Tanking Is For Losers. And Other Points of View.


  • Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky after reviewing the game tape from last Sunday’s victory over the Vikings:
  • “Our confidence is way up from earlier in the season when it just seemed like we were a little unsure about what we wanted to do and who we wanted to be. We have more of an identity right now. It starts with running the football and then the play-action/movement game that comes off that. It’s just being efficient on first and second down and being a balanced offense. Guys are buying into it. There’s more passion and excitement at practice over the last few weeks.” — [Mitch] Trubisky , on the team’s energized mindset

    Though I really don’t believe that the Bears can be an elite offense while cutting the field in half in the passing game, this sort of offense can definitely be effective as conclusively shown by Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic when he reviewed the all-22 film.

    No one else in town seems to be too alarmed by the way the current offense has been designed so perhaps I’m wrong. It’s going to be interesting to see.

  • Having said that, I think Dan Pompei at The Athletic may have some reservations as gives his thoughts after last Sunday’s game:
  • It’s good to run the football when the opposing defense invites the run as the Vikings did. It’s better to run the football no matter what the opposing defense invites.

    Pompei echos my concerns on this. The Bears haven’t really played a good defense in a long time. The Vikings were covering for multiple deficiencies and were thin at cornerback. They had players in the defensive back field that had to be protected and they couldn’t afford to pack the box to stop the run the way that they ordinarily might have.

    Eventually the Bears are going to run into a defense that is going to challenge this run-first approach. There are multiple questions that will need to be answered at that point.

    1. Will the Bears be able to run against a team that is determined to stop them from doing it?
    2. If not, will they continue to run anyway, as they surely will need to do and…
    3. …will they be able to make up the deficit by living or dying by the pass?

    The Bears might not meet a defense that will force them to answer these questions unless they make the playoffs. The Jaguars rank 18th against the run and, if they stop the Bears from doing it, 28th against the pass. The Packers, as far as I can tell, never really concentrate on stopping the run. They let Aaron Rodgers get them a lead, then play the pass.

    But eventually, if they survive, the Bears will meet a truly good defense. At that point, we’ll find out what they are made of.

  • Nevertheless, I am intrigued by what the Packers will do to stop the Bears should the game actually mean anything to them in week 17.
  • The Packers may well wrap up the number one seed next week in which case they will surely rest their starters. But otherwise, they have tormented Trubisky in the past.

    The most notorious example was in week 1 of the 2019 season when the Bears scored just 3 points on a miserable night for Trubisky. After the game, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said, “We wanted to make Mitch play quarterback. We knew they had a lot of weapons, we knew they were dangerous, we knew all of those things. But we knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback, that we’d have a chance.”

    The Packers did a good job of keeping Trubisky in the pocket that game, thus forcing him to make decisions under pressure and keeping him from using his legs. Playing from the pocket is undoubtedly Trubisky’s biggest weakness.

    So the Packers know very well how to beat him. They have a good, veteran defensive coordinator in Mike Pettine who undoubtedly has seen this before, knows how to stop it and, at least as far as the passing defense goes, has the personnel to do it.

    Despite the fact that it would be better for the Bears playoff chances if they didn’t, I find myself actually hoping that the Packers need to win that last game. Right now, I’m trying to figure this team out and whether there’s any long term hope associated with this offensive plan. To me, this is a greater priority than the opportunity to make a weak run in the playoffs. A challenging game against an elite team with a decent defense would be helpful.

  • Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:
  • I know the Bears were excited when they drafted Kindle Vildor this year and he looked good (aside from the Adam Thielen touchdown), fast and aggressive with good tackling. And Duke Shelley was the first guy off the bench behind Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine. Any chance the Bears view these guys as future starters or merely solid depth guys? With Skrine’s reported dip in production this year, I would think the Bears should consider Shelley or Vildor as potential (more affordable) replacements next year. — @ckindra_23

    Shelley played pretty well starting in place of Johnson and I thought Vildor, outside of the mixup you reference with Shelley on the Vikings’ first touchdown Sunday, also looked solid. It’s probably premature to make any kind of judgment on whether Vildor has the upside to emerge as a starter, but you wouldn’t want to put a ceiling on him. I don’t think Shelley is a guy a team would want to lean on as a starter on the outside, but he’s gaining experience and could rise to the level of a solid depth player. It’s possible the Bears explore options at nickel for next season and Shelley or Vildor would both be cheaper than Skrine. This will be worth monitoring because the Bears need to find ways to create salary cap savings, and they also should continue to address their depth at cornerback. A regular training camp next summer, or close to regular, and a full preseason would be a good time to see where Vildor is at.

    My problem with Shelley is that he’s 5’9″. That’s going to set the Bears up for some serious mismatches with tight ends and big wide receivers if they put him on the field on a regular basis in the nickel back role.

