Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looks Like the Bears are Playing to Win

I like it - the Bears say they are going to play full out against the Packers. This could be one of those no-win situations. The Bears don't have much of a chance of becoming the #1 seed - they need the Falcons to lose at home to the Panthers, so the outcome of the Packers game doesn't have much meaning for the Bears. If they play it out and Forte, Peppers, or Cutler or any one of their main starters gets hurt it could be a disaster.

That said, I think teams should always play to win. It is hard to turn it "on" and "off". Just play hard and let the chips fall where they may. It can send a strong message and be a huge confidence builder if they win. In addition, if they can knock the Pack out this week they may save themselves the trouble of facing one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL in the playoffs.

Resurrection of Michael Vick

I think it is remarkable what Vick has done after being away from football for 2 years. Love him or hate him, it is a remarkable on field story.

There are always going to be haters and critics and people who apologize for him. There aren't too many folks in the middle. This week, President Obama called Philly owner Jeffrey Lurie and it was reported that part of the discussion focused on Lurie's willingness to give Vick a second chance.

Not surprisingly, some folks on the Right jumped at it as an opportunity to try to bash Obama. Tucker Carlson - who is an idiot in my opinion - was guest hosting for Hannity on Tuesday night (Hannity is also an idiot) when he said that Vick "should have been executed" for killing the dogs the way he did.

That's unusually extreme. I'm a dog owner and I think Vick was a fool to get mixed up in dog fighting - but execution? Come on Carlson, loosen up your bow tie and allow some blood to flow to your brain.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Deadskins Should Cut McNabb Today

I don't believe the Deadskins should have ever traded for McNabb, but since they did, they should have treated him differently than they have. I think it has been shameful how much disregard and disrespect they have shown him.

That said, I think McNabb is speaking out of both sides of his mounth and he cannot be trusted in DC. Last week, McNabb's agent blasted the Shannahans - especially Kyle. McNabb said that he didn't know his agent was going to do that (complete B.S.). He and Kyle met and Kyle said that McNabb told him that he disagreed with his agent and that they were cool.

Now, McNabb is saying that he had no problem with what his agent said. He is pretending that he wants to stay in DC and that he wants to work things out - but he must know that there is no chance of that happening. He is trying to be a classy guy, but his two faced comments - implying he disagreed with his agent, before saying he agreed with the comments - is insulting. I like McNabb, but I think he is not as classy as he is trying to make out. He should be honest about his dealings and opinions - but I think he is just trying to stay above the fray even as he is stoking it.

Shannahan should just cut his losses right now. There is little trade value for a 34-year old QB who is coming off a bad year, and who other teams know is not going to be on the opening day roster for DC at $16.75M next year. No need to wait to get a 5th round pick for him. Cut him now and avoid all the drama that would go with him remaining on the team.

Bears Clinch a First Round Bye

In a mini-stunner, the Eagles lost to the Queens. Vick got beaten up (again) and I think it really affected his accuracy. With the loss, the Bears are now assured of no less than a #2 seeding and the first round bye that goes along with it.

I'd like to see the Bears play at full speed and try to knock the Pack out of the playoffs this weekend. I'd rather play the Giants or Bucs in the playoffs than the Packers and I'd also like to see the team continue to build momentum going into the playoffs.

Monday, December 27, 2010

With Deficits Set To Rise . . .

As I have said earlier, the tax "deal" that Obama and the Republicans cut is horrible economic policy. But, I thought I would point out a couple of things that folks should look for in the next 18-24 months. It is quite likely that interest rates will rise as foreign investors will have to be enticed to keep funding the enormous deficit spending that we are dealing with. As other currencies and economies improve they will be far more attractive than U.S. Treasurys and U.S. debt. We will see erosion in the dollar which may assist with some foreign export sales, but in the longer term foreign investors are going to be fed up with diminishing returns as the dollar slips.

The Fed's willingness to monetize the debt is being recognized, and increasingly criticized, by foreign investors and governments. So at some point interest rates will have to start rising to keep the flow of debt financing going for the American government. We have already seen evidence of this happening in the bond markets but it will get far worse. As this happens, the cost of the debt will rise also, which will put us in a pretty bad cycle of needing even more debt to cover even bigger deficits (interest on the national debt is one of the most significant expenditures of the U.S. government).

If you have a variable rate mortgage or ARM - FIX IT NOW. We are going to see significantly higher rates in the next two years.

We are also going to see significant increases in oil prices. World oil prices are tied to the dollar. As the dollar falls, oil producing nations and firms will want to see higher prices to cover the lost value of the dollar. In two years, we will be looking at $130/barrel oil.

People are going to look for commodity defensive positions for their money. We are likely to see metals (platinum, gold, and silver) to continue to rise. Oil stocks will likely do better - but this will be offset by the declining value of the dollar and likely regulatory changes that will impact profit margins (appropriate in my opinion). If you are an investor, I'd look at the metals and avoid real estate and dollar based investments. If you play with oil, be prepared to get out within 6-12 months because as the 2012 election cycle rolls around and the economy is continuing to flame out, politicians will start talking about doing something about oil prices.

Chicago Bears Win Again

Big win against a solid NY Jets team. In the blustery cold of Chicago, it was good to get this type of win - especially with a first round bye on the line. On first glance, the 38-34 score gives pause that perhaps the D was not up-to-snuff, but that is only part of the story. Cutler threw a pick-6 and when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter the last three drives for the Jets ended up as: punt, punt, interception.

I loved seeing the Bears get their running game going again. The O-line has made huge strides throughout the year. That is a big part of why they have won 7 of 8 and are rolling. Cutler had the interception on a throw he should not have made, but he had a great game overall. He threw a couple of bullets through the wind for TDs and managed the game very well overall. This was the type of offense that we need to make some noise in the playoffs - especially against a D that is as solid as the Jets.

Hester had another long return and because the Jets were kicking away from him they got a couple of short kickoffs that were returned by up-men out to about the 40. Even when he doesn't get the ball his presence is felt. One disappointing note was that Robbie Gould missed a 35 yard field goal in the second half that would have put the Bears up 10. It was notable because it ended a streak of about 62 straight makes inside of 40 yards.

Assuming Philly beats the Queens on Tuesday night, the Bears play a meaningful game against the Packers next week. Win and they get a bye. Lose and they may end up playing the Packers the following week at Soldier Field in the first round of the playoffs. I'd like to see the Bears win and the Giants sneak back into the playoffs. It would be a great story to see a rematch win against the Giants and then somehow make it to the Super Bowl for a rematch of their disaster against the Pats (and a rematch of Super Bowl XX).

Couple of Thoughts on Economy

I was talking to one of my neighbors this morning. He runs the U.S. operations for a multi-billion dollar UK construction services firm. He is a lifelong Republican who supported President Obama because of the seriousness and apparent understanding of the economic issues facing the nation that the President showed as a candidate for President (plus he couldn't believe the choice of Sarah Palin as the VP candidate).

It is the first time we have really had a chance to talk about how things are going relative to the tax cut "deal" that Obama struck with Republicans. We were both of a very similar mind about how bad the decision was.

The thing that is irritating is that it was done for political expediency rather than sound economic policy for the nation. And what is even more irritating is that both parties are to blame. A few weeks ago the bi-partisan commission on deficit reduction reported out its findings and there was some discussion about what needed to be done. Instead of heeding their warnings and making some effort to address the deficit/national debt - the President capitulated to Republican demands that the wealthiest Americans get an extension of the very tax policies that are at the center of our economic troubles.

President Obama should have held his ground on the Bush tax rate extension and fought to allow them to expire. The Republicans would have caved - it was not going to be politically acceptable to allow taxes to rise on 98 percent of Americans because they wanted to fight to give the wealthiest Americans a continuation of the 4 percent tax cuts they have gotten over the last decade.

But he didn't fight. Then he and Republicans negotiated a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits, a whole host of new tax credits (child, education, etc.), and cut 2 percent of the payroll tax that goes to pay for Social Security. All of these moves will do little to spur new economic activity, but it will explode the budget deficits for the next two years by nearly $1 trillion. This goes straight to the national debt.

If the Republicans put up anyone who isn't a tea party crazie like Sarah Palin, or some kind of radical right winger, they should have a cake walk to the presidency because the economy will now face another threat of major recession. Had President Obama just stayed the course and fought for what he said he believed in, the economy would continue to recover and the deficits would have had some chance of shrinking. Now that is not going to happen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NFC North Division Champs

The Bears clinched the North and are in control of their own destiny for a first round bye. They looked very good tonight against an undermanned Queens team.

If they beat the Pack on the final weekend of the season it will be the first time a team has swept the NFC North/Central since 1987.

Cutler threw the ball well in the ice and snow. The Bears ran the ball well. But clearly the Hester returns were huge and the D was stifling after the first Queens drive. This was a great win because it was a clinching and convincing victory after last week's debacle against the Pats. I also think it re-established the Bears as a team that can win in the cold - which will be critical if the Bears end up playing a home playoff game or games.

