Schedule Quirks, Biggest Challenges, Motivated Foes, Joint Practices, and Other Bears Bullets
After squeaking out a fantasy baseball win against a long-time rival (hi, Rich! no hard feelings!) this week, it looks like I’ve got some tough decisions to make with three players about to hit the IL. Gulp!
- We’re still talking through the NFL schedule release because there are so many quirks that keep coming across our noses. Also, it’s that time of the year when things start to slow down in the news cycle. So that gives us extra time to go a little deeper on something trivial like how the schedule fell for the Bears.
- For instance, Josh Schrock (NBC Sports Chicago) circles a seven-game stretch on the calendar he deems to be a toughie:
Week 6 vs. Vikings
Week 7 vs. Raiders
Week 8 at Chargers
Week 9 at Saints
Week 10 vs. Panthers
Week 11 at Lions
Week 12 at Vikings
- That seven-game heater might look appealing, but it is loaded with booby traps. Back-to-back road games against the Chargers (a playoff team last year with Super Bowl aspirations) and Saints (who play in the notoriously tough SuperDome) will be a doozy. And then to come back home to play the Panthers on a short turnaround has that Thursday Night Football showdown looking like a trap game. Especially with back-to-back road games against division foes to wrap it up before the bye. This is not as kind of a stretch as you’d like for it to be when you were watching the schedule release video.
I can’t shake this thought: The Bears’ 2023 schedule looks inviting, but…
- It’s the “but” that I can’t shake. Ironic, considering my butt-wiggling capabilities. But I digress. The Bears have just five games against teams that made the playoffs last year. And that should clear a path to a prosperous year. However, Dan Wiederer (Tribune) and Mark Potash (Sun-Times) go over the “buts” and I feel as if reading them now prepares us for later.
- A scheduling note that flew under my radar:
- The “joint practice” bit was funnier when the Bears were doing them in Denver. Nevertheless, I like that the Bears are doing these again. Heck, I’ll take it a step further and say I like that I’m seeing more NFL teams do these again. Some squads stepped back from joint practices when COVID was at its height of being problematic. Maybe this is a sign that things are normalizing.
- Three players on PFF’s list of those going into a make-or-break 2023 happen to play for opponents on the Bears’ schedule this year. Chicago’s football team will see Bucs QB Baker Mayfield in Week 2, Chargers CB JC Jackson in Week 8, and Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins in Week 16. And for good measure, they might see Bills WR Gabe Davis in preseason Week 3. Even though the Bears’ schedule looks favorable, there are some games that give me pause. This year won’t be for the faint of heart. But that is life as a Bears fan. And I’m not sure we’d want it any other way. Besides, what fun is the journey if the road you take to complete it is Easy Street.
- OK, um, on second thought, there is a part of me that is tired of the Football Gods giving us their toughest challenges. I know, I know. The football deities will give their toughest battles to their strongest soldiers. But have they considered giving those battles to others? Just asking.
- ALSO: Week 2 in Tampa is such a waste. The NFL could’ve done us a solid by scheduling the Bears to take a trip to Florida in December, but noooooooo. The schedule-making algorithm couldn’t spit something out where the Bears could’ve gone to Cleveland in September and Tampa in December. A Week 2-Week 15 flip-flop was right there for us! Ugh.
- One of the newest Bears is celebrating a birthday today:
- It is probably way too early to suggest how effective this group will be in 2023, but the new-look defensive line can’t be worse than what it was last year. Birthday boy Raheem Green joins Andrew Billings, DeMarcus Walker, Zacch Pickens, Gervon Dexter Sr., and Travis Bell as newbies along the defensive line. Throw Dominique Robinson and Justin Jones into the mix and we’ve got eight defensive linemen who are in their first or second year with the team. In other words, that leaves Trevis Gipson as the lone holdover from the old regime. Gipson was a solid rotational defensive end/pass-rushing linebacker option for a minute. However, he’ll be facing stiff competition if he wants to hold onto a rotation spot.
- Chicago’s very own Staley Da Bear is up for the Mascot Hall of Fame. It’s a loaded class, so you’ll want to stuff the ballot box (the Chicago way!) when you get a chance:
- Seeing the Blackhawks looking forward to the offseason transaction season reminds me of how I felt as I began the post-mortem process with the 2022 Bears with eyes on 2023. In other words, this feels like a good time to get in at a low buy-in point for Chicago’s hockey team:
- The Cubs are back in action after a brutal Saturday and Sunday stretch that made me glad I was mostly off the grid this weekend:
- It’s a shame the Cubs and Astros never went against each other at the peak of their powers between 2015-2018. No, it isn’t as bad as the feeling I get knowing that we never got a Kobe-LeBron NBA Finals matchup. But we, as baseball fans, missed out on something special.
The Networks’ Faith in Fields, Chargers Strike Again, Where Are We Traveling? And Other Bears Bullets