Has the Newspaper Industry Really Come to This? And Other Points of View


  • With all of the handwringing over the way the Bears lost to the Lions, at least one significant issue escaped most Bears fans in the immediate aftermath. From Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times:

    Kyle Long did a nice job vs. Ndamukong Suh, who had 0 tackles, 0 sacks and 1 QB hurry.”

    Long had lots of help. But still, you take the positives where you can get them.

  • As long as we’re highlighting rookie performances I didn’t think Will Sutton had a bad game, either. I’d like to see more from Ego Ferguson though.
  • Rick Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times argues that the Bears aren’t as talented as they and the rest of the league thinks. He doesn’t mention exactly where he thinks the deficiencies lie. So I’ll do it. I’m drafting the best available at any of these positions in the top rounds of the draft:
    1. center
    2. offensive tackle
    3. anywhere on defense
    4. developmental quarterback

    As an addendum on the last item, the Bears desperately need to add speed to that linebacking corp and to the defensive backfield. If you are drafting an offensive lineman, concentrate on players who can block the run.

    I know the Bears just drafted two defensive tackles in the second and third round in the last draft. If the best available is a defensive tackle, I’d take him anyway. I’m not entirely sure how Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson are going to work out but I subscribe to the Lovie Smith philosophy of drafting – you can’t have too many good defensive linemen.

    I know that most pundits will laugh at the thought of taking a quarterback near the top of the draft with Jay Cutler sitting there for two more years. They laughed when the Packers took Aaron Rogers, too. If you like one, take him.

    Its way too early to actually be putting together a realist mock draft. But give these sites some credit for at least recognizing where the deficiencies lie. Via the Chicago Tribune.

  • The following list was posted to the Chicago Bears Fan Forum Facebook page by Michael Shoemaker. Here are my comments on each. Signings are assuming that the price is right.

    Lance Briggs – up in smoke before the first game
    Josh Morgan – gone
    Charles Tillman – can he coach?
    Christopher Conte – resign
    Roberto Garza – release. They’re going to need to draft someone here.
    DJ.Williams – release
    Stephen Paea – sign
    Darryl Sharpton – release
    Brian De La Puente – sign as insurance but please don’t plan on him to start
    Jimmy Clausen – sign as insurance but please draft a future here.
    Sherrick McManis – sign
    Danny McCray – sign
    Trevor Scott – sign
    Dante Rosario – sign
    Jeremy Cain – release
    Eben Britton – sign
    Zach Miller – sign
    David Bass – sign
    Blake Annen – who?
    Ryan Groy – who, again?
    Brandon Dunn – are these guys really Bears?

  • Running back Matt Forte via Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com:

    “we’ve got a lot of talent, but talent only gets you so far.”

    I’m not sure if he’s talking about a lack of execution, coaching or intestinal fortitude or all three but… well, that is some straight talk.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the roughing the passer call on a third quarter Willie Young sack:

    “Coach Marc Trestman said the explanation was Young had grabbed [Matthew Stafford’s facemask. He disagreed with that. The bottom line is defensive players run the risk if they end up high on a quarterback when they are trying to make a play.”

    I’m pretty sure that Biggs is dead on here. It really didn’t matter what Young did. He came in high on the quarterback and if you do that, the referees are going to find a reason to throw a flag. That’s the way it is.


  • For those of you who care about teams other than the Bears, you really should be following the comedy that’s playing itself out in the New York Jets facility. The Jets, both players and coaches, correctly concluded after a week 8 loss to the Bills that quarterback Geno Smith was hopeless. But now by the account of Manish Mehta at the New York Daily New, management is likely forcing head coach Rex Ryan to start him again. Admittedly, given that the back up is Michael Vick, the choices aren’t great. Which, of course, leads to the real problem. The Jets are poorly run, dysfunctional franchise from the top down and there are no quarterbacks to start period.

    “Smith fooled the organization with a marginally successful four-game run against non-playoff teams last December. [Jets owner Woody] Johnson shouldn’t let Smith’s play down the stretch in meaningless games cloud the big picture this time: The Jets must draft a franchise quarterback this offseason.

    “Meanwhile, Ryan will try to toe the company line with a straight face.”

One Final Thought

Look, man, I know that things are tough for the newspaper industry. But does the Sun-Times really have to run ads for sites like this one? For heavens sake…

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 6.47.44 AM

Game Comments: Bears at Lions 11/27/14


  1. The Bears started well with plenty of penetration into the backfield and good pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Will Sutton looked good in particular.
  2. Matthew Stafford looked very uncomfortable in the pocket when ever the Bears managed to get a crowd around him. He eventually got over it but it wasn’t a good look. The occasional blitz from the Bears helped get pressure on Stafford quite a bit. Eventually they adjusted and Stafford had more time.
  3. The Lions adjusted by getting the ball out quickly and they never looked back. It was pitch and catch from the second quarter on.
  4. The Bears started in a zone defense, mostly cover two, and they stayed with that most of the game. you knew when you saw them in it that it might be a long game. They’re miserable playing zone and have been since the pre-season. Color man Phil Simms attributed much of the problem to the fact that the Bears were giving the receivers a free release off of the line of scrimmage. I don’t think they’re fast enough nor do they react quickly enough in it. Whatever it is they’re really bad at it.
  5. The Bears linebackers once again had their problems in coverage. Lions tight end Eric Ebron gave them a hard time.
  6. Calvin Johnson has been struggling on a bad ankle since September. All he needed was the Bears to get healthy.


  1. The Bears came out with a game plan that very evidently did not include running the ball under any circumstances. They threw screens which substituted for run plays as they tried to attack the edges of the Lions defense. They didn’t run the ball until the 9th play of the game.
  2. Since the Bears didn’t bother to run the Lions defensive linemen considered it to be open season on Jay Cutler and sold out to the pass rush. Cutler was under siege most of the game, specially when he didn’t get the ball out quickly enough (which was frequently).
  3. That game plan required execution with minimal mistakes. That was the case for the first couple possessions. Then the old Bears offense showed up and it was a comedy of penalties and dropped passes that killed drive after drive.


