving clock management. I don’t think Nagy was horrible with this but I think he is distracted and it might help to have someone else thinking these things through with a clear head.

  • Biggs answers yet another one:

    “I recall some excitement about Jonathan Bullard when the Bears drafted him a few years ago, but I don’t remember seeing Bullard having much of an impact this year. Should we be resigned to the fact that he is just a rotational guy and not an impact player? Or is he doing things on defense the casual fan doesn’t see? — Rich S., Barrington

    “Bullard hasn’t panned out quite like the Bears hoped he would. He is a rotational player and was on the field for 28 percent of the snaps this season. Bullard would probably would be best in a 3-4 scheme. He can help them a bit, but as a third-round pick, it’s probably fair to say he’s been a bit of a disappointment. Entering the final year of his contract, maybe the Bears will get more out of him in 2019.”

    I’m going to mildly disagree with Biggs on this one. Although Roy Robertson-Harris out performed him, I thought Bullard made some progress this year.

    In watching him, along with Robertson-Harris, Bilal Nichols, Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving in training camp, my impression was that the Bears had more depth on defense than I had thought back in early July. That depth wasn’t tested as the Bears remained extremely healthy. During the season defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was obviously very hesitant to take Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd off the field and when he did, veteran Aaron Lynch was the first off the bench. As Biggs points out, the defensive ends got more time but only on a rotational basis.

    Nevertheless, I’m going to say that it would have been very interesting to see what some of these guys could have done given the chance. My guess is that for the most part they would have all been solid but not spectacular performers. That wouldn’t make Bullard a great pick but it wouldn’t make him a bad one, either.

  • In reading through this fluffy interview with former Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher at the Pro Bowl, one response stood out to me:

    “[Q:] What did you want from your quarterback being on the other side of the ball?

    “[A:] Don’t turn the ball over. Simple. Don’t turn the ball over. Take care of the football. Convert some third downs. And protect the ball. The No. 1 thing for us was always: Don’t put us in bad positions. If the quarterback and the offense could do that, we were happy. We could tolerate being put on a short field every once in a while.”

    I totally get this. And its very evident that Nagy got it during the year as well. But I’m not sure its the right attitude for the team overall.

    As the year wore on, Nagy got more and more conservative with his play calling, particularly as opponents played more and more zone defense to prevent the big play against the Bears. Nagy has the NFL’s #1 defense and he didn’t want to turn the ball over and put them in a bad spot.

    The problem is that football is a game of aggression and it has to be played aggressively. This is especially true against good teams like the Eagles. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of Mitch Trubisky after that game but the truth is, Trubisky’s hands were tied. He was forced to embrace the role of game manager because that’s what the team wanted.

    To be frank, the Bears flat out had a better team than the Eagles did. But Nagy played it close to the vest offensively and let them hang around. That’s really why it came down to one missed field goal.

    Next year we should all hope Nagy chooses to play aggressively and attacks on both sides of the ball. Its the only way that the team will really play up to its potential.

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Mitch Trubisky Is Just Fine the Way He Is

Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes Mitch Trubisky as he addresses the inevitable comparisons between himself and Patrick Mahomes:

“But even as Mahomes has surged ahead as the consensus best quarterback from that 2017 class, Trubisky makes it clear he’s trying not to get caught up in an ill-advised chase or a competition that doesn’t really exist.

’I learned that isn’t something that’s ever going to help you, when you measure against other people,’ Trubisky said. ’Just measure against yourself. If you stay locked in and try to be the best you can possibly be, that’s when you’ll have the most success. But if you get caught up in the comparisons, that’s when you get distracted and you’re not as focused as you should be.’”

This sounds like the right attitude and it is certainly one that fans and media should emulate as they examine Trubisky’s performance.

I’ve heard a lot of talk, mostly outside of Chicago, criticizing Bears general manager Ryan Pace for taking Trubisky before Mahomes. This is total nonsense.

For one thing, Trubisky isn’t done developing. Most of those people haven’t actually studied Trubisky on a week-to-week basis. If they had, they would have seen very steady growth over the course of the year.