    My feelings on Vildor are less concrete and based upon watching him for one game. He looked athletic. But he also looked to me like a guy who was still learning the game. He looked occasionally lost. He also looked excitable which sometimes make me doubt a player’s ability to concentrate. But I say that fully understanding that its not at all fair after just one game.


    • Myles Simmons at profootballtalk.com quotes Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the Chiefs turning to running back Le’Veon Bell with Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely out until the postseason:
    • “He’s had success everywhere he’s been,” Mahomes said. “He’s been a top running back for a long time now and I think he fits into our locker room really, really well. He’s done a great job in the amount of snaps that he’s gotten so far, and I’m sure that he’ll continue to do better and better as he gets more and more snaps.”

      Bell is only 28 years old but to me he looks like he’s running like he’s about 5 years older than that. I don’t see much explosion.

      Bell sat out a year after the Steelers refused to pay him what he wanted and you have to wonder if he believes that leaving the team was the worst decision he ever made. Pittsburgh had a running game that seemed tailor made for Bell’s running style that allowed him to be patient behind an excellent offensive line before darting through cracks to big years.

    One Final Thought

    For whatever reason, I haven’t seen him do that either during his absolutely miserable stint with the Jets or with the Chiefs. You have to wonder if he’ll ever find the right fit to display what skills he has left again.

  • Jets fans are not happy with punter Braden Mann after he made a game saving tackle of Rams returner Nsimba Webster to help preserve a 23-20 victory on Sunday. It was the Jets first win of the season and put them behind the Jaguars in the draft order for highly regarded Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Fans let him know what they thought via social media. Via Rich Cimini at ESPN.com
  • “I got a few messages like that,” Mann said. “But whoever says something like that, I don’t think they ever tried to compete at something like this. For us, we get paid to play. We get paid to win.”

    I think fans need to settle down when it comes to things like this.

    The truth of the matter is that if you have a good organization, you don’t have to tank for draft order to get good players, including quarterbacks. If you don’t have a good organization, it won’t matter whether you tank or not.

An Early Examination of Ownerships Biggest Offseason Decision

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune give 10 thoughts after the Bears victory over the Vikings Sunday. I thought the 7th was interesting:

7. The Bears might have limited options in free agency.
With the end of the season near and some huge obstacles ahead for the league and the NFLPA when you look ahead to the salary cap for 2021, I connected with someone who keeps close tabs on this. I had a good conversation with Jason Fitzgerald (@jason_otc), who runs overthecap.com and cowrote “Crunching Numbers: An Inside Look at the Salary Cap and Negotiating Player Contracts.”

The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a salary cap floor of $175 million for 2021. It could be higher than that, but won’t be any lower based on lost revenue incurred across the league during the COVID-19 pandemic. OTC ranks the Bears 21st in available cap space for 2021, noting they will be over the cap floor of $175 million by about $90,000. If that holds true, the Bears will have to subtract before they add, and it would certainly reduce their options when taking the long view ahead to free agency.

“They do have more flexibility than teams like the Steelers and stuff like that, but it’s also a question of do you want to really continue to double down on some of these older guys,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s really the thing for them. They can create a bunch of cap space if they extend players like (Kyle) Fuller or (Akiem) Hicks (both will be in the final year of their contracts in 2021) or restructure (Khalil) Mack again. It’s like the team already, especially on defense, is so over-reliant on guys that are over 30 years old. Do you want to do that?

“Who knows what they’re going to do after this year or next. So it’s kind of a tricky spot. For them to really be able to do stuff in free agency, it’s a spot where they probably have to double down on some of these guys that most teams probably wouldn’t double down on. The other side of the equation is, do you just blow it all up? Do you trade Fuller? Do you trade Hicks? Do you look to see if you could get a bunch of stuff for Mack? Do you just go in that completely opposite direction, blow it up, ride it out for one year where it sucks with your salary cap and sucks with your roster, and then look to move forward the year after that? They don’t have a quarterback under contract for next year unless they’re going to go back to Nick Foles as the starter again, which I wouldn’t think they would do.”

The Bears have already restructured Mack’s contract once to free up cap space, and that shot his cap number to $26.6 million this year. It’s at $26.646 million in 2021. If the Bears considered something outside the box like trading Mack after this season — and I’ve got no idea what they could get in return considering he’s due so much money — they would take a $21 million hit in dead cap space in 2021 and carry another $12 million in dead cap space in 2022. He would be off the books, however.

“I think you’re only doing this if you’re looking at it and you say, ‘We’re going to rebuild now and start bringing some draft picks back here,’” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t know if they can get a first-round pick or not. If they can get a first-round pick and they clear their books of him completely in the future, that’s probably a big thing. If they’re going to come into next year thinking they’re going to compete, they’re probably going to dump more money into that deal, convert money to a bonus and create cap space.”

