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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Monday, December 9, 2013
Saturday, December 7, 2013
It's pretty easy to be down on the Chicago Bears these days as they dropped a big game against a bad Minnesota Vikings team last week with a shocking coaching decision and another poor showing by the defense.
The Bears let Adrian Peterson run amok for 211 yards (but no touchdowns), which was to be expected. However, the defense still couldn't hold a 20-10 lead going into the fourth quarter, allowing the Vikings to tie things up and then overtime nuttiness.
Coach Marc Trestman's head-scratching decision to attempt a field goal on second down would be a footnote if Robbie Gould nailed it, as you would expect Gould to do from 47 yards out in a dome. It's one he usually makes, but he just pushed it to the right.
Trestman seemed to indicate the fact that the ball was in the middle of field was a leading factor to attempt the field goal on second down. What is really baffling is that you could keep the ball between the hash marks by running the football, as the Bears were able to do on that drive. The Minnesota defense was gassed, and the Bears could have given Gould a few more yards - or maybe even earned a first down - by doing that just two more times. It would have been the safe thing to do.
So I guess we can say that this is the second loss this season we can attribute to a questionable coaching decision, with the first leaving Jay Cutler in the game far too long against the Detroit Lions in week 10. When there are only 16 games on the schedule, that's too many. Trestman has done so many other things well this season, though, so is too lenient to consider them "rookie" mistakes by the new head coach?
This week the Bears have a fairly favorable match up against the Dallas Cowboys Monday night at Soldier Field. Sure the Cowboys are tops of the NFC East and the Bears are scratching for a glimmer of hope to make the playoffs, but this is a game the Bears can win - and it has nothing to do with December football in Chicago.
The Cowboys defense has given up a lot of points this season - 303 to be exact, which is 27th in the NFL. However, the Dallas defense has been very good this year at creating turnovers, specifically fumbles, and have a plus 12 turnover differential this season.
Luckily, the Bears have been very good at taking care of the football this season. Josh McCown, who will startMonday night, has tossed just one interception on 184 attempts. Take away Jay Cutler's four fumbles this year, and the Bears have committed just 11 all season.
The Cowboys are not a very strong running team, and stopping the run has been the big bugaboo of this Bears defense. But the Cowboys coaching staff watches game film, and they could find a way to get Demarco Murray a big game - fairly easily to boot.
So the Bears need to get off to hot start on offense, put the Cowboys on their heels and get them to pass the pill rather than run it. The Bears should be able to score on this Dallas D, and quite frankly it's their only hope of pulling out a victory.
Getting the Cowboys to pass the ball is going to be a big key to keeping the Bears in this game, as the defensive line has made improvements in rush during the past few weeks. They have been getting to the quarterback as of late, which includes a collection of five sacks against the Vikings.
Perhaps Mike Ditka's presence and aura at Soldier Field can somehow lift the Bears to victory, as his number 89 will be retired at halftime. These days, Ditka is known as "Da Coach," but he had a Hall of Fame career playing tight end for both the Bears and Cowboys. He was a big part of the Bears 1963 NFL Championship team as well as coaching the '85 Bears.
Yes, Ditka is still a big deal in Chicago whether you love him or hate him. If you don't believe me, check out this goofy event at the Double Door Sunday night(http://www.doubledoor.com/event/421827-dabearsblog-art-men-present-chicago/). This a room where The Rolling Stones once performed, so you now might have a sense of how large of a figure he remains in Chicago.
For crying out loud, I just saw Ditka's mug on the side of CTA bus this morning telling me to get a flu shot.
by Casey Moffitt
Monday, December 2, 2013
Saturday, November 30, 2013
The Chicago Bears defense has been routinely been shredded by opposing running backs and there seems to be no remedy in sight. Sunday afternoon, the Bears head on up to Minneapolis for a showdown against the Vikings and get a good look at Adrian Peterson.
Peterson isn't having the same kind of year he had last season, but that only can be expected. No man should be expected to run for more than 2,000 two years in a row. A lot would have to go right for that to happen.
Still, Peterson is having a nice year with 997 rushing yards and averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He also has 10 touchdowns for a team with a mediocre offense.
So logic would dictate that Peterson should be set up for one of his best games this season and put up outrageous numbers Sunday.
The Bears held Peterson to 100 yards rushing and no touchdowns in the first meeting between these two teams this season back in week two at Soldier Field. That's not too bad, but remember the Bears had Henry Melton, Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams were all starting for the Bears. They're all out with injury and now the Bears are starting Shea McClellin, Khaseem Greene and Jonathan Bostic in their place. That's two rookies and a second-year man taking the place of tried and true veterans.