“’Nobody truly knows how far that kid’s come this year more than me,” [Bears head coach Matt] Nagy said. “I’m looking forward to the future because the city of Chicago is lucky to have that kid at quarterback.

“We threw a lot at him early on. We threw a bunch at him, and he didn’t really have a big library into seeing a bunch of different defenses. So he was trying to learn our offense and then pair it up with the defenses he was going to see. And some defensive coordinators, they did a good job of throwing a bunch of different stuff at us this year, so we got to see a lot of different things. And what he did was early in the year, it was maybe a next play, ‘Hey, let’s forget that,’ and he grew there. So he got better in regards to (forgetting) about what just happened the previous play.”

And Trubisky is very likely nowhere near finished growing.

Will he ever be as good as Mahomes? As of now, I kind of doubt it. I’ve never seen a quarterback be so physically gifted and so accurate at the same time. He plays the game on schedule almost flawlessly at times and yet he can go off schedule and make spectacular plays when necessary. He could turn out to be the best ever before he’s done.

But having said that, overall, for the record, you can now consider me to be a Trubisky guy. When this year started, I knew it would take time before we could draw any conclusions about Trubisky. In fact, I honestly wasn’t too sure we’d be able to do it even by the end of this year. But I’m reasonably sure now.

I think Trubisky’s floor is above average quarterback because, as he plays in his first Pro Bowl, that’s what he is right now. Trubisky settled down as the season wore on, he got more comfortable with what he was seeing and his accuracy got better with that. The wild throws that went miles over the heads of receivers had virtually disappeared by the end of the year. By all accounts he was reading the field much better than he was at the beginning of the year and there’s every expectation that he’ll get better at it as he progresses in the offense in 2019. Certainly that is Nagy’s expectation.

“’By the end of the year, he was reading (his progressions) 1-2-3-run,’ Nagy said. ’That, he conquered. Now, I think level two next year is going to be him really recognizing pre-snap what he’s about to see from these defenses.’”

I think it’s very possible Trubisky could eventually grow to be something really special. Right now I’m thinking his ceiling is Drew Brees. In my wildest dreams, Peyton Manning. But I’m definitely beginning to see a little Drew Brees there.

And, for now, that should be good enough for anyone.

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Bears Need for Running Back May Not Center Around Jordan Howard

Kevin Fishbain at the The Athletic reviews the Bears offseason needs:

Greatest offseason need: Running back. The good thing for the Bears is it’s kind of difficult to peg one major need. Last offseason it was clearly wide receiver. In 2016, they had to upgrade at inside linebacker. This depends on which free agents are re-signed, but running back isn’t an issue of a starter with a contract expiring. It held the offense back to not have more production from the position. Jordan Howard was sixth in the NFL in carries (remember how everyone wanted him to get the ball more?), yet his 3.7-yard rushing average was third-worst among the top 20 rushers. Only 7.2 percent of his carries went for 10-plus yards, which was the lowest for a back with at least 180 carries. Now, fulfilling that need could involve a few things. Maybe Howard completely changes his body and game for next year. Maybe the Bears think he’s fine and it was an offensive-line issue. More likely, though, they address it in the draft or free agency and put more speed in the backfield.”

I agree that the Bears need a running back. But I’m not so sure that its Jordan Howard they should be looking to replace.

Howard had an off year, no doubt about it. Although I thought his vision wasn’t as good earlier in the year, that improved as the season wore on. What did not improve was his explosiveness. Howard had one or two runs where he broke completely in the clear that should have been touchdowns but weren’t because he was simply too slow.

Howard will never be a burner. But he didn’t have this problem in 2017 when he was very impressive on some runs, finding cracks and bursting through them before the viewer even knew they were there. This leads me to wonder if he was hurt in 2018 and he definitely had that look about him.

I think a little patience with Howard might go a long way. The Bears patience with Taquan Mizzell, however, should have run out a long, long time ago. Mizzell was given chance after chance to do something in the Bears offense this year, presumably because head coach Matt Nagy wanted more of a “do it all” utility back who had more power than Tarik Cohen and more mobility than Howard. Whatever the reason, he was a miserable failure.

