- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:”What do Ryan Pace and the coaching staff do during these playoff weeks? Are they still hiring coaches or staff? — @wiesnoski
Matt Nagy is working to complete his staff, and the next step, especially for the new coaches, is to completely review the 2017 season. The new coaches need to have a thorough understanding of what they are inheriting so they can contribute in meetings, hatch a plan for free agency and plan for the draft. It’s a time-consuming process. Coaches who remain from last season will be completing their player assessments as they prepare for meetings that will chart the course of the offseason. Pace said something that made a lot of sense when Nagy was introduced: It will be nice to have a fresh voice and opinion about the roster. What’s good? What’s not good? What works? What doesn’t work? It’s not just Nagy’s voice — all of the new coaches will have input in the process, which is significant because the most difficult process any team has is evaluating its own roster. Former general manager Jerry Angelo used to drive that point home, and it’s true. It’s easy to look at another team and determine its weaknesses. It’s more difficult to self-scout and be completely honest.”
I find this to be easy to believe. However, there are disadvantages to offset it.
One of the problems that anyone who has tried to make an evaluation of anyone from video has run into is that they don’t know the plays and, therefore, don’t know who’s responsibility it was to do what. It is possible to infer this given the playbook but I doubt anyone can be 100% sure.
- Biggs answers another:”What approach do you see Pace taking to improve the offensive line this offseason? Is the highest priority on stabilizing the interior or increasing talent at tackles? — @carl9730
As I’ve written, the biggest decision the Bears have to make on the offensive line is what to do with 31-year-old guard Josh Sitton. The Bears hold a 2018 option that must be executed between Feb. 9 — five days after Super Bowl LII — and March 9 — five days before the start of the new league year. The option is for $8 million — $7.4 million in base salary with a $500,000 roster bonus and a $100,000 workout bonus. That’s the first domino for the line this offseason. If the Bears move forward with Sitton, you’re probably looking at a lineman being added during the draft, and then the team determining a path for a swing tackle. If the Bears don’t bring Sitton back, they need to determine if they want to keep Cody Whitehair at center and get a guard or consider Whitehair at guard and get a center.”
I agree with all of this but the lost man here seems to be 2017 fifth round pick Jordan Morgan. Morgan was placed on injured reserve before the regular season started. No indication was given as to what the source of the injury was.
Morgan is a big guy with a reputation for having some “nastiness” in his make up. Morgan played at Kutztown and hasn’t seen a lot of high level competition. How much he was able to develop this season probably depends upon the nature of his injury. Nevertheless, as a fifth round guard, I have to believe that they drafted him with the idea that he would develop into a starter.
- Biggs with yet another one:”Do you think the Bears promised Fangio they would use the No. 8 pick on a defensive playmaker as a way of luring him back? — Corey S., Chicago
No way. Pace would never make a promise like that, and the Bears have no way of knowing who will be on the board when they pick. Further, they have a lot of ground to cover before they complete draft evaluations, and what they do in free agency will likely shape the direction of the draft. I think you’re overthinking this one.”
I like Fangio as much as anyone and I’m glad the Bears resigned him. The continuity is valuable and it helps. But it isn’t like good defensive coordinators with vast experience running their units aren’t out there. I’m not saying their a dime a dozen but they aren’t hard to find in the current climate where good offensive coaches who can coach quarterbacks seem to be the ones that are at a premium.
Keeping Fangio was preferable but far from essential for success.
- Rob Demovsky at ESPN.com describes why the Packers fell apart when their starting quarterback went down and the Eagles and the Vikings didn’t:“When [Minnesota quarterback Case] Keenum replaced Sam Bradford (who had replaced Teddy Bridgewater), he had 24 career starts under his belt. When [Eagles quarterback Nick Foles replaced Carson Wentz, he had 36 starts.
When Brett Hundley took over for Aaron Rodgers, who broke his collarbone in Week 6, the Packers were going with a first-time starter.”
“But it runs much deeper than just the fill-in quarterbacks.
The top-seeded Eagles ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense and were No. 1 against the run. The Vikings ranked first in total defense and were second against both the run and the pass.”
The bottom line is that the Packers either lacked talent or didnt’ develop it and once Roger went down, they were exposed.
My gut feeling is that the Packers identified the problem correctly in that former general manager Ted Thompson paid the price and was kicked upstairs. Although he was let go, I don’t think defensive coordinator Dom Capers failed to develop it nor do I think the rest of the staff was responsible. There was flat out a lack of talent on the roster and everyone with eyes knew it.
- The Bears have fired strength coach Jason George.George is apparently taking at least part of the fall for the Bears tendency to sustain a lot injuries, particularly soft tissue injuries. Though I have heard fans and media claim that George likely has little to do with it, I’m not so sure.
The Bears had a marvelous record for remaining healthy when Rusty Jones was the strength coach under former head coach Lovie Smith. When Jones retired in 2013 the Bears consciously decided to leave his training regime largely behind in an effort to become “more powerful and explosive” with new coach Mike Clark. My interpretation was that meant, “bigger, more finely tuned muscle mass”. Going along with that, you would expect more stress on tendons and, to a lesser extent, ligaments. I think the Bears injury record since that time has borne that out.
It will be interesting to see where the Bears go from here and what his background looks like. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he was a Jones disciple or if he ran a system that was similar.
One Final Thought
Alden Gonzalez at ESPN.com points out that two of the four quarterbacks in the NFL conference championships this weekend played for – and didn’t play well for – former Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
Fisher is a former Bear and he undoubtedly did fine work in the locker room – something that is arguably more important than the in game coaching that so many fans tend to emphasize because that’s what they see.