  1. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were excellent this game. Simms was right on spot with commentary, especially regarding the deficiencies in the Bears defense. The half time show was comical. “James Brown: So now that we’ve talked about the Bears what about the Lions?” Panel: “The Lions are OK but lets get back to the fact that the Bears suck.”
  2. Special teams were actually pretty good on both sides today. The Lions opened the game by pulling a DeCamillis and running the ball out of the end zone to the fifteen. Must be a disease. Pat O’Donnell had a good punt in the first quarter that landed inside the 10.
  3. The Bears dropped passes all over the field. Brandon Marshall had at least two and Martellus Bennett dropped one that stopped a critical drive in the third quarter.
  4. Way too many penalties, too, especially on offense. A second quarter holding call on Roberto Garza killed a drive. A holding call on the Lions took a touchdown off of the board but they scored anyway.
  5. Once again, turnovers played a role in the game. Jared Allen caused and recovered what was a big fumble at the time in the first quarter. It set up the kind of short field that keeps the offense from looking as totally helpless as they actually are statistically. The Jay Cutler interception midway through the fourth quarter led to a field goal that put the game away for the Lions.
  6. Watching game on Thanksgiving was an exercise in frustration at the Shannon homestead in Missouri where I’m from. I’m pretty much left alone most of the time but the minute I sit down to watch the Bears all hell breaks loose. Suddenly I have to look here or there, everyone wants my opinion on something and jobs that could have been done at any time over the last two days need to be done right now with the Bears in red zone. There has to be a bar open somewhere in this god-forsaken state on Thanksgiving and by heaven, next time I’m going to find it.
  7. Well, I figured the Bears were out of the playoff chase anyway but this pretty much puts the final nail in the coffin. Not that they deserve to be there anyway. At some point I’d like to see the Bears get to where they can play a zone defense. I don’t know if that requires a new coordinator or new players or (my suspicion) both. I can only repeat that the defense, especially the linebackers, is too slow. The special teams were better but, once again, it took very little to stop the Bears on offense – mostly things the did themselves. I don’t think they’re going anywhere with Cutler at quarterback anyway but they could win at least some of these games with a little more discipline. But the head coach isn’t a disciplinarian and the Bears evidently don’t have the kind of players that can impose it upon themselves – if such a group of players exists anywhere.

On the Value of Free Agents and Other Points of View


  • Rick Telander and Jim Morrissey at the Chicago Sun-Times breakdown the Bears “victory” over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday. I had to laugh when Morrissey called the first half “unwatchable” because he literally read my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about what a horrible game it was.
  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on the “win”:

    “Yes, the Bears did get another win over Tampa. But if they play the same game Thursday in Detroit, they could be looking at another massacre of Patriots- or Packers-like proportion.”

    Someone please spare us.

  • I certainly do understand why linebacker Lance Briggs didn’t want to talk to the media about his groin injury. But its hard not to see him leaving the locker room before media were allowed in as yet another example of what a poor leader he is. Via Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times. Briggs’ evident lack of respect for Bears head coach Marc Trestman is not helping matter. As Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune reports, Trestman preferred to keep the extent of Briggs’s injury a secret, describing it as “day-to-day”. But Briggs doesn’t really care much about what Trestman wants to do. Once again he put his personal agenda ahead of the team and announced on his television show that he’d be out a few weeks. If there was any doubt about whether Briggs would be back its got to be long gone. He has to go.
  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes Dave Birkett from the Detroit Free Press on the state of the Lions:

    “No one could have forecast their defense playing this well, and [Ndamukong Suh is] the biggest reason why it has.”

    You’re kidding, right? Who wouldn’t predict that they would play that well? With all of that talent we’ve predicted it every year. All they needed was a dose of discipline. Evidently the focus that comes with getting a new coaching staff was all it took. There’s no excuse for the way that team under-performed under former head coach Jim Schwartz. He was (and is) a punk and his teams reflected that year after year.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune addresses the pending Suh’s impending free agency. His contract ends five days after the Super Bowl:

    “In a late-September report ESPN indicated Suh and the Lions were preparing to part ways and the player was interested in the New York market while the Bears and Cowboys ‘would have some level of interest.’ [Phil] Emery has not engaged in tampering, but he has a track record in three offseasons of being an aggressive player in free agency. He likes making a splash and is driven to put the team in a position to compete for a Super Bowl every season.”

    I have certainly had my problems with Suh over the years (who outside of Detroit hasn’t?). Nevertheless, I’d welcome him to Chicago just like everyone else. Having said that, there’s a part of me that really hopes the Bears don’t try to do this. I’m tired of rooting for a team of mercenaries and I don’t think that this is the way to build an organization. There’s something to the argument that the Bears have built a team of “front-runners”, as one assistant coach from a recent opponent put it (read “the Packers”). Admittedly painting with a broad brush:

    1. free agents who chase the money and/or
    2. free agents who leave organizations to surround themselves with others who can make them better rather than the other way around and/or
    3. free agents who go to organizations that can help them win rather than the other way around and/or
    4. those those who are traded or who force trades because they can’t stick it out where they are…

    No matter how careful you are about who you acquire, I’m not so sure those are the people you build around. Let’s be honest, almost by definition they really are, for the most part, front runners. I’d like to see the Bears stop being the Washington Redskins, stay patient and build the team they want with players who have developed the attitude that they want through the draft.

  • Biggs answers your questions:

    “Why doesn’t the Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman pairing work? Talk of benching, offensive regression and now no passes over 10 yards. — @DarrylConrad via Twitter”

    “The offense has regressed and is certainly in a slump right now. The downfield passing game has certainly been affected. But that’s not just Cutler. It’s the play calling, the offensive line (that has dealt with a handful of injuries) and the wide receivers, who also haven’t been fully healthy this season.”

