Sunday, December 4, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
I would be the woman in the chair.
Things aren't good right now, folks. I'm not one to overreact. There's a number of reasons to take some cautious optimism from this game (401 yards of offense, somehow, as well as 6.4 yards per rush and 172 yards rushing, they lost by one score to a good team on the road, etc.). But I'm just not feeling it at the moment. I'm worried.
We know a lot of things about Caleb Hanie at this point. He can do some fun things when he's improvising, like his TDs to Earl Bennett in the title game and the bomb to Johnny Knox. He's athletic, since he managed 50 yards rushing on just five carries, but I can't get over the fact that he appears to be incredibly dumb. I don't know how you throw an interception to BJ Raji. I don't know how you even begin to throw that first interception that he threw to a guy standing directly in front of him just a few feet away. I just don't know how this apparently recklessness that Hanie has will work itself out quickly.
Don't get me wrong. This wasn't Todd Collins, or Craig Krenzel or any of the embarrassingly awful schmucks they've thrown out there before. If Caleb was a rookie making his first start on a team that was going nowhere I'd consider him promising, but I'm not sure he's not going to continue doing stupid shit on a team that really can't afford it right now. At this point, Hanie's a wildcard that could keep this team from beating anyone of the teams that I'd have considered nothing more than cannon fodder for this team with Cutler at the helm. Hell, I'm scared of Tebow's Broncos at the moment. Do you have any fucking idea how much I hate to even say that?
You can say the Raiders are the best team the Bears have left before Green Bay, when, hopefully, Jay may be back. But they didn't do anything yesterday that any of the other teams in the AFC West couldn't do. They were terrible and couldn't run the ball. Caleb put them in position for nearly all of their scores, and it sucked, and it could potentially happen against any of the other teams the Bears Should beat the rest of the way.
Oh well. I'm sure this is just me panicking, and every time I seem to get near the edge this team does something good to get me to back up, so let's hope Caleb Hanie just had one horribly stupid half of football and has it out of his system.
Johnny Knox- I'm still mad at him for slipping on that slant and inadvertently causing this whole mess, but Jesus, Johnny is playing some good football, with a 145 yards and a TD to follow his 97 yard effort last week. He's coming along. If his head is finally catching up with his talent, look out.
Forte/Barber: I like the move to give Barber more carries. Teams are going to stack the box and dare Caleb Hanie to beat them. Unfortunately, Matt Forte's edge runs and bounces to the outside tend to wind up in 3 yard losses against those kinds of fronts. The answer, as we saw, was to have Marion Barber run right into the teeth of the defense and drag them for four to six yards a pop. Together the Thunder/Lightning combo managed 22 rushes for 122 yards (5.5 YPC). Hopefully this will bode well in the games to come, since they're going to need it.
The Defensive Line: They had their best performance all year, with 4 sacks and consistent pressure, and they held Michael Bush to 2.9 yards per rush. They were a big part of limiting the Raiders to those six field goals that miraculously kept them in the game after Caleb's mistakes put them in some bad positions.
Sebastian Janikowski: The silver lining in all of this is that I own Janikowski on my fantasy team.
Caleb Hanie: Well, yeah.
Tim Jennings: He played well for most of the game, but he dropped two interceptions that would have taken Oakland points off of the board and he got beat on the pass that set up Oakland's clinching TD.
Jay Cutler standing on the sideline: Oh, how it hurt my eyes.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Oh well. Shit happens. It is ironic that this occurred on the very eve in which my recap consisted solely of touting the merits of a franchise QB, but Caleb Hanie can handle this. If you don't think Caleb, with Matt Forte, an improving offensive line, that defense, and Devin Hester on special teams can at least break even and get this team to the playoffs where Jay can save the day, well, you must not have been paying attention to any of the Bears teams that made the playoffs despite ENTIRE SEASONS of Kyle Ortons, Rex Grossmans, Jim Millers, and Steve Walshes. Now, if Jay was going to be out forever I'd say "oh well, playoff appearance my ass, you can't win a title with Caleb Hanie, at least not right now," but nobody so far has ruled Jay out for the title run. All Caleb has to do is fulfill every major QB cliche I've railed against for years. Manage the game, Caleb. Play within yourself. Take care of the ball, and fuck it, if you want to make a play every now and then, be my guest. Just watch out for BJ Raji.
I've had my moment of despair. Oh, last night I did hang my head sorrowfully. "Oh, great lords of the football world, why hath thou forsaken me?" I did query. They answered with silence, as they usually do. And lo, I did say, "Oh, bottle of Johnny Walker, a faithful friend thou art."
This morning I woke to a world where the Bears are 7-3 and a full game ahead of the other contenders for the 6 seed in the NFC playoffs. Nothing's changed. The goal is in sight. Bear down.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Don't get me wrong, Jay had played very well in some blowouts (Atlanta, Minnesota) and had come up big late against Philly. He'd managed the game well a few times (Detroit 2, Carolina) and he'd been heroic in a losing effort in Detroit. He'd had a couple totally forgettable outings against Green Bay and New Orleans. All in all, he'd done just what he'd needed to do to get this team to 6-3 behind a great run game and a surging defense. But tonight, the Bears needed their guy to go toe-to-toe with San Diego's guy and light up the scoreboard, and he responded.
The Bears needed a showing like this on offense. They needed a game where the defense had shut down Matt Forte and Cutler proved to everyone that that wouldn't be enough to beat this team. Last week against Detroit the defense and Devin Hester had made any risk-taking on offense unnecessary. Tonight, Cutler had to drop back and sling the rock, and he put up a 31 point bomb while accounting for 3 total TDs and 297 yards of offense. Like a franchise quarterback would do.
Jay Cutler: I'll just post his statline here: 18/31 for 286 yds, 9.2 YPA, 2 TDs, 1 INT (that came when Knox fell down on a slant. Again.), 5 rushes for 11 yds and a TD. You're the man, Jay. The pass to Roy Williams on third down with a defender draped around him was sheer awesome, and the TD toss to Knox...Jesus. I didn't think throws like that were possible.
Johnny Knox: He's often a punching bag for me, so I'll give Johnny some credit for his 3 catches for 97 yds and a TD. All three catches were beautiful routes, and Johnny even came back for the ball and made a great adjustment on a 42 yard back shoulder throw. Good on ya, Johnny, I'll ignore the slip that caused the interception for now.
Roy Williams: Speaking of punching bags, what the hell got into Roy Williams tonight? 5 catches for 62 yards, all of them great catches showing off good hands. What the hell?
The offensive line: San Diego was keying on the run, much like Detroit, but the offensive line gave Jay all the time he needed, as they kept the sack column clean for the second time in three games. They eventually got the run going there at the end after they'd opened some lanes with the pass. Great effort.
Urlacher/Briggs: San Diego managed 52 yards rushing thanks to these guys. Briggs was a terror in the backfield on nearly every run play, and Urlacher was a force as well.
Major Wright: It's early, but we've seen some signs the last few weeks that Major Wright may be the Mike Brown-esque ball hawk we were told he was on draft day last year.
Charles Tillman: I love you, P'nut, but today was not your day, outside of yet another classic Tillman ball punch. I'm not sure when they're going to learn that Charles isn't the guy to cover a speedster like Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith, or Greg Jennings. Megatron? Randy Moss? No problem, but anybody who can just burn right past Tillman is going to have a big day.
Sloppy Play: Too many penalties, a couple of which called back some great Devin Hester returns. Need to be more disciplined.
Philip Rivers: Rivers is a talented guy. Smart enough to figure out how to throw the short passes and quick patterns that sometimes give the Lovie defense trouble, but he made the mistake most of the people who aren't Aaron Rodgers make against that D. He got impatient and it led to two key turnovers that sealed the game for the Bears. Also, he's a jag.
That's all for now. Every win at this point is a big one, and next week on the road against Oakland will be the toughest challenge left before the Green Bay game. I'm confident they'll keep rolling, since they showed tonight that even on a night where the two biggest reasons for their success so far (defense and Forte) are struggling, teams are going to have to account for #6. I don't think many teams have enough answers for what the Bears are doing right now. Lovie said that he thought this was the best and most talented team he's ever had in Chicago. I'm really starting to believe him.
(Also, my apologies for the technical difficulties in the SKOsbox this week. The shoutmix people have gotten some strongly worded e-mails. You know they're terrified of me.)
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Code Red: Much as I loathe the cult of Tebow, I find this Broncos experiment with 1940s football to be quite interesting. It shall fail miserably against the Jets defense, but it shall be a gloriously entertaining failure. Jets win.
Iggins!: Actually the Jets run defense hasn't been as great this season. This'll be close, but I'll take the Jets.
