Quick Comments: Bears at Vikings 12/30/18


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


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


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

Bears Chances of Keeping Fangio Not as Remote as Fans Might Assume

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Packers Game Evidence of Mitch Trubisky’s Growth

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

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

Quick Game Comments: Packers at Bears 12/16/18


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


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


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

Quick Game Comments: Rams at Bears 12/9/18


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


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


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

Bears Will Need to Address the Guard Position in the Offseason

It’s a little early with what we all hope will be playoff football yet to be played but Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives some brief consideration to some things that the Bears need to consider in the offseason:

“The Bears don’t have many holes to consider in 2019. They will likely prioritize re-signing nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan, who will be an unrestricted free agent. Right tackle Bobby Massie and strong safety Adrian Amos are in the final year of their contracts, and Matt Nagy will likely want a running back to replace Jordan Howard.”

It all depends on the budget but I’d agree that Callahan is the priority. Though I would agree that the Bears need to do something at running back, I’m not ready to give up on Howard, either. I’m not sure what the problem is but I’ve seen running backs pull out of slumps before after an offseason of healing and training. Howard doesn’t seem to have the vision this year that he had last year but given that he’s done it before, I’m guessing its fixable. I’m also not ruling out the possibility that there’s an injury there that’s affecting his explosiveness.

So, assuming that they resign Callahan (a big assumption), that’s one hole at running back to be filled. They’re likely going to see if either Massie or Amos can be signed to reasonable contract. Both are solid but not spectacular and you could look to upgrade either or both positions.

The one position that’s bugging me, probably because its a point of weakness right now, is guard. It looks like James Daniels, Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long are your starters there but its now evident that the Bears have no depth behind them. Just one injury to Long exposed the Bears at this position. Its obvious that Eric Kush isn’t as good as they thought he was and Bryan Witzmann has been a problematic replacement. So, though it isn’t as obvious as the potential holes in the starting line up that Biggs rightly prioritizes, the interior of the line is going to need to be addressed some how.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Giants 12-2-18


  1. The Bears obviously came out wanting to run the ball and failed miserably early. They eventually did better but I still don’t think the running game is on point yet.
  2. They evidently liked the match up of Allen Robinson on Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins was playing the short pass all the way and the Bears had little success. You wondered if they were setting Jenkins up for a double move down the line but it never came.
  3. I’m having a hard time understanding what the Bears see in Taquan Mizzell. He seems to be getting a lot of chances to play but I haven’t been impressed, yet.
  4. I was glad to see Tarik Cohen take advantage of a cut back lane in the first quarter on a fourth and short run. Jordan Howard started doing the same thing shortly afterwards. We need to see more of that.
  5. Wonderful 30 yard catch by Allen Robinson early in the second quarter as he went up for another 50-50 ball and took it down off of the defender’s helmet. This seems to be his strength and the Bears need to better take advantage of it.
  6. The Giants did a great job of reading the Bears screen passes and covering them. They seemed to be anticipating them.
  7. Taylor Gabriel totally failed to show up today. He had a bad miscommunication with Chase Daniel in the first quarter and a bad drop in the third that would have been a badly needed first down. I don’t think I even need to mention the horrible fumble in the fourth quarter that essentially allowed the Giants to salt the game away.
  8. The Bears came out in the second half and evidently decided that they needed to go down field more. It resulted in Daniel seeing a lot of pressure from a blitzing defense and, yet, he seemed to have a tough time finding an open man. Something evidently wasn’t operating correctly and the Bears looked out of sync. The Giants had 3 sacks.
  9. The last drive in the fourth quarter with the Bears in general and Tarik Cohen in particular making some huge plays was impressive. The offense came up big when, truthfully, the vaunted Bears defense came up short again late in the game.