    I beg to differ. Its now evident that signing Cutler long-term was a mistake. Physically there are no limits to what he can do and this is undoubtedly what led Trestman and Emery to do it. But mentally Cutler is far too limited. He’s a “see it, throw it” quarterback who will never have the ability to throw with anticipation or dissect a defense in the way that is needed to truly succeed at a high level in the NFL. I doubt very much that he’s even trying to extend himself in this direction any more, especially with his money now in hand. All of the things that Biggs mentions are, indeed, problems. But Cutler is the player who is setting the ceiling so low. It might eventually be more than adequate if they start playing with discipline but there’s very little hope that the Bears will ever have a truly elite NFL offense with Cutler throwing the ball.

  • With all of the talk about Trestman losing the team (as he’s apparently lost Briggs) its worth noting the excellent point that Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times makes in his weekly session with Mark Potash answering fan questions. Its at about 1:25.


  • It used to be that immediately cutting a player after poor conduct sent a message to the rest of the team. Apparently that’s not the case anymore.

One Final Thought

Morrissey argues that there’s something wrong with the world if the Bears get to 6-6:

“Whatever happens Thursday, this team is going nowhere. You can’t fix the defense this season. The offense has turned into a bunch of dump-off passes to running back Matt Forte. Either the Bears officially don’t trust Cutler anymore or Trestman has officially misplaced his imagination. “There are people who subscribe to Bill Parcells’ philosophy of being exactly what your record says you are. But if the Bears get to 6-6, their record will be a big, fat liar.”

I really don’t think Morrissey has anything to worry about. This game shows every sign of being a dumpster fire but I can’t see the Lions giving it away this year like they have in the past. Even then, they beat the Bears twice last year. Arkush elaborates further:

“You like common opponents? The Lions are 5-3 against the Panthers, Packers, Jets, Bills, Vikings, Falcons, Dolphins and Patriots, against whom the Bears are 3-6. They beat the Packers 24-7 while Green Bay has outscored the Bears 93- 31 in the Bears’ two losses.”

It won’t be 55-14. But one of two things is going to happen: either the Lions will blow them out or it will be a “defensive struggle” where neither team has the competence on offense to move the ball out their own side of the field. Either way this one promises to be another painful prime time crap-fest with the added element that this time you’ll be surrounded by relatives that you can’t look in the eye afterwards.

Game Comments: Buccaneers at Bears 11/23/14


  1. The Bears started in their usual fashion failing to give the ball to Matt Forte on a run play. A false start by Brandon Marshall and a drop from Marquess Wilson helped force a three and out. It was the way the half was going to go.

  2. In fairness the Bears gave the ball to Matt Forte the first play in the second possession. Ka’Deem Carey got it on the second. Coming out in the second half it seemed that they were determined to run the ball more.

  3. The Buccaneers did a good job of getting pressure on Jay Cutler. Some of it was good coverage and some of it was poor protection and some of it was Cutler just not being able to let go of the ball. But most of it was simply the Bucs dominating the line of scrimmage. They’ve got a very good defensive line and they showed up today.

  4. The Bears love that screen play to Matt Forte on third and long. It’s almost too predictable. OK, there’s no “almost” about it.

  5. Like everyone else, Jay Cutler wasn’t very sharp. His accuracy was farther off than usual.

  6. There was a lot of talk about moving Jay Cutler’s launch point more and getting him out of the pocket. If they did much of it, I missed it.


  1. It looked like the Bears came out playing mostly man-to-man defense with Kyle Fuller on Mike Evans and Tim Jennings on Vincent Jackson.

  2. Vincent Jackson is huge. He’s not just tall but he’s built like a tight end.

  3. The Bucs were picking on Lance Briggs in the underneath passing game, taking advantage of his lack of speed.

  4. The Bears gave up first downs on an awful lot of third downs. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t clamp down harder at the sticks on those plays.

  5. You could see exactly what was going to happen on the first touchdown. They sent Evans all the way to the sideline away from everyone else and it was going to be him and Fuller in press coverage all the way. Fuller even called out as if to tell everyone that they were over there but they were way too far away for him to get the help he was probably supposed to get. It was a good play by the Bucs.

  6. Though they got to McCown on occasion, to my eye the Bears weren’t applying pressure with anywhere near the consistency they needed to. They did a lot of blitzing to compensate. To their credit, they did get enough to visibly affect McCown’s game. And, of course, once they were up by 11 in the fourth quarter, they loaded up and went after him.

  7. Huge game by Stephen Paea. Jared Allen also applied more than his share of pressure.

  8. I was happy to see the defensive players pick up a ball that hit the ground and run after a Josh McCown dump off screen. It was an incomplete pass but you don’t treat it that way until you hear a whistle. That was a lesson learned, I hope.

  9. Some awful, awful tackling on the last Buccaneer drive of the first half. After some bumbling on the part of the Bucs offense it resulted in only three points.


  1. Thom Brennaman, David Diehl and Laura Okmin did the game. Brennaman was the odd ball out as both Diehl and Okmin are from Chicago. He’s from North Carolina.

    Brennaman repeatedly asked the question that typified not only the game but also the Bears season – “What’s wrong with that expensive Bears offense?” Diehl made a good point that the Bears defense was spending too much time on the field, implying that they were going to wear down latter in the game if it continued.

  2. Robbie Gould missed another field goal. He’s now officially in a slump as far as I’m concerned. He had an interesting kickoff, dropping the ball at about the twenty late in the third quarter. It could have resulted in another Bucs turnover. It was nice to see a returner on another team constantly bring the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs only to be tackled short of the twenty. A short Bears punt put the Bears defense in a difficult position 8 points down with about 3 minutes left in the game.

  3. Marquess Wilson at least two drops, one on the very first drive. Martellus Bennet had a drop on the second. There were some dropped Bears interceptions that hurt them as well.

