8-8

Hey friends! It’s been a while. That’s what happens when real work interferes with a pipe dream you’re hoping turns into an afternoon gig on local sports talk. We can always dream …

This morning I had foot surgery, so I’m laid up on the couch watching sports coverage and reading everything the internet has to offer.  A little hopped up on pain killers, this afternoon was a perfect opportunity for a classic Szejka overreaction on the state of the Bears, their miserable coaching staff and worthless p.o.s. offensive line.

First, let’s talk coaches. Everyone knows I despise Lovie Smith. No secrets here, I feel he has no place as the head coach of the Bears. The numbers speak for themselves: 9 years, 3 playoff appearances, 3 playoff wins. And that has somehow earned him extension after extension? Cha moan. A couple friends of mine tell me they are able to overlook that track record of failure because Lovie “gets his guys ready to play.” If anyone tries to tell me that one single players on that team was ready to play on Monday Night they can go fist themself. What an embarrassment. From the first play of the game when Chris Conte was flagged for 15 yards because he tackled someone who was already down and out of bounds, they were out-physical’d, out-schemed, out-hustled and whipped over and over and over again on both sides of the ball.

Gabe Carimi, why did you even bother flying to San Francisco?

Nice work Lovie. Fantastic game planning.

The “bend don’t break” defense got snapped in half like a popsicle stick. The “cover 2” was once again a “please just cover anyone” as Collin “I played for Nevada and still can’t believe I’m in the NFL” Kaepernick hit every single soft spot in our coverage on his way a 133 passer rating for the night. Nerves in his first pro start? Nah.
Mike Tice. How is this guy an offensive coordinator? Monday night was a disturbing flashback to the days of John Shoop. Run for no gain, Run for no gain, 3rd and 9 – 6 yard out to the sideline. HOW WAS ANYTHING IN THAT PLAN GOING TO PICK UP A FIRST DOWN? Throw the ball into space, hit someone in a seam, get a guy on the move, going forward.
Second, by far the best thing I’ve heard today is that Chilo Rachal quit because he had a bad game on Monday and is taking his ball and going home. A couple highlights from that report:

– according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “the 49ers knew how to ‘get in his head,’ prompting Rachal’s poor performance

– The report cites a source that describes Rachal as “emotional” and says he “needs constant positive reinforcement.”

Shake’s Take on what this means:

– The Bears will elevate undrafted free agent rookie James Brown to the team. Brown lacks the height, strength, size and speed to play an effective offensive line position, but he impressed in camp. (He impressed Mike Tice, who can’t run an offense, so this bodes well)

– Chris Spencer could reclaim his starting role or the Bears might also look at Edwin Williams who has been inactive all season.
So because we had a mental midget on the team who couldn’t handle having an off night, some of the worst offensive linemen in the country are going to get a shot at playing on Sundays because the front office and coaching staff put together SUCH a bad team that this is our only option.

Honestly, if I were Jay Cutler I would try to tank my concussion tests with the hopes I DIDN’T get cleared to play. Because the only thing that can happen out there is Jared Allen having a post-Thanksgiving snack of scrambled Cutty brains.
Curry – maybe it hasn’t played out just how I predicted, but there’s a real good chance the Vikings come off their bye week, make the short trip south to Soldier field and beat the fucking piss out of the Monsters of Mediocrity.

v Vikes – L, v Seahawks – L, @ Vikes – L, v Packers – L, @ Cardinals – W, @ Lions – L

8 – 8.

Bonus silver lining prize: Bears miss the playoffs again, city revolts, Emery has no choice but to fire Lovie Smith and Szejka throws a “See you later you worthless hump” party. Since Lovie doesn’t drink, there won’t be alcohol at the party and the party will suck, just like him.
shake

 

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Get Up, Garza

Unforeseen circumstances as a result of the devastation of Super Storm Sandy afforded me plenty of time this week to go back and re-watch Sunday’s Bears game.  Obviously the offensive effort was poor, but even I get tired of ripping on players (lies).

