There was a time where I wasn’t a fan of the 3 p.m. CT start time, but getting to sleep in felt better today than it has in some time.
• We knew this year’s Bears schedule would be tougher than a $2 steak, and we know things aren’t getting any easier moving forward. Because after facing long-time tormentor Aaron Rodgers at home a week ago, this week’s matchup pits the Bears against Tom Brady, whose case to be the Greatest of All Time at his position is all but wrapped up. And on top of that, Matt Nagy is set to face his toughest stretch ever as a head coach:
• This team’s upcoming schedule is the toughest:
Toughest remaining schedules based on current DVOA of opponents.
Man, it's hard out here for the NFC North this year.
— Aaron Schatz 🏈 (@FO_ASchatz) October 18, 2021
• The following Bears’ remaining opponents rank in the top half of the league in DVOA: TB (4th), SF (10th), PIT (16th), BAL (6th), ARI (2nd), GB (11th), MIN (12th), and SEA (9th). Altogether, that is nine games against the better chunk of the league. The only “breathers” in the bunch are DET (26th) and NYG (27th). Hardly enough to allow you to dream on beating up on the league’s ugly underbelly to sneak into a playoff spot for a second straight season.
• Nothing like seeing that upcoming schedule after distractions piled up last week. For starters, we watched the Bears put four players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in the last two weeks, with LB Caleb Johnson being the latest. And while there is nothing Nagy can do to prevent this from happening, that it is happening presents another hurdle in preparation ahead of an important matchup against the Bucs. Let’s be real, it needs to be all hands on deck against Tom Brady and friends.
• Worth noting that the stretch will be tougher once it is confirmed that Russell Wilson is back in the Seahawks lineup. NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo reports Wilson will be back by the team’s Week 10 matchup against the Packers. Which means Wilson will be ready to host the Bears in Week 16.
• Another thing Nagy can’t necessarily do much against is social media usage by his players. And frankly, I wouldn’t encourage going down that path even if it was available. In any case, Chicago also found itself dealing with off-the-field distractions thanks to the social media presences of two starting DBs. Eddie Jackson unearthed a 10-year-old tweet to take a shot at popular retired Bears linebacker/current media presence Lance Briggs. It didn’t go over well with fans and was promptly deleted, but hasn’t been forgotten.
• And then Jaylon Johnson used Instagram to air his grievances about facing a tardiness fine for being one minute late. The fine was fair. And it’s not as if Johnson was protesting it. He even learned a lesson from his misstep:
#Bears CB Jaylon Johnson said he posted his fine letter as a joke for his friends. Thought it was "innocent."
He worked it out with coach Matt Nagy.
"Shit, at the end of the day, I was late," he said.
"Don't press the wrong button," he said.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) October 22, 2021
• Who among us hasn’t sent an accidental message due to clumsy fingers? In any case, Johnson’s “joke” represented another example of a team facing in-house culture issues ahead of an important game. It’s just not a good look.
• And there’s always that lingering drama of who’s calling plays. Ugh. It’s always *SOMETHING* with this team.
• Yeah, sure, keep piling on:
Any of you guys up for Mitchell Trubisky as your starting QB?@MoveTheSticks says it’s happening next yr, somewhere. 👇🏻
— Lindsay Rhodes (@lindsay_rhodes) October 21, 2021
• I mentioned it in a recent set of Bullets that Trubisky figures to get another shot after spending this season in Buffalo. Take a hard reset, learn new things, refine some mechanics, and find yourself a new home. I doubt Trubisky will be given a starting role out of the chute. But he’ll get an opportunity to play his way into someone’s lineup. My prediction is he ends up as the placeholder for a team that drafts its QB-of-the-future after free agency settles.
• The NFL is celebrating National Tight Ends Day around the league. To honor this moment, I’ll consider Cole Kmet (+2200), Jesper Horsted (+6500), or Jesse James (+10000) as first-TD scorers in today’s Bears-Bucs game. After all, Chicago’s tight ends are long overdue to make an early impact.
• Considering the Bears’ COVID-related woes the past few weeks, it feels like a good time to share this:
Atlanta's Jorge Soler says having covid has changed his opinion of the vaccine. (He was asymptomatic but because he was unvaccinated he had to isolate for more than a week.)
"I feel way different now," he said. "I feel bad about it and I'm going to get a shot as soon as I can."
— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) October 23, 2021
• On TNT earlier this week, Charles Barkley nailed it when he explained that getting the vaccination shot isn’t just about yourself, but it’s something for others you care about and society in general. And from a professional sports perspective, the incentives are right there in front of everyone.
• Oof. This is a rough, but necessary thread to read through by former Bears and Packers TE Martellus Bennett:
Packers fans were sending hate mail and leaving death threats and other hateful messages on the team voicemail because I was protesting. It got so bad that Doug Collins the head of team security was worried something might happen to me in Wisconsin.
— Martellus Bennett (@MartysaurusRex) October 23, 2021
• Here’s a list of the NBA’s 3-0 teams: The Chicago Bulls. Check out highlights from their Saturday win against the Pistons here:
Chicago Bulls Full Game Highlights: 97-82 Win Over the Detroit Pistons
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) October 24, 2021
• From a public relations standpoint, I’m not sure the Cubs can afford sitting out of the deeper end of free agency. Trading away fan favorites, then declaring it’s “not a rebuild” at every turn, only to treat it as a full-scale rebuild would be a tough look. Nevertheless, this is an interesting read with depth, nuance, and perspective:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) October 23, 2021
• OK, cool:
The Blackhawks Are Struggling, But Colliton is Safe? And They’re Still Rebuilding? Okay, Then https://t.co/9RSXW5jj84
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) October 23, 2021