“They’re really in a weird spot. If they come back with the same general manager and same head coach, the level of heat that is going to be underneath them is going to be just like what happened in Atlanta or any of these spots where you’re basically dead man walking going into a season. So you’ve got to pull out all stops and at that point, you don’t really care about 2022. You care about keeping your job. You’re going to do everything you can to load up, sign some players and hopefully go out there and compete and if things don’t go well, you leave someone else with the mess to handle.”

Fitzgerald’s comments were interesting. But I don’t know that he 100% grasps what is going on in Chicago. If he did, he would have never suggested that they might rebuild. At least not while GM Ryan Pace is in charge.

From the time he arrived, Pace’s mission has been to be the New Orleans Saints. That means you squeeze every resource in order to be competitive at a high level year after year. The Saints are as aggressive as any team in the league. They are always up against the cap and always short on draft picks.

This works as long as you no longer need those resources to fill a lot of major holes. You are basically using them to keep the ball rolling at that point.

Pace’s transformation didn’t start right away because the Bears weren’t going to be competitive no matter what he did when he took over. So he drafted and signed younger free agents.

But the Bears aren’t in that state now and this year Pace pulled out all of the stops. As Fitzgerald points out, the Bears are now among the oldest teams in the league and rank near the top in snaps by players over the age of 30. Pace borrowed against the future to sign free agents like Robert Quinn. He did all this because he thought the Bears were ready to win a Super Bowl.

And he was wrong. And now the Bears are a mediocre team with no resources to fix their issues. Among them are needs at both tackle and quarterback, two of the hardest to solve, and they are well on their way to a problem at wide receiver with the possibility that Allen Robinson may be about to test the market.

Pace isn’t going to rebuild. For better or worse, the Bears are now the Saints. That means going for it every year. As Fitzgerald suggests, it means restructuring contracts to keep older players here even longer in order to sign more free agents to cover for more holes that Pace didn’t see coming.

Ownership has a major decision coming this offseason for the Bears. With Pace entering the last year of his contract and head coach Matt Nagy avoiding lame duck status by entering the penultimate year of his, the Bears were set up to allow each to have one more year to compete for a Super Bowl.

But now the Bears have to decide whether they want Pace choosing their next quarterback. And, even more than that, they need to decide if they want to risk allowing Pace to run the franchise into the ground as he mortgages the future to try to bring the franchise to a competitive level he already thought that they had achieved.

If they keep Pace and they’re ready to compete for a championship next year, the Bears win their bet. But if they lose, they’re staring at least a couple of very bleak years as the team recovers after he’s gone.

Pace’s judgment is in serious question and history is not on his side. Or that of the Bears if they risk keeping him around.

What Is on the Mind of Matt Nagy? Deciphering the Answer to the Mitch Trubisky Question.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

Is there any way that Mitch Trubisky plays himself back into the Bears’ 2021 plans? I imagine he’d prefer one last shot at being a starter to being someone’s backup. How do the odds of that change if Matt Nagy is or isn’t retained? — @ericjen98678943

That’s a fair question and an interesting one to explore, but I don’t know that Bill Lazor is really doing anything differently with him than Matt Nagy was at the start of the season. Remember, we saw a real shift in philosophy when the season started and the Bears started operating more from under center. That gave their outside running game a bit of a boost and also put Trubisky in position to bootleg, roll out and get out of the pocket using his athleticism. They’ve returned to those same strategies since Trubisky replaced Nick Foles, and maybe, as Nagy suggests the former first-round draft pick has benefited from the whole experience. [A] new front office, and the new coach likely would want to chart a new direction at quarterback. When the season ends and the Bears assess the quarterback landscape, they have to see what’s best for them and then determine if it’s realistic.

Let’s start at this point by assuming strictly for the purposes of this post that Nagy and GM Ryan Pace are back. Without knowing anything about a new coach or how well his offensive philosophy fits Trubisky’s strengths, it’s simply impossible to say.

And Trubisky does have strengths that you can use. He’s mobile obviously. He’s also accurate when he’s comfortable, especially when he’s on the move.

What you have to determine is if Trubisky’s weaknesses are fatal.

He’s likely never going to be a pocket quarterback. We know that now. And, like most middle to bottom tier quarterbacks, you have to protect him. He’s not going to do well with a muddy pocket.

But, even more, that means he needs simplified reads where you put him on the move and cut the field in half. He’s not going to survey the whole field, get to his third read and make an accurate throw to the correct receiver.

Can you win with a quarterback like that? Yes. Can you consistently compete for a Super Bowl with one? I doubt it. And so, I suspect, does Nagy.

Adam Jahns at The Athletic puts finger on the relevant issue, albeit a little indirectly:

Nagy was asked about Trubisky’s future and he brought up Alex Smith. His winding career path going from San Francisco to Kansas City to Washington has featured plenty of wins but also some “rough patches,” he said.

As it turns out, [Nick] Foles’ failures could arguably become the best thing that’s happened to Nagy the head coach and offensive mind. It’s evident in what the Bears are running offensively, particularly with moving Trubisky’s launch points and with Lazor calling plays.