So I decided to focus my attention on Lance Louis, who is having what I believe to be a pro-bowl type year.  Louis has finally found a home at right guard this year after being shuffled around the past couple seasons due to injury and ineffectiveness.  His size & athleticism are perfect for the type of pull & trap running game that OC Mike Tice prefers.  It doesn’t hurt that that he’s quite thuggish either (see: http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/huddleup/2009/08/chicago-bears-were-aware-of-rookie-lance-louis-fight.html)

With the Bears running the ball effectively in the first quarter, I figured Louis had to be a big reason why.  And he was.  On the first three designed running plays from scrimmage Matt Forte gained 31 yards while LL60 put his guy on the GROUND each time.  These weren’t D-tackles taking dives to create piles either.  These were legit, I’m stronger than you and I’m going to maul you into the ground, blocks.

But a funny thing happened while I was watching Louis make delicious pancakes, I noticed another player consistently on the ground.  Unfortunately this one was wearing a blue jersey, and no it wasn’t Kellen Davis attempting to catch passes.  It was veteran center Roberto Garza.

I knew Garza was bad.  I mean, how do you get called for multiple false starts as a center?  They practically let you do the stanky leg and juggle the football before they even consider calling a false start on a center in today’s NFL.  But with the hyper-focus, myself included, on how bad the tackles have been, the interior lineman’s performance is sometimes an after-thought.

So let’s go to the tape and see just how bad our latin-friend was:

Situation:

Carolina – 13

Bears – 7

1st & 10 on the Chicago 20 following a Panthers FG

The Bears run this play multiple times each week.  It’s a simple double TE set and Jay has the ability (or at least he should in a Martz-less world) to call an off tackle run with a guard pull to the play side.  In this case, they run Forte to the short side of the field towards Spaeth with Louis as the pulling guard.  The grab below shows who is responsible for who based on how Carolina is aligned.

After the snap, and Forte is handed the ball you can see how these responsibilities develop.  LL60 gets outside on the play side backer, Spaeth turns the end, and Garza attempts to cut the backside backer.  There appears to be a big hole forming.

Fast forward a few frames, and you can see Garza whiffs on his cut block.  If you cut, you can’t whiff.  Kuechly (Garza’s guy) ends up making the tackle after a 9 yard gain.  Hard to complain about a 9 yard run on first down, and even the best centers will have trouble blocking an athletic linebacker like Kuechly in space, but this should have been a touchdown.  He doesn’t need to put Kuechly on the ground, but he does need to engage him for at least a split second to allow Forte to get by him.

To show I’m not just cherry picking one missed Garza block over the course of a long football game, here are 3 more plays where his guy ends up making the tackle after Garza misses his block or simply falls down.

These were just a few of Roberto’s most glaring miscues on Sunday.  Trust me, there were others.

It’s easy to spew hate at the obvious positions after an offensive performance like last week’s.  But after you’re done with Webb & Carimi, make sure you have a little left in the tank for #63.

SG

Happy Halloween

Where was this kind of stuff when I was a kid? My pumpkins would have been the envy of the block.

 

 

SMH @Shake & Some Bears Thoughts

I took some time off because the bears had a bye week, and then I took off another 2 weeks because I had my own form of writer’s block. It’s called laziness, but I really didn’t know what I wanted to write about until Shake wrote about how the bears could be playing against an 8-2 vikings team come week 12.  When I read anything, I can normally see the writer’s side of things, even if I do not agree with it, but I really had no idea where shake was coming from with this one. I was laughing when I read it because I was hoping that he was writing it as a joke, but this was not the case, so now I’m shaking my head at shake.

If we look at their schedule, we will see that they snuck by a bad jacksonville team in week 1, lost to the upstart colts in week 2, got a solid home win against the 49ers week 3 (49ers aren’t as good as last year and their QB sucks still), beat a bad lions team, handled a bad titans team, lost to a “are we good? are we bad?” redskins team, beat an awful cardinals team, and to put a cherry on top, they got taken out behind the woodshed and beat with a leather belt by a miserable bucs team.