And these guys are getting smoked defending the run. A prime example is what happened last week in St.Louis when they gave up 258 rushing yards against the Rams in a putrid display of defense.
Tavon Austin's 65-yars touchdown run is a great microcosm in what has gone wrong with the Bears run defense all season long. In that play, all three linebackers bite on misdirection play, taking themselves out of it completely. McClellin isn't touched by a blocker, although Austin runs right in his direction. McClellin also overpursues and takes himself out of the play. The fullback goes after the cornerback, so the first defender Austin sees is safety Chris Conte, who can't make the stop, and it's off to the races for Austin.
It was a play drawn up for the Bears. McClellin cannot keep contain on run plays, but the Bears have few options at left end. The rookie linebackers also tend to overpursue run play after run play and are barely a factor. Again, with the injuries the Bears have at the linebacker position, they have few options as to who they can play.
Every coach in the NFL with the Chicago Bears on their schedule knows how to beat the them in the run game, as there is enough tape of these guys making the same mistakes. Head coach Marc Trestman says they just have to play better, but going into week 13 it's hard to believe there are too many adjustments that can be made to make these guys play better.
Luckily for the Bears, the Vikings are giving up more points than any other team in the NFL, which is why they have just two wins this year. The Bears can score points and they'll have to do it early and often in this game to sneak out of Minneapolis with a win this week.
by Casey Moffitt
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I posted a status update to Facebook before the Steelers/Browns meeting yesterday afternoon that was equal parts shout-out and trash-talk. I expressed love for my golden kin in the 216, but for those few hours of gametime I, in so many words, told them all what they could do with their ratchet-ass city. I got a lot of likes from my worldwide Black & Gold family and some beef from the Orange & Brown collective, it was awesome. I laughed out loud, then the beers flowed like wine and the snark soon followed suit.
During the NFL season I wear a Boba Fett mask and the league is my Wookie, everything has a bulls-eye and nothing is sacred, not even my own team. Yesterday on a 4th & short on the Steelers second drive, Ben Roethlisberger lined up under center and tried to draw the Browns offsides with a hard count. Trying to get somebody offsides in their own house is effectively the same mathematic measurable as setting a timeout on fire then peeing on it. It was a wasted maneuver. We have a whale-head quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger so I cracked-wise that all he had to do was lean his enormous cranium into the pile and move the chains, again with the likes and LOLs. Oh, how I slay myself dead.
Yesterday we learned Jacksonville isn’t THE worst team in the league (Stay Classy Houston), Green Bay can’t muster enough juice to close a game in OT (yet Stringy-Haired Neanderthal Clay Matthews still prances and flexes while his team circles the drain – make that into a belt, Aaron Rodgers, you jerk). Jason Campbell has a lifetime Madden career rating of 77, The J-E-T-S are such a mess they can’t even beat the biggest Paper Champion BUST phonies in the NFL, Ray Rice has the build and physique of a Russ Troll exotic dancer, and John Harbaugh is still the biggest bush-league loudmouth schmuck-face on the sidelines.
You see? Besides making a few of your gaskets blow nothing I wrote has any real bearing on real life, the world still spins, the birds still cheep
In the same manner that a phobia is an irrational fear, Football Hate is characterized by an irrational disdain for a team, player, staff, philosophy, or city. Football Hate is fun and the color of unicorn farts and affords us nastiness that doesn't hold any true weight or bearing on the real world at large.
Football isn’t real, Kids, there is no Holy Mountain.
John Thomas Menesini
Senior Staff Writer
FOOTBALL EXTRA POINTS
Friday, November 22, 2013
The Chicago Bears had one of the wildest wins in recent memory, not only defeating the Baltimore Ravens in overtime, but after a wicked storm blew through the city before the first quarter was over leading to a delay of more than two hours.
It was a strange win for the Bears as the offense really struggled almost the whole game for the first time this season. Sure, Josh McCown started in place of the injured Jay Cutler, but he really didn't have a bad game completing 19 of 31 passes. The Bears even ran for 104 yards. But they had an inordinate number of penalties - 13 in total with five of them coming from the offense. The Bears have been very good about staying away from pre-snap penalties this year, and to have three of them on offense last week - two against Martellis Bennett - is rather unusual.
The defense, however, is looking better. That might be because they played against a Ravens offense that has struggles this season. But I think there have been steady improvements made during the past few weeks.
