The NFL’s $800M Mistakes, Fields Reflects, Hargrave’s Audition, Sunday Ticket and YouTube TV? And Other Bears Bullets

Mets owner Steve Cohen is just me in a fantasy league … but if I was armed with a few billion dollars.

  • At this time last year, we were lining up potential candidates for what felt like was the inevitable firings of Bears GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy. We’re not doing that this time around. In fact, I think we’re relatively happy with how the first year of the Ryan Poles-Matt Eberflus era is going to this point. It hasn’t been perfect. But I’ve seen growth out of Eberflus and his coaching staff that makes me feel better now than I did after the first few weeks of the season. It’s almost as if coaches and coordinators can learn, grow, and evolve just like players. Who’dathunkit?
  • I offer that up as the lede Bullet because ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the NFL has spent $800 million in fired coaches and front office executives over the last five years. That number had me gobsmacked when reading it. The Bears, of course, have their hand in it with their own recent firings. And as we near the end of December, we’ll start seeing which teams will join in on the spending spree.
  • It is absolutely wild that the NFL sent out a memo to teams that essentially says hey, y’all have been spending kinda wildly lately and maybe you should tone it down. Via Schefter:
  • The message, delivered this past week at the owners meetings in Dallas, was sent by the league as a reminder that as some franchises mull significant changes at the end of the season, hundreds of millions of dollars have been squandered recently by teams that may need to act less hastily.

    NFL officials went so far as to compose spreadsheets specific to each team about the employees they fired and the costs incurred by the team, according to sources. The league wanted each team to see the exact cost for instability and the employees they paid for services no longer rendered.

    Costs this year already have begun piling up in ways the league is cautioning teams to guard against in the future.

  • I wish someone would’ve sent me a similar memo as I did my Christmas shopping this year. But I suppose my credit card statement will do the talking.
  • Speaking of upcoming spending sprees: A reminder via that the Bears project to be $124,435,758 under the 2023 salary cap. The next closest teams are the Falcons ($71.6M), Giants ($58.2M), Patriots ($56.1M), and Seahawks ($53.8M). There will be other teams that clear up additional cap space before the new league year starts in March. But no one can compete with the financial muscle the Bears can flex this upcoming offseason. Here’s hoping GM Ryan Poles can leverage it to its fullest extent — and wisely, soo.
  • In re-watching the Bears-Eagles game like the sicko that I am, I couldn’t help but wonder if Philly defensive lineman was auditioning for Poles and the Bears front office. He might as well have been. The free-agent-to-be who plays a position the Bears desperately need to fill was a stat sheet stuffer on Sunday. Hargrave had 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, 2 tackles-for-loss, and 3 total tackles. Dude was nasty:
  • Hargrave is in the midst of a career year with 10 sacks (career high), 14 QB Hits (4 short of matching a career best), 9 tackles-for-loss (his next one will be a new single-season high-water mark). A Pro Bowler in 2021 (and well on his way toward going again), Hargrave will play the 2023 season at age 30. And while (1) the Bears offensive line didn’t offer much resistance and (2) I’m generally wary of standout players who might be getting propped up by those around him, Hargrave looks like an intriguing free-agent target whose status we should monitor this offseason.
  • Bolstering the defensive line would go a long way toward helping the secondary. And it’s not as if the defensive backfield is a weakness for the Bears. When healthy, throwing Jaylon Johnson, Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, and Eddie Jackson is a solid mix of veteran know-how and youthful upside. For what it’s worth, that group (sans an injured Jackson) held its own against a high-powered Philly offense. Cam Ellis (670 The Score) nailed it in tweeting: “usually when you give up 300+ passing yards it’s “bad” but not today!!!!” in sharing these postgame thoughts.
  • That Bears defense, while being aggravating as heck for much of the year, has its moments:
  • As impressive as Justin Fields’ play is, I find myself impressed with how he has handled this season. Think about the hurdles. A new general manager who didn’t draft you hires a new head coach with defensive leanings. That head coach brings in a new offensive coordinator/play-caller, who installs a third different offense you need to learn in as many years. The offensive line that was put together had more question marks than the confused Nick Young meme. That wide receiver’s room is messier than a child’s playpen. There was legitimate doubt that Fields would make it through the season because of the beating he was taking behind the line. But as NBC Sports Chicago’s Josh Schrock points out, Fields took it in stride and successfully blocked the noise. And the way Fields talks about it puts it in perspective:
  • “I always taught myself I’m not gonna take, I’m not gonna take somebody’s opinions to heart when I wouldn’t take advice from you,” Fields said Tuesday at Halas Hall. “No offense to people out there, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, but if I’m not looking to take advice from you, I’m not gonna care about your opinion or what you have to say. I saw a video. I don’t know where I saw it. It was on Instagram where it was like if somebody’s talking bad about you, if they were speaking in a different language and you didn’t know what they were saying, you wouldn’t take it any kind of way.

    “Just kind of look at it from that perspective to where they can say what they want, but it really just depends on how you take what they say. I don’t know Spanish. So if they’re cussing me out in Spanish saying I’m this, saying I’m that in Spanish, I’m gonna look at them and smile because I have no idea what they’re saying. So yeah, I think it really just depends on how you take those opinions and if they really effect you or not.”

  • OK, I get it now. But also … can someone teach Fields remedial Spanish so he knows if someone is talking smack about him? Fine, I’ll do it.
  • Give me any and all angles of this run:
  • Patrick Finley (Sun-Times) nails it in writing about Bills quarterback Josh Allen as being someone Fields should look at for inspiration on how to use evolve your game. Earlier in the year, we found ourselves in this space (and elsewhere) discussing how players like Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, and Allen used their mobility to make splash plays early in their careers which ultimately allowed them time to develop as passers. Fittingly enough, Hurts and Allen are visiting the Bears on back-to-back weeks. I’d bet on Fields taking copious notes in film study as his game continues developing.
  • I wasn’t expecting Sam Mustipher to receive honorary captain’s status at any point this year. But kudos to him for getting it:
  • ’tis the damn season:

  • This weekend’s games are going to be lit:
  • It sounds like the NFL is getting close to liking up with YouTube TV for the rights to be the exclusive home of Sunday Ticket:
  • If YouTube TV can get it in at a decent price for consumers, this could be a big win for the streaming service, the NFL, and football fans.
  • Steelers icon and NFL legend Franco Harris passed away at age 72. These thoughts on Harris from Good Morning Football co-host Kyle Brandt are worth sharing:
  • OMG, Bulls … wyd?
  • This is at a 2021 level of Bears dysfunction. And the type of thing that I thought the Bulls had put behind them with the hirings of Artūras Karnišovas, Marc Eversley, and Billy Donovan. Somewhere in Arizona, I imagine Jerry Reinsdorf is scrolling through Twitter, coming across these headlines, and saying to himself this is why I don’t hand out $100 million contracts.
  • Seeing this cross the wires early this morning while I was dealing with a stomach ache had me all sorts of discombobulated:
  • All of a sudden, I find myself wanting to fast forward to the potential Bears spending spree that should be coming in March.
  • Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson is not-so-subtly asking for teams wanting to make trades with him to step up their offers:
  • written by

    Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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