If Howard was, indeed, injured this year there’s every reason to believe he’ll come back stronger and look more like the 2017 version of himself in 2019. If so, the Bears should be looking for a replacement for Mizzell’s role in the offense.

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Quick Comments: Eagles at Bears 1/6/19

Defense

  1. Looked to me like the Eagles thought they might be able to spread the Bears out and run up the middle. It didn’t work.
  2. What did work was the mid range passing game. The Eagles burned the Bears passing over the middle and up the seam.
  3. On a related note, Zach Ertz might be the best tight end the Bears played all year. It showed as he caused some trouble and had a good game.
  4. Alshon Jeffery had a good game as well. He seemed like he wanted to show the Chicago crowd something.
  5. I thought the Eagles did a pretty good job of protecting Nick Foles all things considered. As promised, Foles generally got the ball out early.
  6. When he didn’t get the ball out early and when he threw deep he ran into the occasional problem. Two interceptions in the first half kept the Bears in the game.
  7. Khalil Mack looked a step slow all night. Either he wasn’t feeling well or he didn’t show up. This reminded me of the Dolphins game.
  8. As expected, the Bears generally did a decent job against the run in this game.
  9. Some poor tackling in the fourth quarter reaered its ugly head and hurt the Bears as the game wound down. Some of those guys might have been getting tired.

Offense

  1. The Bears started with a few good runs but the Eagles defensive line toughened up and it was rough going from there on out. Seemed like the Bears were trying a lot of trap blocks to take advantage of the Eagles aggressive, penetrating defensive line.
  2. It was a lot of dink and dunk out there for the Bears. I understand the need to protect the ball when you have a good defense but I wonder if they are going too far. I’m not sure you are going to beat really good teams without an aggressive offense very often. And the Eagles are a good team.
  3. Still wondering why the Bears insist on playing Taquan Mizzell.
  4. What is the deal with Michael Bennett’s shoulder pads? They look like they should be on a 9 year old.
  5. Supposedly the Eagles defensive backs were all hurt and the position was a weakness. They sure looked good to me.
  6. On a related note, nice adjustment by the Bears by picking on Avonte Maddox in the second half with some double moves and some other trickery. He was very successful in the first half by being mighty aggressive. The Bears turned it against him.

Miscellaneous

  1. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth did a nice job as usual of pointing out the major points during the game. Always enjoy listening to those guys. Collinsworth is a reasonably good teacher and I always feel like I learn something.
  2. Well, Cody Parkey finally killed them. Pat O’Donnell had a nice punt out of bounds that trapped the Eagles on the one yard line in the first quarter. I’ve often wondered why more punters don’t use the old “coffin corner” kick. Having said that, a short kick with 5 minutes left in the game set the Eagles up with a short field. The Bears are going to have to take a close look at punter in the offseason.
  3. Drop weren’t a major issue in the game.
  4. Weird play at the end of the first half when Anthony Miller caught a pass and fumbled. The play was initially ruled and incomplete pass and no one recovered the ball after the whistle. Everyone expected the bears to get the ball at the point of the fumble. Instead they got a loss of down and the ball was moved back to the initial line of scrimmage. Here is the explanation. The referees let a lot of contact go in the defensive backfield this game. There could have been a lot more calls on both sides than there were. I guess that’s playoff football. We haven’t seen it around here in so long we wouldn’t recognize it.
  5. Turnovers kept the Bears in this game in the first half with two interceptions, one by Roquan Smith and one by Adrian Amos. The Bears weren’t burned by turnovers but they played so conservative on offense through three quarters protecting the ball that you wonder if the Eagles came out ahead.
  6. Its the NFL. Nobody died.
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Quick Comments: Bears at Vikings 12/30/18

Defense

  1. The Vikings came out in the no huddle, evidently thinking that they could take the Bears by surprise. It didn’t work as they went three and out.
  2. The Bears defensive line is pretty good. The Vikings offensive line is not very good. That’s a bad combination if you are a Minnesota fan. It was basically the story of the first half.
  3. The Bears defense played pretty well in a game where the Vikings had everything to play for and the Bears had less and less to play for as the game went on. They were pretty fundamentally sound, where, frankly, the Vikings offense wasn’t.

Offense

  1. Unlike the Vikings, who came out with three straight passes, the Bears ran the ball on the first two plays right behind guard Kyle Long, back from his injury. The Bears only threw once on the first drive, which went for a touchdown. The Vikings eventually shut the run down and it became a field position game.
  2. Jordan Howard definitely looks hurt to me. He was lumbering on a long run in the first series in the open field. Tarik Cohen would have made it a touchdown.
  3. The Bears took three time outs, two in the first half, before the play clock ran out. One of them came after a delay of game. That’s not a good look. This is week 17 and you are headed to the playoffs, folks. You are supposed to have your act together.
  4. Kudos to Mitch Trubisky for throwing some very accurate deep balls, a couple of which should have been caught. He had a good game.

Miscellaneous

  1. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews did a reasonably good job, I thought. They were surprisingly critical of Kirk Cousins, implying that he was too tightly wound. It turned out to be prophetic as there was a lot of arguing going on on the Vikings sideline at one point near the end of the first half.
  2. Special Teams
    1. The Vikings punter, Matt Wile, should get a nomination for most valuable player for this game. He had some beauties including one for 65 yards and one for 56 that put the Bears back at their own 12 yard line.
    2. Meanwhile Cody Parkey missed another extra point. Shaky field goal kicking is a serious issue entering the playoffs. Its very frustrating.
  3. The Vikings had a couple of huge drops in this game on third down. It had a significant impact on the game. The Bears had a couple deep balls that should have been caught but the coverage was good and they would have been good catches.
  4. Penalties
    1. Deon Bush had a bad face mask penalty that gave the Vikings the ball in field goal range near the end of the first half. They converted it.
    2. Prince Amukamura had a couple of bad pass interference penalties. He’s got to stop all of the grabiness.
    3. Not a great decision by Mike Zimmer to throw the challenge flag late in the third quarter. The Vikings were going for it on fourth and one and appeared to get the first down on a Cousins quarterback sneak. Zimmer threw the flag right before the snap. He lost the challenge, the time out and the first down. They did eventually get the first down and the touchdown.
  5. No turnovers this game. So it was clean in that respect.
  6. They should really outlaw yellow gloves like those worn by Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. They look too much like penalty flags.
  7. The most striking things about this game was the huge disparity in time of possession. The Bears had the ball almost twice as long as the Vikings. The offense played reasonably well and the defense played very well under circumstances when they really didn’t have much to play for. A very surprising win for the Bears as they have some momentum going into the playoffs.
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Bears Chances of Keeping Fangio Not as Remote as Fans Might Assume

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune suggests that its possible that the Bears could keep defensive coordinator Vic Fangio happy in Chicago:

“The Bears aren’t in the business of ripping up contracts for players or coaches but they might have to think outside the box if Fangio is weighing options in the next few weeks. If the Bears can pay to rebuild Halas Hall, they at least can make Fangio an offer that is hard to refuse. It wouldn’t be unprecedented — one of the reasons Josh McDaniels did a U-turn last offseason on his way to Indianapolis after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss was because of a pay raise.”

It was one of the reasons. But by all accounts, McDaniels staying had more to do with speculation that there was an agreement that McDaniels would succeed head coach Bill Belichick.

And becoming a head coach is really what its all about.

I have a hard time believing that there is anything that the Bears could do to keep Fangio from leaving Chicago if a head coaching position was offered elsewhere. Its the pinnacle of the profession and there are few coaches who would feel fulfilled professionally with anything less if the opportunity to move up arose.

But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any hope. Right now the trend in the NFL is toward offensive head coaches. The success of Matt NagyKyle Shannahan and Sean McVay, not to mention old hand Andy Reid, has undoubtedly put owners and general managers in the mood to follow the lead of these teams.