But above in game coaching and above relationships in the locker room, a coach is still a coach first. Fisher is a defensive mind that never found the right offensive coaches and never provided the environment needed to coach up and nurture a quarterback.
Many will claim that the Bears have never had the talent to succeed because they’ve never had the talent at quarterback. That may be part of the problem but the truth is they’ve never had the tools to properly develop one either. They have now provided Mitch Trubisky with three quarterback coaches, Nagy, new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and whoever the quarterback coach will be, probably Dave Ragone. Here’s hoping they have provided him with the right ones.
So first of all, I’m back.
My course at the school where I work is wrapping up and I’ve got a bit more time to write than I have had for most of this season. I will probably have to go through the same thing in August and September next year when I am course director of another new course but then after that I hope more time will be available to have some fun during the year.
Since my last post, the Bears have fired John Fox and hired new head coach Matt Nagy. Here are some thoughts.
Why Not Someone with a Little Experience?
I wasn’t overly happy about this hire. I don’t have anything against it but at the same time I’m not too thrilled with it or the process by which it came about, either.
What I see here is manifestation of something that I see a lot around the league. When you have a change in leadership in a front office and/or in a coaching staff you go out and hire the exact opposite of what you had before. I don’t know if that was exactly called for here.
I don’t mind that they hired an offensive head coach (as opposed to the defensive Fox) and I think it is generally a really good idea to hire a head coach with a background in coaching quarterbacks. It’s quarterback-centric league. But I wouldn’t have hired yet another first time head coach who is super young just because the last guy was experienced and older. It has all the markings of an over-reaction to the problems of the previous situation.
John Fox was on his third head coaching job and he’d already gotten the simple mistakes out of the system before the Bears hired him. That’s not to say that all of the decisions that he made were good ones. It probably didn’t help that he was a conservative head coach and that was, debatably, hurting the development of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. But the decision that really hurt him the most was his choice of offense coordinator. Dowell Loggains, as Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Tribune put it, ran an offense with plays but little in the way of scheme. That, along with the lack of talent at wide receiver on that side of the ball, resulted in a fairly low offensive output.
So I’m not saying that experience is everything. But it certainly can help avoid a lot of the problems that Matt Nagy is likely to run into in his first head-coaching job.
So if it were me, I’d have preferred to go with someone with more experience like Josh McDaniels or Pat Shurmur. Whether McDaniels wanted to come Chicago and leave a plum job with the Patriots is debatable. But my gut is telling me that they could’ve persuaded Shurmur to come here if they tried and had been willing to wait a little bit (see below).
Are All the Wrong Things All the Right Things? We’ll Find Out.
As it is the Bears have got a 39 year old head coach to go with an inexperienced, 40 year old general manager who is frankly doing many of the things that over the years I have been told are all of the wrong things for general managers to do.
The first prime example of that is falling in love with Trubisky to the point where in the 2017 draft he arguably traded away picks to move from #3 overall to #2 overall when he actually didn’t have to. Pace fell for Trubisky so hard that he felt that he had to do that if there was even the smallest chance that he might not be able to get him.
Conventional wisdom says that you don’t fall in love with draft prospects. First rounders are a 50:50 proposition whether you have fallen in love with them or not. To some extent, you have to let the chips fall where they may and do the common sense thing.
So it was somewhat disconcerting to see Pace do the exact same thing again when hiring his head coach. Pace obviously felt that he had to rush to hire Matt Nagy in part because the Indianapolis Colts might have been interested. Colts general manager Chris Ballard has a history with Nagy through his Kansas City connections so this does make some sense but at the same time, conventional wisdom says that you take your time when you’re hunting for a head coach. You make your move only after you’re absolutely sure that you got the right guy. You don’t rush it.
My guess is that the Bears also hurried this hire in part they wanted to get first crack at the assistant coaches that they wanted. Again, conventional wisdom says not to do that. Whatever else you say about John Fox, he assembled a pretty good staff in Chicago. He was able to do it, not because he rushed the process, but because he’s been around the league a lot and knows a lot of people. He has a lot of connections.
Assembling a staff is probably the most important thing you’ll do as a head coach. If you hire the right guy, he’ll do it right. On the other hand, does a young guy like Nagy who has only been a coach since 2008 (and even then it was it as an intern) and who has only worked for one organization going to have the connections to hire the right people to to get onto the staff? We’ll find out when the boys hit the field.
The Good: Copying the Rams Model
On the generally positive side, there are a lot of similarities in this hiring to what the Rams did when they hired Sean McVay last year.
Part of the plan in Los Angeles was to get a really good, experienced defensive coordinator to pair with him. In the case of the Rams, that was Wade Phillips, arguably the best there is right now.
In the Bears case, that guy is Vic Fangio and that’s probably another reason for rushing this hire, perhaps the only legitimate one. Fangio was under contract with the Bears until Tuesday and getting Nagy hired quickly gave them a chance to get an offer to Fangio on the record before he started titling to other teams. The end result was that he was hired, presumably as head coach of the defense.
Could they have found a good offensive coordinator if Fangio had turned them down? Probably. And probably they shouldn’t have rushed this hire just to get him. But having said that, it will be nice for the players to have the continuity and presumably it keeps much of the defensive staff intact. If nothing else, its a proven group.
Finally, and most importantly, they got a good young quarterback-centric head coach. A guy who, presumably, will be Chicago’s McVay. Pace almost certainly had a picture in his mind of what he was looking for and that picture presumably looked allot like Sean Payton. Certainly their backgrounds are similar as each was a borderline professional quarterback, Payton as a replacement during the NFL strike in 1982, Nagy as an arena league quarterback. But the similarities end there as Payton was far more accomplished as an offensive coordinator when the Saints hired him as their head coach than Nagy is now. We shall see if Nagy has Payton’s “fire in the belly.”