  1. The Giants tried to fed their two stars, Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley. It’s evident that the Bears were very aware of these two and they were determined not to let them beat them. It seemed that it was up to the rest of the Giants to win this.
  2. That worked until the second half when the Giants apparently adjusted and Barkley all of the sudden came alive with some good runs.
  3. The Bears often decided to drop 8 into coverage and only rush three. It was an interesting decision. Eli Manning had a lot of time to throw despite having a weak offensive line.
  4. The Bears mixed it up but they also played a lot of man-to-man. They evidently liked their defensive backs matched up on the Giants receivers. That included Beckham. No one followed him around and they didn’t change their coverages for him but let him match up on whoever was opposite him.
  5. Interesting gadget play for a touchdown as Odell Beckham threw to a wide open Russel Shepard for 49 yards. The Giants pulled out all of the stops.
  6. The third touchdown pass to Odell Beckham was just inexcusable. I’m guessing that Roquon Smith missed him in coverage and he was wide open. Terrible mistake.
  7. Akeim Hicks had a great game as he schooled Nate Solder with penetration and a number of tackles for loss.
  8. Having said that, kudos to the Giants offensive line for the nice job they did of blocking today, especially in the second half when there were a number of big runs.
  9. Eli Manning has a gift for knowing how to ground a ball by throwing it to a player “in the area”. It shows good awareness on his part.
  10. Many people have noted the Bears inability of stopping teams in the fourth quarter. The problem showed up again today and the Bears had a hard time getting a badly needed stop with 5:00 left in the game. The way the defense was playing, I would absolutely have gone for 2 on the last touchdown of the fourth quarter to go for the win rather than waiting for over time.
  11. The Giants really liked the match up of Sterling Shepard on Bryce Callahan. It looked to me like he was getting open pretty consistently.


  1. Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis were your announcers. I think Burkhardt is a potential star as play-by-play announcers go. He and Davis seem to have chemistry. Davis is fine and I think he hits all of the important points. But it seem that there’s a lot of pointing out the obvious going on with him. There aren’t a lot of, “Wow, I would have never thought of that” moments.
  2. Special Teams
    1. Taquan Mizzell fumbled the opening kickoff.
    2. The Giants were obviously kicking short not believing that the Bears could return the ball to the 25 yard line – correctly.
    3. Neil O’Donnell had a nice 65 yard punt in the first quarter to put the Giants all the way back at the 25 yard line. He was punting form the Bears end zone and kept the Giants from having good field position.
    4. Terrible missed block by Curtis Riley to allow Daniel Brown through the front line to recover the onside kick in the fourth quarter.
  3. Penalties
    1. Mario Edwards had some big penalties as the Giants did their best to shoot themselves in the foot early.
    2. The referees in this game seemed to be throwing flags about every other play. The teams combined for 17 penalties for 147 yards.
  4. Turnovers
    1. Alex Ogletree intercepted the second play of the game. It wasn’t a great start for the Bears.
    2. Kyle Filler jumped an Odell Beckham route as time was running out in the first quarter. Ogletree immediately proceeded to intercept it right back. The Giants went three and out and punted so nothing came of it.
    3. Taylor Gabriel wrapped up a terrible game with a terrible fumble on the Bears 10 yard line with the Bears down a touchdown.
  5. Bears head coach Matt Nagy will get a lot of criticism for calling time out instead of letting the time run out with the ball on the Giants side of the field with 17 seconds left in the half. Saquon Barkley ran the ball for 21 yards and a quick out on the play that followed set up a successful field goal for the Giants. I, also, found the decision to be frustrating. But in fairness to Nagy, the defense has to stop that Barkley run. The Giants were just running out the half and you can’t let that kind of conservative play call go for that many yards.
  6. You frequently got the impression watching this game that the Bears were having trouble with the footing on what looked like a pretty damp day. The field didn’t look like it was in the best of shape. The Bears also evidently had a hard time hanging on to the football.
  7. The Bears inability to convert third downs was a big part of this game. They were only 2 of 13 on third down in regulation.
  8. Terrible loss for the Packers to the Arizona Cardinals. I thought they had a chance to run the table for 9 wins but I don’t think 8 will do it. It going to be really interesting to see what happens to McCarthy after the year.
  9. The Giants definitely deserved to win this game as they played well and with an intensity that the Bears failed to match. The Bears weren’t as flat as they were against the Dolphins earlier in the year coming off of their bye but the long time off between the end of their three game stretch of divisional games on Thanksgiving Day game and the game today obviously had an effect.

    This was a pretty bad loss in terms of the Bears playoff hopes. With games against the Packers, Vikings and Rams left, wins against the Giants and the 49ers were going to be the easiest path to 10 wins and the playoffs. They failed to take care of business here and it may burn them in the end.