“Just with the background that I came from in Kansas City and just some of the things we did, there wasn’t as much of that,” Nagy said.

No, there wasn’t. And while Jahns thought that forcing Nagy to adjust was the best thing for him as he develops as a coach, I don’t think Nagy necessarily agrees.

Nagy was coaching in Kansas City when Smith revived his career. But he was also the offensive coordinator when they drafted Patrick Mahomes because Smith wasn’t good enough. So associating Trubisky with him tells you a lot about what might be on his mind.

I think Nagy probably is willing to compromise and run a different offense from what they ran in Kansas City. I think he’s always been willing to do it. For instance, he’s probably willing to keep the quarterback under center to facilitate David Montgomery and the running game. They did start the year off doing that after an offseason of planning, after all.

But I doubt very much that Nagy is willing to compromise to the extent that Trubisky requires. At least not indefinitely. You can’t be constantly simplifying you offense, as Nagy has for three straight years now, for a fourth year quarterback in the league. It simply limits what you can do offensively too much for sustained success against good teams.

I’d bet money that we are facing a scenario where Nagy sits down with Pace in the offseason (assuming they’re still in Chicago) and says, “Go ahead and resign Mitch if he’ll return here and you can’t find someone better for the right price. I’ll tell him he’s got an excellent chance to be the starter in September. But if you want to compete with the big boys, concentrate on drafting someone who is potentially better as soon as possible.”

It won’t be easy. But smart teams do it all the time no matter what their draft position is. And that’s what’s required here. Because, at least in Nagy’s mind, Trubisky likely will never be more than a stop gap.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Vikings 12/20/20


  • The Vikings initially kept their players close to the line of scrimmage, obviously worried more about the run and the short pass than anything that the Bears wide receivers could do deep against them. It looked from the start like they weren’t going to give Mitch Trubisky the nice comfortable throws he had against Houston last week. Which makes sense. But if that was the goal, it failed.
  • Trubisky looked good and the run game succeeded. The Bears offense looked a lot like it did the previous two weeks.
  • The Bears once again got Trubisky on the move and used it in a bit of a misdirection game that appeared to me to work. Certainly the Vikings were flowing in the direction that the Bears wanted them to.
  • The Vikings inability to keep Trubisky in the pocket on drop backs was also notable. He burned them badly with this legs.
  • Was Matt Nagy calling plays again? He seemed to be staring at that laminated card an awful lot.
  • David Montgomery ran well and that is the key to success for the Bears offense. No doubt about it. But they still aren’t using him in the passing game the way that I expected them to when they drafted him.
  • I like the way that Trubisky is playing. I’m happy for him and I’m happy for the Bears. But you guys do know that he’s cutting the field in half every time he rolls out, right? I could be wrong but I don’t think this will ever be an elite offense if they have to run the passing game like this. You have to be able to throw from the pocket and make the defense play the whole field to succeed at a high level in the NFL.


  • The Bears evidently decided that the best way to get to Kirk Cousins was to apply pressure. They blitzed on the first play of the game and immediately put Cousins in a hole and made him uncomfortable. I thought they did a reasonably good job from there.
  • The Vikings did a good job of setting up mismatches as the Bears found their linebackers occasionally matched up with the Vikings best receivers.
  • Adam Thielen got his first touchdown on a broken coverage. Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelly both followed the outside receiver. From the players’ reaction I got the impression that it might have been Vildor’s fault.
  • Both Vildor and Shelly gave up plays but neither was really bad today. They aren’t guys you’d want playing every game. At least not yet.
  • The Vikings really like using the full back as a lead blocker from the I-formation and playing straight power football. It works for them. Dalvin Cook seems to be able to recognize daylight and cut back through it in a flash. It’s very impressive.
  • The number of explosive plays that the Bears defense gave up on the ground today was disturbing. I haven’t put my finger on the reason and there may be more than one. But their run defense will need work this week.
  • Kirk Cousins gets really wound up during these big games. I’m not sure its what’s best for his team.


  • Chris Myers (play-by-play), Greg Jennings (analyst) and Jennifer Hale (reporter) were your announcers. I didn’t learn much from Jennings.
  • Midway through the second quarter. The Vikings line up to punt on 4th and 1 inside their own 35 yard line. The Bears call time out. The Vikings send their offense onto the field. The guess here is that the Bears picked up something, knew the fake was coming and wanted to set their return team. The Vikings then sent the offense out because they knew the jig was up. The Vikings didn’t make the 4th and 1. Nice job all around for the Bears, there. The Bears eventually took the field goal.
  • Cairo Santos nailed his field goals today including a 48 yarder and a critical kick with 1 minute left in the game from 42 yards. The streak continues.
  • The Vikings had some bad drops in the first half including a potential touchdown by Irv Smith. It wasn’t really an issue for the Bears.
  • Penalties weren’t a huge issue for either team. In particular, the Bears offense had few if any untimely penalties. Their margin for error is pretty narrow.
  • Cameron Dantzler intercepted Trubisky in the end zone with 4 minutes left in the game with a 3 point lead. It was a critical mistake and a devastating play. The type that bad teams allow to happen. It won’t get the attention that it ordinarily would because the team won. But it will be yet another strike against Trubisky after an otherwise stellar day.
  • This was essentially an elimination game against a mediocre teams that was playing reasonably well. The Bears offense came through and kudos to them for taking care of business. The Bears defense has work to do after the Vikings ripped them apart on the ground.