So shake, you thought that beating a bunch of bad teams to get to 4-1 would mean that they would continue this throughout the season? Most of the teams in the NFL are phonies to begin with, and the vikequeens are definitely doing it with smoke and mirrors. I normally don’t think the experts know shit when it comes to picking games, and we could guess just as well as they do, but you don’t get that chance anymore. BAD!

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, onto the bears.  With the bye week, I have only missed my thoughts on 1 game thus far, but do you really need to know what I think about the Jacksonville Jaguars and the beatdown that the bears put on them 3 weeks ago? They are bad, the bears defense is good, and the speech at halftime went something like this from Lovie, “Really? We are tied 3-3 at the half with this team? Chamoan!” then the bears run back out onto the field for the 2nd half and the rest is history, 41-3.

So we move on to the important games like this past monday when the bears played the lions, and announced their presence with authority. Ok, not really, but the lions are just bad. I was a believer last year and thought Captain Fatface had them moving in the right direction with that high powered offense.  That is not the case this year.  I realize the bears defense is awesome, and they are allowing 13 PPG and only 8 PPG in their last 4 games.  At the start of the season, I was worried about the defense being too old and thought the offense would have to put up stats like the “greatest show on turf” did to stay competitive, but the bears continue to be the solid defensive team that they always are.  Play solid defense, get a special teams score here and there, and don’t turn the ball over.  Since Lovie took over as head coach, this has been the recipe for success (even though they have turned the ball over a ton as Shake has pointed out in a previous post).

It makes me a little sad that the bears offense has not produced the way I thought it would to this point, and when they play a real team like the texans, they are going to need more out of the offense than 13 total points.  I don’t think they can hold everyone scoreless the rest of the way, so they need to figure out how to outscore them.  Your 2012 Chicago bears look like the 2011 SF 49ers with a much better qb, and the 49ers went to the NFC Championship.  They would’ve been in the Super Bowl had it not been for a couple of bad fumbles by Kenny Williams’ kid, so I’m hoping that’s where the bears are headed minus the ill-timed fumbles.

Finally, I guess I should make a prediction for this coming Sunday against the frowny faced Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.  Early in the season I was still on the Cam Newton bandwagon, but after the “woe is me” performance at his press conference after last week’s game, I want to kick him in the nuts.  Bears win this one easy. I do not care how good the panther’s defense is. Bears win: 38-10. Shake still doesn’t know anything about sports as you can see from his vikings post. Go Bears! Bear down!

Phatty

Grass Face, more like Ass Face

On a muggy (That’s right, muggy. In Chicago. In mid-October) night with a warm southern breeze, the only fireworks came during the starting lineups as both teams’ offenses and special teams took the night off. The Bears defense terrorized Stafford and his merry band of dipshits, forcing 4 turnovers, 3 in the red zone. Charles “Peanut” Tillman shut down Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, so should we re-nickname him Optimus Prime? Or does Calvin simply have a peanut allergy like 2/3 of sniffling kids in elementary schools these days?

I’m still not on board with this whole “Bend, Don’t Break” defense that lets offenses march down into the red zone before clamping down, but it’s certainly better than West Virginia’s “Break, Don’t Bother” scheme. From a standpoint of pure excitement, forcing fumbles on the goal line sure gets the crowd going and probably deflates the opposition significantly more than a turnover at midfield. But at what point do they run into a team who isn’t going to cough up the pill and can actually convert trips to the red zone into points? We’ll be tested in 3 weeks when we see the Texans, owners of the largest point differential in the league. The Bears are second in that stat column, thank you very much Jacksonville.

