Criticism of FOX Announcing Team a Little Over the Top

Phil Rosenthal at the Chicago Tribune continues to harp on one of FOX’s announcing teams even when they aren’t doing the game:

“Still unanswered is whether Mitch Trubisky will be healthy enough to play. But there’s a collective sigh of relief to news the broadcast team of Chris Myers and Daryl “Moose” Johnston have been assigned to call the Packers-Cardinals game.

“Myers and Johnston have worked Fox’s last two Bears telecasts.

“It’s likely the third time would have enabled them to work out the finer points of the Bears lineup. You know, as in Kyle Fuller, not Kurt; Javon Wims, not Williams; Bryce Callahan, not Brian; and Cody Parkey, not Parker.”

This is at least the third article where Rosenthal takes shots at Myers and Johnston.  OK, I get it. The name thing is a little problem. But enough is enough.

Let’s keep things in perspective here. What’s important isn’t that Myers pronounces names most Bears fans who care already know. Its funny but its not that big of a deal.

What is a big deal is how the game is described. Do the announcers actually tell you things that you wouldn’t know otherwise as they do the telecast? Does Myers clearly describe these things so everyone understands? Does Johnston teach you anything about football? Do both do those jobs in an unbiased way?

These are the things that delineate good broadcasting teams from bad ones, not the occasional mispronunciation of a name. And I would say that Myers and Johnston have done a pretty decent job in those areas.

They aren’t Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels.  But they aren’t exactly the bottom of the barrel, either, and they don’t deserve to be bashed continually in a major metropolitan newspaper.

Improved Pass Rush Makes Offenses Predictable, Increases Turnover Opportunities

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“The Bears’ interceptions have skyrocketed this season. They’ve only had one game this year without one. If you assigned responsibility for this improvement, how much credit would go to the scheme, the pressure up front and the improvement of the individual players, respectively? — @chriscremer5

“The Bears have been very opportunistic on defense this season and that’s been one of the real keys to their success. Their plus-14 turnover differential is tied for best in the league and few statistics are more central to success than the turnover margin on a week-by-week basis… I would attribute the spike to a much improved pass rush. The more disruptive the front seven, the more chances the defensive backs will have. The scheme hasn’t changed. Yes, the defensive backs are catching the ball more when they get chances to this season but the biggest difference has been the improved pass rush.”

There’s no doubt that the addition of Khalil Mack has made a difference in the turnovers. Just the ones he has accounted for directly by causing the quarterback to fumble are significant. But it goes farther than that.

Teams have taken to getting the ball out quickly against the Bears because of the pressure that Mack and the rest of the front seven has been putting on defenses. This has effectively neutralized the pass rush in that there have been fewer sacks but it has also made offenses predictable. Bears defensive backs don’t have to live in constant fear of getting beat deep on a double move because quarterbacks can’t afford to hold the ball. This has allowed players like Eddie Jackson to jump short routes at key times during the game.

The Bears Seem to Be Feeling Run Down in the Fourth Quarter. What to Do?

I’m not the only one that has noted that the Bears defense seems to be getting tired in the fourth quarter. Bears defensive back Kyle Fuller admits it himself, albeit in a back handed way:

“Fuller said the defense’s ability to come up with a big stop late during their third game in 12 days showed ’just how focused we are.’

“’(It was) blocking out how tired some people may say you are,’ he said. ’It’s just locking in, going out there, doing what we do, playing hard and getting a win.’”

I don’t know who these “some people” are but given that the game is going on, it must be someone close during the game.

And it is generally evident that the Bears are getting tired. In ten fourth-quarters alone, the Bears’ defense has surrendered 92 points, almost the same number as the total through the first three quarters (96).

There are a lot of reasons for this. For instance, they have often been playing soft coverages while protecting a lead. But generally speaking, the eye test tells me that they look tired and have looked tired since the debacle in the heat in Miami earlier in the year.