Code Red: Allowing just 3.7 YPC in their last four, I believe. Much like the Bears, they appear to have straightened their defensive issues out, although Rico Mirerez is still there to torpedo their chances.
Mrs. Code Red: I would imagine the Jets' defense is much better than the Chiefs. Blitz him, what's he going to do? Jets win.
Raiders (5-4) at Vikings (2-7)
Iggins!: So last week I picked a couple games I shouldn't have and lost a game in the standings. I told myself I wasn't going to do that this week. Oh well. Vikings win!
Code Red: Well, I guess that means I roll with Oakland.
Mrs. Code Red: God dammit, Iggins!, I wanted to be alone in my Vikings pick. Vikings win.
Bengals (6-3) at Ravens (6-3)
Code Red: The Ravens beat good teams, but play poorly against bad teams. The question is, do they view the Bengals as a good or a bad team? Bah. They've won when I've needed them and Iggins! is crushing on Andy Dalton. Ravens win.
Iggins!: In the sense that Andy Dalton is basically Joe Flacco in his rookie year? Sure then. The Ravens are pretty easy to understand. If they RUN THE BALL they will win. If they run the ball FIVE TIMES like they did against Seattle they will lose. I'll take the Ravens but... I mean they haven't learned yet.
Code Red: Those sonsofbitches better run the goddamn ball. Daddy needs a big game from Ray Rice this week. Also, my Microsoft Word now saves and auto-completes “sonsofbitches” thanks to my frequency of use. Awesome.
Mrs. Code Red: How are the Bengals 6-3? I like Andy Dalton, I feel bad for him that he's in the same rookie class as Cam Newton. Ravens win.
Bills (5-4) at Dolphins (2-7)
Iggins!: This is a solid choice for an upset but I want to believe in the Bills. COME ON BUFFALO. Bills win.
Code Red: Both of these two teams need to end their streaks. Bills win.
Mrs. Code Red: The Bills are sliding, but I don't think they'll slide that far. Bills win.
Jaguars (2-7) at Browns (3-6)
Code Red: Oh God, why? That Jags defense is good. Cleveland's offense is brutal. Maurice Jones Drew may be the difference? Jags win.
Iggins!: This game will happen and nobody will know. Jaguars win.
Mrs. Code Red: Well, go for broke seemed to work okay for me last week, so Browns it is.
Cowboys (5-4) at Redskins (3-6)
Iggins!: Good to know the Redskins are just as awful as we all thought. They did the start strong thing last year too. Cowboys win.
Code Red: I think if the Redskins have learned their lesson, they give Shanahan one more year, because I think he has a plan, and he's done a decent job of rebuilding their defense. I think he's had his eye on this year's draft to make his move for a QB, and I have a feeling it'll be Matt Barkley. Anyway, none of this changes the fact that it'll be the Cowboys who win this game.
Mrs. Code Red: My heart says Sexy Rexy, but my head says the Cowboys.
Buccaneers (4-5) at Packers (9-0)
Code Red: Sonofabitch. Packers win.
Iggins!: Packers win handily.
Mrs. Code Red: Stupid Packers. Packers win.
Panthers (2-7) at Lions (6-3)
Iggins!: I want so badly to choose Cam Newton here, but his team just ain't winning. Lions win.
Code Red: Oh fuck it. Save us, Cam. My rage at that bitch Matthew Stafford has not yet abated. Panthers win.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah, I don't think they'll lose to Carolina. Lions win.
Cardinals (3-6) at 49ers (8-1)
Code Red: I'd love if the Bears or someone else can trip up Green Bay and the road to the Superbowl ran through San Francisco. That would be...odd, but better than a trip to Lambeau. 49ers win.
Iggins!: If the Bears lose to the Packers in the NFC Title Game again there will be oceans of blood. 49ers win.
Mrs. Code Red: I'll take a gamble and go with the 49ers.
Seahawks (3-6) at Rams (2-7)
Iggins!: What a great game this is! Seattle is rolling, so I'll take the Sea Chickens to win.
Code Red: Seattle's a shit team, but their run defense is pretty good. Their pass defense isn't good, but the Rams have shown no ability to take advantage of something like that. Seahawks win.
Mrs. Code Red: I guess I'll take the underdogs. Wait, who are the underdogs? They both sucks. The Seahawks apparently only beat good teams, so I'll go with the Rams.
Chargers (4-5) at Bears (6-3)
Code Red: I'm no longer afraid that this Chargers team is a typical “waiting for a late run” Chargers team. They're just not very good. Rivers looks like 2009 Cutler, trying to do far, far too much on a team that doesn't have much to offer around him. The Chargers have been gashed by the run and have allowed a QB rating of 96 to opposing passers this year. The Bears win, 28-14.
Iggins!: Yeah the Bears should win this handily, but due to this being a pivotal week for my fantasy team, I'm hoping Ryan Mathews scores a couple TDs. Bears win.
Mrs. Code Red: F*&k you Philip Rivers. Go Bears.
Titans (5-4) at Falcons (5-4)
Iggins!: I approve of the ballsy OT fourth down call. It didn't work, because he isn't Les Miles, but I approve. Falcons win.
Code Red: I think it was incredibly stupid, but I appreciated it since it brought a swift end to that OT game and brought the Bears game onto my TV. Falcons win.
Mrs. Code Red: Hmmm...Falcons.
Eagles (3-6) at Giants (6-3)
Code Red: More prime time EaglesFail! Giants win.
Iggins!: Yeah they suck something fierce. They're like the Knicks from the 00's. Giants win.
Mrs. Code Red: Giants. Most def.
Chiefs (4-5) at Patriots (6-3)
Code Red: God dammit. The Pats have a shitty defense, and yet again their soft schedule is going to lead to 12-13 wins and everyone will forget all about the shitty defense. Sigh. Pats win.
Iggins!: PALKO TIME. My wife is giddy with anticipation, she's been calling for Palko since the preseason. Humorously, I think this game will be close, but the Pats should win. Pats win.
Code Red: Because backup quarterbacks who look great in the preseason are always highly successful in real games. Just ask Todd Collins and Brian Griese!
Mrs. Code Red: I will not be shocked if the Patriots lose this. Patriots win, though.
Code Red: 123-72
Mrs. Code Red: 115-80
UNC (6-4) at VT (9-1)
Code Red: God dammit, VT. GT had you beat before that dumbass had to cost them and me a win by punching A GUY WEARING A HELMET. VT wins.
Iggins!: There seems to be an epidemic of that. I'm waiting for the first smart guy to remove his opponent's helmet and beat him with it. He might get suspended for the year, but at least we'd all agree that was an intelligent move. VaTech wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Virginia Tech. It only makes sense. Plus we've already established that I discriminate against the Carolinas.
Wisconsin (8-2) at Illinois (6-5)
Iggins!: I was going to correct you, Illinois is 6-4, but really why bother? Wisconsin wins.
Code Red: Well, that was a Freudian slip. Rumors say Zook is gone unless he beats Wisconsin and Minnesota. I bet he wins neither. Wisconsin wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Wisconsin. Zook is gone.
Nebraska (8-2) at Michigan (8-2)
Code Red: Ooh. Both of these teams, they are very similar. I'll take the home team. Michigan wins.
Iggins!: They're the same damn team. Michigan wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Oh what the hell? Nebraska.
Penn State (8-2) at Ohio State (6-4)
Iggins!: I don't understand Ohio State, but I'm still anti-kid rape. OSU wins.
Code Red: Ohio State's defense is still excellent, and Penn State's offense is still crapulent. And we're all anti-kid rape. OSU wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah...I can't pick PSU. OSU wins.
Vanderbilt (5-5) at Tennessee (4-6)
Code Red: Yeah, it's one of those weeks where “Bad but Competitive” gets you on the docket. I guess Vanderbilt?
Iggins!: The fuck is this? Vanderbilt wins?
Mrs. Code Red: Sure, I'll take Jay Cutler's alma mater. Vanderbilt wins.
Miami (5-5) at South Florida (5-4)
Iggins!: I'll take the Canes because I believe every time I've picked USF this year they have lost. Miami wins.
Code Red: I'll take South Florida, because we haven't disagreed yet and I'm running outta time.
Mrs. Code Red: G-reg's Miami Hurricanes.
Virginia (7-3) at Florida State (7-3)
Code Red: Who knew that Virginia was bowl eligible? Florida State wins.
Iggins!: I'll take FSU at home, but VA isn't a bad team.
Mrs. Code Red: Too much agreement this week. FSU wins.
USC (8-2) at Oregon (9-1)
Iggins!: Yeah. Oregon.
