Packers Problems, Hyping Up the Fans, Shaheen's Role, the Best Secondary, and Other Bullets

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Packers Problems, Hyping Up the Fans, Shaheen’s Role, the Best Secondary, and Other Bullets

Chicago Bears

If you were looking forward to a snowy night game on Sunday, it’s probably time to re-calibrate your expectations. Granted, it looks like we’ll get snow in Chicago tomorrow and I suppose that could always linger into the next day … I just wouldn’t bet on it.

  • We’ll dive deeper into what Thursday’s Packers loss at Seattle means later, but just know that last night’s result was a game-changer. Looking back to our playoff odds post earlier in the week, Green Bay entered action with a 23 percent shot at making the postseason. But Thursday’s loss pushed their odds to 14 percent, via FiveThirtyEight (and that’s before the Bears play). Seattle is still hanging around (37 percent), but the Seahawks have the seventh best playoff odds of NFC teams – which would put them on the outside looking in.
  • As for the Bears, their postseason odds ticked up to 71 percent after Thursday’s result. Thanks Seattle, we never doubted you for a minute!
  • Head Coach Matt Nagy through down the gauntlet and I think the challenge will be accepted:

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Challenge extended.

A post shared by Chicago Bears (@chicagobears) on

  • The positive energy surrounding the Bears has built up to a moment like this one where a first-place team is out to defend its home turf and hold on to its spot at the top of the division. Bears fans have been aching to cheer for something worthwhile since Week 17 in 2013 … and this might be the team that could ultimately be worth it.
  • That being said, this opens up a new challenge for Nagy to conquer. Getting riled up fans at a raucous Soldier Field is one thing. Making sure your players harness the energy and emotion of the moment, while ensuring it doesn’t get too big for them, is another. Maintaining focus in the locker room and on the field will go a long way toward the Bears picking up a second win against a divisional foe.
  • Have you ever wondered what makes Andy Reid’s assistants so special? I figured I wasn’t the only one. Albert Breer of SI.com’s The MMQB talks to the assistants who have been promoted to head coach status elsewhere to get the scoop.
  • You’ll want to read all of the perspectives in Breer’s piece, but this snippet from the Bears’ head coach piqued my interest: “He leads by example, he’s not afraid to call you out if you screw up, he’ll hold you accountable and he’ll make sure there’s ownership, but he’ll protect you too. He’s going to take care of you, and you have to learn from it and not make the same mistake twice. That’s what you see from all these guys.” There goes that thing about not making the same mistake twice!
  • Smooth transition into how there is some Reid-related flavor on this list:

  • And some familiar names here, too:

  • Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton lists Mitch Trubisky as the Bears’ most improved player because … well, duh. The Bears young QB is having a nice year and has thrown multiple touchdowns in six of nine games. And when he’s not throwing, he’s used his mobility as a weapon, forcing teams to account for multiple avenues of attack.
  • We’re still waiting for Trubisky to get one of his favorite targets back into the mix as Adam Shaheen continues to work back from a preseason foot/ankle injury. Over at 670 The Score, Greg Gabriel highlights what the big-bodied tight end can bring to a group that has playmakers throughout the lineup. The timing of Shaheen’s injury was unfortunate on so many levels. Not only was he just starting to get a grasp of his new playbook, the Bears appeared to be clearly willing to use him in more than just red zone situations. Using Shaheen between the 20s (in addition to volume usage inside the red zone) was expected to create a dynamic the offense simply didn’t have last year. It will be a challenge to slide Shaheen into a big role right away, but there’s potential there for the second-year tight end to make his mark down the stretch.
  • If you’re a believer in the idea of steel sharpening steel, then maybe you think Shaheen practicing against the NFL’s best secondary will get him up to speed quicker. Pro Football Focus’ Ben Cooper explains why the Bears’ defensive backfield is in the running for the league’s best. Ranking first in passer rating allowed (73.8) and having the second most pass breakups + interceptions (34) just scratches the surface. Bryce Callahan (88.3) and Kyle Fuller (88.1) have two of the top four PFF coverage grades among cornerbacks, while Eddie Jackson’s 91.0 coverage grade is tops among safeties. Both Jackson and fellow safety Adrian Amos have run defense grades among the top-10 at PFF, too. This group is as well-rounded as it gets.
  • Maybe the secondary will team up and get Akiem Hicks something wonderful for his birthday. After all, pressure up front makes the life of a DB that much easier:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqPxIM5noA3/

  • The Bears are rocking with their alternate orange uniforms this week, but this set of alternative alternates has me thinking about power rankings:

  • My rankings: 2, 3, 5, 4, 1. I can’t let the hilariously fun-bad alternates finish dead last. I just can’t.
  • The Bears and the other Chicago professional sports franchises are pitching in and donating another $1 million with the hope of decreasing violence in the city. This marks the second year of the Chicago Sports Alliance, which links the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, and Bulls and puts them in a position to make the city a better place. Here’s hoping this continues to be something that moves us (as a city) in the right direction.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.