After last night’s football games ended, I watched Van Wilder and a penguin documentary on Disney+. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.
• Oof, this stings:
To put the gap between the Bears & Packers in perspective: since 1993, Green Bay now has 23 playoff victories. The Bears have four postseason wins over that span, none since 2010.
— Jeff Dickerson (@DickersonESPN) January 17, 2021
• Reading the tweet above from ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson had me wondering about how we got here in the first place. Ultimately, it boils down to this — the Packers have adapted to modern football more efficiently and effectively than the Bears. They have embraced the reality that good offense beats good defense. This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for defense in professional football. And I won’t go as far as to suggest that defense is valueless. But the game’s rule changes and how teams use their best athletes has swung the pendulum in favor of offense. Defense can still win championships, but you can’t win if you don’t score.
• Again. Let me be clear. Please do not get it twisted. Defense still matters:
How not to beat Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs: pic.twitter.com/8Dge81nh1H
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) January 16, 2021
• If George McCaskey wanted to beat the Packers as much as the soundbites suggest, he’d look at how Green Bay built its contender. Obviously, having an all-time great quarterback helps a ton. However, let’s not discount the Packers’ building of an offensive line that could lose an All-Pro left tackle and still keep ticking, a well-rounded running backs room, and pass-catchers who can stretch the field vertically. To be clear, the Packers aren’t a perfect team. And they could very well lose next weekend or on Super Bowl Sunday. But when you build a multi-layered offense, it helps on so many levels.
• I understand if you spent Sunday marveling at Aaron Rodgers’ mastery of the quarterback position. But the Packers’ offensive line has me feeling some type of way. Specifically, Green Bay’s investments along the front line is what really gets me. I look at the adjustments that group has made, then think about how the Bears’ first next-man-up after injuries hit was a converted nose tackle in his second year as an offensive lineman. Then I think about how the season finished with the line featuring two undrafted free agents and a one-year stop-gap thrust into the right tackle position after playing guard to start the year. There’s no one way to get it right, but a strong effort must be made to do so moving forward.
• The Bears obviously need to fix the quarterback position. But a better plan (and execution) for fixing the offensive line this offseason should be a priority. If you can win at the line of scrimmage, you can win more football games than you lose.
• Remember when the Bears offense use to do fun things? Do you recall trickery, gadgetry, misdirection, and other neat things? Sigh. I swear the 2018 Bears did stuff like this:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 16, 2021
• Then again, when you can’t master the little things — simple blocking assignments, knowing the snap count, running the right route combinations, basic RPO reads, etc. — you don’t deserve to do the fun stuff. Matt Nagy’s gadgetry came mostly in the red zone. The Bears simply haven’t made enough red zone trips to allow him to dig into his bag of tricks. And while I’ll acknowledge his short-comings as a play-caller as a reason why the Bears’ red-zone trips have been limited, the execution of the little stuff matters so much more.
• Get this man off my television as soon as possible, please:
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) January 17, 2021
• The 2020 Bills are what I thought the 2019 Bears would be:
• A young quarterback hitting his stride as he grows within the offense. An opportunistic defense that scores points. Fun football you look forward to watching in January. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. Culture is important. Don’t get me wrong. But good cultures build what you’re seeing in Buffalo right now.
• I’m still salty about this:
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 16, 2021
• Nothing like confirming that Cole Kmet’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty should’ve never been called in the first place.
• Side note: It’s wild that C.J. Gardner-Johnson wasn’t just fined for his role in the altercation that got Bears receiver Anthony Miller ejected, but was also hit with nearly double Miller’s fine. It’s almost as if the league knows what Gardner-Johnson’s rep is and isn’t about to let him slide. On the other hand, the Bears knew his rep AND STILL TOOK THE BAIT.
• Some worthwhile developments in Philly:
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 16, 2021
From @NFLGameDay: The #Eagles are interviewing #Patriots OC Josh McDaniels today, have a request in for #Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy… and have told candidates they believe Carson Wentz is fixable. pic.twitter.com/3s5SaPGN1o
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 17, 2021
• If the Eagles are riding with Carson Wentz moving forward, then I’m curious to know the asking price for a team inquiring about what it would take to pry Jalen Hurts out of Philly. The Eagles probably want to retain Hurts as a backup for the oft-injured Wentz. But is there an offer that they couldn’t refuse for a young quarterback with three-years left on his rookie deal? I’m asking for a friend…