The Bears are a healthy team that seems to have great locker room chemistry. It is being coached well and it is executing on very good game plans. I expect this team to really make some noise and would love to see a Pats-Bears rematch in Dallas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bears Blasted

The Pats rolled into Chicago and destroyed the Bears. I'm not going to provide much analysis. The Pats were far better and the game just got out of hand on some weird plays. Knox fumbled and it went for a score to put the Pats up 21-0. Then on the next drive Cutler was sacked and fumbled inside the Bears 10. The D held up and kept it to a field goal - which I thought was a good stand. But then the Bears O couldn't move the ball and run out the half. With 5 seconds left the Pats threw a 60 yard bomb that was caused by the inexplicable absence of rookie safety Major Wright in deep coverage. 33-0 halftime. Game over.

Cutler threw two second half red zone INTs. I didn't see them, but to be honest it doesn't really bother me. He was probably trying to make plays to get back into the game - field goals wouldn't have helped.

The Green Bay loss to Detroit makes this loss less stinging. Now, if the Bears just beat the Queens they pretty much win the North - even if they lose to the Pack at the end of the year. I think their odds of winning the North and making the playoffs likely went up given what happened to the Pack.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bears Playoff Chances Continue to Improve

At 9-3, the Bears are in control of their playoff destiny, but they face the NFL's toughest schedule for the last 4 weeks.

This is why AccuScore continues to put the Packers ahead in the simulations for the NFC North crown.

I think the Bears will go 3-1 down the stretch - but the key game is obviously going to be the last game of the season against the Pack. The Bears have a tough game against the Patriots this week and this would be the game I would predict they would lose if I had to choose one. I expect the Bears to beat the Queens and Jets and then play the Pack for the North crown and perhaps a first round bye.

With the one game advantage, the Bears could go 1-2 and the Pack would still have to go 2-1 to ensure a shot at the North crown. It would depend on divisional and NFC records if the Pack were one game back going into the last week and they won. I think that if the Bears win the game against the Queens, they would have most of the tie breakers if they ended up tied with the Pack at the end of the season (assuming the Pack beat them on the last weekend).

We'll see what happens, but the only game that matters right now is the one against the Patriots this weekend.

Tax "Deal" Will Pass

Get ready for an extra trillion dollars of debt for the next 2 years, and no major improvement in the economy that results from the "deal" the President struck. Corporations are sitting on a trillion in cash right now, the economy is going to continue to improve, but now the government will have to deal with even more massive debts.

President Obama has turned his back on the American people and joined with Republicans in endorsing the failed Bush tax plans that are at the center of much of our economic problems.

I have been supportive of most of what the President has done, but this "deal" is so embarrassingly bad and so destructive to the country that I will more than likely support the inevitable challengers that will emerge to try to secure the Democratic nomination for president in 2012. If Hillary were to run, I suspect that she would win. If she resigns in the next few months, I think she will mount a challenge and I believe she would win the nomination.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Obama May Be Finished

I haven't written much about politics in recent months - been busy, been disappointed, and just decided not to focus on little things every day.

But, President Obama's tax "deal" that he struck with the Republicans is an utter disaster. If the American people actually want to address the budget deficits and long term debt situation, then the crazy deal that Obama and the Republicans struck should be criticized by Americans from both parties.

The two year extension of Bush tax cuts that Obama and the Republicans are proposing includes a bunch of other tax cuts/tax credits, including - most alarmingly - a 2 percent reduction in FICA for next year. It is bad enough to extend the tax cuts for those making over $200,000 because the budget deficit will only continue to rise. But the 2 percent cut in FICA is immoral. If you are going to do this, then you might as well just eliminate Social Security.

As it is now, Social Security (i.e., the 6.2 percent of FICA that we see taken out of our paychecks) is running a deficit. Taking away 2 percent without any explanation of where the money to pay for Social Security will come from makes no sense whatsoever. For a worker making $50,000, they will have less than $1000 extra per year after income taxes. This will come to about $38 more per paycheck for someone who gets paid every 2 weeks. But it will create a budget hole of tens of billions of dollars that will have to be paid back when we have to borrow even more money to pay for the deficit.

Over the next two years, these proposed tax cuts are going to add almost $1 trillion to the national debt. This is going to ensure that President Obama makes no dent in the annual budget deficit - in fact it will probably be worse than when he started.

Why does he say he had to make the deal? So he could ensure that taxes wouldn't be raised on the middle class and so that he could secure 13 more weeks of unemployment benefits for people whose benefits are running out.

That is utterly pathetic. President Obama and the Dems could very easily have done the following:

1. The House could have passed middle class tax cuts and allowed taxes to increase on those making over $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples). They could have also included the 13 week unemployment extension in the bill.

2. Send it to the Senate and if Republicans actually wanted to filibuster it - let them. Don't hold a cloture vote to end debate - make them actually do the filibuster. Let the American people watch as Republican Senators held up all Senate work doing the filibuster. They would have caved - there is no way that Republican Senators were going to spend their Christmas in DC filibustering tax cuts for middle class Americans and an extension of unemployment benefits, just so wealthy Americans can continue to have a 4 percent tax cut that they don't really need.

3. As soon as Dems in the Senate secured the 60 vote majority to end the filibuster and pass the bill, the President could have signed it and shown the power he had.

Instead, he has negotiated away his strength, made it easier for Republicans to walk over him next time, and worst of all, ensured that the deficts will rise significantly in the short run, and the national debt will rise significantly in the longer run.

It is bad policy, and it is bad politics. Given how utterly devastating this "deal" is, I am going to hope that Dems refuse to go along with it - but they will cave. Now, I am seriously going to have to consider the challenger for the Democratic nomination that is almost surely going to emerge to challenge the President in the primaries.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Bears Survive

Typical division game in December - tough. The Bears played a horrible first half on D. They allowed an undermanned Lions team to lead at halftime when they gave up a 46 yard TD to CJ after a 45 yard run by Best. The Lions went up 17-14 because of horrible tackling.

The opening drive of the second half almost ended in complete disaster for the Bears. Cutler fumbled and the the Lions had it at 1st and goal at the 9 yard line. If they go in and get the TD they are up 10 and the Bears are really reeling. Instead the D came up big and held the Lions to a field goal. That seemed to turn everything around.

Cutler went 10-10 in the second half with a TD pass. Robbie Gould hit a career-best 54-yard field goal. The Bears D shut down the Lions and the Bears escaped with a 24-20 win.

This was a classic trap game. Coming off the huge win against Philly and with the Patriots looming next week, it was easy to overlook the Lions. But the Bears are clearly the better team and they put it together in the second half to win.

Here are a couple of thoughts. The O-line played fairly well. Cutler was sacked 4 times, but I think the Lions have a very good front 4, so 4 sacks was not terrible. The run blocking was pretty good, so overall I was satisfied with the O-line. The running game is really starting to go and as a result, Cutler is not having to make every play for the Bears to win.

The MVP yesterday was Earl Bennett. The guy had over 100 yards, but he had 5 third down catches that went for first downs. Those were huge plays in the game.

Bring on the Patriots - it is going to be a tough stretch run against the Pack - but it should be interesting.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Playoff Picture in the NFC

The Bears don't get much respect - not surprising given that most "experts" had them finishing third or fourth in the North this year, and when you consider their record over the last three years (.500 over that period - no playoffs). The AccuScore stats still have them losing out the division to the Pack and MJD's playoff projections at Yahoo! Sports do the same.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Big Bears Win!

I feel great this morning. The Bears are 7-3 and looked great last night against Miami.

Miami was never going to score against the Bears D. The Special Teams were fantastic as usual. The O played an efficient and solid - but not special - game.

First the Bears D - six sacks, an interception and just dominating control over the Dolphins. Miami was forced to start Tyler Thigpen at QB, so it was going to be tough for them anyway, but they could not run the ball at all last night. That forced them to pass and as a result they couldn't do much against a clearly over-powering D. Guys were flying all over making plays all night.

Special Teams - another big return by Hester set up the first field goal. There was another big return that was called back due to penalty. Robbie Gould when 3-3 on field goal attempts including a 50 yarder down the middle to make it 9-0 and essentially put the game away in the third quarter. The punt team was solid - Maynard had a couple of short kicks that were nearly blocked but he got the rol on both occasions.

Bears O - very good line play overall. RT J'marcus Webb had his struggles with penalties - but he wasn't a disaster. The run blocking was very good. Forte had some gashing runs through a few good sized holes all night. Jay Cutler had time to throw most of the night and he chose quite a few shorter checkdown type routes. He was deadly on 3rd downs last night. It seemed like every third down was converted and it must have been demoralizing for the Dolphins. Cutler had a couple of bad throws - one of which was intercepted right before halftime with the Bears on the move. His first pass very easily could have been called intentional grounding in the end zone (which would have resulted in a safety).

Coaching - just great. The defensive calls all worked including an Urlacher blitz later in the game for a sack - Urlacher does not blitz often but it usually works. The offensive play calling was great. I liked the conservative calls with the Bears up 9-0 and first and goal from the 9 they ran it three straight times and got the TD in the third quarter that put the game out of reach. I liked it because it showed confidence in the O-line and the running game. And it took away any chance of a freak turnover. At worst you kick the field goal in that situation and extend the lead to 12-0.