I’m not sure what the answer to this is but my gut tells me that the Bears have to have more faith in their back ups. The statistics weren’t available for the Lions game but Khalil Mack played 93% of the defensive snaps in the Vikings game last Sunday. Leonard Floyd played 84%. Kyle Filler, Adrian Amos, Prince Amukamura, Roquan Smith and Eddie Jackson all played every defensive snap and Danny Trevathan only missed one.

I get it. You want to keep your best players on the field. But as I’ve previously written, the Bears appear to me to have more depth than in previous years. Perhaps its time to take advantage of it by playing some of the back ups just a little bit more to give the defensive players a breather and allow them to finish strong.

Lovie Smith as Defensive Coordinator? No. Please, no.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Any chance Lovie Smith is fired? If he is, and Vic Fangio leaves for a head coach job, is it at all conceivable for Lovie to return to the Bears and coach the defense? — Gregory M., South Side

“I’m not qualified to speculate on Smith’s job status at Illinois after a stunning 63-0 loss to Iowa, which tied the largest defeat in team history. I wrote this week that Fangio should be a candidate for head-coaching positions if the defense plays well in the final stretch of the season. But if Fangio were to leave, I think you can rule out Smith as a potential replacement. Both men have been very successful running defenses in the NFL, but their systems are quite different. If the Bears were to have to replace Fangio, I imagine they would seek someone who runs at least a similar scheme to what the team has been using. That would not lead them to Smith.”

Lovie Smith is almost certainly done as a defensive coordinator in the NFL.

If this season has shown us anything, its that predictable defenses, especially, predictable zone defenses, don’t do well in the NFL nowadays. The Bears own destruction of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year should be ample evidence of that.

Even Smith started to realize this during his time with the Bears. After the Patriots destroyed the Bears 39-7 in 2010, the Bears started to vary things a bit more with more disguises to the defense in 2011. It was never enough, though, and I’d say the game has largely passed Smith by.

What Has Exceeded Expectations the Most?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“Which aspect of this Bears team has exceeded your expectations the most? — @kylebeckrich

“The Bears have exceeded expectations in a lot of areas to begin 7-3. One area they’ve been much better in is health. After battling through injuries for much of the last three seasons, they’ve been far more durable in Nagy’s first year, and that is a credit to the entire organization. That’s been one of the big reasons for the Bears’ success to this point.”

Biggs is, of course, quite correct in that this is a major factor in the Bears success. But I wouldn’t say that they exceeded expectations in this area in that I had no expectations beyond the usual number of injuries.

And even then, I’d argue that the loss of personnel like Kyle Long for the season should count for something. Losing Khalil Mack for two games (effectively three and a half as he wasn’t healthy for part of the Dolphins game and all of the Patriots game) was a big blow. I’d also point to the loss of Adam Shaheen for long periods of time this year as a factor as the Bears were obviously counting on him to play a major role in the offense as the blocking tight end who could also do some damage in the passing game. In this, Dion Simms has largely been a disappointment, at least in terms of the passing game. Losing Mitch Trubisky (it appears) to injury against the Lions is a factor that will have to be overcome as well.

So, though they have been relatively healthy, they haven’t been that healthy.

The thing that has exceeded my own expectations the most has been the Bears depth. Before training camp, I repeatedly cited this as a major factor for why the team wouldn’t be able to compete in the NFC North this year. But as soon as the preseason started it became evident that I was under-estimating them.

James Daniels and Eric Kush have done a credible job at guard and, along with the acquisition of Bryan Witzmann, they have done a pretty good job so far of making up for the loss of Long. Roquan Smith has effectively added depth to the linebacker position in the form of Nick Kwiatkoski.

But what has really stood out is the unexpected quality play of the back ups at the defensive line and the outside line backer positions. From the very start of the preseason, players like Roy Robertson-Harris, Jonathan Bullard, Bilal Nichols, Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving impressed me with the degree to which they developed. In the case of Nichols and Robertson-Harris, that has translated onto the field during the regular season. The others like Fitts and Irving will undoubtedly prove their worth as their chances to do so increase.

It now evident to me that the Bears have the depth to withstand a reasonable number of injuries at most of the positions on the team. To me, that’s the biggest surprise.

Quick Game Comments: Vikings at Bears 11/18/18


  1. The Vikings came out and went right at Stefon Diggs matched up on Prince Amukamara. It was obvious that was a match up they were going to like. The Lions picked on Amukamara a bit last week.
  2. The Vikings were also attacking Kyle Fuller, trying to take advantage of his aggressiveness with double moves.
  3. The Vikings were also trying a lot of trap plays in the running game, again taking advantage of the Bears aggressiveness.
  4. Khalil Mack is a monster. The Bears got a lot of pressure on Kirk Cousins and did a nice job of disrupting his play.
  5. The run defense was stout as well. The Vikings had less than 2 yards per rush and very few attempts. Akiem HIcks was a big part of that.


  1. It seems that the Bears thought they could attack the Vikings offense on the ground to the outside on the right side. They stacked their tight ends to that side and ran quite a bit there. It didn’t work but the Bears kept trying it.
  2. The Vikings had a good game plan very similar to the Green Bay game plan the first game of the year. They blitzed the Bears offense from a lot of angles as often as possible and mixed their defensive looks. To my eye, the Bears handled it much better than they did against the Packers – as they should have, given 9 games in head coach Matt Nagy’s offense.
  3. Mitch Trubisky needed to be patient tonight. The Vikings were giving up the underneath throws and covering the deep routes to Gabriel, challenging them to play mistake-free football and work their way down the field.
  4. The Vikings spent a lot of time in what looked like a two deep zone. The Bears were having a hard time early solving it and, as you might expect from the Vikings, they got a fair bit of pressure on Trubisky.
  5. Not entirely sure why the bears went for two on their first touchdown. The situation didn’t ordinarily call for it. I can only assume that they had a play that they liked. And it worked. A nice throw to Anthony Miller in the back of the end zone.
  6. I was impressed by the concerted effort the Bears put into running the ball this game. They haven’t done it well the last few weeks but they’re working at it and they were better tonight.


  1. Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, and Michele Tafoya were your announcers. I’ve said many times that this is the best announcing team in football.
  2. Special teams
    1. Cody Parkey hit his first field goal right down central which was good to see after last week’s adventure when he missed four kicks.
    2. Of course, he followed that up by kicking the ball off out of bounds giving the Vikings great field position.
    3. Parkey’s 48 yard field goal mad ethe Vikings climb an up hill one with less than 3 minutes left in the game. It gave teh Bears a two score lead. Quite a redemption for him.
  3. Penalties
    1. Kyle Fuller had a pass interference call in the first quarter. It gave the Vikings a first down on third and three. Eventually the Vikings Dalvin Cook fumbled deep in Bears territory, limiting the damage.
    2. A holding call on Ben Braunecker in the first quarter pushed the Bears back from the Viking 8 to the 18. The Bears scored the touchdown anyway.
    3. Akiem Hicks got a very damaging roughing the passer penalty that gave the Vikings another shot at a two point conversion. They made it to make it a one score game with about 4 minutes left in the game.
  4. Drops weren’t a major factor in this game.
  5. Turnovers
    1. Khalil Mack forced a huge Dalvin Cook fumble in the first quarter. The Vikings were driving deep into Chicago territory and the turnover saved at least 3 points and very likely 7.
    2. Mitch Trubisky threw an interception and gave the ball back shortly after the fumble recovery. He threw into what looked like triple coverage.
    3. Trubisky had another amaging interception on one of his classic overthrows late in the third quarter that gave teh Viings the ball at the Chicago 31 yard line. It resulted in a Vikings field goal.
    4. That was followed by a fumble by Tarik Cohen that gave teh Vikings the ball on the Bears 30 yard line. That also resulted in a field goal.
    5. Eddie Jackson’s pick six was, of course, a huge play in this game with the Bears offense struggling in the second half.
  6. Well, we figured this game would tell us if the Bears are contenders or pretenders. I won’t say either team played to thier potential offensively but they definitely competed with a pretty good team tonight right to the end. I’m calling them contenders. For now. 🙂

Guard Spot in One to Watch as the Bears Try to Jump Start Their Running Game

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune comments on the situation at left guard:

“The rotation at right guard ended as Bryan Witzmann started and Eric Kush was relegated to backup status. Witzmann was signed five weeks ago.

