Taylor Swift tickets go on sale this morning if you were lucky enough to snag a pre-sale code. May the Force be with us all as we attempt to secure a place at an event that has been two years in the making.
- That sound you heard late last night was probably a collection of the remaining 1972 Dolphins popping champagne after the last of the unbeaten teams went down on Monday Night Football. In a major upset, the Commanders beat the Eagles on MNF by a 32-21 tally. A reminder that on any given Sunday (or Monday … or Thursday … or whatever day the NFL decides it wants to play a game) any one team can beat another.
- It was an emotional victory for Ron Rivera:
- And because you’re curious, the Washington win gives the Bears some space ahead of the Commanders in the reverse standings. More on that later today as we continue to sort through the aftermath of Sunday’s Tank Win against the Lions.
- If there were any stragglers questioning Justin Fields’ job security, let’s put them to bed right now. Fields has very much won over this regime … and we shouldn’t overlook it. For all the ink that was spilled wondering if the new front office was setting Fields up for failure, this situation is playing out the way we thought it would last spring. From something I wrote titled “Nah, I Don’t Think the Bears Are Giving Up on Justin Fields” on May 16:
It is possible that this front office believes so much in Fields’ overall skills and his makeup that a bad year by the team won’t hurt the QB’s development. Should that turn out to be the case, then the Bears will roll into 2023 with a quarterback whose developmental arrow is pointing up, a potential top-10 pick in a 2023 draft class loaded with receivers, and an improved secondary that won’t cough up leads Fields gives them as they did against the Niners and Steelers. And the cherry on top is a projected $93,486,081 in available salary cap, per OverTheCap.com. Having a top-10 pick and nearly $100 million in cap space to work with is absolutely wild — and Fields can be the beneficiary.
- Fast forward six months and the Bears project to have $124,435,758 in cap space next offseason. The team currently holds the sixth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. And ESPN’s Football Power Index currently projects the Bears to own the fourth overall pick. Meanwhile, Fields’ overall skills and makeup have shone through the dark clouds hovering above the Bears this season with a remarkable bit of in-season improvement. It is pretty much what I thought it might be. Did the Bears take a circuitous route to get here? Sure. Could it have been better? Absolutely. But Fields has delivered to this point, so I hope GM Ryan Poles and the front office reward the QB for his efforts. Fields deserves it.
- Things that haven’t necessarily aged well: That line about a secondary that won’t cough up leads. On the one hand, the defensive backfield is improved from last year. Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker was on PFF’s Midseason All-Rookie Team. Fellow rookie Kyler Gordon has shown signs of life after a slow start to his pro career. Safety Eddie Jackson has turned back the clock to 2018 with his play in the first half. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson remains a reliable defender (when healthy). And even Kindle Vildor has been a revelation, going from on the cusp of being pushed off the roster to playing his way into a regular role. But on the other hand, this defense stinks. It wasn’t great before the trades of Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, and it hasn’t gotten better since their departures. Just add off-ball LB and pass rusher to the offseason shopping list.
- I hate putting a caveat when discussing Johnson’s play, but injuries have been an issue throughout the early portion of his career. Johnson has missed time in each of the first three seasons. And while he deserves kudos for gutting it out and playing through an oblique injury, perhaps someone should tell him to cool it if he isn’t fully healthy. An authority figure. Someone like the head coach? Some words from Head Coach Matt Eberflus that made me go hmmm:
- Part of me understands where Coach Flus is coming from in trusting players who want to play and get on the field. HOWEVER, cooler heads have to prevail. As a coach, you have to know when you know better than your players. This felt like a situation where Eberflus could’ve stepped in to tell Johnson something along the lines of: “We know you want to play, but we don’t need you further injuring yourself in a game against the Lions.” Maybe Johnson felt the need to get in on the action knowing that the secondary was short-handed. Even still … sometimes, you’ve gotta know when you’ve got bigger fish to fry.
- While he is on our mind, let’s add Johnson to the list of players miffed by officiating:
“Everybody who watched it would disagree with the call, but I mean, that’s what was called,” Johnson said, via 670 The Score. “I asked, ‘How was it (a penalty)?’ He said I got my hands in his face. He kept it as simple as that. One of the coaches on their sideline even said that I punched him in his face. So I mean, I don’t what they’re seeing, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. It was called. But I definitely think that was a miss.”
- Again, I can’t blame him for being upset about that call. However, as Eddie Jackson pointed out in the postgame aftermath, we’re not discussing officiating if the Bears can successfully hold a double-digit fourth quarter lead.
- Is it any consolation that it was a bad day all around for the officiating staff at Soldier Field this past week?
- Looking back on it, this was the game-changing moment of the day:
- I can’t front, it’s impressive that Johnson goes from being down at the 35-yard-line to being caught up with Goff in a snap. But what should’ve been a sack and a major loss ended up being a drive-sparking penalty that was the first domino to fall in the Bears’ fourth-quarter collapse. Then again, I’m trying to find silver linings in all these clouds. So I’ll instead focus on Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams dialing up a successful blitz that — with experience — will work because Gordon won’t make the same mistake twice. Hopefully.
- Dan Wiederer (Tribune) and Patrick Finley (Sun-Times) have some thoughts on Fields after reviewing the film.
- Look who’s up for a major award (again):
- Some Fields fantasy dominance:
- Offenses are better when a coach calls plays that are are built off each other as opposed to calling from a Denny’s menu masquerading as a collection of individual plays that worked this one time when Andy Reid was calling them:
- There is still time to vote in this very important poll:
- Ope! Jim Irsay is on one after a big win in Vegas. And he’s doing callbacks to iconic Chicago Sports Radio segments?
- Nope. Can’t say I like this:
- Zach LaVine was keeping it real after another rough Bulls loss:
- Over at BN Blackhawks, Tab continues banging the drum for Steve Larmer’s No. 28 to be retired: