Ups and Downs for Those Bucs/Titans Fans

For those Buccaneers fans jumping off bridges after week one because your team chose Jameis Winston, I come bearing good news: The last quarterback to throw a pick six on his first NFL pass? Brett Favre.

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Oh. And lest you think I’ve forgotten you smug Marcus Mariota fans:

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Good luck riding those rollercoasters, boys and girls.

Bears May Try to Use the Cardinals Aggressiveness Against Them

Kent Somers at the Arizona Republic tells us what the Bears next opponent, the Arizona Cardinals did and didn’t do well against the Saints on Sunday:

“The Saints used the Cardinals’ aggressiveness against them. Quarterback Drew Brees continually hit running backs with screens and swing passes whenever the Cardinals would blitz. The Cardinals worked on those plays throughout camp, but in the game, defenders were too anxious to attack Brees.

“They neglected to decipher that there was a reason they were running free – they weren’t being blocked. “

I would expect the Bears to pick up on this and copy this game plan with one or two variations. For instance, though the Bears will certainly throw the screen passes, we know that the they would also like to run the ball against a Cardinals team that is rough and tough up front. Perhaps this means that we’ll see more counter plays from the Bears where, as above, they can take advantage of the Cardinals aggressiveness.

Something to keep an eye on.

Bears Wide Receivers Need to Step Up for Offensive Season to Be a Success

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune is spot on with this comment:

“If the Bears want to continue to have success running the ball, they’re going to have to find a way to open up the passing game downfield. Yes, Alshon Jeffery was limited in returning from the left calf muscle injury, but there will need to be a vertical element to the offense in order to keep defenses honest, or they are going to start cheating up and really choking down some of the things the Bears had success with. “

Don’t hold your breath. This was a problem all preseason with all of the quarterbacks. The Green Bay Packers are a good team but they aren’t exactly going to be known for their defensive backfield play. And yet the Bears still couldn’t solve this problem.

Deep routes aren’t Eddie Royal‘s forte so one of the younger receivers is simply going to have to step up in order to give Jeffery some help and quarterback Jay Cutler a legitimate second option. Marquess Wilson had a fifty yard reception on what looked to me like a broken coverage but other than that, he was largely silent Sunday. Cameron Meredith could step up. If something doesn’t develop along these lines, things could get pretty ugly.

Imagine That. Some Encouraging Words From a Packer.

Those looking for encouragement – and I think we all are – will find some in the weekly “10 Thoughts” column by Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune. He quotes Packers guard T.J. Lang:TJ_Lang_(cropped)

“‘They were playing us nickel to our sub package and rolling a safety down late to try to help against the run, which is a lot of the same stuff we saw against San Francisco. I think it is a good defense. I think they are only going to get better the more they play. By Thanksgiving next time we see them, I think that is going to be a new team. Obviously, you can tell there are some learning curves there with it being a first-year system, but they’ve got some good players.'”

“‘Last year, they were pretty vanilla,’ Lang said. ‘We didn’t see a lot of different stuff out of them. I think they had one or two blitzes. At this level, you’re going to sniff that out every time. They were way different this year. I think they did a good job of changing some stuff up against us, especially the third-down package. Three-guy rushes, a couple empty blitzes there trying to get pressure, they are definitely more complex.'”

All good points.

I’m not the type to wait until guys leave town to start bashing them but its hard to understate how much better I like the current staff relative to the recent past. Playing vanilla works if you’ve got a lot of talent. The Bears didn’t then and they don’t now. So you have to do some things to make things happen.

All of the games won’t all be like last Sunday. The Bears are going to be a different team once they start getting to the point where the instincts start taking over. And the Packers are a very well coached team. There are going to be some teams – some of them in the NFC North, who aren’t going to handle things as well as the Pack did. I’m looking at you, Minnesota.

The Bears aren’t going to win any championships. But they’re going to be a factor before it’s all said and done.

Welcome Back, Sam Acho

sam+acho+bearsAs suggested here as a possibility when he was released, Sam Acho has been resigned by the Bears. Apparently his release was only temporary to get an extra healthy body on to the roster. Lamin Barrow apparently will remain, however, as the Bears have chosen to put Cornelius Washington on injured reserve instead of putting Barrow back onto the practice squad.

Based upon what I saw in the preseason, Acho appears to be a potential playmaker. The Bears desperately need more of those on defense right now (Who doesn’t?).

Quick Comments on the Monday Night Games

Eagles  – Falcons:

  • Sam Bradford didn’t look sharp early. Too many missed passes and miscommunications. This was exacerbated by the job the Falcons did stopping the run. Eagles head coach Chip Kelley gave up on it and decided to lean on Bradford’s arm. It wasn’t a good decision. The Eagles had 8 yards rushing, 117 yards passing and an INT while only scoring three points at half time. Despite running the ball better, the Eagles stuck with the pass in the second half. They had more success in the second half but still lost this game in large part because they the refused to run the ball more.
  • The Eagles had a lot of trouble getting pressure on Matt Ryan and that exposed their biggest apparent weakness. That secondary’s not good.
  • Speaking of Ryan, he was very lucky that he didn’t give this game away.  Two interceptions that really should have been five.  He’ll want to clean that up.  He won’t get away with it often.
  • The Falcons were running the ball surprisingly well and they did a good job of setting up the play action pass.
  • I heard all off season about how the Falcons were quietly building that defense up.  I didn’t get it, myself, until tonight.  They’re far better than I thought.  They’re much faster and much better at the line of scrimmage.  I was damned impressed.

Vikings – 49ers

I was doing a podcast and could only occasionally glance at this game.  I went to bed not long after that.  But I do have some thoughts on what I saw.

The biggest knock on the Vikings going into the season was their offensive line. They did nothing that I saw during this game to ease anyone’s mind. The 49ers harassed QB Teddy Bridgewater and limited running back Adrian Peterson to 14 yards on 4 carries in the first half. The Vikings have been touted as a playoff team. They’re going to have to do better if that’s going to be the case.