Imagine wanting to skip the intro for HBO’s Succession. Merely thinking of doing so is an automatic red flag.
• I don’t imagine Aaron Rodgers as the type to spend Halloween Sunday watching football. But if he did, this is what he saw:
⇒ In Chicago, a Bears team clearly in need of a change of direction, but stuck spinning its wheels.
⇒ Out in Detroit, a Lions team still in the early stages of yet another rebuild. And possibly another winless season.
⇒ And a Vikings team that lost a home game in primetime to something quarterbacking going by the name of Cooper Rush.
• Rodgers might have spent the offseason using any number of out lets to share his displeasure with some things happening in Green Bay. But after an honest assessment of the rest of the NFC North, Rodgers shouldn’t want to be going anywhere. Even if Rodgers paved his own way for an early exit as soon as 2022.
• Seriously … this guy is sticking around to give us the business until further notice:
Aaron Rodgers to @ErinAndrews: “This is a scrappy team. This is a tough, physical, gritty team. I’m so proud of our guys. … To have these guys come out and play the way they did, I’m so proud of them. … I love this football team. I’m having so much fun right now.”
— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) October 29, 2021
• Then again, before we start thinking of taking down the big baddie who plays for That Team in Wisconsin, the Bears should probably clean up their own messes. Because even though the path to being No. 2 in the division — which, if done properly, would position a team for a possible Wild Card spot — tripping over your own junk at every turn is an easy way to blow golden opportunities. But that’s just what the Bears did on Sunday.
• We knew Sean Desai was in for a tall task as a first-year defensive coordinator. Between decline that comes with players getting older and the loss of some key pieces, hard times would come sooner or later. So, yeah, Chicago giving up 467 yards of offense and 33 points was tough to watch. But if you told me before the season Khalil Mack would be unavailable and Eddie Jackson would be in on just two defensive snaps for this game, then that is what I would expect fo the game to look like.
• To be clear, I’m not making excuses for a defense that (1) allowed three touchdowns in five red-zone trips, (2) came up with no sacks, no QB hits, and didn’t force any punts, and (3) came away with no turnovers. Instead, I’m pointing out that it’s wrong to expect the 2018 Bears to show up in 2021. Desai has done well enough to scheme some good things out of this group to this point of the season. But when your pass-rush is hurting, it was only a matter of time before opponents took advantage of a struggling secondary. Simply put, you can’t hide that big of a deficiency forever.
• Well, this is certainly one way to put it with regards to Chicago’s defense, per The Athletic’s Mike Sando: “#bears about -19 EPA on defense, their worst in a game since 2016 … made this a pretty impossible game to win … who overcomes 19-pt deficit?”
• EPA, for the not-so-analytically inclined, stands for Expected Points Added. In short, it’s a metric measuring how well a team performs relative to expectation. You don’t need to be Einstein to know that negative-19 is a baad place to be. You can read more about EPA here.
• On the other side of the ball, we did see the Bears score 22 points. But three of their first four scoring drives were field goals. And only one of the team’s three red-zone trips finished with a touchdown. The Bears need to score touchdowns at a higher clip. Chicago’s red-zone touchdown percentage ranks 26th in the NFL. As a reminder, the NFL has 32 teams. In other words, ranking 32nd is bad. And it’s not as if this is coming out of nowhere. Last year’s group was 22nd. So now they’re going BACKWARD. Yikes.
• But it wasn’t all bad:
I can’t get enough of the sky cam angle on Justin Fields’ TD run. pic.twitter.com/R9qaGEbTJH
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) November 1, 2021
• There is so much to like in Justin Fields’ Houdini act. Fields’ show-stopping skills take the cake. But keep watching it, and you’ll find something new every time. Whether it’s receivers blocking downfield, Jason Peters getting on his horse and clearing space, 49ers defenders tackling ghosts, etc. That moment was the ultimate “No, no, no … YESSSS!” play. And on can afternoon where the Bears did a number on their own playoff chances, seeing Fields make magic happen was worth it.
• Justin Fields’ perspective on #TheRun:
Justin Fields said the touchdown run on fourth-and-1 was designed for Khalil Herbert in the flats but the 49ers’ pressure forced him to scrambling: “It just happened on instinct. Great play by everybody on that.”
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) October 31, 2021
Justin Fields couldn’t downplay his joy from that wild touchdown run: “I’m not going to lie, that was awesome.”
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) October 31, 2021
• It’s hard not to be mad about that loss, but as Cam Ellis (670 The Score) points out, Fields’ breakthrough performance really softens the blow.
• Always remember the legends:
Bears great Walter Payton died on Nov. 1, 1999, at age 45 of bile duct cancer and liver failure.
Here's a look back at his remarkable life.https://t.co/rbUZDdy29y
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) November 1, 2021
• NFL offensive linemen aren’t as well represented in the Hall of Fame as they should be, so it’s good to see Jimbo Covert get his time to shine:
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) October 31, 2021
• But seriously, yesterday was rough sledding for the NFC North:
Detroit Lions, Dan Campbell looked lost Sunday. They're not far from finding 0-17 finish https://t.co/NUwC7RIudd
— Freep Sports (@freepsports) November 1, 2021
Cowboys: Our backup QB is in so let’s run a double pass with Cedrick Wilson
Vikings: We have a $35 million QB, a superstar RB, and two star WRs, so let’s force feed C.J. Ham and make sure we throw short of the sticks every third down
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) November 1, 2021
• Someone get Big Ben to guest spot tonight:
The Manning Curse is real.
Every time a player comes on the ManningCast, that player loses the next game.
— Kelce on Week 1, lost Week 2
— Russ on Week 1, lost Week 2
— Gronk on Week 2, lost Week 3
— Stafford on Week 3, lost Week 4
— Brady on Week 7, lost Week 8 pic.twitter.com/i5mQ29cJyJ
— StatMuse (@statmuse) October 31, 2021
• Early Black Friday is now underway at Amazon if you want to start perusing. #ad
• Marc-André Fleury showcased the best of himself on Saturday night against the Blues. And for his efforts, he is already finding his name on the trade rumor mill.
• The Bulls incorporating elements from their uniforms of yesteryear adds up to these fantastic joints:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) November 1, 2021
• After seeing news of the Mariners dumping long-time slugger Kyle Seager via email, I thought to myself: Signing Kris Bryant would make a ton of sense for Seattle. And it turns out they were quite interested at the deadline:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 1, 2021