“’Obviously there are a lot of things to improve on, just like in any game, but it’s good to get back out there,’ Witzmann said. ’Good to just get the game like feel. You can kind of correct things quicker because if we are rotating the other guy might get a look that is new to you when you’re out there. You can adjust better as the game goes along.’”

The Bears had only 54 yards rushing on 22 carries last week against a Lions defense that ranked near the bottom against the run going into the game. Bears head coach Matt Nagy has commented several times over the last few weeks about how the Bears need to do a better job getting the running game going.

The situation at guard may be a major problem here. For several weeks before the game against the Bills two weeks ago, Kush was rotating with James Daniels at right guard while Kyle Long played on the other side. When Long went on injured reserve, Daniels “won” the job and Kush started rotating with Witzmann.

None of these guys has impressed me much. Both Witzmann and Kush are inconsistent and., though Daniels may have a bright future, he’s a little light at less than 300 pounds right now. He needs an offseason in the weight room.

If the Bears are going to be more than a one dimensional passing team down the stretch, they’re going to need better guard play. they may not have the horses to do it.

Bears Forced to Pay with Ultra-Short Turn Around Time. Where was the Player’s Union?

Prince Amukamara shares his thoughts on the Bears game against the Vikings this week being flexed from noon to Sunday night. Via Dan Weiderer at the Chicago Tribune:

“’Honestly, I was so excited, Amukamara said. ’Just like: ‘Oh, man! They’re starting to respect us a little bit. We get to play on Sunday night. This is going to be a big game.’

“But then the eighth-year cornerback started doing the math.

“OK, a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 18? Then a Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit on Nov. 22 that will begin before noon Chicago time? Just like that, Amukamara’s initial enthusiasm twisted itself into a three-word wake-up call.

“’They screwed us,’ he said.”

They sure did.

Note that this is not just the normal turns around that yo used from Sunday to Thursday.  The Bears were already losing 7.5 hours of recovery time by playing at noon on Thursday instead of the normal 7:30 pm.  Now they’re losing 7.5 hours on the other end.  15 hours of recovery time lost for these these guys is more than half a day.  It’s not trivial.

We hear constantly about how player safety is the first priority for the league. But it all falls by the way side when some cigar smoking TV executive sits in a back room and says, “Let’s put on the Bears. It’ll play good in the sticks.”

Message to the TV execs. The only people watching at the end of that game will be you and whatever bimbo you’re with. The rest of the world works for a living.

But that’s not my major point. I expect greed from people like this. It’s the player’s union’s job to protect the workers from it.

They rumble about strikes and negotiations and they loudly defend criminals when the league tries to suspend them. But where are they when it comes to protesting moves like this where player’s are actually being put at more than the acceptable level of risk? Even if it didn’t change anything, you would think they’d at least say something. Instead all we hear are crickets.

And that’s where Amukamara and his team mates are really being screwed.

Cody Parkey Hasn’t Been Practicing Kicks at Soldier Field. Why?

Colleen Kane at the Chicago Tribune reports on Bears head coach Matt Nagy’s reaction to kicker Cody Parkey missing two field goals and two extra points during the Bears win over the Lions yesterday:

“Nagy understood the fans’ disgruntlement but said after the game there’s ’zero chance’ the Bears will try out new kickers this week. He insisted Parkey has his trust.

“’It doesn’t affect me going forward, but it affected me today,’ Nagy said. ’And he knew that. In my head, there’s a balance of showing trust to him by putting him back out there, but then there’s also a level of understanding what’s best for the team. Sometimes you just have those days.

“’So my trust is not shot at all with him. I know everybody else is going to feel that way, and I get it and that’s OK. But … he’s going to hit some big kicks for us just like he did last week.”’