  4. Time after time the Bears shot themselves in the foot during this game with penalties. They did it all from false starts to a blocks in the back. Lovie Smith’s team showed an uncharacteristic lack of discipline with penalties like roughing the kicker and a taunting. If possible, they were even worse than the Bears. You can certainly see why they’ve had a hard time winning games this year.

  5. Turnovers were huge in this game, especially for the Bears.

    1. Chris Conte had a very nice interception on the Bucs’ first possession. Stephen Paea deserved a lot of credit for that one as he hit Josh McCown as he threw it.

    2. Jay Cutler gave it back with a fumble of his own. Brian de la Puente at left guard got beat like a drum by Gerald McCoy on that one.

    3. Huge fumble forced by David Bass in the third quarter gave the Bears a touchdown.

    4. That was followed by and interception by Ryan Mundy deep in Buccaneer territory. That led to seven more points.

    5. Another fumble by Vincent Jackson stopped a Buccaneers drive that could have easily led to points. The officials apparently felt that it was close enough to where they couldn’t over turn the call on the field but Jackson’s elbow may have been down.

  6. I’ve been thinking about it. I think I’d take David Diehl more seriously if he lost the mustache. Well, that and if he started pronouncing the names of the Bears players correctly.

  7. Well, you could copy what I said about the Bears offense last week and paste it here. The special teams only hurt them a moderately badly with the short punt near the end of the game so you can mark that down as an improvement.

  8. As embarrassing as it is to have the Packers put up 50 on you, there’s little doubt that the defense has been saving the season for this team. That, and the tendency of teams like the Buccaneers to hand them the game. The Bears are bad but they aren’t so bad that they’re going to ordinarily refuse gifts. That’s what this game was. A present of dumb penalties, turnovers and undisciplined play. Merry Christmas.

Bears Matchup Poorly Against the Bucs and Other Points of View


  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune asks the question of the week in regards to Sunday’s Vikings game:

    “[Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler admitted the Bears knew to challenge [5’10” Josh] Robinson more than fellow Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who at 6-1 and 210 pounds is much more physical. The bigger question is why the Vikings offered up so many looks with only one deep safety as well as the man-to-man coverages the Bears’ passing attack is designed to thrive against.”

    Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer undoubtedly overestimated his defense coming off two wins and underestimated the Bears offense coming off of two miserable defeats. That’s not going to happen again and I’m sure we’ll see something different when the Bears visit the Vikings later in the season.

  • Probably the biggest surprise I got on Sunday was the distinct difference in talent level between the Bears and the Vikings. I hadn’t seen much of the Vikings this year and I was led to believe that their recent drafts had brought them up to a level that was getting close to being on par with the rest of the division. But even as the Vikings took an early 10-0 lead it was evident that wasn’t the case. The Bears had far more talent on both sides of the ball and won the one-on-one matchups all over the field. It was apparent that if they didn’t give the game away that they were the better team.

Overall the Vikings played better and with more discipline than the Bears, probably reflective of some good coaching. And maybe with Adrian Peterson in the lineup, things would have been different. But that aside I still think they have a long way to go before they are going to be able to consistently compete with the Packers, Lions and even the Bears.

  • I thought this excerpt from Brad Biggs‘s Ten Thoughts column at the Chicago Tribune was interesting:

    “…veteran defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff was practically poking his ears inside the Minnesota huddle and then communicating with his line mates. I asked Ratliff if he had picked up something in terms of the signals.

    “‘Why would you ask me that,’ Ratliff said.

    “I told him what I saw and he replied: ‘Whatever tidbits or any information you can get, you use. If there is poor huddle integrity, I try to take advantage of that. Maybe that is what you saw. That is not uncommon. Once you hear certain calls, you know the formations they should be in. After a while you develop the ability to read their body language and see where the ball is going. You will have a pretty good idea if it is good info or not. You have to echo the call.’

    “Of course, if a team uses a dummy call it could set a defense up for a big play but Ratliff says you know what information you’re processing if you have been doing it long enough.”

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribunewrites about the challenge that Bears head coach Marc Trestman is facing to his leadership philosophy this season:

    “‘One of Marc’s greatest values is leadership — leadership of men, leadership of programs, leadership of people,’ said tight ends coach Andy Bischoff, one of Trestman’s closest confidants. ‘I would just say when you’re not winning, that’s an easy target.'”

    That’s true enough. But most people have a tough time with self-discipline. Trestman might be one of the few people out there who doesn’t. He’s going to have to realize that everyone isn’t like him. The team won’t really be disciplined unless he imposes it form the top.

    I thought the comments of right tackle Michael Ola may have been the most interesting:

    “‘Tres’ job is to have us understand what we’re supposed to do from a schematic standpoint and assignment standpoint, alignment and adjustment,’ he said. ‘Our job is to execute that. Where the disconnect is is somewhere between when it comes in my ear and when I get on the field, and I have to do it.'”

    In other words the players aren’t in the right frame of mind when they hit the field. It’s the coach’s job to put them there.

  • Someone needs to tell Brandon Marshall to delete that damned Twitter account and concentrate on doing his job.
  • Biggs answers your questions:

    “Was that the Bears’ best offensive line combination last week? — @TomOMalley23 from Twitter

    “I don’t think so. For starters, left guard Matt Slauson is out of the lineup and given the choice between him or center Brian de la Puente playing guard in a pinch, you’re going to go with Slauson every time.

    “I thought Michael Ola struggled in the run game, too. On the plays where Matt Forte was stopped for no gain or a very short gain, Ola struggled. Vikings defensive tackle Shariff Floyd beat him on a handful of occasions. Ola has shown real versatility in playing three positions but a healthy Jordan Mills is a better option at right tackle, in my opinion, and the Bears are going to go back to Mills at right tackle when he is healthy. That might not happen this week as he’s still slowed by a rib injury.