Code Red: Definitely Oregon.
Mrs. Code Red: Oregon.
Oklahoma (8-1) at Baylor (6-3)
Code Red: At least RGIII is already bowl eligible. Oklahoma wins.
Iggins!: This seems like a perfect game for Oklahoma to lose, but I just can't pick against them. Oklahoma wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Not Baylor. Oklahoma wins.
Kansas State (8-2) at Texas (6-3)
Iggins!: Texas isn't good. K-State wins.
Code Red: No, they are not. K-State wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Kansas State. Go Wildcats.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
So what's the problem? I get that Lovie makes some absolutely hare-brained decisions regarding fourth down attempts and challenges. How much of the job of an NFL coach boils down to those two things? Honestly? How many games do you remember the Bears actually Losing because of a poor decision in one of those two categories by Lovie Smith? Take, for example, the 4th and 1 they failed to convert against Detroit, that took 3 points off of the board. The Bears lost by 11. Didn't matter. I suppose you could complain about his failure to challenge Jay's fumble against the Redskins last year, but, much as I love Jay, that game boiled down more to his ridiculously stupid decisions than Lovie's failure to throw a red flag.
Sure, there was a rather dark time period where the Lovie Era seemed to be a disaster, and I too called for a clean house when they were 5-9 fourteen games into the 2009 season. That was two long years, and a 19-8 record in the last 27 games, ago. I've long since recanted. As I said during my bye week analysis of the team, I think Lovie's an excellent coach, who has the loyalty of his players. He's got a philosophy that he's loyal to, and, much as it can be frustrating when the pass rush is nonexistent, since the arrival of Julius Peppers it's worked as well as it did back in 2005 and 2006. He's made some tough calls this year, benching guys like Meriweather and Anthony Adams and cutting Chris Harris. All of them have worked out. Conte and Major Wright have stabilized the defense, and Adams responded the week after his benching with a career game against Detroit. At this point the Bears have faced the 6th most difficult schedule in all of football, and they're 6-3 (it's technically 9th, but Detroit, Tampa, and Minnesota's schedule are only more difficult because they've all faced Chicago, rather than vice versa). I think Lovie's doing a great job. It's that simple.
Another aspect of the Lovie Hate I find a bit difficult to explain is the fact that so many people lump him in with Jerry Angelo as though the two are joined at the hip. I have my beefs with Angelo. He's obviously a bit smarter than most gave him credit for, since guys like Lance Louis, Chris Williams before this unfortunate injury, Roberto Garza, and Chris Spencer have played far, far better than people expected, but that doesn't excuse the mess that his offensive lines have been for most of his tenure. Outside of Earl Bennett, the wide receiver corps is inconsistent at best and shitty at worst (I'm looking at you, Roy). Angelo is the guy responsible for Frank Omiyale's continued opportunities when Lovie's now benched him at various points in three consecutive seasons. Obviously they aren't both part of some kind of hive mind.
As a friend of mine pointed out today, even if you concede to the mob the fact that Angelo supposedly sucks at his job, talent acquisition, than that should, logically make Lovie look even better for crafting three (hopefully four) playoff teams and four (hopefully five) winning teams out of Angelo-built "shitty" rosters. So why blame Lovie?
I don't really have a conclusion here. I'm not stating definitely what the cause is for all this anger toward Lovie, since I honestly don't know. Why do those three disappointing seasons (and really that 2008 team was far better than it had any right to be) seem to count more than all of the good things he's done?
Oh well. Let the world know I'm still a fan of Lovie Smith. I hope most of you are, too.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
That's about how I feel about the Bear's performance on defense and special teams. Pretty nice that the offense's struggles were more or less irrelevant, especially since they spent most of the game simply running out the clock. The other two phases? Hell, that was the best performance I've seen since 2006, at least. Fox can blame Matt Stafford's gloves all they want, he was harried and harassed all day and he melted down. He couldn't even be bothered to tackle the guys he was telegraphing his passes too. It was glorious. Good to know Detroit and Chicago are both who I had thought they were. Some idiots out there, clinging to their feeble notions that the Lions are real contenders, will try to act like turnovers and special teams points are flukey, but as Bears fans, we know better, and there's a reason the Bears have dominated in both categories since Lovie came to town. All that matters at the end is the scoreboard, and the Bears would have won this game easily had Cutler, Forte, and co. not even have shown up. In the end, the Bears absolutely embarrassed their "rivals," and I use that term lightly because, as usual, Detroit didn't even belong on the same field. It was clear who the better team was today, in every way possible.
-Devin Hester: He didn't even have to play the second half since he was still recovering from his injury and suffering from strep throat, but he did his damage early with two long returns, one of 'em for a TD, the other to set up a FG, and the TD especially was classic Hester. He dropped the ball. He stood there. He looked like he had no idea what to do and he was going to get nailed. Then BOOM. Touchdown. God I love that guy.
-The Secondary: 4 interceptions, one each from Tillman, Wright, Graham, and Jennings, with Tillman and Wright both taking theirs to the house. Stafford (more on his bitch ass later) was forced into countless scatter-armed throws. Tillman owned Calvin Johnson, who was held out of the end zone for the first time all year, and fumbled. Jennings, Tillman's protege, also forced a Nate Burleson fumble. So, six turnovers from one secondary. Awesome.
-Julius Peppers: He spent most of the second half of the blowout on the bench resting his knee, but he absolutely terrified Stafford in the first half, with one sack, a pass deflection, numerous hurries, and one not-technically-a-sack-sack in which he chased Stafford out of bounds. He's the man.
-Anthony Adams: The big man responded to his benching with 2 sacks. That's good to see.
-Briggs and Urlacher: 17 tackles, a fumble recovery, a couple of pressures. Whatever. Nothing to see here.
-Earl Bennett: 6 receptions for 81 yards before they shut it down. Man it's good to have the BBE back.
-The Offense: I'm not going to dwell on it, since they managed 140 yds and 10 pts (nearly 13 had Gould not missed in the wind) in the first half, but they struggled in pass protection, couldn't run the ball against a defense that keyed on it, and Cutler missed some throws. Then again, they've played well the last four games and they'll be fine. Detroit does have a good front seven, even if the rest of the team got embarrassed today.
-Roy Williams: Ran the wrong route on one third down, dropped another pass. Not fond of him.
-Chris Williams: the kid had finally started to justify his draft spot by playing well at guard and now, by most accounts, he's down for the season with a wrist injury. Hopefully Eddie Williams is capable of stepping up. What a bummer. Otherwise I could see Webb, Spencer, Garza, Louis, Carimi left to right when Gabe gets back.
-Matthew Stafford: What a bitch. I have no other way of saying it. The little shitstain melts down the second he gets pressured, throws four interceptions, gets sacked three times, and then tries to man up by cheap-shotting DJ Moore and dragging him down by his facemask. What a pathetic excuse for a man. I hope he wrecks his fiberglass shoulder again.
-The rest of that pathetic fucking bunch: Suh's a dirty mother fucker and ripped off Jay's helmet after the whistle, then pushed him down later long after the play was dead. Fairley drove Cutler into the ground well after the ball had left his hands. Stafford's a whiny little bitch. Schwartz is a horse's ass, and I hope Lovie patted the shit out of his back after that. You're losers, Detroit, no matter what improvements you've made this year.
That's it for now. The Bears now hit the soft spot of the schedule, with the entire AFC West (including the Seahawks for old times sake) coming up. Keep rolling. Bear Down. I'm off to eat some of the Mrs' homemade fried rice. Life is good, folks. Unless your a little bitch like Matthew Stafford.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Code Red: Both of these teams are a goddamn mess. The Chargers have to win this, right? I don't want them coming into Chicago on a terrible three game losing streak. Chargers win.
Iggins!: Like that would matter? You really think the Chargers are good there, don't you? I may not think they're good, but Palmer has looked so bad I can't do anything but pick the Bolts to win at home.
Mrs. Code Red: Chargers. Please God, Philip Rivers. Get your shit together. It has to happen eventually, right? Right?
Bills (5-3) at Cowboys (4-4)
Iggins!: Yeah, I'm not gonna pick the Cowboys. They don't exactly have the Jet's defense. Bills win.
Code Red: I fear the Bills may be fading, but Dallas sucks. Bills win.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah, Bills. I'll never trust Tony Romo, especially not when Miles Austin is hurt again.
Saints (6-3) at Falcons (5-3)
Code Red: The Saints should set themselves firmly at the top of their division after this one. Saints win.
Iggins!: I have to pick Breesus here. Saints win.
Mrs. Code Red: Saints. Do I need to justify picking Breesus?