Not a particularly intense or exciting game if you are not a Bears fan, but it was a very good win. It was only the second home shutout for Miami in 40 years.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AccuScore Still Working Against the Bears

Clearly the odds on favorite based on schedules and performance to date in the North is the Pack. The Bears still are only showing a 29% chance of making the playoffs and 19% chance of winning the North. Compare that to the Pack who are at 84% for the playoffs and 76% of winning the North.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bears - Eagles Moved to National TV

The Bears play on national TV on Thursday against the Dolphins this week. Fox has moved the Eagles visit to Soldier Field next weekend to their national spotlight game at 4:15 pm. That's great.

It gives me another chance to watch my beloved Bears without have to go out to my local sports bar.

In addition, if the Bears and Eagles (vs. Giants) win this week, it will be a matchup of division leaders that could have serious playoff implications. The stakes will be high and I will love seeing how the Bears D matches up with the dynamic and super fast Eagles O. My guess is they will get physical and use the good team speed that they have to neutralize Vick and those fast but smallish receivers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Chicago Bears Fans

Now look, fans can do whatever they want, so I am not asking for anything in this post - I am just making an observation. The Bears are 6-3 and there are still fans complaining about Lovie and Cutler, and you can probably throw in Martz and to a lesser degree Forte and Knox. You can always throw in complaints about the McKaskey's and Jerry Angelo. It is ridiculous how much negativity surrounds the team.

We'll see what happens the rest of the year, but their record this year is not altogether that surprising. The Bears have been a .500 team the last three years. They made some big acquisitions in Peppers and Taylor, and you can throw in Chris Harris and Major Wright (rookie out of Florida). The problem the last couple of years has been D and O-line. The D is vastly improved - as expected. They still need to produce more sacks and hurries, but they are much better up front than they have been and their safety play has been great this year. With the return of Briggs and all the other linebackers who were hurt last year, the result has been a top 5 D. That can carry you a long way.

Hester seems to have his mojo back and the Bears Special Teams have been their typical strong units.

Cutler is in his second year in Chicago and he has weapons - contrary to what a lot of people thought. Knox is a very good receiver who is still learning, but he is a very good number 1 option. Hester is great at the crossing routes and Earl Bennett is a solid possession type receiver. Forte and Taylor are good runners but their strength is catching the ball and you have Greg Olsen. That is a good group of receivers. But, as I expected things are really improving up front. The real improvement that we are seeing on the O-line is a result of young guys learning to play together. After some horrific play early in the year when guys were moving around and Garza and Chris Williams (the two starting guards) were out, we are seeing that this unit is not too shabby. Cutler looked very comfortable in the pocket the last two weeks and he has been able to put together some great throws from the pocket and on the run to keep drives moving.

So now the Bears find themselves at 6-3 and still you have some fans complaining that Lovie isn't fiery enough, or that Jay needs to get traded, or that Angelo should get fired, or that Peppers is overpaid, or whatever . . . I'll just enjoy the ride - it's much more fun than complaining all the time which is what too many Bears fans do year after year.

Bears Win Again

Very solid win. The game went about as I expected. The O-line was solid, the D was great, and Special Teams really produced. Cutler made one horrible throw, but otherwise played a great game.

The D held AP to just 51 yards, they forced 4 turnovers, and frankly crushed the Queens. There was just one breakdown in the secondary that led to a 50 yard bomb, but otherwise the Queens could do nothing on offense.

Hester returning kickoffs was huge and he had a big punt return. Gould missed another a 43 yard field goal in the swirling wind of Soldier Field but he hit on two other kicks. Maynard nailed another punt inside the 3 yard line.

Cutler played a great game, but he threw away a chip shot field goal with his bone-headed throw in the end. The Bears were up 7 and facing a third and long (perhaps goal) and should have just chosen to go conservative and kicked the field goal. Had they played that drive correctly, they would have been up 10 at the start of the fourth quarter - insurmountable given the way the D was playing. Cutler still needs to clean up those errors.

I really like the way this team is playing. If the O-line continues to play solidly the Bears will win most of their remaining games.

At 6-3, we are in first in the North - we have the tie breaker against the Pack. We go to Miami on Thursday night and a win would be huge.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bears vs. Queens

Big division game. A win and the Bears will be 6-3 and could make the playoffs going 4-3 down the stretch. It would likely end the playoff hopes of the Queens who would fall to 3-6.

The game will likely be decided by O-line play. If Cutler gets protection and the Bears remain committed to the run they will win. The Bears D will force 2-3 turnovers, we just can't give up 3-4 turnovers.

In the end, I expect a tight game that ends 24-20 Bears.

Miami Heat Really Suck

I watched most of the Celtics-Heat game last night and it is clear the Heat are totally over-matched.

The final score showed up as a 5 point loss for the Heat, but don't be fooled , they were destroyed at home by a far superior team. The Celtics led wire-to-wire. Within 5 minutes they were up 10 and never looked back.

The Heat cannot rebound or play interior defense, so they shoot their jump shots and give up layups. Can't win that way.

I think they are going to trade Bosh for some inside presence. Or, more dramatically, they will trade LeBron because he is already complaining about his coach and probably doesn't like the tighter control the organization is exerting than he faced in Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Miami Heat Stink

At least right now.

The don't have any D. They lost to the Jazz at home. At 5-3 they don't look that tough.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Repealing Health Care Reform

I have not written anything about the election for some time (certainly not since it happened). I have a few thoughts about how/why it was silly to elect Republicans back into power in the House, but I'll save that for another day.

I do want to comment on the inanity of trying to repeal health care reform. Before making any case pro or con, let me point out a couple of basic facts:

1. Millions of Americans were without coverage and/or underinsured. The number is between 35 and 50 million depending on the stat that you are looking at.

2. Most of those folks wanted health care but it was either too expensive and/or they had pre-existing conditions that prevented them from getting them or had been cut off from their coverage because they had exceeded their lifetime benefits.

3. The costs of health care have exploded over the last 15 years.. The average cost of private health insurance has gone up an average of 9-10 percent per year since 1990. It is up 150 percent since 1998 for the average family - and in most cases services have been cut so that we are paying more for less.

4. By comparison, Medicare/Medicaid costs have risen about 7 percent per year over that same time period. So it looks like government care is actually more cost effective than the private sector - at least by the rising costs measure.

5. Doing nothing was not an option given the above.

So now Republicans are threatening to work hard to repeal health care reform - in fact it appears that it will be their top priority. My first question is, HOW WILL THAT HELP WITH THE JOBS SITUATION. Republicans have been bashing Obama and Democrats for not focusing on jobs, jobs, jobs (although they have and the stimulus bill has clearly worked to improve the dismal state of the economy). But now that they are in power they are going to fight to take away health care reform. Idiotic.

Second, what do they want to repeal? Broadening the pool to require folks to have health insurance spreads the risk to a broader part of the population. Just as you are required to have car insurance, now you will have to carry health insurance. About a third of all health care costs in this country are for hospital bills. Anyone who does not have health care just shows up at the hospital and gets treated. Then they cannot pay the bill so the hospital has to charge everyone with health care that much more. That is the major driver of health care costs in this country - not technology or frivolous lawsuits - the costs of the uninsured that we all have to bear.

There is no public option - private insurers will provide services and there is a high risk pool for those individuals who have diseases that are very expensive to treat. You cannot be denied coverage in the health care exchange and kids up to 26 can stay on their parents coverage. There are serious ways that this will help slow the growth of health care.

For me, I'd like to see a true public option (i.e., Medicare for all) because it is a non-profit way to put more of the dollars into health care rather than dividends, bonuses, and exhorbitant pay for insurance executives. I'd also like to see caps on private insurance profits, dividends, bonuses and pay because the nature of health care is different than most "products" that one buys.

If Republicans get caught up in a months-long battle to repeal health care they will be blamed for wasting time - and in the end, I don't even think they want to actually repeal it. They just used it as a political wedge and demonized it by lying about stuff like death panels and killing off private insurance and putting everyone on the public health care system. None of that is true, but people think it is true. Ridiculous.

Couple of Thoughts about the NFC

Things are starting to shake out. It looks like the Giants are the big dogs in the NFC. I like the Pack as a playoff contender but they have so many injuries that their room for injuries is razor thin. Still they find ways to win, and that is a testament to their team/organization. After that, I'd bunch a whole lot of teams together: Bears, Eagles, Atlanta, and Saints. I think the Bucs could go either way.

Notice that there is no one in the NFC West that is worth mentioning. That is one terrible division, and I think the 49ers may still have a chance - which is just crazy.

If any of the midling/lower teams like the Deadskins or Queens can put something together for 2-3 weeks they can jump right back into the hunt, so it is an exciting time. I expect the Giants to run away with the East. If Vick stays healthy, I think we will see the Eagles in the playoffs. In the North, I think the Bears and Pack will fight it out until the end for the division and I think we will see the same with Atlanta and the Saints in the South. Then it will be between the second place finishers in the North and South for the other Wild Card slot. As for the West who cares?

Bears Win

The Bears got a must win game against the winless Buffalo Bills. It was a back and forth game and for the third week in a row the Bills lost by a field goal. Tough break for them given they are playing winning teams so tough (Baltimore, KC, and Chicago).

