December 17, 2017

QB or Not QB: Meet Mitchell

The Chicago Bears shocked everyone – including Mitchell Trubisky –when they traded their number three overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers to get the number two overall pick which they used to select – North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.

A lot of people seem be laughing at the Bears for doing this because the prevailing wisdom seems to be that the Bears could have just waited one more pick and still gotten Trubisky.

Instead, by moving up, the Bears also gave the Niners their third and fourth round picks this year and their third rounder next year. In other words, many believe the Bears gave up three picks for nothing.

None of this matters, of course, if Trubisky turns out to be the next Aaron Rodgers, or even the next Jim McMahon. People will long forget what other dudes the Bears could have gotten with those later picks if good old Mitchell is leading the Monsters of Maddening to a couple of Super Bowls.

But some are also questioning the Bears’ move because they think Trubisky isn’t even the best QB in the draft.

So, um, we don’t know.

Bears GM Ryan Pace said of Trubisky, simply, “we did what we had to do to get him.”

Did they have to do it?

Only time – and the venom of Mike Glennon – will tell.

49ers 26, Bears 20 OT: An Early Frost

The 2015 season may have hit the wall of irrelevance for the Chicago Bears on Sunday with a 26-20 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field.

This stunning, puzzling and insulting defeat leaves the Bears at 5-7 as they once again failed in an attempt to reach the .500 mark and firmly grip playoff contention.

After the Bears beat the Packers in Green Bay on Thanksgiving night everyone thought a victory over the woeful Niners was a foregone conclusion. But the other guys, even when they’re bad, get paid too and the Bears probably feel like giving back their paychecks after this one.

The Bears outgained San Francisco 364-291, dominated time of possession 37:24 – 24:46 and have much nicer uniforms and more cultured fans. But Chicago’s first two drives stalled and resulted in field goals when they should have been touchdowns, then Jay Cutler threw a terrible pass that Jimmie Ward plunked out of the Christmas season sky and lugged 29 yards for a score and just like that it was a ballgame.

The Bears luckily – or maybe skillfully –blocked Phil Dawson’s extra point attempt so it was only 6-6. But football’s kicking Gods got revenge later on as Chicago’s normally reliable Robbie Gould ended up missing two field goals – a 40-yarder in the third and a 36-yarder in the final seconds of the fourth – either one of which would have proven the game winner.

The Bears actually switched long snappers this past week so did that have an effect?

Any team can miss a field goal. Playoff teams don’t miss two. And they don’t lose to Blaine Gabbert who connected with Torrey Smith on a 71-yard score in overtime for the walkoff game-winner that left Chicagoans quiet, cold and thinking about hockey.

But then again the Patriots lost to the Eagles and when you lose a game like this you just have to try to compare your team to Tom Brady’s.

In Chicago we thought December was going to be an Advent calendar of contention and anticipation. Now it might be more like Arbor Day in your cousin’s camper. You know, booze, smokes, tears and snowballs.

Arbor Day is OK.

 

Bears Lose And Get A Week to Wonder Why

Lions 37, Bears 34 (OT): The Blue Lions Laugh Last

If the Chicago Bears had beaten the previously winless Detroit Lions they would be heading into their bye week with a three-game winning streak, a 3-3 record and a whole lot of sunny thoughts.

Instead, a 37-34 overtime loss in Detroit puts the Monsters of the Melancholy at 2-4 and facing a playoff road steeper than Daniel Murphy’s future contract demands.

Without including division leaders, there are five NFC teams with better records than the 2-4 Bears and another, the Seahawks, with the same 2-4 record. And the Bears lose any tie-breaking scenarios with the Seahawks by virtue of having lost to them in Week 3.

Having already made several in-season trades, do the Bears now approach the November 3 trade deadline as sellers? Could running back Matt Forte, tight end Martellus Bennett or kicker Robbie Gould be getting ready to say goodbye? (Does anyone ever trade for kickers?)

Or do the beloved Bears look over their final ten games in which they will play four teams with current winning records – the Broncos, Packers (both unbeaten) and Vikings (twice) – and a bunch of strugglers and keep trying to improve and hope some dominoes in front of you sprain a few MCLs and fall down?

From our vantage point, these are more intriguing things to consider than the X’s and O’s of the loss to the Lions because while the game was high-scoring and went into overtime and was against two ancient rivals it really wasn’t that good of a contest.

Neither team played particularly well, there were 19 penalties, the Lions fumbled three times, losing two of them, there were questionable coaching moves on both sidelines and it took 13 and-a-half minutes into overtime before someone finally scored.