In particular, offensive head coaches who can coach quarterbacks will be in high demand. Because more and more it becomes evident that is what the game is about and there are few losing teams who won’t either be looking for one somewhere or who won’t be looking to develop one that they already have.

Team Potentially Looking for a Head Coach Likely 2019 Draft Position* Likely 2019 Quarterback
Arizona 1 Josh Rosen
New York Jets 3 Sam Darnold
Tampa Bay 6 Jameis Winston or draft pick
Jacksonville Jaguars 8 draft pick
Carolina Panthers 10 Cam Newton
Cincinnati 12 Andy Dalton
Miami 13 draft pick
Denver 14 Case Keenum or draft pick
Green Bay 15 Aaron Rogers

Of the nine teams either looking or who will be most likely to be looking for a head coach, only Carolina, Cincinnati and Green Bay have a firmly established starter and I’d say both the Bengals and the Packers may still take one with an eye towards developing him for the future.

Even the Packers, who are rumored to be interested in Fangio, are are said to be already happy with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and will undoubtedly be looking to inject some originality into what was perceived as a stale offense under former head coach Mike McCarthy.

Almost all of these teams certainly understand that the only way to keep a fertile offensive mind is to make him the head coach. Anyone else who is any good will almost certainly be pilfered the minute a head coaching position is open.

In this environment that even a very, very good defensive coordinator will ultimately be chosen for a head coaching position is not a given. And as a defensive coordinator Fangio seems happy in Chicago. I have to believe that the only place Fangio would leave for is his home in the bay area. And that would be assuming his contract was up as the Bears would almost certainly never give him permission to leave for such a position.

So it’s going to be an interesting offseason and Fangio will undoubtedly get his share of interviews for head coaching positions. But I would say that Bears fans shouldn’t give up hope that Fangio will happily stay where he is absent a better offer.

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Packers Game Evidence of Mitch Trubisky’s Growth

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune comments upon Mitch Trubisky’s performance in their 24-17 win over the Packers at Soldier Field:
“No one should be surprised that Trubisky completed 20 of 28 passes in putting a division championship on his growing résumé. Or that he followed last Sunday’s career-worst rating of 33.3 with a 120.4 rating against the Packers. Or that he protected the ball and let the defense smother quarterback Aaron Rodgers all game.” “’I felt like (my game) was solid,’ he said. ’We were consistent enough on offense. We wanted to stay out of third downs because we know they’re really good at third downs. And just score when we needed to in big opportunities.”’

Trubisky wasn’t asked to pass deep much but his short passes were generally on point and he wasn’t sending the intermediate passes into orbit as has been his want at various times over the course of the season. His good comfort level was very evident as the game progressed. Packer’s defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had a slightly less aggressive game plan for the Bears than the last time the two teams played, a 24-23 loss for the Bears. The first game, he brought pressure from all angles and did everything he could to confuse Trubisky and it generally worked. This game he chose to mimic the plan that the Rams executed the week before, keeping a light box against the run and challenging Trubisky to throw with 5 men in coverage. He did so partly because what the Rams did worked but also undoubtedly partly because he saw that the same thing might not work against a more experienced Trubisky. In any case, Trubisky handled it well and when Pettine did call for a blitz, he countered with some nice throws, getting the ball out quickly. Anyone who watched both of these Packers games should be able to recognize Trubisky’s growth. Its been very gradual, game-by-game but the improvement should now be evident. Trubisky is pretty close to an average NFL quarterback right now. I don’t know where he is going to plateau off but it hasn’t happened yet. Its now evident that his emergence isn’t going to happen in leaps and bounds. But he’s continuing to very gradually get better. Its to be interesting to track it over the course of the rest of this season and next season.
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Quick Game Comments: Packers at Bears 12/16/18