Special teams was miserable yesterday and there were a couple of poor kickoff returns. But this adventure in kicking was by far the worst problem and it could cost the Bears in close games if it doesn’t get solved.

As Bears fans know, this isn’t the first time this season Parkey has struggled in a game and it has previously occurred to me to wonder if he’s been practicing kicking at Soldier Field but my assumption was that he was, of course, doing it. Kane finally asked him and to my shock, the answer was “No”.

“[Parkey] said he hasn’t practiced kicking at Soldier Field midweek to get a better feel for conditions there and indicated it wasn’t his place to say whether he should consider such sessions.”

For heaven’s sake, has he asked?

Former Bears kicker Robbie Gould made such a trip along with whatever punter they had on the team every week to practice at Soldier Field in the different wind conditions. No wonder Parkey isn’t comfortable. How is it a “home field advantage” if you haven’t been practicing your kicks there?

I’m starting to have serious questions about the quality of coaching the special teams unit is getting from coordinator Chris Tabor. This is an easy fix and it has to be done now.

Quick Game Comments: Lions at Bears 11/11/18


  1. It wasn’t hard to figure what the Bears were going to try to do here. They kept only 4 wide receivers on the game day roster with both Kevin White and Jevon Wimms inactive. They kept fullback Michael Burton active against the Lions 30th ranked run defense. Before the game even started everyone knew this was going to be a slugfest at the line of scrimmage with the Bears trying their best to simply run the Lions over. It was fair to wonder what effect the loss of Kyle Long would have in the execution of that plan.As it turns out, the Bears went to the air a lot this game so the choices they made for the game day roster may have back fired on them. The Bears ran 23 times for 64 yards.
  2. One thing all of the Bears recent opponents have in common – they’re ready for the wide receiver screen. The Lions swarmed to the ball when the Bears showed this look.
  3. The Bears did a good job of varying the tempo as they went no huddle in their first drive.
  4. You have to like the Bears use of their running backs. With Jordan Howard being the pounder and Tarik Cohen being more elusive, the defense gets a lot of different looks and stays just a little off balance.
  5. Bears speed at wide receiver really showed up this game. With the Lions playing a lot of man coverage, Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel were both getting behind coverage. Gabriel could have easily scored a touchdown midway through the first quarter when he got behind Quadre Diggs, who never turned his head and looked like he interfered with Gabriel in the end zone. Two plays later Robinson got behind DeShawn Shead, who turned is head too late and never had a chance as Robinson adjusted to Mitch Trubisky’s throw.
  6. Wow. Just a mass of confusion in the Detroit back field on the Anthony Miller touchdown in the second quarter. Nobody near him on the coverage. Lions DBs shown arguing earlier in the game. This doesn’t look like a well coached defensive team, especially given that they have a defensive head coach.


  1. The Lions came out in an empty set and went to the quick slant. You knew the quick passing game was going to be a big part of the game plan after they gave up 10 sacks to the Vikings last week.
  2. Karryon Johnson is pretty quick and seems to have pretty good vision. You can see why he’s been such a success.
  3. The Bears were effective early some some well timed blitzes. One sack came from Bryce Callahan and one from Roquon Smith on the first drive. The one from Smith knocked the Lions back to the very edge of field goal range at the 37 yard line. The Lions punted.
  4. I used to like LeGarrette Blount but, man, he looks slow.
  5. There were long stretches of this game where the Bears struggled to get pressure on Matthew Stafford. They had some success with the blitz, as I said above. But they really had trouble when rushing four.
  6. Kenny Galladay was all over this game. He made a play whenever the Lions needed one and was a huge part of the Lions staying in it far longer than they should have been able to.