Ties don’t just make Duffy Daugherty cry.

Yes, the Bears did march down the field in the final moments of regulation to tie it at the gun and send it into the fifth quarter and that was darn fun at the moment, but so was that flower you sniffed just before stepping in raccoon poop.

What are the Bears planning during their week off? What does the rest of 2015 look like? A tunnel? A train? A Jared Goff primer? –TK

Bears 18, Chiefs 17: Just Bearly

As 37,182 runners struggled to the finish line at the Chicago Marathon, our beloved Bears were 500 miles away in Kansas City struggling to keep their season relevant.

Marathons are normally giddy at the beginning, ugly and insane in the middle and heartfelt and life-changing at the end. And this was sort of how it was for the Bears against the Chiefs.

OK, the beginning was not so hot as Kansas City sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the first quarter and Ramik Wilson pounced on it for a touchdown. So it was 7-0 in favor of the Chiefs and the Bears looked lost, felt desperate and no one in the land of Stram & Honey was going to help them.

This theme continued for most of the rest of the afternoon and the Bears found themselves trailing 17-3 at halftime and 17-6 with less than four minutes to play.

So, of course, they ended up winning.

Cutler, playing with fill-ins on the offensive line, backups at wide receiver, Rosary beads in his pocket and a song in his heart, orchestrated two late scoring drives which featured two amazing TD passes and, after Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos’ 5,000-yard field goal attempt at the final gun wobbled feebly to the ground like a chubby Irishman trying to keep up with a Kenyan Olympian, Chicago had an improbable 18-17 victory, a 2-3 record and a whole bunch of good vibrations.

We shall be honest about our situation. The Bears have played three good teams this year – the Packers, Cardinals and Seahawks (the Seahawks are good, right?) – and lost convincingly each time. And the Monsters of Sudden Merriment have played two bad teams – the Raiders and Chiefs – and won by a very short, pimply nose both times.

So, the Bears could easily be 0-5 and feeling worse than the guy who forgot the Gatorade at Mile 23. But they’ve gutted out two straight wins despite a bunch of injuries and, unlike last year, they never, ever show signs of giving up.

And it’s easier not to give up when you’re well coached, have a sound game plan and the Chiefs and Raiders are kind of stupid.

Now it’s on to Detroit to face the Lions who are 0-5 and need a victory worse than a dying mouse needs fresh cheese and a cigarette. The Bears are already believers. A win in Detroit makes them 3-3. It makes them contenders. — TK

 

Sweet Relief: Bears Beat Raiders

Bears 22, Raiders 20 – A Smelly Life Preserver

Robbie Gould’s 49-yard kick was good, the fans went wild, and the Chicago Bears topped the Oakland Raiders 22-20 at Soldier Field on Sunday, a victory that might not save Chicago’s season but at least temporarily kept it from getting downright silly.

Speaking of silly, Gould’s strong kick through Chicago’s obdurate winds provided the winning margin for the Bears but the silliness actually was not over and the game wasn’t over either. On the ensuing kickoff the Raiders played a serious game of hot potato and it worked as Oakland’s series of laterals and scrambles helped them matriculate the ball well into Bears’ territory before one last lateral finally went awry and the Bears smothered it, time had expired, and thank God it was over.

Those crazy laterals on desperate kickoff returns are some of the funnest things you ever see on a football field and why don’t we see them more often? Even if the Raiders hadn’t eventually coughed up the ball on that final mad dash they wouldn’t have scored as they were eventually – perhaps inevitably – flagged for an illegal forward pass which nearly always happens on such returns.

Here’s an idea: Why not allow teams to have one forward pass per game on a kickoff return?  Because you can’t do that, that’s now how football is played, you stupid-face. But, again, why not? Why not make it a little more exciting, a little more fun, a little more rugby-like (I know, rugby does not allow forward passes but you know what we’re trying to convey here) with more constant flow and action, angles and adventure? Why not?

Back to the concrete world, though, and we accept that the Bears probably won this game because the Raiders, previously known as the “resurgent Raiders,” are likely more ordinary than exciting. Oakland actually has, statistically, just about the worst defense in the league and the Bears still only managed 22 points.

But that’s 22 more than Chicago scored last week and quarterback Jay Cutler’s return was a big reason. Number-6 made a lot of crisp passes; completing 28 of 43 for 281 yards and two scores, but also tossed up a few regrettable ones, including a late interception that almost cost Grandma her bingo money.

The Bears also won the time of possession, ran more plays, had more yards rushing and did not lose the turnover battle. Funny how all those things can lead to a long kick hanging in the wind and falling in your favor.