Very Late Game Comments: Texans at Bears 2020-12-13

Sorry these are late. Somebody tried to hack into my account and WordPress shut me down yesterday.


  • The Bears did a pretty good job of stopping the run in this game (4.0 yards per carry). They’ve done well the last few weeks with this, which is pretty good considering that they’re without Eddie Goldman (COVID opt out) and Roy Robertson-Harris (IR).
  • I thought it was interesting to see Houston come out of halftime and the conclusion that they had drawn was that they had to run more. They did because they weren’t doing it enough and you have to do it no matter how much success you are having. But it wasn’t because they were going to have more success with it. In any case the Bears were glad to watch them run clock and do it.
  • The Bears got plenty of pressure on Deshaun Watson. His mobility was very evident in avoiding it but there’s only so much he can do. The guy has literally nothing around him.
  • Big, big game for Khalil Mack. Big fumble recovery. Big forced fumble. Pass deflection. And, of course, a sack for a safety. Unfortunately Robert Quinn was not on the score sheet again.
  • I was glad to see the Bears playing more aggressive man-to-man defense again. the soft zones weren’t working and they weren’t producing interceptions, which I assume is why they were doing it the last couple games. The Houston offense in the first half was Watson dropping back, finding no one, avoiding a sack and running the ball.
  • Some good plays from Duke Johnson for the Texans this game. He’s a quick, speedy back with some moves.


  • To me, the biggest question of the game was whether the Bears were going to run the ball effectively again. They did (7.3 yards per carry). The new offensive line blocked very well and David Montgomery looked good again. However, it must be said that the Texans are close to last in the league in rush defense. The Vikings will pose a bigger challenge. This is the way they’re going to have to win games.
  • I don’t think Cordarella Patterson is the runner Montgomery is. I don’t think he’s got the vision. I was cutting too much inside when I thought that there was room outside. I’ve been generally supportive of him. But I think Montgomery should be getting his snaps.
  • What was really good was that the Texans were packing the box, knowing the Bears were going to run. That’s a good sign. Even a bad team can often stop you when playing is such a way.
  • I kind of liked the play calls in the passing game and I kind of didn’t. I saw more of the easy throws that allowed Trubisky to be reasonably successful in 2018 and he was on the move more. But I’d like to see them go down field more. I understand why they’re doing it. Trubisky is who he is. I just wish they could do better.
  • I thought Trubisky got good protection this game. Again, nice job from the new look offensive line. What took them so long to get some of these guys out there?
  • I’ll be interested in the snap counts for this game. I saw a lot of Jimmy Graham, who had a good game. Perhaps not as many for Cole Kmet, though we did see a fair bit of him as well.


  • Because I’m out of town I watched this game on Gamepass. So the announcers got a break from me today and I didn’t listen. Or, perhaps I got a break from them. You’ll have to tell me.
  • Penalties were even between the two teams (6 for the Texans and 7 for the Bears). That’s too many for a team that’s going to have to run the ball effectively to win most weeks. Their margin for error is too small.
  • The Bears didn’t turn the ball over. Houston lost two fumbles. That’s usually a pretty good indication of how the game went.
  • Hated the throw back uniforms. Hated them.
  • This was a nice bounce back game for the Bears. The offense looked a lot like it did last week but they got help from a defense that was more aggressive in coverage and did a nice job. But this Texans team was really miserable. Much worse than I thought, even given the statistics which told me what they were. The Bears will have a bigger challenge next week against the resurgent Vikings in their building. I think that’s where we’ll find out what they’re made of as it will be a mist win game for both teams.

Thinking Outside the Box with a Familiar Name for Bears Head Coach

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

Assuming the Bears hire a new coach next year, why haven’t they given David Toub a serious look as a head coach? He has the best resume by far out of any head coaching candidate and he is well-regarded by many former Bears players. Why hasn’t any team hired him as head coach? — @jojopuppyfish

General manager Phil Emery interviewed Toub after Lovie Smith was fired and Emery cast a wide net to find the Bears’ next coach. Toub didn’t get any consideration when John Fox or Matt Nagy were hired. Could he resurface eight years after that previous interview as a possible candidate for the Bears? That probably depends a great deal on who is in charge of making the hire. Toub has a ton of experience, but as we’ve seen for a long time, NFL teams are hesitant to turn to coaches with special teams backgrounds when hiring a head coach. It happens every once in a while. A lot of teams are looking for a coach they believe can make something magical happen with the quarterback or the offense. Toub is 58, so while he’s not too old, his shot would have to come relatively soon. Maybe his name will pop in the cycle this time around. He’s certainly more than deserving of consideration.