    “That being said, the line did a pretty nice job against a Vikings defense that has had success rushing the passer this season. Quarterback Jay Cutler was in concert with the line and the offense moved the ball efficiently.”

    Agreed on all counts. The Bears offensive line generally struggles with blocking the run and that was made worse with Slauson out. There was a lot of talk early in the season about de la Puente permanently taking the center position from the injured Roberto Garza but I think we all know now that the Bears are better off with the 35 year old Garza in that spot. Calling Mills better than Ola at right tackle is like being the tallest man in a land of midgets. I’d say that the Bears will be in the market for a right tackle and, maybe, a center next year.

  • Similarly, I thought Hub Arkush‘s answer here at chicagofootball.com was on point:

    “From @kirk_skaja: What have you seen from Shea McClellin to suggest he could play the middle linebacker position in the NFL?

    “McClellin has shown the ability to finish when he gets to the ball and he can be sudden and rush the passer when given a free run. He struggles from a lack of natural power, can’t shed blockers and is not good when asked to play in space. Middle linebacker would allow him the most freedom to move with the tackles in front of him most often eating blockers, most of his plays would be made in a confined area between the tackles, saving him from playing in space, and well-timed blitzes from the middle give him the best chance at a free run to the QB as opposed to trying to come off or around the edge. I don’t see a great NFL future for McClellin at any position, but the ‘Mike’ minimizes most of his weaknesses.”

    I think most of us have concluded that if McClellin is going to succeed anywhere now, it will be in the middle. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s what the Bears have in mind and the bet here is that he stays on the strong side until he either succeeds or GM Phil Emery is fired.

One Final Thought

Quarterback Jay Cutler basically acknowledges his limitations with this quote. Via Campbell:

“‘[The Bucs are]  going to keep the ball in front of them,’ Cutler said. ‘They’re going to zone you out — not a ton of man. They’re going to rely on that front four to get the pressure, bring some pressure from time to time. So we’re just going to have to control the ball, run the ball. We’re going to be throwing into zone coverages, so find your check downs and just try to keep the chains moving.'”

Heaven forbid you might use some of the standard cover-2 beaters that teams all over the league execute when they see this kind of coverage on a consistent basis. But Cutler, a “see-it-throw-it” quarterback, is far too limited to be able to pull off such plays. If you aren’t throwing a “go up and get it ball”, a hook where the receiver can use his body to shield the defender or a check down to a running back or a tightend, he’s out of his depth. So you are left hoping that you can run the ball against such a defense (which is hard to do if you are 21 points down in the first quarter) or you are out of luck.

I hate this match up from a schematic stand point. The Bears have struggled with two deep zones all season and I see little reason to believe that they will do better tomorrow. If this isn’t a game dominated by defense, the Bears may be in trouble.

Unfortunately, on the other side, with two good, tall receivers who will be difficult to cover one-on-one, a zone defense for the Bears is optimal. But the 2014 Bears aren’t generally fast enough or disciplined enough to play zone for most of a game and teams have been carving them up when they’ve done it since the preseason.

The only game left on the schedule after this one that the Bears might be favored to win is the last one against the Vikings – and that’s not a given with it being on the road. They need this one if for no other reason than to prevent the season from going further off the rails. But I really doubt they’re going to get it unless they show me something I haven’t seen yet in week 11.

Game Comments: Vikings at Bears 11/16/14


  1. Surprisingly the Bears came out playing the pass with seven in the box, allowing the Vikings running game to get going.
  2. It looked to me like the Bears came out well prepared scheme-wise this week. They looked like they had done a good job of studying the Vikings tendencies and that they were on top of what they were doing. Nice work.
  3. It was hard to tell much about Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater because they were being careful not to ask too much of him. But he was plenty accurate and considerably more composed than veteran Jay Cutler was for the Bears. Despite all we’ve heard and read about the Vikings success in the draft, it looks to me like he needs more talent around him. He’s been struggling with throws outside the numbers and he did so again today. I also expected his arm to be stronger. Nevertheless he shows promise.
  4. Kudos to Jared Allen who was matched up against Matt Kalil, who has been struggling all year. Allen looked great coming off of the end, beating Kalil regularly.
  5. Really, the entire defensive line played well. On the other side, the Vikings offensive line looks like a serious weakness. They were losing one-on-ones and blowing assignments, allowing blitzers to get to Bridgewater. That’s a bad combination if you are a Vikings fan.
  6. Nice work from the defensive back today a well. Bridgewater had a really hard time finding receivers beyond 7 yards or so. The linebackers were where they needed to be as well. Everyone was aggressive. Lance Briggs looked particularly good.


  1. I’m surprised that the Bears came out throwing. With all of the (justified) criticism about not getting the ball to Matt Forte, I expected to see more running plays in the initial set of downs. It looked like Cutler might have been simply counting the men in the box and running when he thought it was favorable. That’s fine but it can make you one dimensional.
  2. Some poor tackling out there by the Vikings.
  3. A lot of screens this week as the Bears apparently were trying to attack the edges and neutralize the Minnesota pass rush. As opposed to attacking the middle of the field. More evidence that we’re looking at a finesse offense that can’t attack with a physical front (in contrast to what GM Phil Emery believes they can do). In fairness, they executed them well.
  4. The Vikings started to blitz quite a bit late in the first quarter and early in the second. The Bears did a good job of picking it up and it didn’t hurt that they were doing a lot of short quick passing. It was pretty ineffective and they eventually stopped doing it.
  5. The Vikings did a much better job against the run in the second half.
  6. Heck of a pass from Jay Cutler to Alshon Jeffery for the Bears first score in the second quarter. Jermon Bushrod let Cutler feel the pressure and Cutler had to escape to extend the play.
  7. Speaking of Bushrod, he struggled mightily this game. The Bears left him one-on-one with Everson Griffin quite a bit early. He was over-matched.
  8. The Vikings did a good job of moving Cutler off of the mark but Cutler was able to step up in the pocket and often escaped to make a play.
  9. Anthony Barr is a good looking player. He’s quick, he’s in the right spots and on top of plays. I was impressed.
  10. I really didn’t think the Vikings did enough to stop Alshon Jeffery. He needed to be double covered more often. Or at least the Safety needed to provide more help.
  11. Really a nice drive by the offense at the beginning of the fourth quarter with a very nice catch for a touchdown to cap it. They ate almost half of the quarter away.