The Bears are now 1-3 and head to Kansas City to play the Chiefs who are also 1-3 and have dropped three straight. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! The Bears will soon be 2-3, and then at the .500 mark by Halloween. Look out, kids. Momma’s got her Midway Mojo and Daddy’s not wakin’ up soon. –TK

Lions 20, Bears 14: Santa Hates Children and Animals

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, another bad Bears QB.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…ok screw it, this is going to get old quickly.

The Chicago Bears tried to play Grinch to the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Soldier Field but, despite a spirited effort, ended up being nicer than naughty and fell to those blue animals 20-14.

It’s the fifth straight defeat for the Bears who haven’t won a game since before Thanksgiving.  The first Thanksgiving.

This defeat did look different than the previous nine, however, because after much drama and many turnovers, the Bears decided this past week to sit down quarterback Jay Cutler and handed the sleigh over to Jimmy Clausen who had not started an NFL game since back in 2010, a simpler, more sanguine time in American history.

Clausen, once he wiped off the cobwebs, was not too bad, completing 23 of 39 passes for 189 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. But honestly, if Cutler had put up those exact same numbers Bears fans would be spitting in his eggnog.

The Bears’ defense did an honorable job of keeping Jimmy in the hunt by coming up with two interceptions off Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford who at times looked like he, not Clausen, was the quarterback who has been picking splinters since “Lost” went off the air.

2010 was also the last year the Bears made the playoffs, a drought that some hard-drinking mystics thought would end this year but, at 5-10, the only game the Bears will be playing in January will be “Avoid the Hatchet Man” but in that game most Bears supporters are not hoping for a victory.

It’s going to be a tough Christmas week at Halas Hall. The Bears will be watching other teams open postseason presents whereas the Bears will not only get coal in their stockings but a stye in the eye. If they’re lucky.

Clausen played OK, the defense tried and if not for a play here and a mistake there, the Bears could have pulled this one out. But what does any of it mean? What football Gods are being served? Are we any closer to knowing what this Bears team will look like next year or even next week?

In the season finale will the Bears turn to third string QB David Fales because what the heck, why not, we have to know our options?

This is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” but the only line from that song that’s resonating in Bearland is also the most curious lyric: There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.

Does anyone really tell ghost stories at Christmas? The Bears have been seeing scary stuff since before Halloween. Let us gather around the Christmas hearth and try not to be afraid, Bears fans. Let’s remember the glories of Christmas past and know that they can be re-lived.

Just so long as Santa brings us that VCR we’ve been asking for.

Saints 31, Bears 15: The Unholy Season

December 15, 2014

Saints 31, Bears 15: The Unholy Season

The Chicago Bears handed out aprons to the first 40,000 loyal souls who walked into Soldier Field on Monday night and they were quickly put to good use catching tears and other fluids flying around a frustrated stadium as the Bears were damned by the New Orleans Saints, 31-15 in another nationally televised kick in the crotch.

It started ugly, stayed ugly and ended ugly, emblematic of an intolerable season that now has the Bears at 5-9 and questioning their choices, their path, their pride and their religion.

The Bears took the opening kick and committed a penalty. Their first play from scrimmage was a two-yard run, followed by an incomplete pass and then a Jay Cutler interception, the first of what would eventually be three on this cold, rainy night that made even Santa Claus a doubter.

The Bears did manage to get the ball back two plays later by forcing a fumble but refused to take advantage of this rare bit of good fortune and instead responded with a weak five-play drive that included a curious incomplete Cutler deep pass on 3rd and 1 and, well, we were really glad we had those aprons.

The Saints, an NFC South powerhouse at 6-8, are not very good either and, like the Bears, couldn’t do much early on as the first quarter of this contest looked less like an NFL game than a shoving match between a bunch of fat guys in a yard full of reindeer droppings.

Alas, New Orleans’ badness was not as bad as Chicago’s and Drew Brees and his fleur de leaf helmeted pals put up 14 points in the second quarter to lead 14-0 at halftime and if it hadn’t been for a spectacular fireworks show, and those awesome aprons, probably many more fans would have left an already sorry crowd that had about 11,000 no-shows at kickoff.

There were actually a lot of Saints fans in Chicago for this game, which proves that people will follow football anywhere, even if it’s bad December football.

The Bears were outgained 443-278 on the night and those numbers would have been far, far worse if it wasn’t for a couple of Bears touchdowns on garbage-time drives in the fourth quarter by which time our hot chocolate was cold, our aprons were soiled and our souls, in tatters since the Green Bay game five weeks ago, were in need of serious spiritual reconstruction if not an outright exorcism.