I think it was a solid performance and I liked the way the Bears played it overall. The O-line gave up one sack and Cutler fumbled. He actually wasn't hit hard, the sack was really a strip because Cutler was under some pressure but he was holding the ball out loosely and it got swatted out of his hand. It happens. But, the line play in pass protection was much, much better than it has been. I don't think the run blocking is where it needs to be and there was a 3rd and 1 very late in the game that would have iced the game that the Bears could not convert - that is troubling - but I think overall Bears fans should be encouraged by the improved play of the line.

The play calling was great. Martz did not abandon the run and although we weren't getting much out of the run game it kept the Bills D off-balance and it made the passing game effective. The Bears need to keep at it to become a better run blocking/running team.

The D played very well for most of the game. The Bills scored three TDs, but had an extra point blocked and could not convert a 2 point conversion so they were held to just 19 points. The D stuffed the Bills running game and got critical turnovers. One that set up the game winning TD and one to ice the game at the end.

Special teams were solid. Gould missed a 45 yard field goal right before halftime that would have made it 10-0. After the miss, the Bills took it in for a very late TD. That sucked. Gould also had one kickoff go out of bounds. That sucked. But he had three touchbacks, so it was mixed. Maynard had a good day punting. At the end of the game he punted one to the Bills 1 yard line that forced the Bills to have to go the length of the field win about a minute and no timeouts. Nearly impossible to do against this D, so I felt like that pretty much ended the Bills chances.

Coaching - good all around. I have no complaints. This was a solid win, but nothing spectacular. The Bears host the Queens this week in what should be a pretty good game with potential playoff implications. If the Bears win they are 3-0 in their division games and will be at the top of their division at 6-3 (tied w/the Pack but they would hold the tiebreaker). It would also be the first nail in the Queen's coffin as they would be 3-6 with 2 divisional losses. If the Queens win they will be just 2 games out of first and have some life, and the Bears will have some work to do. Cannot wait to see what happens.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

AccuScore Playoff Picture

The Bears were idle last week but the loss by Minnesota and the win by Green Bay really changed the playoff picture based on AccuScore. Green Bay is now the odds on favorite to win the North and Minnesota's chances dropped off significantly. As for the Bears, their chances of making the playoffs are at 19% and 11% for winning the division.

What is interesting is that the 49ers - with just two wins - have a 21 percent chance of making the playoffs and about the same chance of winning their division. It's crazy.

A win this week for the Bears against Buffalo combined with an unlikely loss by Green Bay to Dallas would obviously change everything.

The Bears need to get a win this week. Buffalo is playing better and just picked up Shawne Merriman, but this is a must win for the Bears. They win this, they are at 5-3 and in pretty good shape. They lose and they are in trouble. What I expect to see in coming weeks is some improved play by the O-line. If we get that, everything will fall into place. The Bears have the D, have the special teams, and have the talent to win consistently, but they have struggled with their line play. I also need to see better coaching. Frankly, Lovie blew the last game with his failure to challenge a clear TD and Martz/Tice have not gotten it done with their play calling and schemes/coaching/accountability for their O-line. I think they have enough talent to play more effectively on the O-line, but only time will tell.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shanny!

WTF? Taking out McNabb and putting in Rex with less than 2 minutes? Crazy and you may have thrown away the season. On top of that, there is a good chance that McNabb won't sign a new contract in DC and will walk - that means that the 2nd round pick was wasted and Deadskin fans lilely have rebuilding to look forward to around a new franchise QB next year (if you can find one).

Rally to Restore Sanity

We went downtown for the Rally yesterday and have two thoughts.

1. It was fun.

2. It was unbelievably crowded.

We walked on the Mall but it was just a mass of humanity. We moved off a couple of blocks and enjoyed the crowd, the sights, and the overall atmosphere.

I've been to DC for a lot of major events over the years, but yesterday was the most crowded I've ever seen it.

I'd like to think people will get more engaged but I'm not sure what the lasting effect of the Rally will be - if any. For me it was great to see civil discourse and light humor about our political frustrations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Un-American: Rand Paul Thugs Stomping Democratic Woman



This paid campaign organizer for Tea Party favorite, Rand Paul, is a real man for stomping on a woman's head. Her crime - being a liberal with a different view. Nice job jerkweed - this 100 pound lady was a real threat as she was taken down to the ground and being held down. Way to show your true "heroism."



We lost?

Celtics 88 - Heat 80. Good!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Panic in the NFL

The thing I love about the NFL is that every game matters and I do like parity so that there is competitive balance.

I was really ticked off about yesterday's Bears outcome and am still mad because the team just frittered the game away. It may come down to the Deadskins and Bears battling for a Wild Card spot and now the Bears lose the tie breaker if they tie. That sucks.

BUT, there is no need to panic for Bears fans. The Bears are 4-3 and everyone in the NFC has at least 2 losses. Sure the team needs better QB play and O-line play, but the O-line played well after the first quarter and if the young guys have any talent at all (and that is still an open question), then as they play together over the next few weeks they should get better.

The thing you have to like as a Bears fan is that the D is playing at a very high level - this is quite different than in the last three years. The special teams are very, very good. Coverage of kicks is great, and when we get a chance to return kicks our returners are dangerous. Gould is accurate and Maynard struggles to get length on his kicks but he gets good hang time and is great at placing kicks inside the 20.

There are clearly weapons on offense. If we do get some improved line play and Cutler can just get comfortable, I'm sure his mechanics and decision-making will improve.

In New Orleans people are panicking, a couple of weeks ago Indy looked susceptible, Minnesota is on the ropes, San Diego is in panic mode, what happened to Dallas, Frisco, and Denver? The point is that a lot of football is left to be played and teams have their flaws, but I see no reason to panic as a Bears fan.

We'll see what happens as the year progresses, but to me much of the problem has been self-inflicted. If Lovie is a good coach he'll get this figured out. If not, then the Bears can blow it all up and start over next year. But I am sick of Chicago fans crying about a 4-3 team that is leading the North. This is the NFL and there are teams that would kill for a 4-3 record.

Bears Lose Again

I could pretty much use the same post as last week for most of my analysis.

I was raging mad during the game and after the game at the missed opportunities, execution mistakes, and coaching blunders, but I'm not going to go through all of that.

The Bears gave away the game. You are always going to get clunker games in an NFL season. The Saints blew it yesterday against Cleveland and Baltimore struggled against Buffalo in a game they should have won easily. It happens. The difference is that good teams find a way to win and right now the Bears aren't a very good team.

That said, at 4-3 the Bears are leading the North (they have the tiebreaker against the 4-3 Packers right now). They are 2-0 in the division so there is no need to panic from a record standpoint.

The D is one of the better scoring and yardage defenses and it is playing at a very, very high level. The Deadskin's only had one sustained drive the whole game and they only gave up 10 points. They got the turnovers that would be enough to win in most cases and even scored on a pick-6.

Special teams are solid.

The O-line is a work in progress, but I have a lot of confidence in Mike Tice and thought they really did a nice job for most of the game after the first quarter. I expect the young guys to come together and play better now they they seem to have settled on a lineup.

Frankly, the play-calling was fine yesterday. A bad call on the goal line by the refs, and a failure to challenge the Cutler fumble (which was a TD) cost the Bears the game - that happens, but the bigger problem going forward is Cutler's decision-making and footwork. He kept missing wide open guys because his mechanics were terrible. He threw late to the flat with a floater that ended up being a pick-6 that should have never happened. That was on a play where if he throws it away the Bears go up 17-10 with a chip shot field goal on the the next play - probably enough to win the game given how the D was manhandling the Deadskin O.

There was an untimely fumble by Forte with the Bears at the 25 yard line in the 4th that really hurt. But like I said before these things happen. After the bye, the Bears need to beat Buffalo and then get Minnesota at home. If they win those two games (especially Minnesota) and are 6-3 then they will be fine and we can move on. At 3-0 in the division they would be in great shape going down the stretch.

We'll see what happens, but there are no gimme games for this Bears team (or the rest of the NFC for that matter).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bears Lose

Terrible loss. I blame it on coaching, O-line issues, and an inability to read defenses on the part of Cutler. The D played OK, but did not force any turnovers, so it wasn't a great game. They had trouble with Hasselbeck's quick reads, but overall they were OK. Injuries during the game to their starting corners played a part, but they played well enough to win.

Martz totally abandoned the run after the first quarter and the Bears were left with an 80% pass, 20% run play call game in a 3 point game that was close throughout. Terrible.

The O-line could not pick up blitz reads and secondary blitzes accounted for 3.5 of the 6 sacks.

Jay Cutler is a pretty good, instinctive QB with a huge arm, but he cannot read defenses at all. With blitzes coming, he needs to pick up the hot read and throw into the blitz but he seems unaware of what is going on. Hasselbeck was harassed a fair amount but he burned the Bears with hot reads and he threw the ball away regularly.

There were two play calls that really bothered me. In the third quarter with the Bears backed up on their 10 yard line with a third and long, Martz called a 7 step drop deep pass. Cutler was sacked for a safety. Horrible call, no blitz read from Cutler, and poor blitz pickup (no blitz pickup) from Matt Forte.

That safety turned it to a 16-13 game. The Bears punted and held the Seahawks. The next drive the Bears get to the Seahawk 30 and facing a third and long again were sacked on a deep dropback. The Bears needed to run the ball, throw a quick hitter, or a screen pass just to have a chance to tie the game. They didn't.