Texans (6-3) at Buccaneers (4-4)
Iggins!: ARRRRRRRRRIAN FOSSSSSSSSSSSSTER. Texans win.
Code Red: Troll hard, sir. Troll hard. Texans win.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah, I guess the Texans are alright. Good balance. I like Ben Tate. Promising young RB they have there. Texans win.
Rams (1-7) at Browns (3-5)
Code Red: Oh, this is awful. St. Louis managed to lose to the Cardinals last week, but I still think they'll find a way to overcome a Browns team that's just terrible and has no offense at all. Rams win.
Iggins!: Ima recap for you. The Rams scored 13 points against Arizona last week. Four of those points were safeties. I'll take the Browns at home.
Mrs. Code Red: Hmm...I'm gonna go with the Rams. If Sam Bradford's going to get it together, ever, it'll be here.
Steelers (6-3) at Bengals (6-2)
Iggins!: It looks like the Bengals have three games left they will most likely win, then two each against the Steelers and Ravens and one against Houston. If they can just pull the upset in one they might make the playoffs... oh why the hell not. CINCINNATI WINS.
Code Red: You're a mad man. Pittsburgh wins.
Mrs. Code Red: I'm also going to roll with Andy Dalton, the Ginger Rifle. Bengals.
Code Red: The whole damn world is mad.
Redskins (3-5) at Dolphins (1-7)
Code Red: Oh God, this is another awful one. Also, if you haven't seen the interview where Mickey Rourke describes Rex Grossman as a “trainwreck with balls,” you absolutely must. http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/Rex-Grossman-is-Mickey-Rourke-8217-s-favorite-q?urn=nfl-wp10983. Shanny should definitely put Rex back in, because he's far more entertaining than Beck. I expect the Skins defense (which is pretty good, actually) to win this one in an ugly, unwatchable contest. Redskins win.
Iggins!: This could be one of the worst games you will ever see (Though I doubt much of the country will see it). I'll take Miami at home.
Mrs. Code Red: Sexy Rexy should come back. I bet it'll happen here, with heroic results. Redskins win.
Titans (4-4) at Panthers (2-6)
Iggins!: Killa Cam has had very little to do with the Panther losses. If Carolina can add one more good receiver, kill Deangelo Williams, and upgrade the defense just a little bit they're a 10-11 win team next year. I'll take Carolina to win here.
Code Red: Isn't it odd? The Panthers are 2-6, and yet every week I'm inclined to pick them. I'll do it again here. Panthers win.
Mrs. Code Red: Umm...it's so hard to pick against Cam Newton. I won't. Panthers win.
Cardinals (2-6) at Eagles (3-5)
Code Red: Per usual, the Bears get a great win and the dominant theme is still “what's wrong with [insert Bears opponent]. I've heard several people talk about how the Eagles “didn't show up.” Oh well. The Eagles will break through here.
Iggins!: That's odd. All I saw on ESPN is that the Bears are really good, and Mike Florio was on the radio saying the same thing. You sound like an Iowa State fan there, Red. It does not count as breaking through to beat AZ, it counts as taking candy from a baby. Eagles win.
Code Red: Sadly, it was mostly on Chicago's own local sports radio. Philly did show up, Hub Arkush. They showed up and got their asses soundly kicked.
Mrs. Code Red: Eagles, I guess.
Broncos (3-5) at Chiefs (4-4)
Iggins!: That was an awful, awful thing that happened last week. I'll take the Chiefs to win for one more week, but if they lose here I'll have to forsake them.
Code Red: I'll take the Chiefs here because the cause of stopping Tim Tebow-mania is a cause dear to the hearts of all red-blooded Americans. Chiefs win.
Mrs. Code Red: Chiefs. Tebow still sucks, no matter how bad Oakland's defense is.
Jaguars (2-6) at Colts (0-9)
Code Red: So many awful matchups this week. The only unit out of the four involved in this game that is any good is the Jaguar defense, so I'm taking Jacksonville.
Iggins!: This is the Colts' best chance for a win, but I'm pretty sure they want the #1 pick more than a win. Jaguars win.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah, Jags.
Ravens (6-2) at Seahawks (2-6)
Iggins!: Yeah. Ravens.
Code Red: Who the hell is responsible for firing Pete Carroll? Why hasn't said person done so? He clearly has no vision. They have a decent defense built mostly out of retreads that can't be built around for the future, they have no offensive line (apparently Chris Spencer wasn't part of the problem, eh?), and their coach personally identified Tarvaris Jackson as his guy and actively pursued him in free agency. THIS MAN DOES NOT NOW HOW TO MANAGE A FRANCHISE. Anywho, Ravens win.
Mrs. Code Red: I'm gonna go out on a limb and take the Ravens.
Giants (6-2) at 49ers (7-1)
Code Red: This should be interesting. Eli's been playing well this year, but the Giants tend to struggle when they can't run the ball at all, which tends to be the case against this awesome 49er front seven. I'm going to say the Giants still find a way to win this one.
Iggins!: I have to agree. The 49ers aren't as good as their record suggests. Giants win.
Code Red: They'll still be the two seed, because no one in that division can even dream of moving the ball against that defense of theirs. They're very 2005 Bears-like, but the NFC isn't as weak now as it was then.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah, Eli is playing surprisingly well. Giants win.
Lions (6-2) at Bears (5-3)
Code Red: Last time, the Bears controlled the clock, outgained the Lions for most of the first three quarters, and then repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with penalties, bad decisions, and big plays. Since then they've been a 100% completely different team. I think it'll be enough. Bears win, 27-13.
Mrs. Code Red: Bears. That is all.
Iggins!: Bears. That is all.
Patriots (5-3) at Jets (5-3)
Iggins!: People have figured out the Patriots, and Rex Ryan has Brady's number. I'll take the Jets.
Code Red: I want to go with the continued decline of New England. There certainly are more dark days ahead. But I just can't imagine New England losing three in a row yet. Patriots win.
Mrs. Code Red: Dammit. I can't do it. I can't go against them. Patriots win.
Vikings (2-6) at Packers (8-0)
Code Red: The Packer aren't much different than the Pats, in that their defense has been bad enough this year that they'll probably lose the first time Aaron Rodgers has a less than outstanding game. I don't know when someone will make that happen, though. It won't be Minnesota, at least. Packers win.
Iggins!: The Patriots are getting beaten because defenses figured out that, without Randy Moss, they have no vertical passing game, so every throw is made in the same 25 yard area. The Packers aren't being figured out because Aaron Rodgers isn't good because of a scheme, he's just good. Saying they'll lose if he has a bad game is like saying the Cubs will win the World Series if they stay healthy. What are the odds? Packers win.
Mrs. Code Red: Packers. Sigh.
Code Red: 109-60
Mrs. Code Red: 101-68
Virginia Tech (8-1) at Georgia Tech (7-2)
Code Red: It's getting late in the season. It's gambling time. Paul Johnson's gonna find a way to ruin VT's typical run to ACC dominance the most boring BCS bowl game. GT wins.
Iggins!: Just because GT beat Clemson doesn't mean they're good! Clemson does that all the time. I'll take VaTech to win.
Mrs. Code Red: Virginia Tech, because they have a better record. Science.
Nebraska (7-2) at Penn State (8-1)
Iggins!: So my greater theory for football this season is that games have almost universally been decided by matchups, not talent. So, under normal circumstances, I would take PSU because their defense is pretty much built to stop Nebraska. HOWEVER, when your head coach and entire administration have been outed as cowardly accesories to child rape, I pretty much can't pick you. Nebraska wins.
Code Red: Yeah, I can't pick Penn State here. May they rot. How fitting is it that Joe Paterno's last game, naturally, was a victory over Ron Zook's idiotic prevent defense. Nebraska wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Hmm...are they going to come out inspired, or will this overwhelm them? Plus, I don't want to be the person that chooses them. Nebraska wins.
Michigan State (7-2) at Iowa (6-3)
Code Red: Not MSU on the road. Made that mistake twice. Iowa wins.
Iggins!: There are so many reasons Iowa will win this game. They're unbeaten at home, MSU sucks on the road, MSU almost always loses at Kinnick, MSU runs a pro-style offense which almost always gets beaten by Ferentz. Just pick Iowa. Hawkeyes win.
Mrs. Code Red: Dammit, I was hoping my Iowa pick would be an upset. Iowa wins.
West Virginia (6-3) at Cincinnati (7-1)
Iggins!: WVU is extremely mediocre, so I'll take a slightly less mediocre Cincinnati team to win.
Code Red: The Big East is so mediocre, that I'll take West Virginia to fuck things up. They are still mediocre, though.