Hiring Nagy could be as good for Trubisky as hiring McVay was for Jared Goff. Assuming that Nagy runs an offense similar to what Andy Reid does in Kansas City, we’re looking at a highly structured West Coast offense where a lot of the quarterback’s decisions will be mapped out. Its a quarterback friendly offense where Trubisky will always know what to do and will have options to get the team into the right play.
Trubisky came to the Bears with a reputation for being very accurate and we have seen flashes of that on occasion. The football cognoscente believe that if he develops consistent mechanics, he’ll be a good, accurate, precision passer that will hit many of the easy, short passes that the West Coast offense can provide consistently.
Nagy’s also got a reputation for being able to adapt to the characteristics of his quarterback. He should be able to do better job than Loggains did of taking advantage of Trubisky’s mobility. We’ll probably see a lot more will roll outs and boot legs that will allow slower developing pass plays to take place and Trubisky to take off and run if he needs to.
Nagy did a nice job with Alex Smith and, probably more to the point, Pat Mahommes in Kansas City. We can hope that he brings that same expertise here and that Trubisky becomes all that the current regime thinks he can be.
If he does, then the process of hiring Nagy will be characterized as “decisive” by future critics. But for now, it feels like the Bears are going to have to be a lot luckier than usual to have found the right guy in such a rushed manner.
I’m sorry to say it but you may have seen my last post of the year. A previous commitment kept me from posting game comments last week and now for two weeks running I will be out of town. I will, therefore, not be able to post game comments again this season. Commitments at work have basically kept me from posting anything else through the season and the blog has been barely alive lately.
The good news is that things will begin slowing down for me in mid-January. This means that there should be plenty of offseason content.
And let’s be honest. The offseason is going to be far more interesting than the end of this miserable year. Until then, hang tough.
- The Bears came out covering the Bengals tighter than they did the 49ers last week. They also seemed to be playing closer to the line of scrimmage than usual to stop the run. It was an interesting decision considering that they were surely rotating their coverage over to cover AJ Green.
- The Bengals finally started to run the ball effectively against a beat up Bears front seven late in the first quarter. They easily worked their way down the field for a touchdown.
- The Bears defensive backs are going to look back at the dropped interceptions that they had in this game and really be kicking themselves. Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller (at least two) both dropped sure fire turnovers.
- The Bears have developed a bad habit of allowing teams to get first downs on third down right at the sticks. It seems like the coverage needs to tighten up in those situations.
- You can certainly understand why Bengals fans might be frustrated by Andy Dalton. His accuracy is about a inconsistent as it can be and still be from a NFL starter.
- Not a great day for AJ Green. The Bears corners had something to do with that but so did Dalton.
- The Bengals defense looked like they came out flat, probably because they were coming off of a huge game against the Steelers.
- The Bears came out running the ball pretty well. It didn’t take the Bengals long to start stacking the line of scrimmage and challenging the Bears to throw the ball. The Bears were glad to take the opportunity to finally do so against the soft, two deep zone that the Bengals like to play rather than the tight man to man they have been facing.
- The Bears did a pretty good job driving late in the first half but, as has been their wont, once they got into the red zone they couldn’t turn it into a touchdown.
- Mitch Trubisky looked good today and, if he wasn’t pinpoint all game, he was, at least, generally accurate. He seems to read the field well and seemed to be finding the open man, especially if that man was open in the middle of the field where he was easy to see.
- One thing I didn’t like was how often I saw Trubisky throwing off of his back foot. The throws weren’t horrible but he’s not driving the ball and the ball placement isn’t as good as it should be when he does it.
- It certainly helped that Trubisky was getting plenty of good protection.
- To my eye, Trubisky showed a willingness to throw into tight coverage that wasn’t always there earlier in the year as he was a bit more aggressive.
- Terrible drop in the end zone aside, Adam Shaheen had a good ball game to give all of the fans a little hope.
- Credit Michael Johnson with a couple good sacks but at the same time he took advantage of some miserable blocks.
- Both Tarik Cohen (over 10 yds per carry) and Jordan Howard (over 145 yards) Really ran with good vision today. Both had good days as the team as a whole had a good rushing day.
- It was nice to see the Bears reverse the stat that was most reflective of last game by dominating the time of possession instead of being dominated.
- Kendall Wright (10 receptions) had a really good day as well.
- Sam Rosen (play-by-play), Brady Quinn (analyst) and Jenny Taft (sideline reporter) were your announcers. I love it when the Bears draw this announcing team. I always know with complete confidence up front that I can just turn the volume down and I won’t miss anything.
- Mike Nugent was short on the opening kickoff. Same thing with the kickoff immediately before half time after a Bears field goal. You wonder why they didn’t keep Pat O’Donnell doing the kickoffs, as he seemed to do a pretty good job. Nugent then proceeded to miss his first extra point with the Bears. Great start [eye roll].
Tarik Cohen seemed to be having a tough time judging the ball on punt returns. Its possible the wind was up on the river front but either way he needs to be able to field those.
- Why is that seemingly every time Tarik Cohen pulls off a big play, the Bears manage to crush it with a penalty. They did it again in the second quarter as Cohen scored a touchdown on a 13 yard pass with a nice run after the catch. The Bears ultimately settled for a field goal after making a circus out of what should have been 7 points.
Seven penalties in the first half. It’s totally ridiculous.
- Jordan Howard had a bad drop the first play from scrimmage for the Bears. Adam Shaheen dropped a touchdown at the end of the first half. That turned into a field goal.
