Wednesday, October 26, 2011

John Beck's career

This one is for you JKSD. Maybe he will re-capture some of the old BYU magic and the Deadskins will win this week in Toronto (I doubt it).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bears Win Again

Great win against a winning team. That makes it 3 of 4 going into the bye. The Bears D looks great and rookie Chris Conte has really solidified the secondary. Hopefully he can continue.

The D got 4 picks, a sack, and kept the Bucs under 300 yards (30 yards rushing). Just a fantastic defensive effort.

The O looked great for about 3 quarters. The O-line ripped huge holes for Forte who finished with 145 yards rushing. The pass blocking was OK. They gave up 2 sacks, but Cutler seemed to have time to make plays. The one thing that was a bit irritating is the play calling. Up 21-5 and with huge running lanes, Martz inexplicably started passing the ball more than the run. It was strange and a poor throw by Cutler gave the Bucs life in the fourth quarter. But the Bears D shut the door.

If the season ended today the Bears would be a Wild Card team. They have the head-to-head tie breaker against both the Falcons and the Bucs - so that is huge.

The Lions have faltered and Stafford got hurt late. Anything can happen. The bye week comes at a good time. I'd like to see Earl Bennett and Gabe Carimi get back - it looks like that will happen. Then we get the Eagles at Philly, and then two home games against the Lions and the Chargers. That next stretch of three will again say a lot about this team.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Changing Stats

The Bears got off to a rocky start at 2-3, and their D was particularly troublesome. However, their O-line has talent - unlike last year - and if Martz and Tice can work together to call appropriate plays/protection schemes the Bears can be very effective.

Two weeks ago the Bears were at the bottom in terms of D and O rankings. After the dominating performance that they put up against the Vikings things have significantly changed. The Bears now have the #12 scoring defense and the #10 scoring offense.

If they win in London against a solid, but young Tampa Bay team it will go a long, long way in the playoff hunt. They would have tiebreakers against the Falcons and Bucs.

They have a bye and then travel to Philly in what is likely to be another game with significant playoff implications. Following that, they get a rematch with the Lions in Soldier Field. I like the way the team is coming together - especially the young O-line - and I really like the mix of young and old players that they seem to have.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith

Bears fans are quick to complain about JA and LS. They say they can't pick players or coach. But the fact is that they have been pretty successful since they started running things.

I think Lovie can coach - and he is certainly a player's coach - so guys love him. When the Bears have been weaker it has usually been a result of key injuries and depleted talent - not guys quitting or a lot of coaching errors.

The bigger question that remains is how good JA has been as the GM. He certainly has missed on a lot of high draft choices since he has been in Chicago and he has also largely failed to draft offensive linemen and quality linebackers (although he drafted a few) during his time. However, there are key guys who JA has drafted that have contributed (Matt Forte, Devin Hester, Chris Williams, Johnny Knox, and Earl Bennett come to mind) and getting Robbie Gould as an undrafted free agent was huge.

The trade for Cutler and signing Peppers have been big pickups for the franchise.

It is too early to tell, but J'Marcus Webb appears to be the real deal and was a major find in the seventh round. He completely held his own against Jared Allen and Kyle Vanden Bosh the last two weeks. His size, strength and speed along with Chris Williams could solidify the left side of the O-line for the next decade. If Chris Conte, Major Wright, Gabe Carimi, Lance Louis, Henry Melton, and Stephen Paea all emerge as players it will be hard to argue that JA has been a bad evaluator of talent. All of these guys have been picked in the last three years and all look like promising young pros. We'll see if they develop.

I think the 2-3 start scared a lot of people into believing the Bears were weaker this year. I think they will be much stronger as the year progresses. We'll see.

Bears Win

It was a dominating performance last night and it looked like the Bears corrected a lot of the mistakes that have been plaguing them this year.

The offensive line was great. Minnesota may be a weak team but their front 7 - especially Jared Allen - have shown that they can get to the QB. Chris Williams is turning into a very good guard and I like the development of J'Marcus Webb at LT. He did a great job on Allen. Garza is always solid but the removal of Frank Omiyale really helped. The Bears also got smart and did some additional things with their TEs and running backs to give Cutler time. With that time he made great throws.

On top of that, the O-line opened up plenty of big holes for Forte. I still think it is a good group of guys that will develop as the season wears on.

Devin Hester is awesome.

The Bears D was much improved. They got pressure from their front 4 most of the night, but they mixed in a few more blitzes which I liked to see. It was nice to see second round pick Stephen Paea make some plays at DT, including the safety on McNabb. Peppers and Briggs had good games, but the guy I was probably most impressed with was rookie third round pick Chris Conte. He always seemed to be in the right position and he made some really good tackles - I don't remember him missing an assignment or missing a tackle all night. If he can solidify the back end, it would be great. I'm not going to annoint him a star but he was clearly a difference maker last night.

The Bears head to London for a game against the Bucs. They win that game and they are in great shape going into the bye. Then they get the Lions at home in what I expect will be a much better performance by the Bears.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bears Lose Again

Very disappointing effort. Cutler was under duress all game, but made plays. Forte had a good game and I thought the offensive game plan was good. The problem was clearly the offensive line. Nine false starts are just too many.