  1. Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston and Laura Okmin were your announcers. AS I said last week, I think this is a good announcing team but its hard to get around the fact that Johnston really doesn’t seem to like the Bears that much. Trubisky made what looked to me like a nice back shoulder throw to Allen Robinson for a touchdown in the first quarter, something he’s been working on, and Johnston seemed to imply that he thought it was just a bad throw and a good catch by Robinson (it was a good catch).This sort of thing really doesn’t bother me much, though. I think Johnston is pretty observant and I think fans are sometimes more sensitive than they should be to critical comments. Johnston was certainly complementary enough at other times during the broadcast.
  2. Special Teams
    1. The Lions fired their special teams coordinator last week with head coach Matt Patricia taking over the coaching of that group. It was hard to anticipate before the game what effect, if any, that would have on the Lions performance.
    2. Cody Parkey hit the right upright on an extra point in the first quarter. You could hear a lot of angry shouts at Soldier Field in response. Parkey clanked another one off of the left upright in the second quarter. And he hit the upright twice more in the third quarter on 41 and 34 yard attempts. As much as I disliked former Bears kicker Robby Gould, I dislike seeing easy points taken off the board more.
    3. Meanwhile Matt Prater continues to be one of the most solid kickers in the NFL as he hit a season long 52 yarder in the third quarter.
    4. The Lions had a lot of success kicking to Taquan Mizzell just short of the goal line. The Bears got some pretty bad field position short of the 20 yard line out of it. Mizzell looks like an experiment at kick returner that might now be working out.
    5. Anthony Miller stupidly batted an onside kick that he could have easily simply recovered out of bounds. It gave the Lions another shot at the kick, which they took advantage of and recovered. It resulted in another Lions touchdown.
    6. Bears special teams generally did not look good this game. Its really the only area of the team that doesn’t look well coached.
  3. Anthony Miller had a bad drop in the third quarter that would have given the Bears what looked at the time like a badly needed first down. With Cody Parkey blowing kick after kick, the Bears weren’t scoring and they needed to keep possession to give the Bears defense a little more rest.
  4. Penalties.
    1. Nice job drawing the Lions into a neutral zone infraction by Mitch Trubisky with the hard count in the first quarter. It gave the Bears a first down.
    2. Really awful penalty on A’Shawn Robinson as he shoved Trubisky out of bound. Trubisky was about as far out of bounds as I’ve ever seen anyone be on a penalty like that. It gave the Bears first and goal from the 6 yard line. A pass interference in the end zone made that first and goal from the 1 yard line. That was followed by an illegal formation penalty on the Bears pushing them back to the 6 yard line. Trubisky eventually scored on a run but it was preceded by a comedy of errors.
    3. Kyle Fuller had a damaging pass interference in the end zone near the end of the second quarter. The Lions scored a touchdown.
    4. In addition to his penalty for batting the ball on the onside kick (which resulted in a Lions touchdown), Miller also had a stupid unsportsman like conduct penalty after a nice catch for a first down. It stopped the clock as the Bears were trying to let it wind down with 3:30 left.
    5. Overall the Bears committed 6 penalties for 46 yards Vs. the Lions 6 penalties for 41 yards. Both teams would have probably liked to have seen less.
  5. Turnovers
    1. Bryce Callahan had a really good interception in the second quarter that set the Bears up on the Lions 18 yard line.
    2. I understand Matt Nagy wanting to wait to see if they can get a good replay before throwing the challenge flag on what was a Lions fumble in the second quarter. But you have to throw that flag before the Lions snap that ball.Lots of indecision on Nagy’s part when it comes to making head coaching decisions from the sideline. This was a prime example.
    3. Johnson had a very damaging fumble in the third quarter as the momentum was shifting in the third quarter after yet another Parkey miss. It set the Bears up at the Lions 21 yard line. Of course, it led to another Parkey miss. [head shake]
    4. Prince Amukamara had an interception in the fourth quarter near the bear goal line that on the surface looked like a good play. But as it was fourth down and 15 from the Bears 40 yard line, you’d think he would have had the presence of mind to bat the ball down. The Bears ended up punting form about the one foot line.
    5. Overall turnovers were a huge part of this game as the Lions had 3, one fumble and two interceptions, to the Bears 0.
  6. This was one that the Bears almost couldn’t lose if they are going to compete within the division for a playoff spot. Things get tougher from here but so far so good.