Mrs. Code Red: I guess I, too, will give West Virginia a shot. WVU wins.
Miami (5-4) at Florida State (6-3)
Code Red: I don't think Miami's defense can slow down EJ Manuel and the FSU offense. FSU wins.
Iggins!: I do not care, the ACC is a damned basketball conference anyway, so I'm betting they don't care right now either! FSU wins.
Mrs. Code Red: G-Reg's Miami Hurricanes. Why not?
Texas A&M (5-4) at Kansas State (7-2)
Iggins!: K-State will overcome a three TD deficit to win or something. K-State wins.
Code Red: Indeed, Mike Sherman has transported his ability to blow big games despite a talented team has translated quite nicely from Green Bay to Texas A&M. K-State wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Kansas State. Doesn't Texas A&M lose every game they ever play against anyone good?
Michigan (7-2) at Illinois (6-3)
Code Red: Teams like Michigan don't give Illinois that much trouble. They don't have the stellar defense that OSU and Penn State have. I think they can win the shootout. Illinois wins. (all of this bluster is bullshit, and I fully expect Zook to nosedive this thing to 6-6).
Iggins!: Let's review. The Illini beat five very bad teams and one team (AZ State) that always loses when they're away from the coast to start the year. They have lost their last three games playing mediocre to good teams, and they have looked godawful doing it. Michigan will win. By a lot.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah...Michigan.
Auburn (6-3) at Georgia (7-2)
Iggins!: The Dawgs are a damn fine team, and Auburn is unfortunately just a rung below that. Georgia wins.
Code Red: Georgia is good. Georgia is at home. Georgia is winner.
Mrs. Code Red: Fuck it, Auburn. Gamblin' time.
Washington (6-3) at USC (7-2)
Code Red: Good for you, Washington. Staying relevant somehow. USC's offense at home, though? USC wins.
Iggins!: I'll take USC, I guess.
Mrs. Code Red: USC. They have Matt Barkley, and he is good.
Oregon (8-1) at Stanford (9-0)
Iggins!: The funny thing is we can't tell how good Stanford is because nobody in the Pac-10 has a good out-of-conference win. NONE OF THEM. Oregon put up a fight against LSU, but that game was a bigger beatdown than 40-27 suggests. I'll take Stanford at home, but let it be known that I don't trust how good either of these teams are.
Code Red: I, too, shall take Andrew Luck. Stanford had a big lead in this game before the spread methodically wore them down on the road. I think they're much better prepared for this one. Stanford wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Oregon. What the hell? Damned if I do, damned if I don't.
Code Red: I like this go for broke strategy. I am too chicken to employ it, but I admire your gumption.
Monday, November 7, 2011
-Jay Cutler: I love stats, but they can be misleading. Anyone looking at Jay Cutler's 208 yds in this game might think he was merely "good," but they'd be wrong. Against an amazing secondary (and with his own batch of mediocre receivers looking less than stellar outside of the BBE), Jay played like an elite quarterback, and when everything was put on his shoulders in the fourth quarter he simply went out and won the ball game. Also, if you didn't absolutely love his improvising on the near-sack toss to Barber and the option pitch to Hester, you, sir, have no soul.
-Matt Forte: I love the guy. My inner meathead screamed after fumble number two, but the man never fumbles. It was a fluke. He did exactly what you want someone to do in that situation, meaning he went out and played like the MVP he's been. 133 rushing on 24 carries, with another 17 yards receiving, giving him 150 total yards from scrimmage. You know what's awesome? That was BELOW his season average. He's a beast. This offense is starting to come together like we haven't seen...maybe ever.
-Earl Bennett: Man, was it ever obvious how much Jay missed the BBE? The disparity between what Earl can do and what the rest of Jay's receivers can do was never more obvious than it was tonight. You have to give Asomugah and Asante Samuel credit, but Hester, Williams, and Sanzenbacher all dropped what would have been huge catches, and while Earl racked up 5 catches for 95 yds and a TD, the other four guys combined for 5 catches for 72 yards. Earl's back, bitches, and may hell take the corners attempting to stop him on third down.
-The offensive line: There are no words. Against an absolutely stacked defensive line and a team famous for blitzing, they allowed no sacks for the first time in two years. They paved the way for 164 yards rushing at 5 yards a clip. I have no idea how they can work Gabe Carimi back into the lineup with the way Lance Louis, J'Marcus Webb, and Chris Spencer are playing right now. Isn't that awesome? Three weeks ago this team was absolutely harassed in Detroit thanks to the injury to Spencer and the mere presence of Frank Omiyale, and now they can't get a guy who may technically be their most promising offensive linemen into the lineup because the rest of em are playing so well. Amazing.
-Julius Peppers: Like all of you, I let the incredibly lame Darth-Vader-at-the-end-of-Revenge-of-the-Sith* NOOOOOO escape my lungs when Julius went down. Being the man that he is, he came back in and sacked Michael Vick to end an Eagles drive on his first play back. Several times he got in Vick's way and forced throws on what normally are 20-25 yard runs for him. He also had another of his trademark jumping pass deflections. I love him. I don't care who knows it.
-Israel Idonije: Sadly two tackles are the only things that will show up on the stat sheet for Izzy, but man, he was an animal tonight. He seemingly found his way into the Eagles backfield on every play, and he forced a number of poor throws and bad decisions out of Vick. Good on ya, ya big lug.
-Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs: Honestly, I wish these two played Michael Vick every week, because he seems to get an extra level out of two guys who already have a combined 13 Pro Bowls. They combined tonight for 16 tackles and 3 pass deflections, and they once more chased Vick from sideline to sideline, limiting him to just 34 yards rushing. Stay healthy, guys. I'll always go back to Paul Allen, the Vikings' radio guy, and what he said last year: "When these two are healthy, the Chicago Bears win a lot of ball games. It's as simple as that."
-Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman: The oft and unfairly-maligned duo really got it done tonight. The Bears scoffed at the notion that they can't play man and decided to beat the shit out of Philly's receivers, daring them to break a big one. They couldn't do it because Tillman and Jennings absolutely balled tonight. When you limit the Philadelphia Eagles to 5.6 ypa and hold Maclin and Jackson to 79 yards Total, damn. That's good football.
-Lovie Smith: I've liked everything I've heard from Lovie before and after this game. He called out underperforming guys like Melton and he deactivated Anthony Adams in favor of Paea and Toeiana (it worked, considering they shutdown the run game for Philly outside of one 33 yard McCoy run). He also made the bold move of cutting Chris Harris. He took a shot at the guys in Vegas after the game when he said "the Chicago Bears should never be 8 point underdogs." I still like Lovie, no matter how often I'm told by some illogical people that I shouldn't. He had his guys prepared tonight, and it showed.
-Roy Williams: He dropped two passes that he had absolutely no excuse for dropping, one of which would probably have been a TD. His 3 catches all went for first downs, which is nice, but he's still frustrating as hell.
-Nothing else. This game was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It's one of those nights that leaves you absolutely dying to see them take the field next Sunday. Go Bears.
*-This reference to the Star Wars prequels was put into this recap in order to appease CT, who I'm sure was yet again disappointed that I was a no-show for the SKOscast.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Jets (4-3) @ Bills (5-2)
Iggins!: Didn't expect the Bills to have the better record heading into this game at the beginning of the year. Now that everybody realizes that San Diego win wasn't all that great, hopefully everyone realizes Buffalo is going to win this game. Bills win.
Code Red: Need the Bills to keep going now that New England put them back in first by losing to Pittsburgh. Bills win.
Mrs. Code Red: Bills, because what heartless person picks against Buffalo this year?
Seahawks (2-5) @ Cowboys (3-4)
Code Red: The Cowboys are not good. That said, Seattle should be pissed that the flukey win over the Giants propably put them out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I'm sure the new coach that's responsible for cleaning up Pete Carroll's mess will wish he had a franchise QB. Cowboys win.
Mrs. Code Red: How sad is it that Dallas sucks badly enough that this is even somewhat of a question? Cowboys, I guess, but with reservations *cough* Tony Romo *cough*
Iggins!: Yeah, you have to take Dallas here, but it’s hard to get a read on them. Cowboys win.
Falcons (4-3) @ Colts (0-8)
Iggins!: Bet this looked better at the beginning of the season. Falcons win.
Code Red: That can be said about every Colts game this year. Falcons win.
Mrs Code Red: Gonna go out on a limb and pick the Falcons.
Dolphins (0-7) @ Chiefs (4-3)
Code Red: Everything is bouncing KC's way. They're much closer to the team that started 0-3 than the one that's going to own its fifth straight win thanks to soft scheduling and the epic fucktardery of Philip Rivers. Chiefs win.
