Happy New Year and Other Brief Bullets


Welcome to 2014, everyone. I don’t want to bog you down or bury anything on a holiday (we all know you only read this blog to distract yourself at work) but I did want to check in with a few brief notes. And, of course, to once again wish you a Happy New Year. As I mentioned on Twitter, my New Year’s Eve consisted of having steak with the fiancée, watching some Twilight Zone (my own personal tradition), and avoiding Pitbull entirely. In other words, a perfect night. Today, I’m trying to finagle my way into a trip to Five Guys.

(Update: an earlier version of this post said you had to register for comments here, but I was mistaken. The new “register for comments” system at Bleacher Nation Cubs does not yet apply here on the Bears site. My mistake. So troll away!)

Now, the Bears-related info:

  • Not a ton of stuff going on for the Bears over the holiday, but Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times has this piece on whether some players never truly meshed with Marc Trestman, his staff, and his way of doing things. I think that’s fairly natural, and I don’t think it reflects poorly upon Trestman. So many players were in the last year of their contracts, it must have felt like a season-long tryout for them. When your own future is uncertain, it’s natural to be a bit more cautious about committing. (Of course, that’s a catch-22, as one of the best ways to engender yourself to the new regime is probably by demonstrating your willingness to adjust.) In the end, I think this is going to play out like we all suspected: a lot of defensive players leaving, a few being retained, and Phil Emery attempting to overhaul the defense.
  • Speaking of a defensive overhaul, if you’re in the “Fire Mel Tucker” camp you may learn his fate tomorrow morning, as Phil Emery and Marc Trestman are scheduled to speak to the media at Halas Hall. I assume they’ll be asked a question on Tucker’s future, and if they say “He’ll be back” then I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be back. If they hedge at all, then you can officially start to speculate. (Or I guess they could announce his outright removal, which would also give you your answer.) My opinion on Tucker hasn’t really changed: by the numbers and the eye test, the defense was obviously terrible. But the cavalcade of injuries to starters, combined with the general lack of talent at certain positions, makes me think that no defensive coordinator could have achieved results with that group. So Tucker has to be judged on the things that Trestman and Emery can see; the behind-the-scenes stuff at which we can only guess. I tend to think he’ll be back, which wouldn’t upset me, really. And if they go in another direction, I wouldn’t be upset by that, either. I trust their evaluation process.
  • That all said, if Tucker is fired, where would the Bears turn? One possibility might be Ray Horton, currently the Browns defensive coordinator. According to this Jason La Canfora report last night, the Browns are expected to hire Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator. If that’s true, Horton would obviously be out. Horton is well-regarded (Evan Silva of Rotoworld said on Twitter that Horton would be the most “prized d-coordinator candidate in (the) NFL.” If Tucker is out, I would certainly expect Horton’s name to be on Chicago’s list, but I honestly don’t know how high up it would be, nor do I know whether Horton would be interested, nor do I really know if he’d be the best man for the job. Basically, I know nothing, but it’s out there, so there you go.
  • Finally, if you’re wondering how historically incompetent the Bears run defense was this year, Football Outsiders has an interesting section on the unit as a part of their year-end analysis. (The whole thing is interesting, but if you just want the Bears stuff, it’s about halfway down.) According to FO’s numbers, even though the Bears allowed 5.35 yards per carry, (which they note is the worst figure since the AFL-NFL merger, in 1970) some other metrics come into play that show the run defense wasn’t awful on a historical level. Just regular awful. Of particular interest to me was that the Bears finished right in the middle of the league in terms of stopping runners for a loss or no gain, but were “last in both second-level yards per carry and open-field yards per carry.” Having watched every game, that makes sense; how often did we see linebackers leaving gaps open, or safeties taking bad angles? Far, far too often. Hopefully an infusion of new talent and a regression in the level of injuries can lead to a boost for the performance next year. (I mean, it can’t be worse, right? Right?)

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

3 responses to “Happy New Year and Other Brief Bullets”

  1. J.F. Edwards

    Naturally, my new Alshon Jeffrey jersey arrived yesterday, just in time for me to hang it in the closet until next year.

    I know this is not a relevant post but I have nowhere else to share this sadness.

    Nice work, Jay. I love that BN handles Cubs and Bears. One stop shopping.

  2. abe

    Lovie to Tampa. Which ex bears are heading there?

    1. Kurt

      Any the Bears don’t need.

      All the ex, used up players that can’t get a nibble from other teams want to play for him. Remember Urlacher said that if Lovie was still coaching in Chicago that Lovie would have resigned him? Brian is probably right. Nobody in the league would even offer him the 1 million the Bears guaranteed (another mill in incentives) as he graded out as the worst inside linebacker in the game. His lateral speed was gone. But Urlacher wanted 10 million and Lovie would have gotten him close to that. Money that wasn’t misspent on Brian was better spent.

      I believe Tampa screwed up big time. Lovie’s defense has always been a bend and then break defense…against teams with a better than .500 record anyway.

      Smith’s defense has always been painful to watch. He made a lot of hay by piling up wins against teams .500 and below in the league.

      If Cutler stays, he ought to have a field day picking that soft cover two apart. Every other decent QB did.

      This year’s defense would have been as bad or worse under Lovie with age and injury finally taking their toll.

      Do people not remember in WK 13 of Lovie’s last season, how all his vaunted defense had to do was stop Seattle from scoring a TD from Seattle’s own THREE YARD LINE with 3:40 left to go in the game! Of course they couldn’t so it’s then on to OT. Seattle got the ball on their 20 to start the OT and proceeded to ram the ball right down the Bears throat for another TD, not a FG, a TD! Oh, and in both drives, the great Brian Urlacher had two stops on gains of 5 and 7 yards.

      I remember that painful game as so many other games were, against the better teams. Lovie’s defense then lost to the Vikings (10 win team) and the Packers (11 win team).

      Then they beat Arizona (5 win team) and Detroit (4 win team) to get to 10-6 just missing the playoffs.

      And that’s Lovie’s calling card, beat the bad teams lose to the good teams. Of their ten wins only two came against teams with winning records, the Vikings and Indy the first game of the year against rookie QB Andrew Luck. If they play that game later in the year it’s probably a loss also.

      Every single one of their losses game against teams with above .500 records.

      Let’s not forget how Lovie single-handedly cleared the path for S.F. on Sunday night by buoying the confidence of rookie Colin Kaepernick with his soft as a feather cover two, instead of pressuring the rookie to test his mettle.

      You can have Lovie and every other loser that wants to play for him. Remember, Lovie’s teams went to the playoffs once in the last 6 years, they don’t want a winner that pushes them, they want a daddy that covers for them.

      As I said, if we keep Cutler, I’m looking forward to Lovie coming to Chicago next year. He’s never fared well against a team that could employ any kind of decent offense.