The Bears Get Flexed and Other Bullets


Good morning! I’m writing this in fear of my upcoming morning commute, which is projected to occur in the midst of a snowstorm. In my experience, there are two kinds of snow drivers (besides me): those who drive way, way too fast for the conditions, thereby endangering countless lives, and those who drive way, way too slowly, apparently thinking that they’ll lose all control at any speed above 11 MPH. As if Ford and Goodyear hadn’t considered the possibility of a slightly slick surface under a half-inch of snow when they designed their products. Frankly, I prefer the former. I hate long commutes.

  • The Bears are 4-0 in prime-time games this season, and they’ll have a chance to move to 5-0 in two weeks when they travel to Philadelphia. The NFL announced yesterday that the Bears-Eagles game will be flexed to Sunday Night Football, replacing the previously scheduled Ravens-Patriots contest. Considering the potential playoff implications, as well as the (probably more important) market sizes of the teams involved (Chicago and Philadelphia are the third and fourth largest TV markets, respectively), the move makes a certain amount of sense, despite the NFL’s longstanding tradition of putting Tom Brady on national television as often as possible.
  • Ravens-Pats is still an attractive game, though, and it will now air in the late afternoon window on CBS, which has the national double-header that day. Part of me wonders if a possible appeasement of CBS might be a factor, as the NFL had leaned on CBS to give up the first meeting between Kansas City and Denver in Week 9, despite CBS having originally protected it from being flexed to NBC. This move would give CBS a much better national window game, as the previously scheduled Pittsburgh-Green Bay contest doesn’t seem nearly as appealing as it probably did when the schedule was made. There’s a complex machination involved with flex scheduling; each network gets to protect a game (in theory), and there was a great article explaining it all, and giving great behind the scenes detail, that I couldn’t find despite copious searching. If you know what I’m referencing, feel free to share. The rules will only get more complex next year, when a new flexing system might mean some AFC games on FOX, and some NFC games on CBS.
  • Pro Football Talk speculates that the Bears or Eagles might be flexed again in Week 17, since they could both very well be playing for a playoff spot; I’d think the Eagles have a much better shot at that one, since they’re slated to face the Cowboys, and that game could be a direct play-in game. The Bears and Packers might be as well, of course, in a scenario I touched on yesterday, but if the Bears are competing with Detroit, I think it’s much less likely that they get flexed, and much more likely that both the Bears and Lions kick at the same time. That prevents any appearances of cheating; not that I would expect the Packers to lay down, but what if (for example) Aaron Rodgers is a game-time decision and the Lions lose an early game? That means a Bears win on Sunday Night Football gets them into the playoffs. What if the Packers then decide to sit Rodgers? Even though all of those things would probably be happening independently of each other, I doubt the NFL wants to leave themselves open to conspiracy theorists.
  • No updates yet on the status of Jay Cutler’s recovery, but SI’s Doug Farrar had a rundown of Marc Trestman’s post-game assurances that Cutler will be the Bears starter when he returns from injury. He includes Brandon Marshall’s statements of support for Cutler, and ESPNChicago has some quotes from McCown in a similar vein. (Personally I think Cutler should start, but I do appreciate the class that McCown has displayed, both on and off the field.)
  • Also, I don’t want to pick on Doug too much, but in that piece he somehow comes up with this line: “Cutler is in the last year of his contract, and general manager Phil Emery has said that he will not place the franchise tag on the eight-year veteran.” That’s simply not what Phil Emery said (in his online chat from last week) at all. He was alluding to the salary cap burden that comes along with having a quarterback play on a one-year deal under the tag. It is a very, very large jump to “We will not be tagging Jay Cutler” and in fact, Emery goes a long way to ensure that he doesn’t expressly commit to anything, contract-wise. But it’s fun how these things get misconstrued so easily, isn’t it?
  • With all of the Eagles talk at the beginning, it might be easy to overlook the Bears trip to Cleveland next Sunday. If you were hoping the Bears would get to face our old friend Caleb Hanie, you’re out of luck; Cleveland released Hanie Tuesday after just one week on the roster. Instead, the Browns will likely turn to our other old friend Jason Campbell, who actually played very well in Cleveland’s one-point loss to New England on Sunday.
  • Grantland’s Bill Barnwell had much nicer things to say about Marc Trestman this week in his Thank You for Not Coaching column; not kicking a field goal on second down helps, I guess. He named Trestman’s decision to go for two late in the third quarter as the third-best coaching decision of the week, and he also noted that in his opinion, Trestman is “unquestionably” the best NFL coach in terms of knowing when to go for two throughout the game. He cites the Bears near-comeback against Detroit in Week 4 as a prime example. Dallas coach Jason Garrett’s third quarter decision to punt on 4th and 4 from the Bears 41, while trailing by 13, was his selection for the third-worst. Barnwell always does solid work analyzing coaching decisions and their effects, and aside from last week, he’s been unwavering in his praise of Trestman’s game management this year. Pretty cool. (Note: he was not such fan of Lovie Smith; I know that shocks you.)