  1. Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon and Stacey Dales were surprisingly good. Well, Harlan’s always good. But Dales actually added a bit to the telecast giving a candid report about the mood from the Bears sideline early. I thought perhaps that she got a bit more than the usual amount of face time for a side line reporter. Gannon impressed me after diagraming out the Bears second quarter touchdown. He frequently ready my mind as he broke down the team play, particularly the quarterback play. He also endeared himself to Bears fans with criticism of the non-aggressive way that the Bears approached the end of the first half, essentially running the clock out.
  2. What was going on with the initial chip shot on the opening kickoff? Is Cordarrelle Patterson that dangerous? Robbie Gould missed a field goal in the first quarter. They gave up forty-nine yards on a fake punt as no one did their job by staying at home and sealing the end. That resulted in seven points. Return teams were subpar. Gould kicked off the ball out of bounds midway through the fourth quarter to give the Vikings some life at the 40 yard line.Honestly, all I want is for the special teams not to totally kill this team. Is that so much to ask?
  3. Let’s see… In the first set of possessions:
    1. Willie Young had an offsides on the first set of downs and eliminated a stop. It cost the Bears three points.
    2. An illegal formation call eliminated a first down in the Bears initial possession.
    3. That was compounded by a Kyle Long false start.
    4. Then Jay Cutler got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty right after that.

    All of that added up to a missed field goal. Another great start.

    Its unbelievable how undisciplined this team is this late in the season. Far, far too many penalties. A young Vikings team did a much better job.

  4. Two interceptions from Cutler and the second could have been a killer as the Bears defense had just stopped the Vikings backed up near their goal line. Fortunately the Vikings somehow found a way to waste the break and miss the field goal. A better team would have scored a potentially demoralizing touchdown.Bridgewater threw one under pressure trying to make a play with about a minute left. I understand the tendency but that’s won you keep in your pocket. There was still plenty of time to get the needed touchdown.
  5. I’m usually not much of a second guesser and maybe its just me but don’t you take the field goal to go up by seven in the third quarter rather than going for it on fourth and one? I guess when you’ve got three wins you’ve got nothing to lose.
  6. The NFL needs more Kate Upton commercials. Way more.
  7. You take a win when you can get it but, really, the Vikings had no business being in this game. The talent gap between these teams was pretty big. The Bears dominated both sides of the ball but their undisciplined play on offense and on special teams continues to be disturbing. I might add that there wasn’t much fancy in a vanilla game plan on either side of the ball. That works when you are going up against a definitively inferior opponent but it isn’t very encouraging for the future. Frankly, I’m not sure they’re capable of executing anything more complicated right now.

    Having said that, kudos to a much maligned defense that played aggressively and dominated the line of scrimmage. The linebackers and defensive backs were aggressive, tackled well and were fast to the ball. It was as good as they’ve looked since Lovie Smith was fired.

The Value of Hope and Other Points of View


  • David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune has a point:

    “‘We’ve got to … put the San Francisco game on, the Jets game on and see why we were able to play four quarters against Atlanta in competitive football games,’ [head coach Marc] Trestman said.

    “No need for videotape to remember why the Bears won those games. For starters, the 2-8 Jets and 3-6 Falcons stink. And the 49ers gifted the Bears the victory when quarterback Colin Kaepernick ‘Cutler-ized’ his offense by committing four turnovers. To hear Trestman wax poetically about those victories, the Bears beat the Broncos, Seahawks and ’72 Dolphins.”

    In fact, the opponent handed the Bears all three games on a silver platter. It wasn’t a question of who played better. It was who played worse.

    Perhaps the biggest misconception that Bears fans and, apparently, the Bears themselves have about this team is that they are inconsistent. They are, in fact, very consistent. It’s the teams they play that determine their fate.

    As to the rest of Haugh’s column, I don’t put much stock in calling for firing Marc Trestman or any of the coaches mid-season. My view tends to match that of Brad Biggs, also at the Chicago Tribune:

    “Midseason shakeups rarely are successful in the NFL. If defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is blamed and sent packing, I don’t know that that will accomplish anything. Someone needs to answer for these repeated failures, but canning Tucker and moving to the next guy looks a lot like Lovie Smith laying blame on offensive coordinator after offensive coordinator and moving on without ever sustaining success.”

    Biggs is right but I will say this. Someone needs to identify what’s wrong before it can be fixed. Based upon what’s coming out of Trestman’s mouth, right now no one can do that. If that’s true, then they’re eventually going to have to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

    Fans live on hope. Its hard to do that when your head coach is “confounded” and “disturbed” and admits that he can’t understand why their great practices don’t translate on to the field. If someone doesn’t do something, faithful fan base or no, there won’t be many of them left in the stands come December.

  • Biggs continues:

    “The other question worth exploring was whether Trestman believed the roster had enough talent to compete.

    “‘The only thing I am going to say to you is we’re not good enough right now,’ [Trestman] replied. ‘As I told our players, there is a good team in there somewhere because we have seen signs of it this year. We’re not a good team right now.'”

    I’ve said this before but its worth repeating. When you watch this team live the first thing you notice is how slow they are on defense, especially at linebacker. Whatever the problems are on offense, that’s where I’d start on defense. It’s not going to be a quick fix.