In a game that was billed as a step above a back alley street fight, there were little to no extracurricular shenanigans or horseplay. Ndumbass Suh got one big hit on my guy Cutty. Watching the replay, it bordered on illegal without totally crossing the line. At the end of the day, the guy weighs over 300 lbs and when he gets moving there is a lot of force coming behind that sack train. So you can’t expect him to gently lay QBs down on the turf when he gets to them. You know who also had a pretty disruptive game on the Lions side? “Red Eye” Vanden Bosch. A guy Sparrow lovingly knows as “The Urlacher of the Lions.” Old, white and slow with a few big plays left in the tank when he gets the opportunity.

A low scoring affair on Monday night, coming off the bye, at home against a division rival, wasn’t really what anyone was looking for. I had it in mind for the Bears offense to hang about 35 on Detroit and Cutler to potentially concuss Jim Schwartz with an errant rocket pass toward the sideline. But a win’s a win, the Bears are on top of the division at 5-1 and as they say, “control their own destiny.” Next week Carolina comes to town, then we travel to the lowly Titans before taking on 2 of the NFL’s best in Houston and San Francisco in back to back weeks. Kind of makes the Carolina and Tennessee games mid-season “Must Wins” of sorts to pad that win column against weaker opponents. I’m sure Sparrowguy will come in here and start telling me how I have no idea what a “must win” game is and I’m using it incorrectly. But hey, when in Rome…

shake

So why shouldn’t it rain all day?

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Shake goes to 1 Bears game a year

Why the Lions Still Suck

Barry Sanders is the best running back of my lifetime that I have vivid memories of.  My favorite part of Thanksgiving as a kid (aside from Grandma’s cherry pie) was settling in by the TV after lunch to watch #20 carve up a defense.  A particularly fond Thanksgiving memory is the 167 & 3 TD’s he hung on the 2-11 Bears back in 1997.

Sure Barry was a great running back and a seemingly likeable guy.  But for me as a Bears fan, the reason it was so easy to love Sanders was that it didn’t matter.  The Lions sucked no matter what Barry did.  Yes they made it to the playoffs 5 times during his tenure, but they only advanced to the 2nd round once.  Things were so bad in Detroit that Sanders abruptly retired prior to the 1999 season at the age of 31.

Then we had Matt Millen, unquestionably the worst executive in the history of the National Football League.  The Lions won 31 games in his 8 years on the job.  I’ll let you figure that out on an avg wins/year basis, but I will tell you…it’s bad.  Charles Rogers, Joey Harrington, & Mike Williams…disaster after disaster after disaster.  Remember when he called Maro’s guy Johnny Morton the F word.  LULZ.  It all culminated in what can only be called the worst team in the history of the NFL, the 2008 (0-16) Lions.

So naturally the Head Coach & QB got canned.  Enter Jim Schwartz, Matt Stafford and a new era of Lions Football!  And in 2011 they were the darling of the NFL.  Young QB throwing bombs to young WR playing for young HC for a young team just a few years removed from a winless season.  It all led to a 10-6 season & playoff berth.  Sure they lost in the wild card round, but progress was made.  With young “talent” in all the key positions, most experts predicted much success for the Lions over the next 5 years.

But I don’t.  In fact, I think they suck.   Here’s why.

The talent isn’t what you think it is.

Really watch Ndamukong Suh on Monday, he’s not dominant.  He’s not even Henry Melton at this point.  His body is soft, and he takes plays off.  The Eagles hardly doubled him last Sunday.

Matthew Stafford?  Laser, rocket arm…yes.  10 cent head…also yes.  He’s a one read guy with a gun.  Much like Cutler, his footwear & mechanics are lazy at best.  He constantly throws sidearm and tosses into double teams more than Jenna Jameson.

The offensive line is bad, and worse it’s old.  And I’m not sure that anyone in their back 7 on defense could start for Alabama except Louie Delmas.  Oh, but someone told me recently that Kyle Vanden Bosch is the “Urlacher” of the Lions defense.  I agree; they are both old & white.  Wait, Urlacher doesn’t wear tinted contact lenses and commit copious amounts of personal foul penalties?  Ok never mind then.

They do have some legit talent, I’ll admit.  They have the #1 WR in the game, a promising young RB with a drug problem, and a young DT with a drinking problem.  Oh, and Cliff Avril can play a bit too.  But the rest of that roster is complete crap.  And please, don’t give me Titus Young.