Bears punted and then they gave up a 90 yard TD drive that basically won the game. Hester got a long punt return with 2 minutes left in the game, but the Bears did not get the onside kick. And because the Bears had squandered two of their timeouts earlier in the half they could not do anything to stop the clock.

Martz has to be committed to the run and be patient, and the Bears need to throw some quick hitter/hot reads. I expect some more shuffling on the O-line also.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jarmon Fined for Helmet-to-Helmet on Rodgers

No surprise to me. He got a $5000 fine for the hit. Basically the NFL acknowledged that a penalty should have been called given the fine. He got away with one (which is part of the game). Deadskin fans are happy. Packer fans aren't. It happens and it will even out somewhere else.

Bears vs. Seahawks

Seattle is a different team on the road and Chicago should defeat the Seahawks fairly easily. I expect Martz to remain relatively conservative with the return of Cutler. The Bears can win by running the ball and their D is playing lights out right now.

Forte will get another 100 yard rushing day, and I expect Chester Taylor to add at least another 50. I think the final score will be 24-7 in a very solid win.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

AccuScore Playoff Forecast

Interesting changes this week in the AccuScore playoff projections in the NFC.

With the win against Carolina, the Bears (4-1) chances of making the playoffs is now above 50 percent (13 percent higher than last week). Their chances of winning the North are set at 31 percent. The interesting thing is it is just slightly ahead of the Vikings (1-3) and it is lower than the Packers (3-2).

The Deadskins (3-2) are at 18 percent for the playoffs and just 8 percent for the division. There is a lot of love for the Cowboys (1-3) who have a 47 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 33 percent chance of winning the East.

What we can say for sure is that the Dallas - Minnesota game will really change the fortunes for the winner and loser this week. Going 1-4 will be a disaster for the team that loses (probably the Vikings).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Favre is Washed Up

For anyone who saw the game last night it is clear that Favre can still pull out a play or two because he has so many offensive weapons, but he is a major liability. He missed on so many open throws, fumbled the ball a few times, and threw the clinching, critical pick-6 interception at the end when the Queens had a chance to win it.

His stats weren't bad, but the mistakes were horrible and in the end he was the major reason the Queens lost. Their D was incredible, their special teams were solid, their running game was pretty good against the Jets tough front 7, but Favre just wasn't up for the task.

At 1-3, the Queens season is not over but if they lose three of the next four (Dallas, at Packers, at New England, Arizona), they will be 2-6 at the midpoint and heading to Chicago. That game may end up being the kill shot for their season.

I know people (I'm thinking about JSR) will talk about how Favre had an amazing 15 minutes at the end of the third quarter until the interception late in the fourth, but I see a guy who is old, beat up, inaccurate, and careless with the ball. Not much left in the tank, and certainly not enough for an otherwise talented Queens team.

Monday, October 11, 2010

LaRon Landry intercepts Aaron Rodgers in OT



Just go to the 46 second mark of the video and you can see that there is obvious helmet-to-helmet contact.

The interception should have been reversed and the Packers should have been given 15 yards.

Bears D

The Bears lead the NFL in forcing 3 and outs. They are a ball hawking D that has been able to get turnovers. They got 3 interceptions and forced 4 fumbles (although Carolina recovered all of their fumbles). I like the way this D is playing right now.

Yesterday, they held Carolina to 147 total yards and 6 points. Last week against the Giants they performed well even as their offense melted down. Against the Packers they gave up yardage, but they didn't give up points.

The Bears have been tinkering with their roster trying to generate more pass rush from folks other than Peppers. Yesterday that worked as they got 4 sacks (none from Peppers, 3 from Idonoje).

The Cover 2 scheme is working fairly well and I think the big thing is that they are making their tackles and Chris Harris and Manning are playing fairly well at the safety positions. The last couple of years, the safeties have been real liabilities, but not this year.

Peppers certainly is living up to his contract and it is nice to have Urlacher back, but overall it just seems like there aren't nearly as many missed tackles and blown assignments as the last couple of years.

Bears 4-1

Another solid defensive performance with some good special teams play mixed in. The offense rushed the ball well, but the passing game was horrible. Not really surprised with the game plan, but I was very disappointed in how bad Todd Collins was.

Collins ended up 6-16 for 32 yards, 0 TDs, 4 Ints. I didn't watch the game, but listened to the Bears radio broadcast. The Bears were able to run the ball at will, and I kept wondering why they even threw it at all. They seemed to be gashing the Carolina D and you can see that Forte had a great game: 22 carries for 166 yards (7.5 yards/carry) and 2 TDs.

The Bears changed the right side of their line with Louis and Shaffer out and Edwin Williams and Webb in. I like the move because those guys are 24 and 22 years old and they seemed to get some push in the running game. If we can get Chris Williams back at LT, I feel like the line may be able to develop into a respectable mostly younger line.

I hated the play calling for most of the game. With the Bears up 17-3, Peppers intercepted a Clausen pass and the Bears started at the Carolina 9 yard line. Two plays later they had a 3rd and goal from the 1/2 yard line. Instead of punching it in with a run, the Bears called a pass play and Collins threw an interception. They could have buried Carolina right there and asserted themselves physically, but they didn't. Frankly, they kept having Collins throw when they could have just run every down and probably done far better.

If not for the D really cleaning up a lot of the Collins mistakes this may not have gone well for the Bears.

Whatever, we are 4-1, and Seattle comes to Chicago next week in a game the Bears should win. I expect Caleb Hanie to move up to 2nd string ahead of Collins, but we'll probably get Cutler back this week. If he is still at all dinged up they should start Hanie.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Bears - Panthers

I think this is going to be a game that will be decided by who runs the ball better and who wins the turnover battle.

It is Todd Collins going against Jimmy Clausen - not exactly a high profile game from the QB matchup. The Panthers have a solid running game and so far the Bears don't. But, I think the Bears D is much better and if I had to guess who will make the mistake between the two QBs, I'd have to say Clausen. Add to this that the Bears have very good special teams, I expect a Bears win.

It is always tough to win on the road in the NFL, but this is a game that the Bears need to win after the beating they took against the Giants and the fact that Carolina does not look to be all that good - they have played some teams tough, but they have not been able to win.

In the end it will be 14-10 Bears. We'll take it and move on.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cutler to Sit

Todd Collins is getting the start over Jay. I think it is the right move to let him get his head on straight.

Frankly, I would much prefer to see Caleb Hanie start and have Collins as the backup. Obviously I have some concerns, but on the bright side I fully expect the Bears to use a lot of short passing and commit to the running game. That is what they really need to do to build a tougher offensive mentality.

AccuScore

This week's AccuScore projections on who will make the playoffs is very interesting.

The Bears really fell off with the loss they suffered to the Giants and now have a 41% chance after being at 59% last week.

The Deadskins went from 5% to 15%

The interesting team is the Rams who went from 5% to 30%.

What you can see is how much a win or loss affects your chances in the NFL.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Christine O'Donnell ad



It is like one of those funny SNL ads. This woman is the Republican Senate Candidate in Delaware, and this is a completely serious ad. One person wrote, "Can you imagine if President Obama had an ad that started with, "I am not a Warlock.""?

This lady is crazy, but she will still get 40 percent of voters in Delaware to vote for her. Republicans don't care who they vote for as long as they say they are against gay marriage and pre-marital sex. They just have to SAY it, they don't actually have to BELIEVE it or LIVE it.

What to do with Cutler

I think Jay was suffering from a concussion early in the game. It may have been one of the early sacks, or it may have been a result of the accumulation of hits he has taken over the past few weeks. Frankly, I would not be surprised if the hit he took to the helmet at the end of the Green Bay game was affecting him. He is a pretty tough guy, but he just did not look right and held the ball far too long too often.

I would sit Jay down this week against Carolina and let his head clear up. It may force the offense to struggle, but for the longer term it is probably better. Start Caleb Hanie and try to work out the issues with the injuries on the offensive line. Push for the running game and go more conservative for the week to allow the linemen to work on run blocking and try to win the game by playing good defense.

Then bring Jay back in a week (or even two) once Chris Williams is back. The Bears need a healthy Jay Cutler to be a serious NFC contender, and putting him out there when he appears to be in a fog hurts the longer term prospects for the Bears.

MSNBC Lawerence O'Donnell Takes on RNC Michael Steele



I am amazed that Michael Steele continues to serve as the GOP Chair. He doesn't know what the minimum wage is, refuses to acknowledge when he makes serious mistakes when confronted with facts that shows otherwise, and refuses to give any concrete examples of what the Republican Party wants to do.

The guy appears to be an idiot - I don't know if he is or not, but he certainly appears to be.

The President and the Dems need to just stay on the offensive and they will maintain control of Congress.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Horrible Offensive Performance

The Bears were absolutely inept last night on offense. On a night when the D showed up and the special teams were adequate, it was ridiculous to see how little the O did.