  • Biggs also quotes left tackle Jermon Bushrod on how the Packer’s defense managed to dominate the Bears:

    “‘They did a lot more movement than they did in the first game,’ Bushrod said. ‘In the first game we were able to dissect everything and figure everything out. They were running line games and T-E’s (tackle-end twists) and run plays. That is something we don’t really see much. We tried to make the necessary adjustments and then they would bring something else. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

    This is what’s so frustrating about being a Bears fan (or the fan of any bad team) right now. You see what other teams do, playing multiple fronts and coverages and executing it to the point where the opposition is in total disarray. You want that for your team. But you watch the Bears and they can’t execute even the simplest plays without something going wrong. Multiple fronts? They can’t even successfully execute a pre-snap change from cover two to cover three.

    We can talk about lack of talent but this is lack of preparation and coaching. Players are simply not in the right mindset when they hit the field and what they do on the practice field doesn’t translate to the game. There’s simply no other explanation.

    I’m not a coach and I don’t know how you fix it. But I’m tired of seeing the Packers do it time and again as they find a way to win while the Bears couldn’t execute their way out of a paper bag. Never has the difference between the Bears and the elite organizations in the NFL been so apparent.

    Yes. I haven’t been this frustrated with the team in quite a while.

  • Biggs on the move that wasn’t of Jordan Mills from right tackle to left guard:

    “‘That is why we shuffled one day, we looked at it,’ [offensive line coach Pete] Meyer said. ‘He did a nice job; it just wasn’t natural. It would have been different probably if it was the right side because he wouldn’t have to shift his stance.

    “‘We’re gonna work with him in the offseason and he wants to do it, too. It’s something we’re going to look at just like we’re working different combinations right now because of the position we’re in. The offseason is a good time to do it.'”

    Mills’s move was precipitated by the loss of Matt Slauson for the remainder of the season. If they move Mills to guard in the offseason, who sits?

  • I’m not looking forward to seeing what New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees might do to that Bears defense.
  • What the hell is wrong with you people?

One Final Thought

Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Tribune gets credit for the best quote of the week:

“The team has been put together more as a fantasy football squad than a living, breathing entity. An assistant coach for a recent opponent called them the ‘biggest collection of front-runners in the NFL.'”

Couldn’t agree more. I’m sure the assistant coach had Jay Cutler particularly in mind when he said because he’s the classic example of someone who goes as the team goes, not the other way around. But it probably applies to a large part of the rest of them. Packers receiver Randall Cobb may have put it best:

“We knew that if we got up early on them, they may lay down on us.”

This team needs leadership and a large infusion of pride and guts in the worst way.

The Best News You’ve Heard All Week. And Other Points of View.


  • I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this. But Patrick Finley and Adam L. Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times report that there are “Lovie guys” in the locker room who, apparently, still haven’t moved on.

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com on a national report that the Bears are in a shambles and that “the organization feared for Trestman’s job”.

    “It is bad form among reporters to judge their peers or challenge the veracity of their reporting short of a flat out violation of journalistic ethics, so I will forgo comment on the reporter in question.

    “I will however respectfully suggest he might want to reconsider his sources before his next big scoop.”

    I’m under no such restriction. The report was from Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports. And since we pretty much all know that Arkush is around the team almost every day and that he, more than reporter in Chicago, wouldn’t hesitate to confirm that the Bears were actually in such a state, I’d say its likely that La Canfora doesn’t have a clue about what he’s talking about.

  • Brandon Marshall‘s brother, Bijon Massie-Marshall sounds like a bright fellow. From the Tribune. The emphasis is mine:

    “Citing court records, the channel said Massie-Marshall is alleged to have stolen a car in Colorado’s Douglas County while on probation in June 2013, and that county prosecutors filed charges for aggravated motor vehicle theft in May 2014. It said he was arrested in June and posted bond in August.

    He is then accused of robbing an elderly Denver woman at her home in October with what appeared to be a handgun. 9NEWS said Massie-Marshall was arrested, bonded out, and that four days later he was wearing a GPS tracker when he allegedly robbed a store with what appeared to be a handgun. He was arrested again on Oct. 21.”

    Insert comment about similarity between brothers here.

  • Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune addresses what the Bears need to do on defense to make the Packers game more competitive this time around:

    “In Week 4, [Packers quarterback Aaron] Rodgers completed 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. His 151.2 passer rating that game stands as the third-best of his career.

    “The Bears repeatedly tried to rush four and drop seven in coverage, but defenders couldn’t get off blocks and Rodgers dissected the Bears’ zone coverage. Cornerbacks on the perimeter consistently allowed Packers receivers cushions of at least five yards, and that enabled Rodgers’ quick-passing game.

    “Bears coaches have said they plan to adjust the defensive game plan, but Trestman emphasized the unchanged reality that rush and coverage must work together.”

    The guess here is that they’ll mix it up more and we’ll see more man-to-man. Certainly they’ll probably try hard to disguise the defense. But, as Trestman implies, its still going to come down to the pass rush from the front four. You’re not going to get anywhere against Rogers by blitzing him over much.

  • Here’s the best news you’ve heard all week. Every single Tribune writer (not counting Steve Rosenbloom) picked the Packers. There’s not a chance in hell the Bears lose this one.


  • The Lions are gaining a lot of respect around the league and the #5 ranking that Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune has given them is representative of that. Biggs has the Packers at #10. It’s going to be interesting to see how the division shakes out and if they can improve themselves and play to their talent level, the Bears are going to have a chance to play spoiler here. They’ve got two left against the Lions after this week’s Packers game. The Packers might be glad their games against the Bears came closer to the first half of the season than the last half. To my eye the Vikings are getting better as the season rolls on, too. Star running back Adrian Peterson could still be back in uniform this season.

One Final Thought

Biggs answers your questions:

“Does anyone remember that Packers coach Mike McCarthy was 8-8, 13-3 and 6-10 in his first three seasons in Green Bay? Are we not completely jumping the gun on voicing our severe displeasure in this Bears team?
– Todd Y., Melbourne, Australia, from email

“I’d agree there has been a rush to judge the Bears, coach Marc Trestman and GM Phil Emery after a half-season. That means half of the season remains and it is certainly worth seeing how this plays out. The team has been hit with some injuries, no question, but find me a team across the league that isn’t in the same position.