But the preeminent reason that they still suck is Head Coach Jim Schwartz.  Did you know he went to Georgetown!?!?!?  If you didn’t, just ask.  I mean, could this guy be more of a boob if he tried?  Watch how this clown acts on the sideline Monday night, complete turd.  Harbaugh should have put him in his place when he had the chance.

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The Lions lead the NFC in penalties again this year, and it’s not close.  And when they aren’t busy being penalized on the field, they are committing crimes off it.  Schwartz has had 3 years to clean this garbage up but he hasn’t made an ounce of progress.  If a team is a direct reflection of its’ head coach, then Jim Schwartz must be more Randy Travis than Vince Lombardi.

All of those penalties, sideline dbaggery, and lack of discipline end up costing them games.  Ok, so maybe being douchey on the sidelines doesn’t cost your team points, but in my football world, it should.

So until further notice, the 2012 Detroit Lions are still every bit as sucky as the Sanders & Millen vintages.

SG

Taking the Vikings Seriously & Counting Playoff Chickens

I’m talking to you, Sparrowguy. Minnesota is 4-1, and in the NFL, 4-1 is 4-1. Their schedule has on par with the Bears’ to this point, and they certainly have a “quality win” right now over a good 49ers team, whereas the Bears really only have a MNF blowout over a typically underachieving Cowboys bunch.

But that’s not really the point here, I’m talking about the team in general. The 2012 Vikings remind me a whole lot of the 2005 NFC North Champs. Kyle “Neck Beard” Orton’s Chicago Bears. Currently, the Vikes are one of the best run-stop defenses in the NFL, and their secondary is in the top half of the league. They give up only 304 yards per game and are 6th in points allowed at 15.8. Percy Harvin is a dangerous receiver, averaging over 10 yards per catch, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave continues to find effective ways to get the ball in his hands. Their rushing attack is top 10 in yards per game, and special teams play has also excelled with Harvin averaging nearly 40 yards on kickoff returns.

Bottom line, they are a good football team.

Christian Ponder is completing 70% of his passes and until last Sunday, had not thrown an interception. As long as he simply manages the game and doesn’t give the ball away, they’ll continue to have a chance to win every weekend. Just like Kyle Orton & The Bears when they won the North in ‘05. Hand offs, swing passes & screens, an occasional shot deep, and a staunch defense on the other side of the ball make them a tough team to beat.

The Bears will see the Vikings twice in a 3 weeks stretch starting in week 12, with a good chance both teams show up to the first meeting sitting on top of the division.

Between now and then, the Bears schedule shakes out like this: Bye Week, Lions, Panthers, Titans, Texans, 49ers.

Minnesota faces the likely RG3-less Redskins this weekend, Cardinals, Bucs, Seahawks, Lions, then hit their Bye Week.

Looking at those match ups, there’s a good chance the Bears lose 1 game. One loss could come at home on Sunday Night Football against the best team in the NFL or the following week on the road at Candlestick Park. Phatty where are your ‘the Bears are sooooo good on MNF’ stats?

So let’s say the Bears are 8-2, and so are the Vikings if they drop one to an “are they for real?” NFC West Team in Arizona/Seattle, or the Lions play to their potential and Stafford’s face looks less fat for a day while he throws 3 TDs and only 1 INT.

Week 12 will then feature the Vikings coming into Soldier Field tied with the Bears for the division lead and fresh off a bye. The Bears come back on short rest from a dreaded two-time-zone trip, following consecutive weeks against elite football teams. They’ll be exhausted physically and mentally, making this Vikings game a trap in every sense of the word. Assume the worst happens and the Bears come out flat, lose and fall a game behind Minnesota in the division. Look for a Phatty column about how the sky IS falling.

Then the Bears have the Seahawks at home before heading up to the Twin Cities for a rematch with the Vikings, who now could be in sole possession of the North, playing in front of their home crowd.