Offense

  1. It seems evident that the Packers wanted to play the game as the Rams did last week. They came out light in the box and dared the Bears to run. The Bear responded by running Jordan Howard right at them and complimenting it with short play action passes.
  2. Mitch Trubisky generally threw the ball well early and as a result, the offense generally executed well.
  3. Trubisky was moving really well in the pocket today. He looked like Tom Brady out there – in that respect, anyway.
  4. Both Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard ran with good vision today. In Howard’s case that’s a significant improvement over previous games.
  5. Trubisky did a nice job against the blitz today. For instance, he hit Cohen in the area vacated by a blitzer on a pass under pressure for the Bears second touchdown right before the half.
  6. Trubisky was also reasonably accurate with most of his throws today. This is in stark contrast to last week when he had a miserable game against the Rams. He wasn’t asked to throw deep much but his intermediate throws didn’t end up in orbit.

Defense

  1. Vic Fangio really has a gift for calling the blitz at just the right time. Third and two on the Packers first drive for a Rogers sack was a perfect example.
  2. The Packers offense was notable for the good job they did blocking down field. That’s good fundamentals.
  3. Once again the Packers copied other teams with this game plan. They executed the quick passing game to limit the Bears pass rush. Rogers did a decent job of executing it. You had to wonder if he would accept such a plan. He likes to get out and create rather than taking the short pass.
  4. Roger’s deep ball accuracy just wasn’t there today for the most part. I have been told that this has been a chronic problem with him this year.
  5. Khalil Mack really showed up today. Hopefully this means he’s going to be a Packer menace for years to come.

Miscellaneous

  1. Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin were your announcers. Really superior job today by Johnston. He was making really good points right and left. For instance, when the Bears blitzed Sherrick McManis from the same side as Khalil Mack to get a free rusher, Johnston was right on top of it, pointing out what a nice job the Packers running back did getting across the formation to block McManis. Definitely as good as I’ve ever heard him.
  2. Special Teams
    1. I can’t remember the last time a Bears returner took a ball out of the end zone. Knowing Anthony Miller, you have to wonder if he defied orders when he took it out on the opening kickoff.
    2. Tarik Cohen had a and timely nice punt return in the fourth quarter. It resulted in a field goal after Cohen failed to turn up field and came up just short of a first down. So Cohen giveth and Cohen taketh away.
    3. Just once I’d like to see the Bears get through a game where special teams didn’t hurt them. This time it was a stupid fake punt up 14-6 near mid-field that the Packers stopped cold in the third quarter. the Packers eventually scored a touchdown. The two point conversion tied the game. This is a real problem. I’ envisioning some tough playoff games where special teams has a bad habit of making the difference. This looks like a poorly coached aspect of the team that could burn the Bears is a big spot.
  3. Drops have been a Packer trait for years. It usually doesn’t burn them too bad because the offense is good enough to overcome them.
  4. Turnovers
    1. The Bears finally got burned trying to execute a fancy gadget play and turned the ball over to Green Bay in Packer territory with the game tied. This looked like it was the result of an inexperienced Cohen taking a direct snap and trying to run an option play. He simply made the decision late and blew the exchange.
    2. Big, big interception by Eddie Jackson in the end zone with three minutes left. I thought he went down on purpose to avoid a turnover and let the Bears run some clock up two scores. But it looks like he got hurt on the play.
  5. I’d like to personally thank everyone involved in making sure that Bears football got played this week on a Sunday afternoon as heaven intended it.
  6. This was a big win for the Bears against a team that has had their number in Soldier Field, winning eight in a row there. Some will say that the Bears should have won but they should have won with Brett Hundley quarterbacking the Packers last year. They didn’t. So they’ll take this one and consider it to be a major accomplishment.
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Quick Game Comments: Rams at Bears 12/9/18