Julius Peppers looks like he's back in form. He spent a lot of time in the Baltimore backfield Sunday afternoon. He recorded two sacks, and had one against the Packers two weeks prior. Peppers was persona non-grata early this season, and it's nice to see him look like Julius Peppers again.
And the Bears need him. Getting pressure from the defensive line is important for the whole defense to work, as it takes the heat off the secondary.
Another guy who is making improvements is Jon Bostic, who did not have a terrible game, which is saying something. Bostic made his third start Sunday, and showed that he is learning on the job about as well as one can expect. He made a great interception in the middle of the field. He played his position well, dropping back in the middle with good technique, keeping to the inside of the receiver and made a nice athletic play on the ball. It's a play the Bears need to see Bostic make a few more times.
He also did better in the run game. He is handling the individual block better and he isn't over pursuing as much, although he still fell into that trap a couple of times. Ray Rice still managed to gain 131 yards on the ground after gaining a total of just 289 going into that game.
But the defense stood pat in the red zone against the Ravens, and this is another hallmark of the Bears defense. They'll give up a lot of yards, but find a way to keep the opponent out of the end zone.
The Bears head on down to St. Louis this week for a rumble with the Rams. This is a tricky game for the Bears. Although the Rams own a 4-6 record, it's a team you can't fall asleep on, as evidenced by their road win against the Indianapolis Colts. They whipped the Colts by 30 points on their field in their last game, and they are coming off the bye week. They'll be rested, ready and confident when the Bears come to town. Plus they are coached by another member of the 1985 Bears in Jeff Fisher (so what if he was on injured reserve that year) so he must love the chance to cream the team for which he once played, right?
It also will be another battle of the backups, as Sam Bradford's season-ending ACL injury puts Kellen Clemens under center for the Rams, but he was there during the Rams big win against the Colts, so we'll see if that means anything on Sunday.
It would be nice if the Bears got off to hot start on offense. Although it is a symptom of the West Coast offense, it would be nice if the Bears got off to a hot start with the ball. Although the defense is getting better, they still aren't very good and it would be nice if the offense could put together nice long drives at the beginning of the game and maybe even score early, too.
As an added bonus, we get the Long Bowl - Chris Long on the defensive line for the Rams and Kyle Long on the offensive line for the Bears. That should be fun even if they won't be going against each other directly. But they will be on the field at the same time, which is something you can't say about the Manning Bowl we saw early this season. What? Linemen brothers don't make for the same sexy storyline as quarterback brothers? For real?
Let's hope Fox hasn't got a corny segment in the can where Howie interviews his kids for the pregame show. Oh boy, that would make me barf.
by Casey Moffitt
Monday, November 18, 2013
Saturday, November 16, 2013
It's been difficult to criticize the new head coach for the Chicago Bears, Marc Trestman, so far this season. He's done so many things right, but this past week he really dropped the ball.
As the Bears were taking a beating from the Detroit Lions for the second time this season, Trestman allowed his injured quarterback, Jay Cutler, to keep playing despite the signs that he was not well. Cutler made his first start in three weeks, coming back from a groin injury he sustained playing against the Washington Redskins. It was obvious that his groin was still tender during the first half, yet Trestman put his starter back on the field to begin the second half.
Things got progressively worse during the third quarter, and really bad in the fourth. But Trestman stuck with his guy, although Cutler was grabbing at his groin, hobbling on a bad ankle, moving gingerly in the pocket, throwing balls into the ground and looking like a wounded warrior to everyone watching the game on television or at the stadium. It wasn't until the very last drive of the game that Trestman put Josh McCown in the game, and McCown just happened to lead a scoring drive to give the Bears a chance to tie the game.
As if Trestman didn't have enough egg on his face after the game, things got worse. It later came out that Cutler sustained the dreaded high-ankle sprain during the game against the Lions, that he is now week-to-week and will miss Sunday's start against the Baltimore Ravens. Cutler was seen in a walking boot earlier this week, and with a hard cast later in the week.
Audio from NFL films made its way around the local radio stations in which Cutler is asking his head coach if he looked O.K. on the field. The audio picks up Trestman saying he thought his starting QB was playing tough. When a player asks his coach if he looks O.K., it never is a good sign. Players don't like to come out of the game unless they are really hurt, or if they feel they are hurting their team's chance to win. At that point, it was pretty obvious Cutler was feeling one way, the other, or both.