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

12 responses to “The Bears Get Flexed and Other Bullets”

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  2. Caleb

    Agreed–McCown has been great. On and off the field! And, I’m with you on wanting to see Cutler start, but… with everything coming down to these last games, I also kind of don’t want to rock the boat. Oh well–Bears will win regardless. Even against a hurricane. And even if the hurricane was named “hurricane Ditka.”

    Nice work, Jay! Wanted to let you know that, even if I’m not always commenting, I’m reading all your articles. Same with Brett’s page, but he already knows that. BN for lyfe, son!


    Can we get an Iowa Hawkeye page on here too?

  3. JB88

    For selfish purposes, I hope McCown starts (he is one of my starters since Rodgers was hurt in a 2-QB starting fantasy FB league), but what McCown has done in Trestman’s offense is probably the most encouraging item this season.

    If you look back at Trestman’s career as a coach, he’s always succeeded with cerebral QBs who may not have the most arm strength, but show good accuracy in the short game. When you throw in Lynn and Stallworth, I mean Marshall and Jeffery, you can do a ton marching the ball up the field. I’m really interested to see what the offense looks like with Cutler back and whether Cutler has the confidence to follow the game plan and not look to do too much.

    1. Cyranojoe

      Not to look too far ahead, but I’m interested in seeing what Trestman does to patch up our defense in the off-season.

      You’re right, that’s looking too far ahead. Go Bears!

      1. JB88

        One particular concern that I have is that Emery seems to have missed BIG on all of his defensive draft picks so far. Most specifically, no one he has drafted seems capable of stopping the run. OTOH, Emery has hit on pretty much all of his offensive picks, so that’s encouraging.

        Could be (and should be) lots of turnover on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. They could be looking at almost an entirely new secondary. They will continue to start Greene and Bostic, but both look really lost to me and the instincts to stop the run seem missing. The biggest questions, amazingly, might be on the D-Line. Can you sign Melton for significantly cheaper than the $8M he’s getting this year? What do you do with Peppers? Cut him and he has a $9M cap hit; keep him and he has an $18M+ cap hit. But without Peppers the dline has no pass rush to speak of.

        As bad as the Bears’ defense has been, it could literally be worse next year.

        1. FarmerTanColin

          This is pretty grave. Way too early to say Bostic and Greene are misses when they were pushed into starting on an extremely injured defense. How many Dlinemen have missed games this year? In a 4-3 a good line will make the linebackers look a lot better. When the D-line gets knocked around leaving blockers to attack the LBs not much is going to happen.

          Brandon Hardin was a clear miss and McClellin I think would be better as linebacker but who knows.

          1. JB88

            It may be early to say that Greene and Bostic are misses, but my concern is that it usually takes rookie LBs time to adjust to the NFL passing game, not the running game. That they can’t tackle and aren’t reading or filling gaps (not to mention getting blown up when they do get into the gap) isn’t an encouraging sign.

            The DL is a concern with the injuries, but there is a possibility that you are looking at Paea and McClellin as the only returning players next year. Melton is a FA, Wooten is a FA, and Peppers will have an enormous cap hit if he isn’t restructured in some way. A DL of Paea and McClellin is a huge liability. Just a lot to do on that side of the ball and it would be fantastic if Greene and Bostic start showing some serious growth over the next three weeks.

  4. Jay

    Every coach knows when to go for two. They all have a big chart with every possible score and what to do for each one. That’s just an idiotic comment from Barnwell.

    1. Cyranojoe

      There’s more than a few coaches who don’t seem to have that chart. I don’t recall Lovie having a great history of knowing when to go for two.

  5. ISU Birds

    I love the flex schedule. FLEX THE WHOLE SEASON!!