- Eddie Jackson had a nice interception on a Dalton ball that was knocked into the air. That was followed by a nice job stripping the ball and recovering the fumble on a pass play near the sideline.
- The Bears did a good job of beating the Bengals at the line of scrimmage today on both sides of the ball. As is usually the case, the team that does that tends to be the better team overall for most of the game. That was the case today.
- I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team more flat than the Bengals were today coming off of that Monday Night war with the Steelers. I hate to say it but there were guys out there that I frankly thought just didn’t care. It was just one week but that’s a team that certainly looked like it’s in need of an overhaul. Based upon what I saw I don’t like the look of Marvin Lewis’s immediate future there.
- The Bears were frustrating watch again this week, albeit for a different reason. For once, the young talent with Jordan Howard, Adam Shaheen, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson and Trubisky was evident against a flat and wounded Bengals team. But their penchant for eliminating big plays with stupid penalties, ewspecially in the first half, held them back.
There’s something here to work with. But these guys have got to execute better as a team.
- The Bears went from playing the best team in the NFC to the worst but it looked the same at the line of scrimmage early. The Bears were dominated. They struggled to stop the run and they couldn’t get a pass rush. They never really got much penetration against the run all game.
- I’ll cut them a little break on the pass rush. The Bears seemed to think that the best way to play the 49ers new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was to drop 8 into coverage and rush three. It wasn’t working too well early to my eye and apparently the Bears agreed. They started to blitz more in the second quarter and, naturally, started getting more pressure.
- I thought it was interesting to see the 49ers occasionally go to the hurry up with a quarterback that supposedly wasn’t up to speed with the offense. Generally speaking I thought Garoppolo did a pretty good job with it.
- I found this game to be extremely frustrating to watch as the bears struggled to get off the field. The 49ers dominated the time of possession and dissected the Bears zone defense pretty much as easily as the Eagles did last week, holding the ball about twice as long as the Bears. In fairness, it was bend and don’t break and the 49ers settled to field goal after field goal and I suppose giving up 15 points could be considered to be a successful game. But it looked like the Bears were trying to hang around and let the 49ers stop themselves rather than stopping them with aggressive play.
- Like a lot of teams before them, the 49ers went right at Kyle Fuller and avoided Prince Amukamara.
- The 49ers started to attack the middle in the passing game in the second quarter. That makes sense given that the Bears were starting Chris Prosinski, who they re-signed just this week.
- The 49ers had good success rolling Garoppolo out. He’s more mobile than he looks and he throws well on the run. You’d like to see the Bears do that more with Trubisky.
- Garoppolo is also extremely accurate and has a pretty good arm. I’m impressed.
- Lamarr Houston got a sack and all I could think was “Don’t blow the knee. Don’t blow the knee.”
- The Bears relied heavily on the run and the short pass early. They seem to have rediscovered the slant pass as they successfully threw several early.
- The Bears concentrated heavily on passes over the middle. I don’t know if that’s a nod to Trubisky to keep the play in front of him and limit his reads or if they just think the 49ers are weak there.
- Dontrelle Inman looks like a find. He looks better than a #4 receiver which is what he was billed as. Of course, we wouldn’t know what a good #2 or #1 looks like around here anymore.
- Trubisky generally looked more accurate today which was encouraging.
- Trubisky struggled to find open receivers. How much of that was him and how much the receivers was hard to tell. The replays often showed open men. You wonder if head coach John Fox hasn’t made him gun shy in an effort to prevent turnovers.
- Neither Charles Leno nor Bobby Massie had a great game today. Both allowed pressure and Leno had a damaging holding penalty in the fourth quarter.
- This was a pretty miserable offensive game for the Bears. They struggled to get first downs, struggled to block the edges and struggled to get open. It was tough to watch.
- Andrew Catalon and James Lofton were your announcers. The broadcast was a bare bones affair without much of the detailed analysis of replays that we often see. The network seemed to be more focused on bringing back historical footage of both teams than in providing insight into the current game. Lofton didn’t teach me a whole lot. Overall, nothing special.
- The Bears had punter Neil O’Donnell kicking off. That’s unusual but he did a pretty good job. At the same time, it led to speculation that new kicker Cairo Santos was having trouble with his previously injured groin.
Tarik Cohen had an amazing 60 yard punt return where he reversed field. That was worth the price of admission.
Cohen had another wonderful return in the fourth quarter that was brought back due to a block in the back. It was a bad penalty away from the ball by Ben Braunecker.
Generally speaking I wasn’t impressed with the 49ers discipline on the coverage teams. They also looked slower than the Bears. Or at least too slow to keep up with Cohen.
Cohen, on the other hand, had an amazing game both offensively and on special teams.
- A Charles Leno holding call killed a Tarik Cohen 25 yard run in the second quarter. Having said that the 49ers killed themselves with repeated penalties in the first half with 6 for 43 yards.
- Kyle Fuller got a big interception in the first quarter. Fuller was itching to get one as he’d gotten a couple good breaks on the ball on passes before that.
- “Tough to watch” pretty much sums up this game. Most of it was simply watching the 49ers offense operate against a Bears defense that didn’t seem real interested in the kind of aggressive play that might have stopped them. Special teams weren’t bad even considering the kicker apparently had a bad groin. But the Bears offense was more miserable than usual and couldn’t move the ball.
This was generally ugly, ugly football. It doesn’t look like the kind of football most of the rest of the league is playing. It certainly doesn’t look like the kind of football a team on the rise is supposed to be playing.
- The Eagles come out mixing it up. They executed pretty well all game, to say the least.
- The Bears pass rush was anemic all game unless they were blitzing.
- Speaking of the blitz, Wentz is pretty elusive in the pocket. Sort of Tom Brady-esque there.