Even the Lion's coaches knew Cutler was hurt. On defense, they dropped everyone back into coverage on nearly every pass play. They all knew Cutler was no threat to run - as he can be when healthy - and that if they covered the Bears receivers Cutler would be sunk. It didn't hurt that the Lions defensive linemen were able to make hay all afternoon.
It was debatable as to whether Cutler should have started that game at all, as he made a quick recovery from his groin injury. But that is hindsight, and of course I'm not at practice and unable to watch Cutler work before the game. I had faith in Trestman to make the right call at the time, even if McCown has played well in relief so far.
That being said, at the first sign Cutler felt something in his groin - which was early in the game - you'd think Trestman would think really hard about getting him off the field. That didn't happen, and Cutler got a second injury as a result. Not that I think the coach could have predicted that, but when your reserve quarterback has proven he can play effectively, and even win a game, you'd think the head coach would be quick to give his starter the hook under the circumstances.
But that is looking back. Looking ahead we see the Bears with an interesting matchup against the Ravens at Soldier Field. We have a capable offense in the Bears playing against a solid defense in the Ravens. We also have a bad offense in the Ravens playing against a bad defense in the Bears. So, one should expect a low-scoring affair.
What makes me nervous is seeing how the Bears offensive line handled their duties against the Lions last week. The Lions were in the Bears' backfield all day, and the Ravens have an even better front seven than the Lions. Maybe the Bears linemen were just off last week, or maybe there's enough tape on them now that teams are starting figure them out.
Josh McCown has played well when given his opportunities, but we've seen him pick apart a rotten Redskins defense and a beat-up Green Bay Packers defense. So far, he has exceeded expectations, but we'll see how well he plays against a good defense on Sunday.
When the Ravens have the ball, we should see a lot of bad football. Baltimore can't get anything going this season, and the Bears have had a hard time stopping anybody, although they played better defense last week. We'll see who wins this battle of attrition.
Even if I were the most desperate of gamblers, I really would think twice about picking this game, especially when you consider the forecast calls for 60 degree temperatures with high winds and hard rain. The Bears should have enough to pull out a close one at home, but it's going to be a difficult game to watch.
by Casey Moffitt
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Friday, November 8, 2013
The Chicago Bears managed to steal a win at Lambeau Field Monday night as Shea McLellin of all people hit Aaron Rodgers hard, fracturing the Green Bay quarterback's collar bone and helped seal the Packers' fate.
What we saw is what a prepared second-string quarterback can accomplish compared to a second-string quarterback who goes into a game without taking many reps in practice during the week. Josh McCown had a bye week plus a full week of practice to get ready for the game at Green Bay, while poor Seneca Wallace didn't have much of a chance to compete.
McCown played a good game. He wasn't dazzling or flashy, but he didn't give the ball away to the Green Bay defense, made good decisions with the football and got a little help from his teammates - looking at you Brandon Marshall for that touchdown catch.
He also led the brilliant 18-play, 80-yard drive that ate nearly 9 minutes of clock in the fourth quarter, putting the game away.
The other encouraging sign from Monday's game is that we saw the defense line show up for a change. I've been pretty hard on McClellin the past few weeks, and he's deserved it. He had himself a nice game Monday, doing a much better job on the pass rush, recording three sacks, and actually shedding blocks. He still missed a few gaps on run plays, but he obviously did a lot of homework during the bye week and improved his game Monday night. I'd love to see him keep it up and do it again Sunday afternoon against the Lions.
Julius Peppers had a return to form, also, recording a sack, two blocked passes and an interception. Corey Wootton continues to improve at the tackle position - he was moved from end after injuries to Henry Melton and Nate Collins - although he still has some work to do. It's an important position in this Bears defense, and if Wootton can keep getting better, it only helps.
However, this defensive line took advantage of a bad Packers offensive line. That line has now given up 22 sacks this season, including five inMonday night's contest. This also comes back to Wallace having to play the majority of the game. Rodgers is a good enough quarterback to compensate for the oncoming rush. He knows how to beat it, when to throw the ball away or when to take a sack. He really knows how to take a sack, covering the ball with his body and putting himself in a position to minimize the impact, which makes McClellin's shot all the more surprising. But I guess if you keep getting hit, one of them is eventually going to bite you.
The Bears defense also showed it still can get burned by the run. Eddy Lacey gained 150 yards on the ground. James Starks rushed for 40 yards on six attempts, including a 32-yard touchdown scamper.
Having two rookies start at linebacker doesn't help matters. Jonathan Bostic is still getting his legs under him as he prepares for his third start Sunday, and Khaseem Greene had his troubles in his first NFL start Monday night. These two were caught over-pursuing time and again in the run game, and they just need time on the field to start trusting their eyes out there. They're rookie mistakes that can be expected.