The safety play just killed the Bears. Chris Harris came back from his hamstring injury, but he looked like he needed more time off. Defensively, the Bears were solid except at the safety position. The two big plays - the 75 yard TD to CJ and the 88 yard run by Best should not have happened and would not have happened if the safeties could play.

All that said, the Lions defensive linemen are tremendous and Stafford to CJ seems like it can happen at any time.

There isn't much to say for the Bears except they need to just win in coming weeks. They get Minnesota in Chicago this week and then they go to London to play Tampa. If they win those two games - and they are big ifs - they get to the bye at 4-3 and they get to play the Lions at home in Chicago the following week. There is a lot of football to play, but it is going to be an uphill battle.

Bears - Lions

The Trib has a piece today that has it right - the Lions want to win, the Bears need to win.

Falling 3 games back of the Pack and Lions with losses to both teams would pretty much knock the Bears out of the North race. Given the way the NFC is, they would be fighting for a Wild Card spot.

It is a very interesting game for both teams. We'll see how good the teams really are.

To me, the Bears D will show up. They have not played particularly well this year, but they have gotten key turnovers. The special teams will be good. the question is whether Cutler and the O can become more efficient. I'd like to see a nice balance in the play calling and some good short passing with quick hitters to keep the Lions front 7 under control. Then, a couple of shots down the field to try to get the big play.

In the end, I expect it to be a solid Bears win. 27-20 Bears.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Danny Boy's New Yacht

I love this story - especially the things the yacht comes with (obviously they are jokes).

It will probably run into an iceberg and sink given how well Danny Boy manages the Deadskins.

Early Thoughts on Bears-Lions

Huge game for both teams. The Bears D comes off a week in which they gave up a lot of yards, but still made plays when it counted - in the Red Zone. They forced a pick-6 early and in the second half when everything was on the line they kept Carolina from scoring. Carolina scored a very late trash TD that did not amount to much. The problem defensively is that the front 4 have been inconsistent in generating pass rush and stuffing run plays. The linebackers have played reasonably well and the corners have played well, but the safeties have been horrible. This week Chris Harris will return to the lineup which will make a huge difference. The question is whether Meriweather or Wright gets the start opposite of him. Right now, I would go with Meriweather. The guy has been burned twice in three weeks, but at least he delivers big hits. Wright has been slow, had terrible pursuit angles, and missed way too many tackles. I expect to see a much better defensive effort this week.

Offensively, the team just seems out of sync. Forte has been incredible, but everyone else is out of step. The O-line will get better each week, especially when Gabe Carimi returns next week, and I think the matchup between Chris Williams and Suh will be a good one to watch. They gave up one sack last week and three the week before so the pass protection is improving. I am not worried about the O-line. Cutler needs to play better and the receivers need to make plays. They need to get a few plays to Hester on crossing patterns and quick screens and perhaps one or two shots down the sideline. I'd like to see Earl Bennett back because he is the only one who knows how to break off routes on blitzes. Knox has returned to the starting lineup and should be productive.

Special team are just good.

I don't think it is as much about what the Lions will do or can do, as much as it is the Bears needing to dictate tempo and the game. To me the Bears have far more playmakers on D and enough talent on O to win this game. They just have to put it together.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Bears Win

A win is a win, but there are some things that the Bears really need to clean up. First, it was clear that the Bears O-line was able to dominate the Panthers front 7. I watched most of the game and was impressed by the overall physicality of the O-line. The Bears gave up one sack - I cannot remember it and it may have happened in the first quarter when I was not watching. But their run blocking was great. I will comment on one thing that I thought worked really well. Chris Williams is a big, athletic LG, but he does not trap block (i.e., pull and block inside the right tackle). However, he does get out in front of sweeping plays to the left and even to the right fairly well. There were a number of clear out blocks that he was able to make that sprung Forte on bigger runs (he ended with 205 yards rushing).

I thought Cutler played OK. He had a bad interception that could have really hurt the team in the second half, but it didn't. On the interception he had time but he sailed a ball high because he didn't set his feet. He had a few good throws but not much to write home about. The receivers seemed OK, I do remember one drop by Dane Sanzenbacher that would have resulted in a first down. The Bears finished 3 for 10 on third down. That has to be higher. It will be nice to get Earl Bennett back.

The special teams were great. A blocked field goal, a couple of made field goals, a 76 yard kickoff return to set up the Bears first TD, and a 69 yard punt return to the house were all critical plays.

Where there was an issue was on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears decided to play Cam Newton with their standard Tampa 2 shell D. The idea was to try to get pressure on Cam with the front 4 and drop everyone else into coverage and then wait for Cam to blow it. Cam has been really good at hitting hot reads and burning blitzes, but he has not been particularly good at throwing into heavy zone coverages. The front 4 did not get any real sustained pressure and Cam was on target throughout the day. I thought he had a great day. That is going to happen from time to time, but what cannot happen is that there were a number of long plays in which the safeties did not cover deep enough or get over and help fast enough. I thought Major Wright, in particular, was bad. He blew one coverage and seemed to miss a number of tackles. He looked slow and weak at the safety position.

The Bears head to Detroit and I think it will be a very good test of where both teams are. I'll be interested in the injury report - it would be good to get Chris Harris and Earl Bennett back and I know there were a couple of injuries on the O-line (Spencer and Omiyale). I expect the Bears D to play better and for it to be a tough game.