Saturdays in the fall and winter are for football, but it’s usually college – and not the pros – taking center stage. That changes today with Bears-Lions being the first of two Saturday games.
Hopefully, the paid professionals can provide the same kind of heart-stopping thrills and high-end drama the unpaid amateurs provided on a weekly basis this summer/fall/winter.
- Jordan Howard needs 282 yards over the next three games to pass his rookie season total that landed him in the Pro Bowl. That number isn’t out of reach because averaging 94 yards over the final three games of the season isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Still, a second-straight 1,000-yard rushing season has put Howard in Pro Bowl consideration again. Something he isn’t taking too lightly. “It would mean a lot because it would be my second one in a row, and not a lot of people even get to one,” Howard said, via the Chicago Tribune’s Rich Campbell. “It would be a big honor.”
- By the way, have you cast your vote yet:
#Bears had two players finish in top-10 in Pro Bowl fan balloting at their respective position:
G Kyle Long (9th)
Returner Tarik Cohen (9th)
Fan balloting counts 1/3 in selection process. Pro Bowl players will be announced at 7 pm on Tuesday.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) December 16, 2017
- Over at Bears Wire, Lorin Cox makes a case for Howard … and three other Bears players who deserve to make the 2017 Pro Bowl. No spoilers here, but let’s note that tackle Charles Leno Jr., guard Josh Sitton, center Cody Whitehair, defensive end Akiem Hicks, safety Adrian Amos, and linebacker Danny Trevathan all rank in the top 20 at their respective positions, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s kind of a long way of saying the Bearas have some pretty good players on their team despite their 4-9 record
- Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly believes a win is there for the taking against the Detroit Lions. If another road upset is going to happen, the aforementioned Howard is going to have to play an important role. The Bears offense (which ranks 30th in the league) isn’t much to write home about, but the team can boast the seventh-best rushing unit that ranks fifth in yards per carry. Going a team that ranks 21st against the run on a per carry basis. While the Bears’ passing offense ranks as the worst in football, Detroit’s pass defense (which ranks 28th) isn’t much better.
- Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is ready for his rematch, writes ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson. But it might not be a matter of whether or not Trubisky is ready, but instead, whether the Bears’ offensive coordinator is ready to allow his quarterback to unleash the cannon for a second straight week. Seeing leading receiver Kendall Wright come off the injury report late in the week would surely help matters. “You’re just going to build that chemistry and we’ve really just gotten on the same page and been able to trust each other. The more routes you run the better the timing is.”
- There is definitely something to this, as there isn’t much coincidence that Trubisky has improved with each game rep and has been solid since the bye – even if he isn’t posting big touchdown or yardage numbers. Trubisky hasn’t turned it over (1.4 INT%) and has cut down on his sack percentage (7.6%) while averaging 29 attempts per game in his last five. If you dared to extrapolate Trubisky’s second-half numbers over a full 16-game season, they would look something like this: 3,187.2 yards, 12.8 touchdowns, 6.4 touchdowns. I’m not going to say those are great numbers (especially in the touchdown department), but if 3,000 yards and an interception rate below 1.5 percent are a nice starting point for a quarterback whose arrow is pointing up.
- Could continuity help the good times keep rolling? Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times lays out a fair question regarding Trubisky’s growth and his relationship with his offensive coordinator. What if Trubisky’s Week 14 wasn’t an outlier and wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan, but instead was the first step toward becoming the kind of quarterback worth trading up for? We’ll let this play out before we take a firm stance, but as has been stated by the coaching staff, front office, and George McCaskey, there is value in continuity.
- But first, it would be nice if the Bears put together back-to-back solid performances. JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago wonders if the Bears can carry over their Week 14 performance into Week 15. Depending on how you feel about momentum, your answers can vary. It would be encouraging if the win against the Bengals was a stepping stone to greater things – especially for the Bears offense.
- Over at CBS Chicago, radio play-by-play man Jeff Joniak unlocks his keys to the game. Striking an offensive balance will be of the utmost importance for a Bears team that looked like a competent, professional outfit for the first time all season. Loggains dialed up his best play calling performance of the year and the players executed perfectly. It was everything you wanted to see out of a developing team. Doing it again, of course, is the challenge.
- On the defensive side of the ball, tackling is a high priority in Joniak’s eyes. Detroit ranks sixth in the NFL with 1,759 yards after the catch and running back Theo Riddick is one of the most elusive players in the game. However, linebacker Danny Trevathan – who didn’t play in the first matchup between the teams – could be an equalizer.
- Things I never expected to write ever: There is a Green Bay Packers splash guard in the urinal of Chicago’s Public Safety Headquarters … and the city’s Police Supt. Eddie Johnson addressed it. What a time to be alive.