I have always been in favor of hiring an offensive head coach because I’ve always believed that finding good, creative offensive minds is harder than finding good defensive coordinators. Once you find one, the best way to keep from losing him is to have him as your head coach. There’s basically no promotion that another team could offer and no way they could force you to allow them to interview your guy in that situation.

Most of the league has agreed with me over the last couple years. Most of the head coaches hired were young, offensive coaches with a background in coaching quarterbacks. It just makes sense.

Having said that, This isn’t a hard and fast rule. Many, many successful head coaches have come from defensive backgrounds (Bill Belichick anyone?). And a few have come from backgrounds as special teams coaches. The most prominent current head coach from such a background is John Harbaugh and there are very few I could name that are better.

Toub is probably the best special teams coach in the league. And that is for the best possible reason. It isn’t because he’s all that clever with special, brilliant plays (though he’s had his share). It isn’t because his schemes are so much better than other special teams coaches (though they’re pretty good). Its because, like all special teams coaches, he’s taking the guys at the very bottom of the roster and getting the most out of them And he’s doing it better than anyone else.

Toub’s players execute better than the other team’s players week after week. They do their jobs in a fundamentally sound way at crucial times season after season. And that, more than anything else, defines what a good NFL coach needs to be able to do.

It is true that if you hire a good special teams coach as your head coach you are basically dooming yourself to an eternal search for good offensive coordinators. The minute you find one, he’ll be gone. And that’s a problem.

But unlike the young head coaches that are trending around the league, Toub has been around. He’s 58 years old, not 38. Kansas City is his third professional team and the only reason there haven’t been more is because he’s been so successful.

In his 20 years as a coach in the league Toub’s gotten to know a lot of guys. He’s got a lot of contacts to draw upon to hire a staff and, even if he’s hiring a guy he’s never worked with, he knows what a good coach looks like. And he knows what a good player looks like, too. Probably better than the Bears current GM,Ryan Pace, who was hired 6 years ago at just 37 years of age and probably better than Bears head coach Matt Nagy, who was hired at just 39 years of age.

It’s so easy to become enamored with creative play calls with catchy names like “Santa’s Sleigh”. It’s so easy to believe that you have to hit a home run and find “the next big guy” before everyone else does. But the core quality of every head coach in the NFL is the ability to prepare players and get the most out of them.

Fundamentally, execution, regardless of the situation, regardless of the play call, regardless of whatever adversity the team faces, is the basis for success for every NFL team.

And if you are looking for a guy who can get his players to execute, it looks to me like Dave Toub might be the right guy for the job.

Best Not to Comment. Time Enough for Bears to Thrash Over the Aftermath After the Season.

Rick Telander at the Chicago Sun-Times calls upon GM Ryan Pace to comment on the current sad state of the team:

The times cry out for a big statement from the man who orchestrated this mess afield, from the man who hired coach Matt Nagy, traded for high-priced defender Khalil Mack, picked quarterback Mitch Trubisky in the 2017 draft and brought in Nick Foles as a hopeful but failed offensive savior.

If the Good Ship Bears is sinking, the man who built the hull, loaded the cannons and hoisted the mainsail ought to stand on the pier and tell us what the hell is going on.

Mr. Pace, sir?

I understand why Telander is writing this. If I were in the business of selling newspapers, I’d want comments from as many people associated with the organization as I could get from Virginia McCaskey down to the janitor. And I’d want them no matter what the situation was, winning or losing.

Gotta fill all those pages with something to satisfy the insatiable demand for more content from fans all over the city, right?

The problem is that Pace and the McCaskeys have to think about what’s best for the organization first. And what’s best isn’t for them to comment right now.

The Bears, like every NFL team, need one voice at any one time. The players need one message and they need to be listening for it from one guy. During the season, that has to be the head coach. They can’t be worrying about what the GM or the owner said about their performance, either as individuals or as a team. They can’t have mixed messages floating through their heads from different people who, though they all think that they are on the same page, express things differently with different potential interpretations.

They need one, unified message from the guy whose job it is to turn things around and to turn them around right now. There’s time enough later to worry about what the guy who has their future in his hands thinks. Right now, he’s irrelevant. Their job is concentrate on doing their jobs and to win games. The best way to do that is listen to the coaches and perform.

And, honestly, what is Pace going to say? We all know its going to be a bunch of word salad that comes down to “We mis-evaluated the situation”. And, boy, did they ever. They mis-evaluated the talent on the offensive line, they mis-evaluated the quarterback position, they mis-evaluated the pass rushers that they threw money at, and, above all, they went all in after mis-evaluating where this team was in terms of its readiness to compete for a championship.

