The Grand Finale, Playoff Path, Jags Plan, Ted Phillips' Time is Ending, and Other Bears Bullets

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The Grand Finale, Playoff Path, Jags Plan, Ted Phillips’ Time is Ending, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

We’ve finally hit Week 18. And because my brain is in a musical place today, I’ve been thinking of great songs that wrap up albums. “Last Call” (from Kanye West’s College Dropout album) and “Grand Finale” (via Lil’ Jon’s Crunk Juice classic) come to mind for me. Brand New’s “Play Crack the Sky” is a song I’m sure my girlfriend would’ve brought up for the discussion because I know how much she loved that band (and it’s a song that came up on a list of greatest album-closing songs list). I’ll browse through the rest of the list and deal with my emotions later. We’ve got football to discuss.

  • Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened is a thing I’ve been trying to tell myself a lot over the last few days. Not necessarily because the Bears’ 2022 season is coming to a close. But also … it’s a quote fitting for that situation, too. Now, I don’t think folks were weeping over this Bears team. However, the pain of going through another 10+ loss season hits differently for fans. It’ll be over soon. And we’ll be better for having gone through this rough ride together. Thanks for being here for me, friends.
  • This is a morning look at what’s at stake in Week 18 in terms of the playoff picture:
  • Here’s hoping the Bears are in this conversation next year.
  • How about a source of optimism for next year?
  • Think about where the Jaguars were at this time last year. This was a 3-14 team that had instability in the front office, a messy ending to their head coach’s run, and a quarterback in Trevor Lawrence who didn’t play like someone who was worthy of being the first overall pick. What a difference a year makes. Hiring the right coach (Doug Pederson), deploying their oodles of cap space to fill needs throughout the roster, and using draft capital to supplement the squad made a world of difference for the Jags. And look at them now! Playoff bound as division champs. There is your inspiration, Bears fans.
  • And to think, they didn’t even have to learn how to win last year!
  • TL;DR — Bears got next, baby!
  • It’s wild to think about how the Jags really mucked up the receiver market this past offseason with their overpays. And yet, those moves paid off. Christian Kirk put up his best single-season stats in receiving yards (1,108), catches (84), and touchdowns (8). Zay Jones had a glow-up year with career highs in receptions (82), yards (823), and touchdowns (5). Evan Engram hauled in 73 passes for 766 yards and four scores looking like the tight end the Giants were wanting him to be all those years. Who’s to say the Bears can’t do the same this offseason? The blueprint is there for GM Ryan Poles. I hope he uses it.
  • In hindsight, it blows my mind to think about how the Jaguars spent $59 million on Kirk, Jones, and Engram only to have PFF rank Jacksonville’s group of receivers on the same tier as the Bears. When we were discussing it at the time, my big takeaway was that the Jags spending money like mad to end up thrown in with Bears was a reminder that activity doesn’t equal progress. Well, after the chips fell the Jaguars’ activity turned into progress. I was wrong. But learning from this process can be valuable for all of us. So perhaps we should keep in mind that perception isn’t always reality — especially when games haven’t even been played. This will be a good perspective to have if (when?) the Bears go hog wild in free agency and pundits aren’t fond of what they do.
  • As for the game the Bears are playing today, I doubt they’ll have rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon when they take the field. The team added “illness” to Gordon’s injury designation (which also includes a groin issue) and remains questionable. With that being said, I found it notable when the team announced defensive backs Adrian Colbert and Greg Stroman Jr. were flexed onto the active roster from the practice squad. I’m taking it as a sign that Gordon is sitting out today. And if that is the case, then I am 100 percent cool with that decision. Groin issues are nothing to play with and risking further injury to that region in Week 18 would be foolish.
  • I can see this interaction so clearly that I might as well have been there in the first place:
  • Some folks aren’t going to like reading this, but that outlandish play in the Chiefs-Raiders game had Matt Nagy’s fingerprints all over it:
  • This is the right thing to do:
  • But also: The NFL should do this for all of its players. This is a nice public relations win for the NFL. But a real win would be to do right by all of the injured players.
  • This is a nice look, guys:
  • It’s the little things!
  • Maybe NFL refs can visit the same vision specialist Ian Happ was seeing.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.