- The Eagles did a good job against that blitz in general, frequently taking advantage for some big gains. The bears weren’t getting there quick enough.
- What’s really bad is that the Bears were playing a light box and they still struggled to cover the Eagles receivers. The Eagles took advantage with some good long runs. By the end of the first quarter and the Eagles were rolling both on the ground and through the air.
- It certainly doesn’t help that the Bears were manhandled at the line of scrimmage.
- Christian Jones looked pretty good in coverage this game.
- It was interesting watching the rookie Eddie Jackson giving Prince Amukamara hell for not trying to knock Alshon Jeffery off of his route after a catch where Jackson didn’t have time to get over to help. In truth, it was a common problem for the cornerbacks.
- Kyle Fuller was having a hard time keeping his footing out there in the first half. I’m wondering if he had the wrong cleats on.
- Zach Ertz obvioulsy had a good game as the Bears safeties had a hard time matchng his physicality.
- Here’s all you need to know. The Bears didn’t have a first down until 2 minutes into the third quarter. The first half time of possession was 20:03 to 9:50 Eagles.This was the most disgusting offensive performance I’ve seen all year. The offense totally hung the defense out to dry. The whole unit should apologize.
- The Bears tried to continue to open up the offense and came out throwing on first down. Unfortunately Trubisky was struggling with his accuracy, as has been his wont of late.
- The Bears had a very hard time running the ball against the Eagles number one rush defense. No great surprise.
- The Bears really struggled to block the Eagles.
- It didn’t help that the Eagles looked so well coached, correctly reading the plays as they developed and reacting quickly.
- I like the idea of putting Trubisky in the pistol formation. It gets him out from under center to a place where he’s more comfortable and yet its easier to run out of.
- One thing about Trubisky. I’ve been tough on him for his accuracy and rightfully so. But some of it is because he’s trying to throw with anticipation to his receviers. Perhaps it willpay off in the end as he gets better at it.
- Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis and Pam Oliver were your announcers.This was the team that Jay Cutler was supposed to be a part of and it would have been really interesting to have heard what he had to say.
“Hey, at least Trubisky doesn’t have Martellus Bennett laying down on him and he doesn’t have Brandon Marshall in his ear.
- Pat O’Donnell had a pretty awful punt to set the Eagles up in Bears territory in the first quarter. The possession resulted in a touchdown. Another blocked punt gave the Eagles field position in Bears territory in the second quarter.Cairo Santos missed a 54 yard field goal by a mile wide right.
Kicking wasn’t the only problem. Return teams were generally pretty miserable as the Bear were constantly in poor field position, often with a poor return in conjunction with a penalty.
- There were plenty of penalties on both sides today. Only one team was good enough to be able to afford them.Having said that, its not a big surprise that a defense coached by Jim Schwartz is undisciplined. The Bears are familiar with the way his defenses play, both good and bad, from his days as the Lions head coach.
- Drops didn’t play a huge role today.
- One of the few really good things that the Bears did today was strip the ball. It’s a shame it didn’t result in more points.Two turnovers took place on a bazaar play where Malcolm Jenkins intercepted another poor throw from Mitch Trubisky. Interestingly Dion Simms got the ball back by stripping Jenkins, actually giving the bears better field position. They were unable to take advantage of it as Adam Shaheen missed a block on 3rd and 2.
Adrian Amos stripped the ball from LaGarrette Blount after a long run, giving the Bears the ball in Eagles territory. That ended with a missed field goal.
Cre’Von LeBlanc caused another fumble with a hit on Jay Ajayi on another weird play. The ball went into the end zone where Nelson Agholor recovered it.
Isaiah Irving recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.
Trubisky threw an interception late in the fourth quarter that was overturned to become an incomplete pass but not before the Eagles got to do a line dance on the field. That was followed by a real pick and another dance.
- This was total domination in pretty much every way. The Eagles not only have far more skill position talent, they dominated the Bears on both sides at the line of scrimmage.The Bears defense couldn’t get off the field as they couldn’t stop the Eagles on fourth down. The special teams were a disaster. The offense couldn’t execute and the rookie quarterback stunk.
It’s hard to argue that this team is improving after such a total disaster. This was a tough one to watch – for fans and ownership. It’s one that may factor heavily in John Fox’s and maybe Ryan Pace’s future unless this team starts showing a lot better soon.
Right now they feel a long, long way off.
- Pete Dougherty at packersnews.com thinks Jason Spriggs might be near the end of his tenure in Wisconsin.
At this point, Spriggs might have to move to guard to try to salvage his career. Regardless of where he plays, you have to think the Packers will bring him back for his third training camp just to be sure. But unless he improves a lot this off-season, he could get cut after only two years with the team.
If that’s how it turns out, Spriggs will have been one of the biggest swings and misses of the Thompson era. It’s not just the fanning on a second-rounder. That happens to the best of them. But Thompson traded two extra picks – a fourth and a seventh – to move up nine spots to get him.
The statement is significant because the Packers may well have traded up to get ahead of the Bears, who “settled” by trading back and drafting budding potential pro bowler Cody Whitehair.
For once the Bears may have come out ahead on that one.
- Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was none to happy with the officiating in Minnesota’s Thanksgiving match up with the Lions:
“We almost lost our composure a couple times,” Zimmer said. “We study each crew going into the game. I told them it could be like this today. They’ve got to play clean, smart football and (long, awkward pause] . . . I shouldn’t say anything else.”
I was pretty bad. There was a non-call on what was obviously pass interference committed on wide receiver Stephon Diggs and there was a taunting call on quarterback Case Keenum where he was getting up after a sack and he flipped the ball in the direction of Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah that wasn’t much better.
Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com danced on the line of accusing the NFL of intentional bias:
[W]hile I’m a firm believer that the fix is never in, moments like this make me wonder whether the ratings dip has resulted in an unspoken message to give calls to a team that is on the verge of getting blown out, in order to help avoid it. And if I’m wondering, other people are, too.
I don’t believe that. But I’m honest enough with myself to understand that is largely because I don’t want to believe it.
The NBA is known for giving the leagues stars the benefit of the doubt when making calls and, as a result, I haven’t watched a full professional basketball game in many years. If the NFL ever did even hint that biased officiating would be acceptable to keep a game close to boost ratings, it would be the end of the league, at least as far as I’m concerned. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
- Adam Jahns wonders if defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is getting a free pass for the poor performance of his defense over the last two games:
Fangio’s defense didn’t deliver the win it should have against Packers backup quarterback Brett Hundley at Soldier Field. Instead, Hundley completed 18 of 25 passes for 212 yards, a touchdown and a 110.7 passer rating — his best mark this season — in Green Bay’s 23-16 victory.
As quarterback Matthew Stafford was passing for 299 yards and two touchdowns against the Bears in the Lions’ 27-24 victory, the Ravens’ defense played like a top-10 defense should against Hundley in Green Bay. He was intercepted three times and sacked six times. The Ravens held him to a 43.6 passer rating.
The disparity in Hundley’s performance made the Bears’ most disappointing loss of the season look even worse.
In fairness, the defense only gave up 27 points in the loss to the Lions. I consider 24 points to be average.
Fangio’s game plan was to switch up in the coverages in order to confuse Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. It didn’t work as Stafford either did a better job than anticipated or offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter did a very good job of anticipating the coverages. Either way, the Lions got themselves into the right play and took advantage of the Bears zone coverages way too often.
No one is perfect and Fangio is still one the best defensive coordinators around. It will be tragic if the Bears lose him in the off-season as he becomes a free agent when his contract is up. Fangio wanted to take the defensive coordinator job in San Francisco last season but the Bear blocked the move. They won’t be able to block it this year if the 49ers decide to make a switch. The Raiders also recently fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and they may not stick with replacement John Pagano.
Bottom line, the odds of Fangio staying look pretty slim at this point.
- Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune reports that defensive end Leonard Floyd will go on IR:
Floyd played 90 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps in the first nine games, to that point achieving his goal of improved availability. But Thursday’s transaction will bring his two-year career total of missed games to 10.
While its disappointing that Floyd didn’t make it through the whole season there was a major piece of good news in all of this. Floyd didn’t suffer a single concussion.
Floyd suffered two concussions in the space of six weeks last year and the frequency of those things doesn’t go down. The Bears claimed that better tackling technique would solve the issue but I was frankly skeptical. Personally, I thought his career was in real jeopardy. But the Bears were evidently right and Floyd seems to have beaten the problem.
It must have been a pretty good question and answer column from Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune because I’ve got a lot of comments to make in my free time this Thanksgiving day:
- Here’s question number one:
Can you explain why Tarik Cohen wasn’t on the field for the final drive on Sunday against the Lions? Why do the coaches insist on using Benny Cunningham? — Mark A., Milwaukee
I don’t have a problem with this decision the way some people do. If folks want to criticize the coaching staff for some of the decisions that have been made, including how personnel has been deployed, I think there are more nuanced criticisms that can be made. The Bears ran 10 offensive plays in the final possession and Cunningham was on the field for all of them. He stayed in as a pass blocker on six snaps. He chipped and then released into the pattern as a check-down target on one snap and he released from the backfield on three snaps. I certainly don’t think it would make sense to have Cohen on the field as a pass blocker in that situation.
I tend to agree.
Biggs has made the point that Cohen is a gadget player at this point in his career and that’s what I see as well. I’ve had a hard time understanding the ciriticsm of the Bears from both fans and media aimed at how they are playing him.
To some extent the league has caught up to Cohen. He really hasn’t shown that much once the league took away his cut back lanes. Last game he had 9 carries for 44 yards (4.9 ypc), his best game in many weeks. But Jordan Howard had 15 carries for 125 yards (8.3 ypc). Its hard to take Howard off the field as a runner at this point and, as Biggs points out, the 5’6” Cohen is unlikely to ever be the kind of pass blocker that you can leave in when you are expecting the blitz. He certainly isn’t right now.
There are plenty of things to worry about as Bears fans right now. How they are using Cohen is so far down the list it should barely register.
- Here’s another good question:
Why is John Fox on the hot seat while Ryan Pace’s job appears safe? The Bears have finished last for his entire tenure and look likely to finish last this year as well. The roster has few playmakers, an abysmal receiving corps, a secondary in need of a rebuild and a limited pass rush. Does anyone believe a different coach would get much better results with this roster? While Pace was not handed much in terms of a roster, the NFL operates on a much shorter cycle than other sports, and after 2 1/2 years a turnaround has not happened and does not appear imminent. In my opinion much of the goodwill centers around optimism you can still project onto Mitch Trubisky. But Pace gave up enormous value to get him and that already appears to be a mistake (Deshaun Watson). — Tim M., Parts Unknown
I don’t believe Pace has been unscathed when it comes to criticism and commentary this season. Fox is front and center every week and that certainly makes him an easier target for most people.
I continue to have a tough time with the idea that Fox cold be fired while Pace remains. How can you hold a coach responsible for losing without holding the person who supplied him with the players equally so? Especially in this case where only mediocre free agents and little immediate help in the draft was added to a 3-13 team?
I really don’t want to see either of these guys go. At least not before we see if there’s any progress before the end of the season. But my sense of justice tells me that Fox will getting a bit of a raw deal if he’s fired while Pace stays.