Tackling is still an issue and the safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright continue to take bad angles at runners. These things must improve if the Bears are going to find real success on the football field. If not, then this team will just be bum-slayers.
This game against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field is going to be a big one. If the Bears win, they find themselves at the top of the NFC Central all by themselves. They will have split games with the Lions, while having one up on the Packers and Vikings with one to go against each.
Jay Cutler was a full participant in practice Thursday, so he will start Sunday. That's nice if he's as healthy as he says he is. The Bears have a much better chance at winning shoot outs when he's under center, but it really isn't where the Bears need help.
It was against the Lions in week four when the Bears' defense really showed its warts. And truth be told, this defense has not made many improvements since that game. Expect Reggie Bush to have another big game. He busted off for 139 yard back in that game and he might run for more this week.
In their previous meeting, the Lions went crazy scoring 27 points in the second quarter, nearly putting the game away before halftime. Don't expect that to happen again Sunday afternoon. Cutler also threw three of his seven interceptions this year in that game. He also lost a fumble which Nick Fairley returned for a touchdown. If Cutler can manage to keep the ball away from Detroit defenders, put together long drives and keep putting up the points he's been doing all season long the Bears should be in good shape.
It a big game for both teams, and it's going to be a good one to watch.
by Casey Moffitt
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
“I'm sticking with my preseason pick. The Washington Redskins are about to go on the same roll they went on a year ago.”
Skip Bayless is went on to cite the similarities, and while he is correct, this season just feels a little bit different.
When they didn't turn the ball over, Washington's offense in 2012 was a well-oiled machine based on the running of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. More often then not, Griffin was great as a passer. Fans in the nation's capital always had faith that he could make things right if the defense didn't mess things up too badly.
This year the running game looks like it's back on track, but the defense is just as bad if not worse. Griffin has shown a few flashes of last year's brilliance, but he's about as consistent as Andy Dalton right now.
If the Redskins do go on the run that Bayless and so many others think they can, you have to look at last week's goal line stand as the turning point. The defense probably saved the season, although you could argue that they were the ones who put it in jeopardy.
Going into the second half of the season, the Redskins need to ride Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. They're most effective when they churn out yards on the ground. On defense, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan need to prove their worth. Everybody knows you can pass on Washington, and 9.5 sacks between the two of them is not enough when you consider the amount of chances they get.
If they can accomplish this while continuing to create turnovers, that should be enough defense to give a very dynamic offense a chance to win games, and maybe go on a run.
As long as Adrian Peterson doesn't break loose, getting to 4-5 shouldn't be much of an issue. If they can dispose of Minnesota, they'll have some legitimate momentum. We've all seen first hand what they can do when they have that.
Hashim Horne, NFL junkie
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
If the Aaron Hernandez thing never happened, do we, the civilians, hear anything about Richie Incognito’s latest hijinks? If Richie Incognito is banned from the league but Sean Payton’s stupid head continues to sully the sidelines are we bearing witness to yet another double standard under Goodell’s reign?
Is Richie Incognito guilty of anything besides being a jerk? I read the transcript of his message to teammate Jonathan Martin and honestly I’ve heard worse from the kitchens I used to work in. Perhaps I’m jaded but I thought the message was funny, it was dark and NSFW graphic, but funny. People are quick to pull the bully card, and let’s face it bullying is wrong, but is it really bullying when the target is a 6’5 315 lb man? Am I being completely insensitive to Martin’s supposed trauma?
Locker rooms seem to incubate violence, brothers & teammates who together perform in a violent sport and do violent things to one another, things if done as a civilian to a civilian would most likely get you thrown into the clink. Here is where Goodell’s schuyster manner is most revealed. Roger Goodell is trying to dress the convict up in a bow and make the car-crash more family friendly.
The NFL is crooked institution, a multi-billion dollar train wreck disguised as a blue-collar aw-shucks family event. Think about Goodell’s handling of the New England Patriots video-taping controversy, the outcome only relieving Bostonian jerks and Brady sycophants, the rest of us left with a bad taste, yet we keep on giving that big-head boob our hard earned money. Football is crack, of which I am in the grip. I have tattoos on my body representing my team. One day I may have to explain to an interested kid what those strange things on my arm represent. In a time when there is no more football, because face it Kids, the clock is ticking. Baseball will outlive us all.
John Thomas Menesini
FOTBALL EXTRA POINTS