The Saints committed three penalties for 25 yards. The Bears were flagged nine times for 74 yards.

The Bears turned the ball over three times, the Saints just once.

Drew Brees averaged nine yards per pass attempt; Jay Cutler averaged four.

Brees was sacked twice by the Bears; Cutler bit the turf seven times.

Thank God for those aprons.

The Bears have dropped three straight games giving up an average of 35 points per game and, for the season, are surrendering an average of 29 points per contest, worst in the NFL.

Chicago’s offense through 14 games is scoring at a pace of 21.6 points per contest, 19th best. This, from a team that was expected to have the best offense Chicago has ever seen. The Bears have seen a lot of great offense this year, wearing the other jerseys.

When it was all (officially) over on Monday night we the few, the proud, the cold, the downtrodden, trudged out of Soldier Field into the dark, misty, wintry air and perhaps the most troubling thing was that no one seemed surprised, or even disappointed. Those reactions were all used up against the Panthers, Patriots, Packers and Lions.

At this point, Bears fans are just tired, with no one even heard firing back at the “Who Dat?” chants from New Orleans fans echoing into the cold December night.

Instead, we clutched our aprons and checked our phones for the Bulls score.

They lost, too.

Cowboys 41, Bears 28: Thursday Night Badness

Offense. Defense. Special Teams. Coaching. Actuary.  You name the category and the Dallas Cowboys were better in it than the Chicago Bears on Thursday night, as the Bears fell 41-28 at Chicago’s frigid Soldier Field.

Dallas dominated from kickoff to kneel-down in this one, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage, making better adjustments, sticking with a solid game plan, (having a solid game plan) and performing better in all pertinent areas.

The Cowboys came in with a poor run defense and the Bears responded by running the ball just 15 times.

On the other side of the ball, Dallas entered with one of the league’s top running games and the Bears got gouged for 194 yards, including 179 on 32 carries for DeMarco Murray who routinely was provided with holes wider than the Eisenhower Expressway to run through.

The Bears made a superstar of a man named Cole Beasley.

The whole evening was ugly, sad, and, worst of all; typical of one of the most abrasive seasons in Chicago sports history.

This was the second straight Thursday nationally televised game for the Mopers of the Midway and once again an entire nation saw a Bears team that has talent but lacks focus, has ammunition but no fire, and possesses potential but no pass rush.

The Bears must be given some credit, though. They trailed 35-7 in the fourth quarter and even the most loyal Bears fans were either headed for the exits or flipping the channel to see just what particular brand of hot water Gilligan was getting into, but the Bears did not give up, putting up 21 points in the final frame to make the score at least look respectable when in fact the game was not.

Did a few of us think when Jay Cutler was throwing into the endzone with two minutes to play that the Bears might score and recover the onside kick and throw a bomb into the endzone and pull out a miracle of miracles? Yes, a few of us did. We’re hopeful, holiday people, so forgive us.

Cutler was intercepted.

The Bears did not surrender when the chips were down and all appeared lost and that’s a bit heartening. But there’s not much else to build on as we approach the season’s final three games starting with, mercilessly we must add, a third straight national game, on Monday, December 15 when they host the New Orleans Saints.

The Bears are 5-8 and their fans want blood. They want answers. They want Butkus, Sayers, Payton and McMahon.

The Christmas season is a time for remembering, certainly. It’s also a time for looking ahead. And hoping. And huddling against the winter cold and wondering if it’s all worth it. –TK

Lions 34, Bears 17: Hell With Extra Gravy and Thanks For Nothing

The Chicago Bears got off to a blazing start in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, we’re talking hotter than a rear-ended Pinto, and led 14-3 after the first quarter.

Then, the tryptophan kicked in, the Lions awoke and, in the end, the Bears looked like an Edsel with the tires slashed and lost 34-17 to fall to 5-7 and the playoffs now appear more remote, distant and delusional than ever.

The Bears knew running against the Lions would be difficult so they instead tried running from the running game, compiling just seven carries for a mere 14 yards. If you only run seven times you had better be able to throw well and the result there for Chicago was like sitting in an out-of-gas Gremlin during a snowstorm. You know, kinda cool, but ultimately very cold and pointless.

Unless you’re with a girl or have a bunch of brownies.

Neither of these were the case for our beloved Bears as Jay Cutler hoisted it an eye-popping 48 times with 31 completions, two touchdowns and two interceptions and a lot of vexation.

Was the Bears defense any better? Other than a Jared Allen strip sack of Matthew Stafford in the first quarter that set up the Bears’ second touchdown, no.