The Giants sacked Jay Cutler 9 times in the first half and finished with 10 when it was all said and done. That was the story of the game. But, I think the reasons for the sacks were more than just terrible O-line play. Let's start with the O-line - they didn't play particularly well. The Bears could not run the ball effectively and their pass protection was weak. It starts with that. There was a lot of shuffling in the line as Garza and Louis were out and they rotated Williams in at the guard positions. I thought Olin Kreutz was very weak - he missed a couple of critical A-gap blitzes and even forgot the snap count on one play. Omiyale had at least 3 false start penalties - those are drive killers. Kevin Shaffer gave up his share of sacks. As a group the O-line was bad.

HOWEVER, the sacks were not all O-line issues. Cutler had too many misreads and too many times when he didn't let the ball fly in time. He seems to have trouble reading defenses and the clock in his head does not warn him to throw the ball away if something is not there right away. On a couple of sacks, there were guys running wide open right in front of Cutler but he seemed to be waiting for a bigger play to develop. On one play he stepped back and was sacked by an end making a wide outside path to the QB when it appeared that stepping up into the pocket would have solved the problem. On a couple of sacks he just seemed to wait and then 3-4 seconds later the ends had come all the way around - those aren't line problems, those are QB issues.

THEN, there was little commitment to the run and Martz did not make any real adjustments to address the pressure. In the Dallas game, the Bears started using some swing passes, tight end screens, and quick hitters up the hash marks to slow down the pass rush. It worked. The game plan last night did not change at all in the first half. That was a coaching error.

Heck, if they had just tossed out some short passes to the flats, quick fly patterns (there was a lot of one-on-one coverage), or put Hester in the wildcat, or just run the ball more the Giant pass rush would have had to slow up. But they just seemed to be committed to a bad game plan.

I think the Giants will challenge in the East, and I think losing on the road is no big deal. But the way the Bears lost is discomforting. I'm not sure if Cutler will be back this week, but no matter what the situation, the Bears go to Carolina and have to get that game. If they do, then things will be fine, if they lose that game and they continue to play poorly up front on offense, there will be growing questions.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

NFL Accuscore Stats

Yahoo Sports publishes a regular feature which does a pretty extensive statistical analysis of how the NFL teams stack up in the playoff race. With the win against Green Bay,

Chicago's Accuscore shows they have nearly a 60% chance of making the playoffs now.

The Deadskins are now at 5%.

A couple of weeks can really change things, so it is no big deal. I just find it interesting and obviously I am pleased w/where the Bears are.

NFL Power Rankings

It is interesting to see where teams are starting to shake out at this early stage of the season.

SI's Don Banks has his NFL Power Rankings for the week with the Bears at #7. The Packers are still ranked above them. For Deadskin fans, they are at #23.

I don't have any issue with the rankings. The Bears started pretty much at the bottom of the list and have moved way up. After three years of .500 ball and missing the playoffs it is not surprising that there are still skeptics who want to wait and see.

The schedule is very favorable for the Bears through the mid-point of the season. In fact, anything less than 6-2 would be a shock at this point, but 7-1 or even 8-0 seem very reachable (I predict 7-1).

The Bears have a tough game against the Giants this week. I say it is tough because the Giants are at home on national TV and it is a pivotal point in their season. At 1-2 and having been somewhat embarrassed last week, I would expect them to play much better. The Bears have played two straight physical, tough games, are starting to feel good about themselves, and may be ripe for a fall. I expect the Bears to win, but I also expect the Giants to play better than they have in a couple of weeks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

3-0!

Huuuuuuge win. The game was as I expected - a tough, physical, intense rivalry game that came down to the end.

Couple of thoughts.

1. The D was great. The Packers moved the ball but they could never get the big play. I thought Rodgers was great and his accuracy was tremendous but the Bears kept everything in front of them and made the Packers move in small steps for the most part. In the end, they got the key fumble on the last drive that led to the final field goal.

2. Peppers was well worth the money the Bears paid him. He caused a bunch of penalties (false starts, holdings) and blocked the one field goal. The guy just has a different motor. He was all over the place.

3. Nice to see Hester break one. He looked good on the punt return right before the one that he broke (punter tackled him), so he seemed to be in a groove. Hopefully that will continue.

4. Cutler is one tough guy. He got hit a few too many times but he made plays.

5. I love Aaron Rodgers. The guy is just awesome. He kept the Pack in the game with all of the penalties that they committed. I like his style and attitude and it just looks like players love the guy. Even Bears players seem to really like him. I like the fact that Cutler and Rodgers are going to be playing against each other at least twice a year for quite a few years.

On to New York to take on the reeling Gigantes.

Monday Night Football

The Bears have a chance to really establish themselves with a home win against the Packers. I expect them to do that. Both the Packers and Bears have some injuries on their O-lines and have struggled to keep guys off their QBs - but both teams have QBs who have been performing.

I think the team that plays better up front will likely win, and I have more confidence in the Bears right now than the Packers - especially with the loss of Ryan Grant. The running games will help set up the pass and I think the edge has to go to the Bears on that front.

On D, I think the Bears have been able to get turnovers and they seem to be flying to the ball and getting pressure on the QBs. If Peppers has a couple of sacks it will go a long way to securing a win.

Should be a good game tonight.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bears Thoughts

I've been slow to post stuff this week because of my schedule. The Bears got a good statement win on the road in the Cowboys home opener last week. There is no question the team seems to be playing at a fairly high level at this point - but the Lions are much improved but are still inferior opponents and the Cowboys are playing poorly, so I am not yet ready to say the Bears are awesome.

However, the Bears get their chance to really propel themselves with a win against Green Bay this week. I predicted they would split with GB at the start of the season and expect them to win this game since it is at home. I think both teams have offensive line concerns and Clay Matthews has been a monster with 3 sacks in each of his first two games. The Bears have also been putting pressure on the QBs.

I think it will be close - it usually is in this rivalry - but I think ultimately the loss of Ryan Grant will doom the Packers. The Bears have pretty good receivers all around and Forte/Taylor play very well coming out of the backfield. The Packers receivers are very good, but the loss of Grant will be the difference.

I cannot wait until Monday night.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Football This Weekend

UVA is off.

The Chicago Bears head to Dallas to face the Cowgirls. It is a tough matchup and Dallas will not want to get off to an 0-2 start after their debacle in DC. I like the Bears D and think Peppers, Harris, Urlacher, Briggs, etc. will force Romo to run for his life. Against Detroit all four of these guys had sacks/hits in the backfield that put the Detroit QBs on their backs. I expect to see a lot of the same this week when we are on D. I really think Devin Hester will have a breakout game. There were a lot of questions about why he wasn't more involved. I think the Bears will make a special effort to set him up for a couple of plays.

The game could propel the Bears forward or keep them in the middle of the pack. I'd like to say they are going to win, but I think the Cowboys will pull this one out 20-17. I hate saying it, but that is my prediction.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Matt Forte 28 Yard Game Winning Touchdown



See, this is how you finish a catch. If CJ had held on the Lions would have likely won. Forte twisted his body and controlled the ball to the end of the catch.

2010 Budget Deficit

As September 30 comes, we can anticipate the final budget deficit figure for the 2010 fiscal year. There is no question the economy is recovering - not as fast as people would like, but certainly it is recovering. This is naturally increasing tax revenues (more profits means more taxes collected).

Estimates are that the 2010 deficit will shrink by 8-10 percent from the year prior. This fact points to the fallacy in the whole Tea Party/Republican argument that Obama's economic policies are not working.

Obama and the Dems need to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on those making more than $250,000 or more (they would still be able to take cuts on their first $250,000, but would go back to Clinton era tax rates (which were lower than Reagan era tax rates). The world will not come to an end - in fact, just the opposite. This would generate about $75 billion more in revenue per year for the government which would go directly to deficit reduction.

Corporate profits are extremely high, banks have capital to lend, Wall Street and private equity is available - we just need to stay the course. If we do, and the Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy are allowed to expire, next year's deficit will likely fall by about 20 percent. We will have a stronger economy, lower unemployment, and a shrinking deficit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mid-Term Elections

We are about 6 weeks away from the mid-terms. No one should be surprised that Republicans will have some gains - that is the history of mid-term elections - the President's party tends to lose seats.

But the idea that Republicans are going to control either the House of the Senate (or both) is laughable. It makes for good cable news but it is not going to happen. The tea party folks are ensuring that won't happen. Tonight in Delaware Christine O'Donnell defeated Republican incumbent Congressman Mike Castle in the Republican primary. This all but ensures that the seat will go to the Democrats.

The Tea Party folks are only serving to destroy the Republican Party. They are defeating incumbents in the primary and then they are making it easier for Dems to challenge in what was once safe Republican seats. Some will win, but when they get to Congress and they create their voting block they won't work with Republicans which will hurt them in the longer term.

I am amazed that the primary voters in the Republican Party are now so extreme.

Whatever.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Six Thoughts about NFL After the First Sunday

1. Calvin Johnson did not catch the ball according to NFL rules - and that the rule is just fine as it is.

2. Philly is going to have a full scale QB controversy and will miss McNabb terribly. The book on Kolb may close before it every really opens.