We know all of that. We don’t need to hear them say it. Yet.

For now, Nagy has a job to do. He needs to be able to do it without any interference from Pace or ownership or anyone else. He needs to be the one voice of the franchise. There’s an entire off-season to talk about the rest.

And, hey. We need content to fill all those pages with content then, as well, right?

Quick Game Comments: Lions at Bears 12/6/20


  • The Bears open no huddle to try to get some momentum going. It kind of worked. They got a field goal.
  • The Bears were mixing the run and pass pretty well. Lions were not apparently stacking the box against the run and the Bears took advantage and ran pretty well against him. I won’t say the line opened huge holes but there were enough cracks there for David Montgomery to sneak through. The Bears building upon their limited success against the Packers to execute an improved running game was the most encouraging thing to come out of this game. They occasionally did a nice job of executing play action off of it, too. This is their path to success.
  • The coaching change didn’t do anything to improve the Lions tackling. It was pretty bad in spots.
  • Trubisky still didn’t have great accuracy on some of his throws, especially the ones outside the numbers. But that’s no surprise.
  • The Bears offense once again failed to score in the third quarter. I don’t think there’s anything more for me to say here that hasn’t already been said.
  • The Lions started to blitz a lot in the second half. Matt Nagy or Bill Lazor or whoever responded with some good play calls to counter it (screens, short passes into the voids in coverage, etc…).


  • Roquan Smith struggled in coverage. In fairness, the Bears expect a lot out of their linebackers. Covering a wide out on a shallow cross from a dead stop is a tough ask.
  • Adrian Peterson still looked good at times but I’d say the Bears did a decent job against the run for the most part. Welcome back Akiem Hicks.
  • Bears are tackling much better than they were against the Packers. So they appear to have straightened that out in a hurry. The defense did looks very motivated, at least as first, to put that miserable Packers effort behind them.
  • The Bears were stunting an awful lot on the defensive front in an effort to get pressure on Matthew Stafford. I don’t think it had much effect. There were stretches where the Bears really struggled to get pressure.
  • The Lions started to run the ball better midway through the first quarter. Their line was getting good movement on the Bears up front.
  • Some of the Bears pass coverage was pretty bad. It was very loose at times and there was a lot of space for the Lions receivers on some of the plays. I almost wonder if there were some broken coverages out there. Combined with the occasionally poor pass rush, it was an ugly look sometimes.


  • Kevin Kugler, Chris Spielman and Laura Okmin were your announcers. Okmin always does a good job and Kugler seems to be adequate. But I was underwhelmed by Spielman. I don’t think I learned anything from him.
  • Special teams weren’t very special but there isn’t much critical to say. Which probably means good things for both sides.
    • Great Cordarrella Patterson return to start the game
    • Cairo Santos missed the extra point on the first touchdown. That’s a cheap way to end a consecutive kicks streak.
    • Matt Prater missed a rare extra point as well on the Lions first touchdown.
    • The Bears were kicking off short all game. I’m not entirely sure why. The coverage was decent and perhaps it made a marginal difference in starting position.
  • Drops really didn’t affect the game much.
  • There weren’t that many penalties for the Bears but one penalty is all it takes to kill a drive with this offense. The Bears had a drive going midway thorough the third quarter. Holding Charles Leno and the drive was dead. Instead of being up by 13 or 17, they give the Lions life and the ball with more than 7 minutes left. There’s no margin for error with this team.
  • One thing Mitch Trubisky had to do with less than 2 minutes left. One thing. Hang on to the damned ball. And he couldn’t do it.
  • This is what bad teams with bad quarterbacks do. There were a lot of encouraging things about this game. The run game was good (4.5 yards per carry). The defense limited the Lions to less than 3 yards per carry. Heck, they scored 30 points. But this is what bad teams do.

A Loss to the Lions Would Spell Doom for the Bears. But Not for the Reason That You Think.

Colleen Kane at the Chicago Tribune thinks the Bears will win Sunday in their match up against the Detroit Lions after the Lions fired GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia:

The Lions might be fired up by the recent regime change. But I think the Bears defense is going to be even more motivated after the shoddy performance against the Green Bay Packers in Week 12. Mitch Trubisky was 4-0 with 12 touchdowns and an interception against Matt Patricia’s Lions teams. If Trubisky can cut out the mistakes, he should be able to have another decent one even with Patricia gone. The Bears will pull off a win for the first time since Oct. 18.

Most of the writers I’ve seen agree with this prediction but I pulled this one because, although it mentions the boost that the Lions might get from the leadership change, it focuses on the state of the Bears.

Too many of the writers in town are treating this like the game should be a slam dunk. I’ve heard it said repeatedly that, “If the Bears lose to the Lions on Sunday, then we’re having a whole different conversation about this team.” because they should be so much better that losing to the Lions is some sort of inexcusable and inconceivable thing. I even heard one writer repeated say on a podcast, “Thanks heavens the Lions are in the Bears division.”