We’re saddened to be at 5-7 but not terribly surprised, at least not anymore. And, we wish we could go and hide, or at least stay out of the spotlight for a bit. The tough thing is another Thursday night awaits, and it’s bringing Cowboys with it.

The Bears don’t do well in the bright lights of primetime. Lately, the Bears don’t do well under the glow of a flashlight in a tent in the backyard with your friend Timmy, a six pack of Orange Crush and the ladies underwear section of an old Sears catalog.

The Cowboys lost on Thanksgiving, too. It’s a pity. If Dallas and Chicago had both won then this Thursday’s contest would have been a tense, chilly showdown of playoff aspirants. Instead, the Cowboys still have, at 8-4, a solid chance at playing in January but the Bears, unless some impossible math and acrobatics occur, can only be spoilers.

Sometimes the best thing for a bad mood is to spread it. The Bears will try. A win over the Cowboys would be an early Christmas gift. It would be nice because we’ll be home in January and probably next Thanksgiving, too. –TK

Bears 21, Buccaneers 13: Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Team With More Touchdowns

The NFL is sort of like a nudist colony in that you always hope to find someone who looks worse than you.

And so for the second straight week the Chicago Bears discovered the football equivalent of that fat naked guy with more hair on his back than his head and, for the second straight Sunday, the Monsters of the Slowly Upward Mobility squeaked out a victory.

This time the unwashed farm animal was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; a team that makes a corpse look spry, as the Bears won 21-13 at Chicago’s soggy Soldier Field to improve to 5-6.

But even though the Bucs are sloths with thigh pads the Bears once again had to fight back. The Bears, because they’re silly little rascals, again started out a bit sloppy and unsure and trailed 10-0 at halftime, just as they did the week before against the Vikings at Soldier Field but, just like they did against the Vikes, Chicago rallied in the second half and even beat Tampa by the exact same 21-13 score that did in the Vikings.

Marc Trestman’s halftime speeches must be getting quite saucy.

To say that the Bears needed this victory is like Aron Ralston saying he’s really glad he didn’t have to cut off his other arm, too, because while the Bucs are bad they’re a different kind of bad. The Bucs came to Chicago coached by Lovie Smith, the man who roamed the Bears’ sideline for nine years and took Chicago to a Super Bowl after the 2006 season, and Tampa is quarterbacked by Josh McCown, who was Jay Cutler’s backup with the Bears last year and often was much better.

If the Bears had lost to those guys Chicagoans would not have been clamoring to get them back, they would have been clamoring for an icicle in the eye.

If you look at (some of) the numbers, McCown looked better than Cutler again on Sunday, compiling 341 yards through the air with two touchdowns while Cutler only put up 130 yards and one score. But McCown, whose greatest trait with the Bears last year was probably that he almost never turned the ball over, was picked off twice by the Bears on Sunday while Cutler was not intercepted at all.

McCown also lost a fumble, so did Cutler, so the old pals have something to talk about.

Chicago’s defense, which has more haters than Nickelback, kept the Bears in the game, bending but not breaking and making some big plays until the offense awoke in the third when Cutler hit Alshon Jeffery for a two-yard score. A few minutes later it was ‘ol reliable, running back Matt Forte, who scampered for a 13-yard TD run and then, after a Ryan Mundy interception of a poorly thrown McCown pass deep in Bucs’ territory, it was #22 again, this time for a one-yard TD, and the Bears suddenly led 21-10.

See, that’s how you do that.

This was one third quarter we were glad not to be stuck in the bathroom.

The Bears dodged the rain and fog and a few threats from Tampa in the fourth, most notably forcing Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson to fumble at Chicago’s seven yard line, killing a great scoring chance, before the clock eventually hit zeros and could it be that these Bears are really still alive?

Sure, they’re beating bad teams but that’s what not-bad teams do.

Our Bears are 5-6 and now head to Detroit for Thanksgiving to break bread with the Lions, a team with a lot of star power but not a lot of consistency. Sound familiar?

After that the Bears host the Saints, then the Cowboys, then are visited by the Lions before finishing 2014 in Minnesota.

The Bears need to win all of those games to finish 10-6 and have postseason hope. So which one of those games is a probable loss? Which of those teams is absolutely better than the Bears?

The answer is: the Cowboys. But that game will be in Chicago, at night, in December.

These Bears cannot do it, can they? They cannot make it three straight victories by winning in Detroit and keep alive the prayer of winning seven straight to rally from the depths of football folly to reach the playoffs.

They just can’t, they can’t and they can’t.

Can they?

It’s worth watching.