A successful Saturday began with successfully rounding up my friends for a trip to our favorite tavern, and ended with my sworn enemies being eliminated from MLB’s playoffs. It doesn’t get much better than that, my friends.
- Da Bears are back, baby:
- There is some big “here we go again” energy with the Bears playing a team with a first-year head coach who is led by a GM who interviewed with the Bears in the offseason. Chicago and Minnesota will always be intertwined so long as they square off twice a year. But the Ryan Poles and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah angle really puts a new spin on things. Not just because the Vikings were reportedly hot after Poles. But also because these two general managers took very different paths to building their 2022 rosters. The Vikings could’ve torn it down like the Bears did. And the Bears could’ve tried to piecemeal it together like the Vikings did. There’s no one right way to build a team. But I find it fascinating how these two teams took starkly different approaches.
- “Every game is a big one when you play just once a week” is a thing I used to say. But it still holds true. And while I know it’s just one game … in October … when there will still be 12 left after this week, I’m not sure anyone needs the bounce-back more than Poles. The coaching staff he hired was out-schemed by Brian Daboll, the Giants head coach on the opposing sideline who interviewed for the gig in Chicago last January. The free agent additions on offense failed to make a positive impact. And the rookies rode the strugglebus against a Giants team that isn’t significantly better than the Bears are right now.
- It’s not all bad for the Bears coaching staff. In grading each of the first-year head coaches at the quarter-mark of the 2022 NFL season, Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon gives Matt Eberflus a “B” grade. Hey, it could be worse! Eberflus has the defense in an OK place right now. That group isn’t great. But it holds its own despite two rookies in the secondary and an incomplete roster build.
- On the field, no one needs a rebound like the Bears’ rookies. Because during the same week we saw rumored Bears draft targets George Pickens, Romeo Doubs, and Alec Pierce have arguably their strongest performances, we saw Poles’ picks struggle in several facets. Cornerback Kyler Gordon, safety Jaquan Brisker, and receiver/return specialist Velus Jones Jr. — who went with those Day 2 picks — were among those who had major ick moments. That’ll happen with rookies from time to time. Here’s hoping some of these early struggles don’t linger for too much longer.
- Quarterback Justin Fields playing better (but still not all that well) leaves me with so many mixed emotions. Him showing out against a Vikings team that was once hot after him as a prospect would make all of us feel better. There’s been an awful lot of chatter looking ahead to future quarterback picks. And while I’ll admit to having my eye on the future (just in case this totally goes off the rails), I’m not ready to give up on Fields just yet. Then again, neither are the Bears. Dan Graziano (ESPN) lays it out of us as he says it’s an overreaction to make the determination that Fields is not the Bears’ quarterback of the future:
This is a young player in his second year in the league, learning a new offense under a new coaching staff. His team has not built a sufficiently strong offensive line in front of him or a sufficiently dynamic receiving corps for him to throw to. Sunday was the first game this year in which top receiver Darnell Mooney started to get going, and you saw the downfield connection between him and Fields on display a couple of times.
I spoke with a lot of Bears people this week, and they insist it’s just about time with Fields — rhythm and timing of the offense, the increased confidence that comes with experience and (ideally) success. It might well be that Fields isn’t the guy for the Bears long term, but it’s too soon to reach that conclusion at the moment. Give the young man time, and a little bit more to work with, before you give up on him. The Bears will.
- Getting that national perspective from Graziano that the Bears will give Fields time to get it together suggests just that — and that’s a good thing. No need to go overboard after just 4-5 games. But that Graziano also hedges in writing “it might be well that Fields isn’t the guy for the Bears long term” leaves an escape hatch. No matter who is quarterbacking the Bears in the future, it is of the utmost importance to build better around him.
- Aye! Look who’s reportedly returning to action today:
- It would be wise to split the load between David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. We know Monty has that dawg in him, but there’s no need to push him too hard too fast — especially with another game coming up on Thursday. We’ve seen that quick turnaround really mess with players and teams. It’s almost as if the grueling sport of football necessitates a recovery period of more than 3-4 days.
- Let Herbie cook?
- One player who won’t be available to help the Bears offense is N’Keal Harry, who Patrick Finley (Sun-Times) reports won’t play. The Bears have yet to activate Harry from IR, but opening the 21-day window to activate him suggests his time could be coming soon. Maybe he’ll be available for Thursday’s game against the Commanders. But a more realistic target date might be Week 7 against the New England Patriots.
- Nothing official yet this morning regarding Jaylon Johnson’s status. The injured Bears cornerback went down with a quad injury during practice in the days leading up to the team’s Week 3 win against the Texans. It sounds like Johnson is champing at the bit to get back out there, saying (via NBC Sports Chicago): “I feel like me coming back is needed. Not even just from a secondary standpoint, just being out there getting back with the team and giving the team a confidence boost, things like that. So really just ready to be out there playing.”
- I’m not saying this is a must-win. But it sure feels like it when you think of this tweet:
- A Bears loss and Packers win would mark the first time since 1921 since the Bears didn’t have at least a share of the most wins in NFL history. Gotta win this one, right? Do it for Papa Bear Halas!
- Do the Bears have a chance to win? Of course. If you’re into wagering on football games, the Bears being at +290 on the money line gives them a 25.64% implied odds of winning at Minnesota today. In other words, yes, I’m telling you there’s a chance Cable Guy!
- One of the all-time Bears greats is celebrating a birthday today. Do it big, Mike Singletary:
- Wanna feel old? Marvin Harrison JUNIOR is making absurd plays:
- The college football was TOO WILD this weekend:
- The NFLPA agreeing to concussion protocol changes as quickly as it did feels important. The sooner we get change for the better, then the better things will be:
- MLB’s expanded postseason has churned out more entertaining drama than I wasn’t expecting. I was wrong about adding extra playoff spots. More fun baseball is actually good. Who knew?