It is impossible to watch the Bulls pick up another huge win without thinking about how this turnaround began with sweeping changes in the front office and coaching staff. Meanwhile, the Bears sputter along trying to make a bad year look less stinky by putting player development on the back burner. Sigh.
• If you’ve been pining for old-school, smash mouth football, then I hope you had eyes on Monday Night Football last night. Low scoring. Plenty of defense. Weird wind tricks. And a Patriots offense that ran the ball 43 more times than it threw it en route to a 14-10 win against the Bills.
• Here is a halftime stat that successfully captured the spirit of the thing:
Since 1978, the Patriots are the only team to attempt just 1 pass in the first half of game h/t @EliasSports
Mac Jones is 1/1 for 12 yards in the 1st half vs the Bills. pic.twitter.com/1mmy68w7hJ
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 7, 2021
• We’ll discuss Josh McDaniels later. But for now, I can’t shake these thoughts I’m having about Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll. There is a faction of Bears fans drooling over the idea of teaming Daboll and Justin Fields in Chicago next season. For what it’s worth, Daboll’s résumé is intriguing. He has working experience with Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, and Andy Reid (among other highlights). And if this Matt Nagy experience has taught us anything, it’s that the Bears should exercise caution if they hire a coach who has spent all of his time under one umbrella. And while I caution folks from overreacting to one game when it comes to a coach’s potential future candidacy. However, that game left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
• In a game with extreme elements, the Bills threw the ball 30 times. Sure, I realize Josh Allen is getting paid mega-bucks. But I’d have cautioned throwing the ball that much in those conditions. Then again, that might not have been the worst offense. Allen was given just six carries last night, which is far too few. Allen has five games this year in which he has been given more than six rushing attempts. And on a night in which the Pats found a way to run it 41 times with ball carriers, the lack of designed runs for Josh Freakin’ Allen was absurd. That’s a missed opportunity Daboll and the Bills will be chewing on until these two teams meet again.
• The dad gum kickoff flew down the tunnel beyond the end zone like it was Bo Jackson running down the Kingdome tunnel:
The opening kickoff was the longest kick I’ve ever seen? pic.twitter.com/gtPUIvEfCb
— Danny Heifetz (@Danny_Heifetz) December 7, 2021
• Oh, and don’t get it twisted. I still have interest in Daboll as a head-coaching candidate. There is no reason to let one game sway my whole opinion. But the process last night was as undesirable as the result.
• In other MNF news, the Mannings are successfully avoiding the Bears for a second time this year. If we could all be so lucky…
• I was planning on keeping this one to myself, but last night’s ManningCast was lacking some oomph, zing, and zest. And I guess I wasn’t alone in feeling that:
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) December 7, 2021
• As for the Bears, they enter Packers Week on the cusp of repeating history (in all the wrong ways):
Bears history has a weird way of repeating itself. @BN_Bears
12/7/17 — https://t.co/OQCvp0RQk7
— Funky Cold Luda (@lcm1986) December 7, 2021
• Matt Nagy turned into John Fox so gradually, I hardly noticed. Prioritizing wins at the expense of player development tends to happen far too often when coaches know they’re on the hot seat. And that we have back-to-back examples of Bears coaches doing this isn’t a great look for the coach (or the GM who brought him in). It’s almost as if changes are necessary. As in … now.
• You can really see Justin Fields’ potential in charts like this one:
Big-time throw rate vs. turnover-worthy play rate (PFF, min. 200 dropbacks)
-Holy hell Kyler Murray
-Jimmy G, Mills, Wilson, Big Ben, Darnold doing bad job taking care of the ball
-Fields has had an encouraging number of "elite" throws
-Mahomes truly hasn't been his usual self pic.twitter.com/pVmNuAkZWd
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) December 6, 2021
• But this won’t be fully unlocked until he gets a coach who understands what to do with him.
• Regardless of who has or hasn’t quit on this Bears team, David Montgomery has 10 toes down for his squad:
We keep fighting. pic.twitter.com/Sr5I6FOwXo
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 6, 2021
• Matt Forte was ahead of his time:
— This Day in Chicago Sports (@ChiSportsDay) December 7, 2021
• Punting is winning when San Diego State’s Matt Araiza is booting ’em:
The nation’s best punter is changing the game. https://t.co/PSUKXtZ9is
— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) December 7, 2021
• Keeping an eye on some college prospects turning pro:
Oregon DE @kayvont, regarded by many as a potential top-five pick, is declaring for the NFL draft, per sources. Thibodeaux also has decided to skip playing in the bowl game and start preparing for the NFL draft after his HC Mario Cristobal left Oregon for Miami.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 7, 2021
#USC OL Jalen McKenzie declares for NFL Draft
Trojans lose an experienced lineman, who was playing best ball of his career. McKenzie did not allow a sack this season and had his three highest PFF single-game grades the last three games of the season. https://t.co/T1bsI64zvS pic.twitter.com/I0rRtgnC6E
— Shotgun Spratling (@ShotgunSpr) December 7, 2021
• You know what … good for the Lions:
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 7, 2021
• Board games, arts and crafts, massagers, and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad
• Marcus Stroman’s signing with the Cubs is getting plenty of love from some of baseball’s brighter minds, which make me feel even better about the addition. And I was already feeling pretty darn good about it. (Bleacher Nation)
• Chicago is the best city on the planet, and don’t you forget it:
" … from CHICAGO" pic.twitter.com/QUzHgRjjnf
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 7, 2021
• The Winter Olympics are coming, but the NHL’s players might not be wholly on board:
Report: NHL Players Becoming More Concerned Over 2022 Beijing Olympicshttps://t.co/FqENbjJzoy
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) December 7, 2021