3. Dallas is not the team that people thought.

4. Seattle - where did that team come from? Postive Pete Carroll seems to have transformed that team.

5. Houston took a huge step forward in beating the Colts.

6. The Arizona Cardinals are in trouble.

Chicago Bears Pull One Out

Obviously there is a lot of talk about Calvin Johnson's "catch" being ruled incomplete. I like the rule and think it makes a lot of sense. NFL Network showed two examples of similar plays last year - one was ruled a TD (incorrectly according to the rule) and one was ruled an incompletion (correctly according to the rule). The rule is not new, but the NFL officials were told to enforce the rule consistently/properly and went to every training camp and explained the rule to every team.

The way the rule is written and enforced takes away any judgment call that may need to be made. For example, a receiver may land with both feet and then stumble to the ground and lose the ball on the way down. If it is left to a ref's interpretation there will be complaints about the interpretation. Now, it is a simple process.

The Bears were their own worst enemy. They moved the ball at will and had 463 yards of total offense (to the Lions' 168), but 9 penalties, 3 fumbles, an intereption, and an inability to score on a 1st and goal at the 1, kept them from blowing the game wide open. The game was a typical first game - sloppiness at time, great plays at others. I liked the defensive effort - Peppers, Urlacher, Briggs, and Tillman all made huge plays. The new offense looked good - Cutler slung it around and Forte looked like the second coming of Marshall Faulk. They just have to clean up the sloppiness.

On to Dallas - should be a great second game matchup. I think the D will be disruptive and the passing game will find some holes in the Dallas secondary. It will certainly be a good early season barometer of where the Bears are.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Football Thoughts

Bears open against the Lions. The Bears have been up and down in pre-season. I am not worried about it because they were installing Martz's fairly complicated offense and they had a lot of guys to evaluate on D. I expect the Bears to trounce the Lions 33-17. If the Bears really have made improvements this year they will easily win this game. They cannot lose at home on opening day against the lowly Lions.

I do think the Lions will will 5 games this year, but not against the Bears.

My prediction for the Bears this year is for them to go 10-6 and make the playoffs. If they make the playoffs I'll predict how they will do in postseason.

I am also looking forward to the UVA game this weekend. They head out west to play at USC. I don't expect a victory (although I would love to see the smirk wiped from Lane Kiffin's face), but I do expect them to stay competitive. The game is a late start - 10:30 pm on Saturday night. It should be good.

Morgan State University plays the Terps this weekend. Morgan has a very good defense, but struggles mightily to mount any type of offense. I'd love to see them win that game but I expect a Terps blowout.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

UVA Rising

I loved the way the Cavs played against a solid Richmond team. Richmond was a good first game and the team looks and sounds energized. I really like Mike London and think he could be a great recruiter and coach for the Cavs.

I don't expect an ACC title this year, but I'd like to see them play .500 or better and make a bowl game.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

August Jobs Report

The summer jobs situation has shown the economy remains soft. That said, there is normally a weaker economy in the summer so we will have to see how things continue to play out.

Last month the economy lost 54,000 jobs, 114,000 of which were Census jobs. The unemployment rate inched up to 9.6 percent.

It is easy to criticize - which is what Republicans continue to do - but put into context from where we were at the end of 2008, it has been a miraculous recovery. Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts - that is pretty much the extent of their plan. That would basically keep things where we are - so they complain but offer nothing to change things.

Corporate profits have returned to pre-collapse levels. They are hoarding cash and the money will flow out soon. That will lead to large scale hiring. It should happen within the next 6-12 months.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Our Puppy

Along with a full kitchen renovation (gutted to the joists/studs/subfloor) that is now 95 percent done (just a tile backsplash left to complete), we got a puppy a few weeks back.

Wrigley is like having a third baby, but he has been relatively easy to train. The first 10 days we had a couple of "accidents" where he pee'd in the house and twice where he pooped, but the last 3 weeks he has been fine. In fact, we can leave him for 6-7 hours and he is OK.

In the morning, I usually get up about 6:15, take 10 minutes to get ready, and then take him out for a quick walk. Then we get in and he is properly victualized (food and water) as I sit and do my morning prayer. He is quiet and as I am praying he usually curls up next to me. I like that quiet, calm time in the morning. It has been great for re-centering me and preparing me for each day.

Dogs aren't for everyone, but I like having Wrigley around.

Fantasy Football

So I'm drafting my guys on Monday for one of my leagues and I ended up picking Matt Forte way too early and some dude named Mike Sims-Walker in the middle rounds by accident. I like that I have Forte, but I picked him with like the 15th pick in the draft. I'm sure I could have gotten him in the third round. The problem was that I was looking at my rankings and not the Yahoo! rankings, so I thought he was the appropriate pick at the time.

Sims-Walker was on my board - I just stuck him on - but then when my pick came I either clicked on him or he was automatically put on my team when I ran out of time. To be perfectly honest, I don't know anything about him and I am not exactly sure what happened when my pick came around.

In any event, I got C.J. Spiller and Hakeem Nicks later in the draft and they seem to me to be poised for breakout years. I also think Forte will deliver. With Peyton Manning as my QB and the other guys I have I am fairly comfortable. I also like the Bears D and Robbie Gould as my kicker so I have even more incentive to root for my Bears.

Tonight I draft for my second team in my other league - I will be a bit more careful with my draft picks but I would take my full team right now from my other league and be perfectly satisfied.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck Rally

I'm not really sure what Glenn Beck wants in terms of substantive policy. But, this weekend he had his rally at the Lincoln Memorial. There are wildly different claims about how many people were there. My guess is it was about 100,000.

Here is a photo of the event. To be sure there were a lot of people. But we attended the concert/inauguration festivities on the Sunday before President Obama was inaugurated and I can tell you there were far more people. All of the space on the west side of the Washington Monument (the part that is sparsely populated in the Beck photos) was packed. There were probably 200,000 to 250,000 people at that concert.

Then for President Obama's Inauguration the number was way, way bigger. You can see the photo from the Capitol to the Washington Monument was packed. That space is twice as long as from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, and it is wider because most of the space on the other side (the side Beck spoke on) is covered by the Reflecting Pool.

People who know DC understand what I am talking about.

Economy Thoughts

There is a lot of hand-wringing and concern about the U.S. economy - as there should be. But the reality is that things are certainly stable and looking out over the near to medium term, things look like we are moving in the right direction.

I am not arguing that we are in the middle of a boom cycle, or that we are where we want to be. I am saying that things look like they are progressing nicely.

Let's start with unemployment and jobs - because that is what most people really care about. In 2008, the s**t really hit the fan and jobs were being shed at a horribly bad pace and unemployment started to rise rapidly.

Many people forget that the job losses really ramped up in 2008. In January 2009, when President Obama took office, the country lost nearly 800,000 jobs that month. A year earlier, the job losses started (10,000 jobs lost in January 2008) and each month they got worse. The Stimulus plan was passed in February 2009 and since then we have seen significant improvement in the jobs figures. The last two months have seen jobs losses, but they have been mostly tied to the temporary jobs that were created as part of the 2010 Census. Right now, we basically have 0 job growth. But, given that we started with losses of 700,000+ each month in late 2008 and early 2009, it is clear that we are in much better shape.

The Dow is now over 10,000, from a low of 6500 - and with this, we see that corporate profits and cash are back to pre-collapse levels. In fact, every year there is a summer slowdown in the economy and with companies hoarding cash, all we need is a spark to get those dollars flowing out again. I see no reason why this Christmas/Holiday season won't be the best its been in several years.

People who wanted change and a turnaround are getting it. I'd like to see it moving faster, but am realistic enough to recognize that moving a $13 trillion economy doesn't happen overnight. But it has now moved into a much better position a year and a half into President Obama's term in office.

Bears Thoughts

I've watched the three Bears preseason games on tape replay on NFL Network. There are things to worry about, but they should get ironed out.

First, the special teams have been absolutely horrible. Poor snaps on punts/kicks, missed field goals, missed tackles, poor returns, bad punts, etc. I have confidence that all of those will get worked out as the special teams players get locked in and the season starts.

Second, the offense has been anemic. There are some concerns about the O-line, but I am still fairly confident that that unit will be OK. Chris Williams struggled against the Raiders a couple of weeks ago, but he should be a great LT for the next decade. He showed great signs last year and I expect him to be OK. Working against Peppers during the pre-season should help. Louis (RG) and Omiyale (RT) are new starters and Garza moved from RG to LG. So, the unit is all new and needs some games to get it together. I like the line.

I believe the receiving corps will be solid, but you can see that timing is not there yet. There are some passes that Cutler is just off on or the receivers are a step behind. Hopefully that will get going.

The running game should be better and I like the pickup of Chester Taylor. Forte ripped off an 89 yard run against the Raiders and he looks much faster. Knee and ankle injuries really slowed him down last year, but he looks like a different guy. I think he is set for a big year.

The big question is whether Cutler can avoid the costly mistakes. We'll see.

The D has been much better, but unfortunately, they haven't played with their whole first unit because of dings this pre-season. Chris Harris at strong safety has been a solid tackler, but he has missed a couple of angles on passes and given up big plays. Safety play has been a concern for a couple of years and I hope to see improvement there. I think Peppers will have a huge year and I expect this to be a solid defensive unit.

The problem is the Packers look great right now. I'll make my predictions right before the season.

It's Been A While

I took the summer off from blogging and feel refreshed. A new puppy and a kitchen renovation took up most of the last two months, and now school is starting up again.