A loss Sunday might change the conversation but lets be clear about one thing. The Bears have had some recent success against the Lions but those games have been close. There isn’t and really never has been all that much that separates the two teams. It’s just that the Lions do some of the little things that losing teams do just a tad bit more frequently than the Bears. But on any given Sunday, these teams aren’t separated by that much. Add the boost new interim head coach Darrell Bevell provides and this is a game the Bears could very easily lose.

Having said all of that, this game isn’t about the Lions. As far as I’m concerned it is entirely about the Bears.

The Bears are coming off of a miserable performance against the Packers last Sunday. The defense, in particular, played uncharacteristically poorly. The real question is, “How will the team bounce back?”

All we’ve heard from head coach Matt Nagy since this streak of losses began was about how the culture at Halas Hall will see them through. Members of the media, who very obviously like Nagy and like his style in handling them, have defended him to the extent that they can by saying, “Well, at least by all appearances, he hasn’t lost the locker room.” And the players have certainly said the right things.

But that all changes if the Bears don’t win this week.

Will the Bears defense respond to last week’s debacle by tightening up and coming out determined to leave that terrible game behind them? Can the Bears build offense upon what little encouraging signs there were for them on Sunday and run the ball effectively against a mediocre Lions run defense?

If the Bears lose this game, it won’t be because they blew it against a team that wasn’t nearly as talented as they are. And it won’t be because the Lions got a little boost from the regime change there. It will be because the Bears didn’t bounce back effectively from a terrible loss to the Packers on Sunday that should have provided all the motivation they needed to play well enough to win.

And that will, indeed, entirely change the conversation on Monday.

What Should the Bears Do? “Run, Run, Run the Ball.”

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

I keep hearing guys say “run, run, run the ball.” Didn’t they try that during the early Mitch Trubisky development stage and teams just packed the box and dared Mitch to beat them in the air? — @nfrankie5

The Bears have to have success running the ball. They have to be balanced on offense. They have to keep defenses off balance. They need to be able to set up play-action and bootleg opportunities for Trubisky. Absolutely, they have to run the ball more effectively. Maybe, just maybe, the success they had in Sunday’s loss in Green Bay can carry over to this week’s meeting with the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.

Biggs is right on here. The only hope the Bears have, especially under the conditions at Solder Field in December, is to run the ball.

And I truly believe that this was the game plan on Sunday against a Packers defense that not only struggles to defend the run, but has a defensive coordinator who actually doesn’t believe it’s necessary.

That’s not an exaggeration. Mike Pettine is known to believe that explosive plays in the passing game are what lead to defeats. Despite the lesson taught him by the 49ers in the playoffs last year where they ran over the Packers in an ugly loss, he really doesn’t believe a team can win by simply running the ball and that they have to pass. If you can stop that, you’ll come out on top on the score board.

And the pathetic thing is that he’s often proven right, as he was at Lambeau Field over the weekend.

The Bears almost certainly came out of the bye week thinking that the way to get back on track was to play complimentary football. That meant getting Trubisky under center and to start by running the ball. And it looked to me like it might have worked. From veteran columnist Dan Pompei at The Athletic

  • The offensive line reshuffling — Cody Whitehair to left guard, Sam Mustipher to center, Alex Bars to right guard and Germain Ifedi to right tackle — wasn’t all bad. They might have stumbled onto some solutions there.
  • It was a rough night for Charles Leno Jr., who looked like he was playing hurt.
  • If every player on the Bears’ roster performed like David Montgomery , that’s a W. He’s never run better.

The problem is that when you try to execute such a plan, you are also leaning on your defense to hold the score down. When that didn’t happen, the game plan flew out the window. With the Bears behind, they were forced to pass and play right into Pettine’s hands. And that put the contest into Trubisky’s hands. Game over.

But that didn’t mean that the game plan was flawed. It just didn’t work on what turned out to be a miserable night for the defense. That shouldn’t happen in most games for the Bears. In most games with an ordinarily very good defense playing to its potential, a patient, down hill run game that opens up play action passing almost certainly seems to be the way to go.

Let’s put it this way. Would you rather see the Bears play like they’re the Chiefs and try to throw the ball all over the field in an effort to work a pass first offense that they don’t have a quarterback to execute? Head coach Matt Nagy would almost certainly love to do that. But I think he’s smart enough to know that the conditions aren’t right for it and to adjust to what he has.

Will the Lions pack the box if the Bears find success running the ball? Man, I hope so. Because that would be a huge improvement after what we’ve seen in the last 6 games with Nick Foles in the shot gun where teams did nothing special to stop an anemic Bears rushing attack.

I don’t know if the Bears would pass the ball better in such a situation. But it would almost certainly mean seeing inline tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery matched up on linebackers. And that can do nothing but help.

So sorry, Frankie. My message to the Bears is to “run, run, run the ball.”