So Sparrow, your “nice, 2 wins in 3 weeks against the Vikings” comment is far from a sure thing. In fact, the way that sets up it could just as easily be 2 losses in 3 weeks against the Vikings followed by a home game against the rival Packers and 2 road contests at Arizona and Detroit to finish the season. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, simply realistic looking forward beyond the current 4-1 standing.

The Bears’ first 8 opponents are a combined 13-24. The back 8 are against teams who are a combined 27-12, only 2 of which have losing records, 1 of those is the Packers and the current assumption has to be that they’ll right the ship before then.

Don’t count your playoff chickens before they hatch.

shake

A Game of Inches

Much has been made about the play of Jay Cutler early this season.  Obviously, his performance on a certain Thursday at Lambeau was “throw the game tape out” horrid, but the fact that he failed to bounce back the following week against the mighty Rams was cause for even more concern.

Now sitting at 4-1 following back to back blowout victories, the critics are backing off (sans Terry Bradshaw).  His numbers look great: 4 TD’s, 1 INT, and 589 total yards against the Cowboys & Jaguars.   Certainly the play of the Bears Defense should get most of the credit for these wins.  But offensively, from the line play to the QB play, things have noticeably improved.

But Cutler is not there yet.

A lot of sins go unnoticed in a 41-3 victory.  But even the Jax tape shows if Cutler wants to be great, and he must be for the Bears to win anything, he needs to improve.  The difference between winning and losing in this league, particularly against good teams, is miniscule.

Let’s take a look at the tape.

The Scenario:

3-3 game with 10:45 to go in the 3rd quarter

Ball on the Bears 46 yd line, 3rd down & 10.

The Bears are obviously behind the chains here, but in a game that has zero going offensively, a conversion here would put them in Jax territory and keep a long drive alive.

The Bears motion Forte out of the backfield to Marshall’s side to clear the LB out of the middle of the field, creating a 5 WR set against the Jax defense playing man with a single high safety.  Marshall is singled up in the slot, so even Maro knows where this ball is going.

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So as you can see, BM15 beats his guy and has plenty of room to catch the ball and pick up the first down and Cutler has plenty of room to deliver the football accurately.  He chooses not to step up in the pocket to avoid the oncoming rusher, and delivers the football with his shoulders & feet parallel to his intended target.  This is what we would call bad footwork.  But this is nothing new for Cutler, let’s see the result.

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The ball is delivered behind Marshall, which leads to him being tackled immediately for a 9 yard gain, 1 yard short of the first down.  Not only do they fail to convert, a potential big play is missed.  If the throw leads Marshall to the open area the only thing stopping him from a Touchdown would be the single high Safety, 20 yards down the field.  Marshall wins that match-up.

The Bears end up converting the 4th & 1 anyway to continue a long drive that ends in a Robbie Gould FG. But the point here is, these small inaccuracies (inches) leave points on the field which could end up costing them a game down the road.

Now let’s see how a future Hall of Famer handles a similar situation.

The Scenario:

7-0 game, Saints trailing with 4:42 left in the First Quarter following a San Diego Touchdown

3rd & 10 on the Saints 42 yd line

Not exactly apples to apples here, but still an important play in a game where Brees needs to convert to keep a drive alive and answer a Charger TD.

Obviously Brees has a cleaner pocket to work with here, but notice the difference in footwork.

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He stands tall in the pocket, releases the football and gets off his back foot.  And see the different result:

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The ball is placed perfectly.  Camarillo is led away from his trail defender, but not far enough to lead him into the zone of the Charger Nickel, & the ball is low so that it gives the Safety over the top no chance to break on the ball.  Camarillo does his job, by getting passed the sticks.  First down Saints.

Brees has a ring, Cutler is still chasing his.  If that’s going to change in 2012 Jay must pay attention to the little things.  The inches add up quickly. (twss)

sidenote:  if you find a girl that cleans up after dinner while you study the all-22 (geekmode)….marry her

 

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