- Here’s another one:
What are your thoughts on the Bears drafting another quarter back next year? — @bearsdfense
I’m guessing a guy with the Twitter handle @bearsdfense would be happier if they used their draft picks on wide receivers, defensive backs, outside linebackers and maybe some linemen. I’d be stunned if they drafted a quarterback in 2018 and you should be too.
I don’t think I’d go that far. The odds of Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez returning aren’t great. They’ll sign a veteran backup of some type, for sure but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bear use a mid-to-late round pick on a guy that they like to develop as a third quarterback.
- And again:
What do you think the defensive backfield looks like next year? — @jpzimm
That’s a good question… The burning question is what happens at cornerback? Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller are in contract seasons and the Bears can move on from Marcus Cooper before a roster bonus is due to him in March. So as I wrote this past Sunday, all three are really in a contract year. My hunch is Fuller will want to explore the open market and see what is out there. He’s played OK this season with some ups and downs. Amukamara has been steady and has gotten a lot less action than Fuller. Two pass interference calls against him the last two weeks aren’t good but that happens. Cooper looks like he’s lacking confidence. What’s the solution? I think the Bears need to use a high draft pick (think first two rounds) on a cornerback, they need to sign one in free agency and come up with a third option. This will be an offseason project for sure.
If Amukamara is amenable, the Bears should be moving to try to sign him for a reasonable price right now before he hits the open market. Despite his continued drought in terms of generating turnovers, he’s been their best cover corner. My guess is that they let Cooper go.
Fuller has been better than expected but hasn’t looked good the last couple weeks and his tacking is suspect. His future with the Bears probably depends a lot on how he finishes the season. As it is, they might try to sign him on the cheap but why would he accept that kind of contract with them when he could get a fresh start for the same money somewhere else?
- Here’s the last one I want to address:
With the injury to Leonard Floyd and injury history of Pernell McPhee, the Bears appear to be lacking impact pash rushers yet again. Do you believe the Bears cut McPhee to save the $7 million against the cap in the offseason? Who are impact pass rushers the Bears may consider in draft and free agency? — @beardown7878
I don’t think the right knee injury Floyd suffered in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Lions has anything to do with what the club will decide to do with McPhee, who turns 29 next month. McPhee’s balky knees will make it difficult, in my opinion, for the Bears to consider him part of the future plan. He has a base salary of $7.2 million in 2018 with a $200,000 roster bonus due June 1 and a $175,000 workout bonus. The delayed roster bonus would give the Bears a little time to make a decision but I don’t know that the Bears will need that much time to filter through this one. McPhee is a part-time player at this point and has struggled with the knees since midway through the 2015 season.
Yeah, I can’t see the Bears paying this kind of money for McPhee. One thing that could do is ask him to take a pay cut. McPhee has occasionally provided a boost in spurts at critical times in the game. That certainly doesn’t make him worth $7 million. But he might still get as much or more from the Bears as a part time player than he would on the open market.
- The Denver Broncos fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy this week. Apparenty general manager John Elway felt that the offense was too complex.The firing makes me wonder if head coach John Fox would consider hiring McCoy in some capacity. McCoy was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Broncos from 2009-2012. In 2009 Broncos QB Kyle Orton enjoyed a career year under McCoy and in 2010 the Broncos ranked seventh in passing and Orton ranked fourth in the league in passing yards per game. McCoy adapted to accommodate Tim Tebow’s skill-set in 2011.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Bears showed interest in McCoy. They asked the Broncos for permission to interview McCoy for the head coach position in 2012 after they fired Lovie Smith.
Dowell Loggains hasn’t really done anything to deserve to be fired but you wonder if the future of Mitch Trubisky might be in better hands with McCoy as the quarterback coach over the relatively inexperienced Dave Ragone.
- The Lions came out stacking the line of scrimmage just like everyone else. The Bears responded by throwing the ball more, apparently deciding that they could actually beat the Lions defensive backs. They also threw some Mitchell Trubisky runs in. All of this combined to loosen the defense up and the Bear sustained a drive down to the 5 yard line before settling for a field goal.
- It didn’t help the Lions that they struggled to get a pass rush on Trubisky early.
- I thought it was interesting that the Bears chose to pass on that first possession in the red zone. I noticed the first thing they did when they got down there again was run Jordan Howard before throwing for the touchdown to Adam Shaheen.
- Shaheen had a breakout game as Trubisky hit him on some pin point passes in tight coverage.
- Shaheen had such a good game in part because the Bears apparently decided to target the tight ends this game. He and Brown certainly started hot with 3 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
- It looked like the Bears made a concerted effort to get Tarik Cohen on the field more this game after taking heavy criticism in the media last week for not playing him more.
- Second week in a row that we’ve seen the Bears run a good screen play. That’s encouraging.
- Kudos to the Bears offensive line as they dominated the line of scrimmage early in this game. Trubisky showed what he could do when he gets protection. Unfortunately things weren’t so rosy in the second and third quarters.
- Jordan Howard had a pretty good game as he went over 100 yards. The Bears seemed to find the running game a bit in the fourth quarter after stalling for most of two quarters before that.
- Not a fast start for the Lions as they just didn’t execute well early on. Stafford was a little inconsistent and fumbled the ball away on their first possession. You have to wonder if they didn’t take the Bears a little lightly. They got their feet under them in the second quarter.
- The Bears did a reasonable job of getting pressure on Stafford as that Lions offensive line initially didn’t look a lot better than it did last year to my eye. Like everything about the offense, they did a better job starting late in the first half.