Offense

  1. The Rams started the game without a spy on Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky ran for 9 yards on the first snap. You had a feeling that the Rams were going to have to do something about that.
  2. The Rams were definitely ready for those wide receiver screens that the Bears try to use in place of a running game.
  3. Dante Fowler was eating Bobbie Massie alive on the right side.
  4. Trubisky’s accuracy problems are back. I guess you could have kindly called him “rusty”.
  5. The good news is that the Bears were running the ball OK at the beginning of the game. It looked like the Rams were playing a light box figuring that the Bears couldn’t run on them.
  6. It looked to me like the Bears might have been purposely targeting Anthony Miller and maybe Trey Burton early. Both were MIA last week.
  7. After finding Miller and Burton in the first half they went immediately to Allen Robinson several times in the first drive of the second half. So apparently someone decided that they weren’t going to get it done without him as well.
  8. I thought James Daniels did a good job on Aaron Donald.
  9. Interesting little play to Bradley Sowell at the goal line for the Bears touchdown in the third quarter. As Cris Collinsworth very aptly put it, its starting to look like a magic show down there. Look here while the ball goes there…

Defense

  1. The Bears did an impressive job of getting pressure on Jared Goff. The Rams aren’t the kind of offense that is going to back off and go to the short passing game out of fear of Khalil Mack. So it was going to be a contest at the line of scrimmage from the word go.
  2. They also did a good job on Todd Gurley. They adjusted and started feeding it to him a bit in the fourth quarter. But generally they held him down before that.
  3. It will be interesting to see the snap counts for this game. It looked to me like the Bears were rotating Mack out of the game more often than usual, possibly to keep him fresh for the end of the game.
  4. I was impressed by how prepared the Bears were for the Rams offense tonight. It was evident that they’d were well prepared for what the Rams were running.

Miscellaneous

  1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are the best there is.
  2. Special Teams
    1. Anthony Miller is your new kick returner. About time. You didn’t know if the switch would help but it was obvious that Taquan Mizzell wasn’t getting it done.
    2. The Rams pulled out a fake punt deep in their own territory and pulled it off. Bears special teams are very concerning. They have to rank in the bottom half of the league in most categories. It seems that they let the team down in some way nearly every week.
    3. Cody Parkey missed another gimme tonight. Very concerning.
  3. Drops weren’t a major problem on either side.
  4. Penalties
    1. These illegal shift and illegal formation penalties on the Bears are getting annoying. Its worrisome that they haven’t cleaned it up yet.
    2. So Roquon Smith intercepts the ball and gives it to the offense inside the 5 yard line. Two penalties later and its first and goal from the 20. That’s just ridiculous.
    3. There were far too many penalties on both teams tonight. Bears: 6 for 45 yards. Rams: 9 for 57 yards. Very sloppy effort in that regard.
  5. Turnovers
    1. Very annoying to see Trubisky severely over throw Miller for an interception on the first possession. You’d hoped that he would be over this tendency by now but the accuracy issues, particularly early in games, evidently continue to plague him. At this point, you wonder if its not going to pester us his whole career.
    2. Roquon Smith intercepted a terrible throw from Goff in the second quarter. Later replays showed that Goff’s foot was stepped on by one of his offensive linemen.
    3. Terrible interception of a Trubisky pass to a very well covered Allen Robinson at the end of the first half. The one thing that they couldn’t allow to happen was to give the Rams the ball close to field goal range. Awful decision.
    4. Crazy exchange of interceptions at the end of the third quarter with the first coming on yet another Trubisky over throw and the first Rams play immediately afterwards being an interception of a Goff pass by Kyle Fuller.
  6. An awful lot of this game came down to the running game. The Bears averaged 6.1 yards per rush for 194 yards before wasting some runs to run out the clock at the end. The Rams were held to 2.8 yards per rush for 33 yards.
  7. The Bears defense did a good job tonight but the vaunted Rams offense was definitely off for most of this game. Lots of miscommunications between the receivers and Goff. And Goff was less accurate than usual in the cold weather. This was a good game for the Bears against a good team and they hung tough. But if the Bears have to play them again, its safe to say they’ll be a different team in LA. They’re going to need more offense to compete and that means Trubisky is going to have to get a lot better very quickly. Incremental progress with two steps forward and one step back seems to be more his MO. We’ll see if he can change that.
Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, St. Louis Rams | Leave a comment