The kids started school today. I'm in my second week and love my schedule. I've got two fantasy drafts this week and the NFL season is nearly here. I love it.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Excellent Jobs Number

290,000 jobs created in April. That is a great, great number.

Unemployment rose from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent. People shouldn't worry about that because all it means is that people who had given up on jobs and were no longer considered in the work force are now streaming back into the workforce.

A few more months of 300,000 jobs created and we will start to see the unemployment rate start to really plummet. Again, we see that the economic policies of this President are working.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Deadskins Pull Same Old B.S.

WJLA - the local ABC affiliate in DC - had a story they were doing about an Iraq war vet who was coming home early and wanted to surprise his Redskin cheerleader wife. You know, one of those fluff, feel-good stories.

WJLA asked the Deadskins to film the reunion at FedEx, but instead of giving them access, the Deadskins said no, and then turned around and told WRC - the local NBC affiliate who also happens to be a Deadskins sponsor about the story.

They barred WJLA from covering their story and then gave the story to WRC.

To make matters worse, apparently, they told the cheerleader that if she spoke with WJLA she would be fired. Danny Boy's culture at its finest. When the sh*t hit the fan Danny Boy apologized to WJLA - of course, it was too late, the PR damage was done.

More Good News on Jobs

The private sector reports on jobs are showing positive signs and on Friday I expect we will see another solid jobs growth number. If we get more than 175,000 jobs on Friday it will be a very good sign.

Frankly, I am expecting to see the number above 225,000 because of the sustained economic growth we have seen in Q1 with GDP growing at 3.2 percent.

I am projecting Q2 and Q3 growth to come in above 3.5 percent and then to hit 4+ percent in Q4. If that happens, we will see 300,000 jobs created per month starting in about June, and perhaps as many as 400,000 jobs late this year.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Gulf Oil Slick

I heard a bunch of Obama haters the last few days saying that Obama is failing to solve the oil slick problem in the Gulf.

I'm not exactly sure what he can do about it, but I shake my head at the intellectual dishonesty of many of the President's critics. Many of these same people want to "Drill Baby Drill" and they want the government to leave Big Oil alone because drilling is so "safe."

Now they are complaining that the government isn't doing enough.

Which is it? Do you want government oversight (which these same idiots call "socialism" at every turn), or do you want unfettered capitalism?

It certainly looks like BP did not adequately provide "fail-safe" measures and now the tourist and fishing industries are devastated.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Growing GDP

First quarter GDP grew by 3.2 percent. Not spectacular, but certainly very solid growth.

This is yet another sign that the economy is turned around. I'd like to see growth above 3.5 percent the rest of the year. That will ensure significant job creation and it will greatly reduce the fiscal budget deficit because it will increase tax revenue because there will be more taxable income.

Overall, another great sign that things are improving.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BP Oil Spill in Gulf

There is a huge oil spill from one of BP's offshore oil rigs in the Gulf. Apparently it is pretty bad and it is now threatening the Louisiana coastline.

All of those "Drill Baby Drill" folks want to believe there is no risk to the environment and the tourist economies in many seaside areas. If this spill happened off the Miami coast or Ocean City, NJ or Myrtle Beach, SC, those economies would be devastated far more than any financial gain that those areas/states would receive from private oil companies.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Consumer Confidence Rising

CC hit 57.9 - they highest level since September 2008 when the financial sector crisis really exploded.

This is just another sign that things are on track. I am really looking forward to the April jobs number. If we get over 300,000 jobs it will be huge.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tea Party Anger

Anger is a necessary condition for political change. But, by itself, it is not a necessary and sufficient condition for change. Tea Party folks - who are not really much more than angry Republicans - are angry. So what?

Anger won't change the country. There has to be a legitimate plan/option to get behind for political change to happen. People don't want to vote for "the angry candidate who likes to bitch and moan." They need to understand what the plan is.

This is why the Tea Party movement is stock in neutral.

The Tea Party Express multi-city tour that Palin put her name and fame to was nothing more than a Republican scam to make some money. It just suckered a bunch of ignorant Tea Partiers into forking over their SS and welfare checks to pay for Sarah Palin's appearances. They never actually built an agenda.

Now, the other thing that is going to prevent the Tea Party anger from spreading is that the nation's economy is rapidly improving. Job creation is now taking place, GDP is rising at a brisk pace, and even real estate is showing signs of significant improvement. President Obama has accomplished HC reform and gotten most of the world's nuclear powers to agree to secure loose nukes. The Iraq war is winding down. We will have financial regulatory reform on Wall Street and possibly even a climate bill.

Immigration reform debate will likely be a political win for Democrats as they secure the growing Hispanic vote for the next 2 decades, and the Supreme Court nominee could really stir the base.

It is already a tiny, and largely inconsequential movement, but next year, there won't be a Tea Party movement at all.

Chicago Bears Draft

I thought the Bears had a great draft, given that they didn't have a 1st or 2nd round pick this year. Their 1st round pick was given up as part of the Cutler trade. Their 2nd was given up in the trade for Gaines Adams - who tragically died this offseason.

They ended up with two players who will likely play significant minutes in Florida safety Major Wright and Northwestern DE Corey Wootton. They had a bunch of value/reach picks with their other picks and they probably wasted one on QB Dan LeFevour in the 6th round. The best I see out of the LeFevour pick is if the guy can show something and they trade him for a higher future pick down the line.

I think the Bears really, really upgraded their defense this offseason. I like the rotation at end with Peppers, Wootton, and Anderson. Their D-tackles will be fine if Tommie Harris can return to form and if they get a little production from Harrison. Their linebacking corps is one of the best and deepest in the NFL with the return of Urlacher and Pisa from injuries. Their secondary is still a question mark, but I like their starting corners and hope that Wright is all he is cracked up to be. Manning will likely move to strong safety which is a much better fit for him than at FS. He can be a playmaker and he is a good tackler. While he is a great athlete, he doesn't seem to have a knack for the ball and he is constantly out of position in coverage.

The Bears will be better on D and if they make some improvement - any improvement on offense they should challenge for a playoff spot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Obama Poll Numbers

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised that President Obama has not had a larger bounce from the improving economy and the passage of HC reform. He remains just under 50 percent in most polls.

That said, I don't think there is a structural or deep-seated fear, I think the American people just haven't personally benefited from these improvements and the Republican message machine has done a good job framing the doom and gloom as an Obama-created problem.

But as the economy continues to improve - and there is nothing to indicate GDP and job growth won't be significant throughout the rest of the year - and the HC benefits become more clear (and no grandmas are killed by phantom death panels), his poll numbers will continue to rise.

I've been dead right about the improving economy for the last year and I'm sure the poll numbers will increase as more and more Americans start to feel the improvements.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Facts about Federal Taxes

These idiots who are blaming President Obama for federal taxes don't have a clue. Several hundred billion dollars in tax cuts for the middle class came through the Stimulus, and because of it, middle class taxes have fallen to their lowest level in 50 years.

Tea Party folks seem to be mostly foolish angry people who are completely ignorant of basic facts.

"Big" Tea Party in DC Today

Couple of thousand folks - big deal!

The media will hype this up today, but there will be more people at the next Nats game - and the Nats are a horrible draw. The crowd will be comparable to a DC United soccer game.

It is pathetic how much time the media wastes on these largely ignorant folks who don't even realize that taxes have gone down since President Obama took office.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Party Nonsense

So 3000 people showed up today in Boston for another Tea Party event - 3000! Considering that 20,000 people show up for Boston Bruin games and Celtic games, and 30,000 show up to watch the Red Sox, 3000 is a paltry number.

I have no problem with people peaceably organizing and voicing discontent, but the whole Tea Party thing has been largely a media driven movement. It's good TV to have a bunch of weirdly dressed folks milling around and yelling crazy stuff. The fact that you have some blatatently racist folks and obviously ignorant folks sprinkled throughout the crowd makes it even funnier.

To put the Tea Party in a bit more perspective, when Bush was in office and there were protests against the Iraq War or women's reproductive rights we'd see several HUNDRED thousand people. Immigration reform advocates in DC, Atlanta, LA, Chicago, and New York were able to gather up several hundred thousand folks with little difficulty. But even the biggest Tea Party events garner only 20,000 people.

Tomorrow the Tea Party is going to have their "big" rally in DC. How many people are going to show up? 20,000? 30,000? It is going to amount to a whole lot of nothing. I hope it is 50,000 so that DC's street vendors have a good day. There will be some heated rhetoric and no real plan and then most of this small contingent of Americans will go back home and continue to just be angry.

Sarah Palin has been asking, "How's that hope-y, change-y thing working out for ya?" To answer her question - pretty good. My stocks, retirement accounts, and kids' 529 education accounts are way up over the last year. My tax percentage went down. The overall economy is on much better footing. GDP is expanding at a rapid pace and several hundred thousand jobs are being created per month. I like the health care reform because it should work to slow the exploding cost of my family's health care. President Obama got 46 nations with nuclear material to agree to prevent the spread of loose nuke material.

Frankly, I'm not really even sure what Palin doesn't like - she made $12 million over the last 9 months with her speaking engagements. She wouldn't get anywhere close to that if the economy wasn't improving.