“I don’t know if a comparison to McCarthy is appropriate here. For starters, the Bears are not going to reach 13 wins this season. The six-win season for McCarthy, the worst season he’s had, came when Aaron Rodgers was in his first season as the starter and Green Bay was hit with a slew of significant injuries.”

Aaron Rogers aside, the Bears are considerably more talented than Green Bay is or ever was under McCarthy. I wasn’t as high on the Bears this year as most fans but even I wouldn’t hesitate to say that they are under-achieving. I’m not sure that McCarthy’s teams did.

Having said that, we can hope that the Bears will have a better second half. Hell, what else can we do?

The Season Isn’t Over. Yet. And Other Points of View.


  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times quotes Bears safety Ryan Mundy after the Bears blow out loss to the Patriots last Sunday:

    “‘We’re definitely frustrated, ­upset and disappointed — all those emotions,’ Mundy said. ‘We’ve just got to stick together — that’s the most important thing. At times like this, it’s really easy to have the worst in people come out, especially with all the arrows that are being thrown our way. Our job as a team is to stick together.'”

    There’s a lot of truth to that, of course. But more importantly I think your job as a team is to do your job as individuals. Right now its pretty rare to find a play where all 11 guys have been doing that. Tight end Martellus Bennett might have put it best (via Patrick Finley, also at the Chicago Sun-Times):

    “‘It’s not just Jay [Cutler]. It’s the offensive line. It’s the running backs. It’s the tight ends. It’s the wide receivers. He’s the quarterback, so everybody always looks at him. But we have to make sure all the guys around there are doing their jobs.

    “‘Jay does his job, we do our jobs and we’re O.K. I think that’s the biggest thing: that everyone around has to look at themselves. I’m not here to judge Jay or talk about Jay. I only can look in the mirror and see what I have to do and what I can do better to help my teammates out. And that’s what it’s really about.'”

  • From Brad Biggs‘s film review in the Chicago Tribune:

    “Cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner had their way with [Brandon] Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The duo combined for only 72 receiving yards before Cutler was pulled. Marshall was unable to create separation and Jeffery didn’t fare much better.”

    Miami’s Cortland Finnegan also blanketed Marshall the week before allowing double coverage on Jeffery for much of that game. This is a major issue. I’m wondering if Marshall is still hurt. He has that look about him. Biggs would seem to agree:

    “Maybe it is a sign that Marshall, while healthy, isn’t all the way back from that ankle injury. But who knows what to believe? One week he feels explosive. The next week he says the injury should have kept him out a month. But it is one of the issues plaguing an offense that is short on explosive plays.”

    In any case if these two don’t start getting open more, the Bears season will end even worse than most fans suspect at this point.

  • I’m sure everyone has pictures of this billboard. But just in case:

  • Hub Arkush at chicagofootball.com answers your questions:

    “From @imx007: What’s the chance (the) Bears owners follows lead of the Blackhawks and Cubs and actually put real football people in?

    Ted Phillips is the team President and he has no football background at all. He is a very good accountant and was the team’s finance guy when Virginia McCaskey replaced her oldest son Michael with him. Actually, Michael was elevated to Chairman of the Board and Philips became President but the net effect was to move the family out of the day-to-day operations of the team. To Phillips’ credit, his first major move was to change Michael’s policy of not having a GM;…[Jerry] Angelo and [Phil] Emery were and are football people. The two questions are: 1. Are/were they the right football people; and 2. Should they be reporting to a football person? The first answer is it’s starting to look uncertain, but it’s still too soon to give up on Emery. The answer to number two, I think, is most definitely yes.”

    There’s a flaw in this logic in that ultimately a non-football person has to decide which football person to hire. I see little difference between Phillips doing it in collaboration with ownership and ownership simply doing it on their own.

    In the end, Phil Emery is making the football decisions. I don’t have a problem with that. As Arkush says, its a little early to tell, but I think the team’s drafts have gotten decidedly better, especially at the top, under his leadership. Whether Marc Trestman was the right hire as head coach is debatable but there is certainly a lot to like about him as an offensive mind and quarterback coach. I applauded this hire at the time for exactly those reasons. We’ll just have to wait and see if his leadership style either catches hold with the team or changes with the circumstances.

  • Biggs makes the point that the biggest adjustment that the Bears have to make in the second half is to get the running game in order. This is one traditional way to beat the zone defenses the Bears have been seeing this year:

    “There’s too much window dressing to the ground game and not enough brawn and muscle. Alshon Jeffery coming in motion on a fake jet sweep isn’t leaving opposing defensive coaches studying film deep into the night. The Bears must commit to running rough, dominating the line of scrimmage.

    “‘We have an offensive line that can block the run,’ Trestman said. ‘And we have a very good running back.'”

    The latter is definitely true. Whether the former is true is yet to be seen.

  • Honestly, does anyone care what Michael Irvin thinks?

One Final Thought

Could this possibly be the ever cynical Hub Arkush that we’ve come to know and love?

“From @mosconml: Let’s not kid ourselves, the playoff hopes are done. Who’s looking good at MLB, SS and FS in the draft?

“Well, first of all you’re wrong. In my preseason predictions, I had the Bears at 4-5 coming out of Lambeau, and winning six of their last seven to go 10-6 and claim a wild card. I don’t feel that way anymore, but to say it’s no longer possible is just wrong. Apparently you haven’t been watching the NFL recently. Two weeks ago the Saints were done at 2-4 and now they’re in first place in the NFC South. Many times even 9-7 can get you into the playoffs. I hate what the Bears have done so far like everyone else, but let’s let it play out at least three more weeks before we bury them.”

Couldn’t agree more.