Mrs. Code Red: Kansas City's looking much better and the Dolphins suck. Then again, Kansas City's mostly looking better because they've been getting teams like the Dolphins the last five weeks. Chiefs win.
Iggins!: Wah wah from both of you. The Chiefs have looked better because of a very stout defense and a much improved offense. It’s not like Run-DMC’s legs fell off against the Raiders, and the Bolts are still the Bolts. Chiefs win.
Buccaneers (4-3) @ Saints (5-3)
Iggins!: What people forget is the Saints actually blow an easy game like that every year. It's like they just want two bye weeks or something. Saints win.
Code Red: I can't imagine the Bucs defense containing Breesus twice in three weeks. Saints win.
Mrs. Code Red: Well they did just lose to them, but I, too, can't imagine the Saints losing this one at home. At least I hope not. Saints win.
49ers (6-1) @ Redskins (3-4)
Code Red: I'm not even sure why I hate the Redskins so much, since they've been inept for pretty much the entire time period that I've been watching NFL football, but their yearly regression to suck is amusing nonetheless. 49ers Win. That defense is scary.
Mrs. Code Red: 49ers. I can't believe that this game Isn't even a question.
Iggins!: Still upset that Singletary is a terrible HC. 49ers win.
Browns (3-4) @ Texans (5-3)
Iggins!: ARIAN FOSTER. Texans win.
Code Red: You should not anger Mrs. Code Red like this. Texans win.
Mrs. Code Red: (sobs hysterically), Stupid Texans win. But not because of Arian Foster. Definitely not.
Bengals (5-2) @ Titans (4-3)
Code Red: I'll be damned. Bengals win.
Mrs. Code Red: What's life without risk-taking? I'll go with the underdogs on their homefield. Titans win.
Iggins!: Hm. Neither of these teams should be 5-3 if the Bears won’t be (hopefully they will). I’ll take Cincinnati because Tennessee is turning into what we thought they would be.
Broncos (2-5) @ Raiders (4-3)
Iggins!: Oh Tim, if only you'd have been drafted where you should have been! Then none of this would have happened. Raiders win.
Code Red: Right, some team would have had years to work him in practice and move him to tight end. Raiders win.
Mrs. Code Red: TIM TEBOW'S GONNA DO IT. And by “it,” I mean continue to overthrow his receivers by a country mile. Raiders win.
Giants (5-2) @ Patriots (5-2)
Code Red: I don't see the Pats losing back-to-back games, not at home. Pats win.
Mrs. Code Red: My inner New England is showing. Pats win. I can't help it. As much as I act like I hate them, Tom Brady's still dreamy. And don't even get me started on fackin' Welkah (leaves apartment, drives to Dunkin' Donuts and bitches about Manny Ramirez).
Iggins!: The Giants aren’t that great. Patriots win.
Rams (1-6) @ Cardinals (1-6)
Iggins!: I'm pretty sure that was just the Saints crapping the bed, but even if it was it still makes the Rams better than AZ. Rams win.
Code Red: I can't take the Cardinals without Kevin Kolb. Hell, I don't think I'd take them with him. Rams win.
Mrs. Code Red: (She actually curled her face in disgust upon seeing this matchup. Me too, dear. Me too). I guess Rams, since that seems to be the way the wind is blowing.
Packers (7-0) @ Chargers (4-3)
Code Red: This may be spite, this may be the fact that someday Green Bay's shoddy secondary play will catch up to them, but I'm going to take a gamble here. Chargers win.
Mrs. Code: You seriously think they're going to win with Sucky McSuckerson throwing the ball to every one he can find who isn't wearing a Chargers jersey? Packers dominate. Fuckin' Philip Rivers. That fucking guy...Worst. Backup Team. Ever.
Iggins!: Wow taking the Chargers? That was stupid. You lambast the Chiefs as terrible for beating them but you choose the best team in the NFL to lose to them? Packers win by a whole freaking lot.
Ravens (5-2) @Steelers (6-2)
Iggins!: The Ravens are a confusing pile of mess, so I'll go with Pittsburgh evening the season series. Steelers win.
Code Red: Fucking Ravens. Give Ray Rice the ball and all will be well. Ravens win.
Mrs. Code Red: Hmm...I don't trust Baltimore. I guess I'll go with the Steelers.
Bears (4-3) @ Eagles (3-4)
Code Red: A couple of wins against Rex Grossman and an incredibly overrated Cowboys team and the Eagles are suddenly unbeatable, according to the media. That's fine. If the Eagles have “gotten on track” the last two weeks, so have the Bears. Matt Forte has a huge game, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox find a way to exploit the non-Asantemougah players in the Eagles secondary, and a healthy and rested defensive line exploits Philly's shoddy protection. Bears win 28-17.
Mrs. Code Red: Bears!
Iggins!: The Bears don’t even need to pass in this game. Seriously, Forte will win this on his own. Bears win.
Code Red: 93-52
Ms. Code Red: 86-59
Holy shit this week is sparse. On the bright side I, being Iggins!, soundly defeated Code Red last week and opened up a six game lead. THIS WILL CONTINUE.
(15) Michigan (7-1, 3-1) @ Iowa (5-3, 2-2)
Iggins!: Imagine my surprise that this is one of the top ten games of the weekend. I really didn't want to pick this game, because I hate picking Iowa, but everything aside from the talent says Iowa should win. Ferentz vs. a pro-style offense is always a good matchup, Iowa has stopped Denard before, Iowa plays like a different team at home, Michigan sucks on the road...etc. But... Iowa just lost to Minnesota. I'll take the Hawkeyes to win, but despite my above statements I'm pretty sure they're gonna get their ass kicked.
Code Red: I'd like to consider this a free win, but I trust Denard Robinson no more than I can throw him. Michigan wins, but they'd love to lose and fuck me over.
Mrs. Code Red: Michigan.
Texas Tech (5-3, 2-3) @ (21) Texas (5-2, 2-2)
Code Red: Seems like the win over Oklahoma was flukey. Texas sucks, but their defense is enough to fluster Tommy Tuberville's boys. Texas wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Texas, I guess. Even though they suck too.
Iggins!: I’ll take Texas, because clearly Oklahoma simply shit the bed a few weeks ago. Losing 41-7 to Iowa State is pretty undeniable proof of that.
Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2) @ (6) Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1)
Iggins!: I'm going to bank on Oklahoma not crapping the bed like they did against Tech. Oklahoma wins.
Code Red: I'm going to bank on Texas A&M's piss poor defense. Oklahoma wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Yeah... Oklahom's loss seems flukey. Oklahoma wins.
(25)Southern Miss (7-1, 3-1) @ East Carolina (4-4, 3-1)
Code Red: Well, alright then. East Carolina at home. Domonique Davis is a fine QB.
Mrs. Code Red: I don't think I had heard of either of these schools before now. Southern Miss, since they're record is better? And THERE IS NO EAST CAROLINA! WHICH CAROLINA ARE YOU ACTUALLY IN? You had two choices of Carolinas and neither was good enough, eh?
Iggins!: That’s a good point. Which Carolina are they East in? Either way, I take ECU to win this game.
Cincinnati (6-1, 2-0) @ Pittsburgh (4-4, 2-1)
Iggins!: This is for first place in the Big East. Why does this league get a BCS bid? Neither team has a single quality win, but Pitt lost to Utah by two scores, so I'll take Cincinnati to win.
Code Red: Oh, that's awful. Cincinnati wins.
Mrs. Code Red: I guess Cincinnati, to be safe.
(9)South Carolina (7-1, 5-1) @ (7)Arkansas (7-1, 3-1)
Code Red: I do nay trust ye, Spurrier. Arkansas wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Arkansas, for some reason I don't like football teams from the Carolinas. Well, except I like Cam Newton?
Iggins!: Who doesn’t like Cam Newton? I’m voting for him at the caucuses. Arkansas wins.
(14)Kansas State (7-1, 4-1) @ (3)Oklahoma State (8-0, 5-0)
Iggins!: Poor K-State. They're actually much better than they will be ranked after this beatdown. Okie State wins.
Code Red: Oklahoma State is awesome. I want to see that offense against LSU/Bama in the title game. OSU wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Oklahoma State, even if Black and Orange teams piss me off.
Notre Dame (5-3) @ Wake Forest (5-3, 4-2)
Code Red: Not after you screwed me last week, Wake. ND wins.
Mrs. Code Red: You had your shot, Wake Forest. You fucked it up. ND wins.
Iggins!: I’m still in shock that both of you thought Wake Forest was any good. Oh well. My gain. Notre Dame wins.