- The Bears mixed coverages quite a bit and they weren’t always in that cover two that they like so much. The Lions did a pretty good job of finding holes in the coverage for big gains when they finally started moving the ball. Looks like the Lions definitely know how to beat zone defenses. It served them well today.
- Marcus Cooper didn’t do his chances of continuing to play a lot of good when he let Marvin Jones run around him like he was an orange traffic cone on the Lions second touchdown late in the first half.
- Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman were your announcers. Spielman threw in some good points this week after a down performance last week.For example, he had an interesting tidbit about Trubisky calling out the blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage on a successful run that I thought was pretty good. Later he caught Stafford yelling “opposite” as he told the offense which direction to run the ball. Spielman also made a good point when he showed that the Bears were double teaming Theo Riddick. It’s rare to double a running back out of the backfield.
- Both special teams until played well, I thought, until Connor Barth missed a game tying field goal by a mile.
- Kyle Log got an unnecessary roughness on a rather stupid late hit. Prince Amukamara had a bad pass interference [penalty that cost the Bears about 30 yards. Both teams had damaging penalties.
- Drops weren’t excessive but Kenny Galloway had a huge one with less than 2 minutes left tin the game that took 10 valuable yards away from the Lions as they were trying to get within easy field goal range. It also stopped the clock. It essentially force a 52 yard attempt by Matt Prater to win the game.
- Akiem Hicks recovered a Stafford fumble on the Lions first possession. Nick Kwiatkoski knocked it loose. The Bears converted it into a touchdown. D.J. Hayden picked up a bad snap for the Lions and scored a touchdown as the Bears gave the points from the Kwiatkoski recovery right back [eye roll].
- The Bears lost Leonard Floyd to injury and almost lost Kyle Fuller but neither would have been bigger than the loss of Eddie Goldman. The Bears weren’t the same last year after Goldman went down. I was glad to see him go back in.
- Tweet of the day:
@BradBiggs: Since #Bears went ahead 17-7, they have run 13 offensive plays.
That was near the end of the third quarter.
The Bears went dead in this game in the middle and couldn’t sustain what they started. They found their legs again for a bit in the fourth quarter and Trubisky made it a game as he led the bears down field to try for a game winning field goal. But it was too little too late after the defense gave up a very long, time consuming drive that ended in a Lions field goal.
The Bears showed some potential this game as they opened up the offense. They might have beaten a team like the Lions on an off day. But the Lions were the better team and generally played like it.
Bears fans will just have to be patient.
- The Packers did the smart thing and stacked the line of scrimmage as everyone has before them. The Bears tried to loosen up the Packers by passing a bit more on first and second downs, something new for them, rather than just running into the teeth of the defense every time. They had limited success but I think this is what they have to eventually do if they want to be consistently successful.
- One thing became evident early. Either offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains or, more likely, Mitch Trubisky likes passing over the middle. That might be just where Trubisky is seeing the receivers the best. I think the Packers figured that out and concentrated on taking it away as the game progressed.
- Adam Shaheen came alive and had some nice catches.
- Trubisky is still struggling with his accuracy. Easy passes are being overthrown. This has been far and away the most disappointing part of his game.
- Nice to see the screen play make a successful appearance for the Bears in the second quarter on a long run by Benny Cunningham. They need to do more of that. Of course, some success in other areas of the passing game would help with that.
- Dontrelle Inman brought a little life today. He’s not a great receiver but he’s as good as anyone the Bears have.
- The Packers didn’t do anything special here. It was mostly dink and dunk down the field all day. The Bears were just a step slow all over the field.
- There were a lot of missed tackles out there today in a sloppy game.
- I think the Packers went at Kyle Fuller so often because he takes so many chances recently. He goes for the big play but its risky. If he misses there is often an awful lot of green behind him.
- The Packers went with a hard count on 4th and 1 from their own 29 at the end of the first quarter and no one in the stadium, fell for it. Hundley wasted a time out on the play to prevent delay of game. That was a poor decision.
- The Bears had a lot of success blitzing Hundley, particularly where he was responsible for recognizing it himself and adjusting. It’s quite evident that although its hs third year in the NFL, he’s basically a rookie. He made some poor decisions.
- Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman were your announcers and man, Spielman did not impress me. He added very little to the broadcast and sometimes seemed to reverse his opinions mid-explanation. Brennaman is usually solid but there were situations where he seemed a bit lost as well. Not a great day for the announcers, either.
- Both teams had a lot of success kicking field goals on a rainy day. Of course, Mason Crosby missed a big one on a bad snap/hold at the end of the 4th quarter.
- Cody Whitehair had a holding penalty on the Bears first set of downs. There were two false starts in a row on the second set of downs. The Bears had four penalties before Green Bay had their first one. The Bears took an offside at the end of the first half that moved them back a crucial 5 yards as they tried to play for a field goal.It was typical of the day. Time after time the Bears shot themselves in the foot with penalties all day in a sloppy effort. It didn’t help that the game was poorly officiated.
- Tarik Cohen showed some shaky hands early juggling the first pass to him and flat out dropped a perfect ball on the second. Josh Bellamy had a bad drop near the end of the third quarter. Inman dropped a huge ball on the last drive of the game. These blown opportunities can’t continue.
- It’s a shame that Cunningham’s nice run on the screen play near the end of the first half was called a touchback upon review due to one of the worst rules the NFL has.
- This was a miserable game for most of the afternoon. Neither team really played well and the Bears in particular were flat and sloppy coming off of the break. Too many penalties and they lost the turnover battle, albeit on a crummy NFL rule.With Brett Hundley at quarterback, the Bears blew an opportunity here. They were just a step slow all day and they aren’t good enough to beat anyone unless they’re on top of their game.