Missouri (4-4, 2-3) @ Baylor (4-3, 1-3)
Iggins!: I don't have a lot of faith in Missouri, and I think RG3 is next year's (if he goes to the NFL) Cam Newton. So Baylor wins.
Code Red: I like RG3, but the Cam Newton comparison stands on shaky ground. He's not the superhuman freak of nature that Cam is, he's certainly more a Vince Young-type long-term prospect. But he's totally gonna rip Mizzou a new one. Baylor wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Out of principle, I never take Baylor. Mizzou wins.
Iggins!: Vince Young had terrible throwing form and bad accuracy. RG3 has good form and an uncanny ability to throw spot-on 50 yard passes. Not the same.
(1)LSU (8-0, 5-0) @ (2)Alabama (8-0, 5-0)
Code Red: The Game of the Century. This game will be close. It's going to come down to the magic of the Hat. LSU wins.
Mrs. Code Red: Alabama. They're at home and I generally choose to Roll with the Crimson Tide.
Iggins!: You are correct that it will come down to Ther Hat. But that will not be a good thing. Alabama wins.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Unfortunately, almost all of the discussion about Forte's great performance on the field includes the scuttlebutt over his contract dispute. I've made no secret of my desire to see the Bears lock up Forte, but I find myself disagreeing lately with much of the sentiment that I'm hearing from the fanbase (imagine that).
There are basically two camps at this point on Forte: the "pay the man" camp that appears to believe that Forte deserves a mega-contract most likely stemming from their fear that he'll somehow leave the Bears otherwise, and the people who view Forte for what he is in the cold, harsh reality of the business of football: a man who plays the most injury-prone and often dispensable position on the field, who should simply be franchise-tagged until his production declines as it inevitably will.
I like Matt Forte. I was frequently angry in 2009 when some people refused to see that he was dealing with an injury and a terrible offensive line and called him a "one-year wonder" and a bust. He's an incredibly talented player who opens up the entire offense. After years of watching guys like Rashaan Salaam, Curtis Enis, James Allen, Anthony Thomas, and Cedric Benson, it's hard not to appreciate what Forte brings to the table. The only comparable runningback the Bears have had in the last decade and a half was Thomas Jones, and Forte's a much better player even than him. For that reason, I sympathize with the guy and I'd like to see his future as a Bear secured.
That said, I'm a fan of the Chicago Bears. However awesome Matt Forte is right now, you, me, and everyone else will hate him the second this franchise gives him a huge contract and he goes belly-up Chris Johnson style. Not that will necessarily happen, but the awesome thing about the fact that fans have no accountability is the fact that the ones who are yelling at Jerry Angelo to get this deal done right now are the ones who will add a bloated contract for an ineffective player to his list of wrongs if Forte's production declines. I don't want to think a sudden drop off for Forte could happen, but guys like Shaun Alexander, Rudi Johnson, and Larry Johnson all went from dynamic players to busts in a single season. Angelo is right to be cautious here. The best thing for the Chicago Bears is to keep Forte in the fold as cheaply as possible for as long as he's an effective player. If that means the whole "Pay Matt Forte" crowd has to be happy with the franchise tag, so be it. It's better than dealing with a repeat of the Nathan Vasher and Tommie Harris contracts.
The one thing I've come to terms with on this whole deal is that my momentary fear that the Bears actually didn't appreciate Forte or that there's any possibility he'll walk after this season is gone. He's not going anywhere, franchise tag or no, and the team owns all the leverage. So relax. Enjoy Matt Forte. He's going to get paid, and, cruel as the world may be, it doesn't matter to all of us at home whether he's got guaranteed money or not.
Editor's Note: SK Jensen basically just said the same damn thing.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Dave Toub, Special Teams Coordinator:
Is there anything negative to say about Dave? I keep thinking a John Harbaugh-esque leap from ST coordinator to head coach is possible for him. You have to give Hester a lot of credit as the greatest returner of all time, but it's still a testament to Dave's excellence that the return unit has been dangerous over the years whether Hester, Knox, Rashied Davis, Earl Bennett, or Danieal Manning has been the returner. The Knox TD in the Packer game that was nullified by the weakest holding call I've ever seen in my life was, to paraphrase Aaron Rodgers, one of the most amazing plays I've ever seen. It's too bad he'll have to keep that one in his back pocket for awhile. Not much else to say, here, other than I'm glad Dave is still a Bear.
Rod Marinelli, Defensive Coordinator:
I really don't know how important Rod Marinelli is. His specialty, the defensive line, has been awesome in four games and non-existent in three. You can probably figure out which ones I mean. As for his playcalling as a coordinator? Does it matter? You know what the Bears are going to do on defense. It's a common retort when fans rail against coaches that the most important thing is the execution by the players on the field. Sometimes that too easy of an answer, but in the case of Lovie and Rod and the defense they run it's especially accurate.
If you look at the difference between this year's defense and last year's, the big plays they've surrendered, none of the problems have come from poor playcalling. Major Wright just wasn't where he was supposed to be in New Orleans. Brandon Meriweather's never been where he was supposed to be, and Chris Harris' obviously got a reprimand for his poor discipline. The last two games have been especially promising in that the shoddy run defense has improved. That's step one. If that trend continues, we'll look back at Rod as a good defensive coordinator at the end of the year. If not? None of us will be that upset to say goodbye to him, since, again, no one really knows how important he is anyway.
Mike Martz, Offensive Coordinator:
Give Mike Martz his due: he knows how to get the most out of me, whether positive or negative. My vacillation between the depths of despair and guarded optimism regarding his hiring two years ago resulted in some of the most hilarious number-crunching in the history of this site, as I somehow managed to prove that Mike Martz was the single worst possible thing for Jay Cutler while also possibly the key to Jay's improvement. I give him credit for improving Jay Cutler's footwork and his mechanics. Jay's unfortunately had to rush some throws this year thanks to the shoddy protection, but I feel at this point that his worst days are behind him. If the team around him melts down we'll probably still see plenty of errant throws like we saw against New Orleans and Green Bay, but I think the days of streaking passes to guys like DeAngelo Hall are long gone. True to his reputation, he's probably made Jay Cutler a better player.
However, there's another side of the coin. It's a good thing that Mike has helped Jay improve his mechanics and pocket presence, because he's needed it while dodging the free blitzers that Martz's scheme doesn't even dream of accounting for. His decision to ignore Matt Forte in back to back games against New Orleans and Green Bay put the team in a hole that they're still trying to crawl out of. I think at this point Forte's done well enough that even Mike can't deny that the offense needs to go through him. What we've seen the last two games are gameplans indicating a changed individual. We've seen 25+ rushing attempts, 6, 7, and even 8 man protections, play action passes, bootlegs, and back shoulder throws. It's been nice, and it's allowed the two most important players, Forte and Cutler, to do what they do best.
The question, however, is what this means for Mike Martz's future. If even Mike Martz himself has given up on running "The Mike Martz Offense" with capital Ms, is he worth keeping around to run "the mike martz offense"? Can't someone who specializes in this West Coast-style offense be brought in who actually Wants to run it, not a guy who has been browbeaten into what I'm sure he considers a bastardization of his offense? I don't mean to make too much of the overblown Cutler footage. I honestly think Jay just wanted to take a shot at the end zone and was disappointed that the ball was taken out of his hands, but I think it's obvious that something there isn't clicking. It doesn't mean Cutler lacks leadership, as Pompei or Telander or one of the other braindead columnists opined after the incident, and it doesn't mean that he even necessarily dislikes Mike Martz or doesn't buy in. It just seems to be a case where you don't have the guy who can maximize the talent of a valuable asset. Why not move on?
Lovie Smith, Head Coach
Lovie's a tragically misunderstood figure. He's often depicted as a boring, listless dunce who coddles his players. So far this year he's been anything but boring. He hasn't hesitated to shake up the lineup on offense and defense when things aren't working well. Remember that he gave Chris Harris his walking papers the next time someone tries to tell you that Lovie never cuts one of "his guys." He's also made the usual number of batshit crazy 4th down calls and poor challenges. Make of that what you will, but the job of a head coach really doesn't boil down to what they actually do on the sidelines. Yeah, his 4th down decisions and the challenges are terrible, but he's actually not that far from league average on any of them and they very rarely end up having that much of an effect on the outcome of the game. I don't judge Lovie on those.
When I judge Lovie, I look at his record, and I look at what he gets from the players he has. I think he's a much better coach than he's given credit for. I personally haven't forgotten what a mess this franchise was before he got here and how quickly he turned it around. His players play hard for him, and I think he's generally coaxed more out of his teams than he should be able to. That 2005 Bears team had a quarterback in Kyle Orton who posted one of (there is no hyperbole in this statement, this is scientific fact) the worst passing seasons in modern NFL history. They won 11 games. I still don't blame him for the 2007 Bears. The combination of the fall of Rex Grossman, the major injuries to Tommie Harris, Nathan Vasher, Charles Tillman, Brian Urlacher, and Mike Brown wiped out the talented core of that team's defense, and some of them never recovered. I actually think Lovie did a hell of a job getting nine wins out of a 2008 team that, frankly, wasn't that talented, and that hurt him in the long run because we all (me included) then thought that the 2009 Bears were a hell of a lot closer to contending than they actually were. He's always been a stabilizing influence and his ability to ride out a rough first half really looked smart when things came together in the second half last year. He was a touchdown away from a second Superbowl appearance for a franchise that made 2 Playoff appearances in the 12 years before he arrived. Why that always seems to be forgotten, I don't know.
All that said, if Lovie can't get this crew into the playoffs this year, he needs to go. Not in a "it's all his fault" way, but in a "it's just time to go" way. There's a time limit on these things, or else you end up in a Jeff Fisher situation, where the Titans first window (1999-2003) closed and you spend forever trying to open a new one and it gets harder and harder each year. If Lovie finds a way to win now, and they can keep rebuild while sustaining playoff appearances, great. If he fails? You're not going to be able to rebuild with him in the middle of all of the anger and rage of the fanbase and the organization. We're all worried about how Lovie's going to deal with losing bulwarks like Briggs and Urlacher down the road. If he can't win it's best to let someone without those attachments or those memories make the tough calls. That doesn't mean I won't appreciate what he did, though.
That wraps it up. It's hard to get a gauge on this team. By all accounts (the 2 game win streak, the improvement on both sides of the ball, the return of guys like Bennett and Carimi, the bye week rest) this team's arrow is pointing up, but I have a hard time recovering the enthusiasm I had before the deflating games against the Saints, Packers, and Lions. I look at the remaining schedule and can still forecast anywhere from 9-12 wins for this team, but it's shaky ground I stand on making that prediction. Oh, fuck it. They're going to make the playoffs. Go Bears.
Friday, October 28, 2011
The Defensive Line
-Henry Melton, DT: It's hard to get a good read on Henry Melton. On the one hand, he's been the pass-rushing threat I had hoped he'd be, since he's got 3 sacks in 7 games (consider that that's nearly as many as his predecessor Tommie Harris had in 09 and 10 combined). On the other hand, he hasn't made a huge impact against the run and he tends to run very hot and cold. Consistency would be nice, although the team may be less dependent on him now that Amobi Okoye has emerged
-Amobi Okoye, DT: I never understood why people thought this was a bad signing, besides the "LOL, THE BEARZ ER SIGNIN EVERYUNS BUSTS CUZ JERRY ANGELO IS A DERP LOL" crowd. Okoye had been moderately successful rushing the passer as a Texan and he had an incredibly low price tag. He's been a force on passing downs (3 sacks), and he's got 12 tackles as well. Henry's starting job may be in trouble, and Henry hasn't even played poorly. This is a good thing. Consider this: between Okoye (3), Melton (3), and Paea (1), the Bears have almost as many sacks from the DT position already this year (7) as they had all of last year (8). The consistency isn't quite there yet, but it's already better than last year.
-Matt Toeiana, DT: Matt had a nice year last year, but he's been hurt and outplayed so far by Melton and Okoye. That's not a bad thing. As a starter, Toeiana was alright, but as the third guy in the rotation? Those are nice, fresh legs to have. It'll be interesting to see if he gets activated after the bye, since Paea's come on strong.
-Stephen Paea, DT: My mancrush on this kid isn't quite commensurate with his actual production so far, but it's close. His numbers in college and his work at the combine speak for themselves. In his first game he blew up the Vikings interior in order to get to McNabb for a safety, and he's been a big part of the improvement against the run the last two games, even if it doesn't show up on the stat sheet. I think he's going to take more and more of Anthony Adams' playing time, which is good thing, since Anthony's never been anything more than "solid."
-Anthony Adams, DT: I mean no disrespect to Adams. He's been a solid run stuffer for most of his time in Chicago, but he doesn't add much in terms of pass-rushing ability (never had more than 2 sacks in a season) and at this point you know he's never going to be an extraordinary player. Again, I think it's likely that you'll see Paea start to phase him out as the year goes on.
-Israel Idonije, DE: Izzy got off to a slow start, but he's played well of late and is now at 3 sacks on the year, and it seems likely he'll match last year's numbers, at least. He's not a star, but he knows how to take advantage of being the bookend to Julius Peppers.
-Julius Peppers, DE: He's still the man. What else do you need to know? The bye should help him rest his banged-up knee, and I'm sure he'll tee off on a shaky Philly offensive line.
-Brian Urlacher: He's still playing like the guy from last year who suddenly found the fountain of youth. He's already racked up 41 tackles, 3 run stuffs, a fumble recovery for a TD, 3 awesome interceptions, and 4 pass deflections. I have no idea how long he can keep playing like this, but for now it's sure as hell nice to have.
-Lance Briggs: He pissed us all off with his offseason shenanigans, but he's made up for it on the field lately. He leads the team in tackles, with 55, and got his first interception during a monster game against the Bucs. As usual, he's near the top of the league with 5 run stuffs. It'd be easy to question the linebackers given the success opposing teams had earlier this season in the game, but these two haven't been the problem.
-Nick Roach: He plays the most thankless position in the entire Cover 2 scheme, and hasn't registered much on the stat sheet. He also hasn't been caught of position much, either. In short, he's Nick Roach, and he's...alright. He's not Hunter Hillenmeyer, so, that's one in the win column for him.
-Charles Tillman: He still gets a ton of shit for stuff that isn't his fault. Calvin Johnson's TD? Not Charles' assignment. Devery Henderson? Not Charles' guy. He got victimized again by Greg Jennings, but he wasn't the guy matched up on Steve Smith. As far as the things he's been responsible for? Charles has been pretty good. He played a surprising amount of man against Roddy White and was very successful at it. He's made far more tackles (35) than a corner should have to make, thanks to the shoddy safety play, and, of course, he's forced one fumble. Like Briggs and Urlacher, he hasn't been the problem.
-Tim Jennings and Zack Bowman: These two have been part of it, that's for sure. I lump them together because they're equally useless. The Bears smartly recognized that Tillman isn't fast enough to cover speedy guys like Jennings and Steve Smith anymore. The result? A combined 17 catches for 300 yards (17.6 YPC). Guh.
-DJ Moore: Who doesn't love DJ and his seven interceptions (and two TDs) in two years? Communists, that's who.
-Chris Harris: He sucked. I know he was injured, and I was as shocked as anybody by his incredible drop off from last year, but he absolutely sucked. I'd still rather they have kept him over Black Todd Johnson, but there's no way to hide how bad Chris was in limited action. He struggled in run support, he was completely out of position on both Jahvid Best and Calvin Johnson's TDs in Detroit, and he got punished on Freeman's second TD pass against Tampa. He also dropped an interception opportunity right before that TD. I'll always like Chris, but he didn't belong in the lineup anymore.
-Brandon Meriweather: I have no lingering fondness for Meriweather (Black Todd Johnson). He's as clueless as a young Danieal Manning and as undisciplined as LaVar Arrington. He has no sense of where the ball is, or where it's going, and he's a dirty player. I don't care what he says about the NFL trying to "change his game." Nobody teaches you to tackle with your head, because, as Brandon has shown us, it often fails to result in a fucking tackle at all. Jesus, I can't believe I was excited about him. Him and Harris were undoubtedly the biggest problem on this defense.
-Chris Conte: Well, he's played two games and has either had his name called for good plays (incredible interception to prevent a Tampa TD) or hasn't had it called at all. I'll take it.
-Major Wright: He scares the shit out of me. He's played very well against Atlanta and Minnesota. He broke the cardinal rule and let Devery Henderson get behind him in New Orleans. He gets hurt All of the damn time. At this point he's a bigger question mark than Conte, even, but he's also far better than Brandon Meriweather.
-Robbie Gould: He still hasn't missed a field goal in America. He's awesome. That hasn't changed.
-Adam Podlesh: He's certainly gotten enough work, hasn't he? He's done a good job. Nice leg. He can boot balls that Brad Maynard just couldn't do anymore.
That's it for now. I'll get to the coaching staff/rants about Mike Martz on Monday. I think the defense will be much better in the second half. Hard to see them giving up the big play so consistently from here on out. Will it be enough? I don't know.