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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Bears at the Bye, Part III- The Coaches

We reach the final part of my (naturally) wordy and exhaustive breakdown of the state of the Chicago Bears during their bye week. I conclude now with the coaching staff:

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 Bears at the Bye, Part II- The Defense and Special Teams

Continuing from yesterday

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.

Special Teams:

-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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Bears at the Bye, Part 1: The Offense

Last year the Bears were 4-3 headed into a week 8 bye. This year the Bears are, well, 4-3 heading into a week 8. So clearly not much has changed, no?

Well, for one, the method they used to get there was a bit different. The 2010 Bears managed to get to four wins by overcoming two teams they were supposed to have no chance against (Green Bay, Dallas), and by losing, in frustrating fashion, 3 of 4 games against mediocre or awful shitheaps (NYG, SEA, WASH). The 2011 Bears? Well, they've lost in painful fashion to three good teams, and have managed four wins of varying quality over a couple of bad teams and a couple of not-so-bad teams. The 2010 Bears lagged into the bye and needed a complete retooling, while this year's Bears appear to have regained some momentum after two straight wins.

Also, the issues that have confronted this team are almost entirely different than the ones that ailed last year's team. Sure, the shaky offensive line's been a problem for both, but otherwise the issues are quite different.

Injuries have been a big issue. The loss of Gabe Carimi and Lance Louis in weeks one and two completely reset all of the progress that had been made in the offseason and preseason towards upgrading the line. The line has certainly played better since Louis has returned, and the hope is that Carimi will represent a permanent upgrade, and keep Frank Omiyale off the field forever. Dane Sanzenbacher has played well as of late, but he still isn't an adequate replacement for Earl Bennett, whose knowledge of the playbook and versatility can't be matched by any of the other receivers.

On defense, the injuries to the safeties and the revolving door resulting therein has also been a major issue, resulting in some uncharacteristic big plays both on the ground and in the air. Harris got his release today, a surprising move considering the injury history of his replacements, but an understandable one given his poor play.

Regardless of how they got there, the Bears are 4-3. The second half of the schedule appears to have some promising soft spots (The AFC West, anyone? How about the Seahawks?), but a few places that could prove very troublesome (road trips to Philly and Green Bay, the rematch with Detroit). If this team comes back healthy and continues to play as it has the last two games, with the emphasis on Matt Forte and the whole not-giving-up-80-yard-touchd0wns-like-candy, they should make the playoffs. Otherwise, this is going to be one interesting offseason.

Anywho, now it's time to go unit by unit:


Jay Cutler
, thank God, is the only one that's played this year, and I'd say he's played well. The numbers (59% completions, only 9 TD passes) aren't great, but he's held up well under fire and you have to think his best days are ahead. The line has returned to health, Omiyale has been banished to the depths of hell, and Earl Bennett is coming back. Mike Martz appears to be making some of the adjustments (keeping guys in, bootlegs, back shoulder throws) that Jay has clearly been angling for. I think it's nice that Jay's obvious hatred for Mike has spurred Martz to actually take steps to enable his quarterback to be both productive and healthy. Crazy how that works. I'd also like to commend Jay on keeping the interceptions relatively low, when it would have been easy during the games in New Orleans and Detroit to just throw the damn thing into the crowd when your offensive line doesn't give a damn about protecting you.


Matt Forte: I don't know if I've ever seen a Bear (on offense) look as dominating as Forte has played throughout much of this season. When Martz doesn't inexplicably forget his existence (as happened in New Orleans and against Green Bay), Matt absolutely destroys opposing defenses. He's got over 40% of the team's yards from scrimmage. When you could apply that stat to someone like, say, Thomas Jones in 2004 or 2005, that was mostly due to the sad state of the offense, but the Bears haven't been embarrassing, really (16th in yards, 12th in scoring), and it's all thanks to Forte. I won't get into the contract dispute, since I've made my feelings on that apparent just like everyone else, but it's safe to say he's unquestionably the most important player on this team right now. Even if this season ends up as a disappointment in the win column, Forte alone would keep this team worth watching.

Marion Barber: He didn't play until week four against Carolina, but he's played well when he's gotten the opportunity, with 23 carries for 91 yards (4.0 ypc) and 3 rushing touchdowns. He doesn't have to do much, either, with Forte playing out of his mind on all three downs, but he's a huge upgrade over Chester Taylor , Khalil Bell, and Kevin Jones, the other three scrubs who've backed up Forte since 2008. I still don't get why Lovie didn't give him the ball on third or fourth down and inches against Detroit, and he needs to not let screen passes that hit him in the hands turn into interceptions, but other than that, I'm a big fan of the barbarian's work.

Khalil Bell: He's not good.

Tyler Clutts: the first sign that Mike Martz is maybe starting to come to his senses has been the increasing workload given to Clutts over the last couple of games. He's done an excellent job lead-blocking for Forte, even if he's shown on multiple occasions that his hands are made of righteous dolomite.

Wide Receivers:

Devin Hester: He's been awesome as ever at kick returns, with two TDs already this year, but he's been a frustrating proposition at wide receiver yet again. His excellent game against Minnesota aside, he's had a bad habit of disappearing in games where Jay really needs a go to guy. Hopefully the protection will improve and he can be more of a long ball specialist, but he's still not "the" guy and I think at his point we all know he isn't going to be.

Roy Williams: Here's the thing about Roy: when he does what he was brought her to do, like running nice, crisp dig routes and using his big body to secure balls for first downs, it's easy to see his value. When you see him weakly jogging down the sideline and allowing the safety to jump the route, or you watch him let a beautiful ball bounce off of his hands and chest on what would have been a crucial first down in field goal range, you get really, really angry. He's at least healthy now, so we'll see if he can start to produce on a regular basis in the second half. If not, well, I can go back to my time-tested practice of hating Roy Williams.

Johnny Knox: He's had a professional approach to his demotion, and he's played well, for the most part, when given a chance, as he's second on the team in receiving yards and first in yards per catch. He even broke up his first interception against Minnesota. On the other hand, his drop on 2nd and 17 against Green Bay will forever haunt my nightmares and it was a classic case of Johnny alligator arming the ball as he looked up to see where the hit was coming from. As always, he's a work in progress.

Dane Sanzenbacher: You've got to be f*&king kidding me. I spent all summer poking fun at the incredibly predictable Bears fan love affair with Sanzenbacher only to see the kid turn into a productive receiver. You have to admire the fact that Gritty McWhitenbacher managed to turn three of his seven catches into touchdowns. It's like team's can't even see him in the red zone. On the other hand, it's incredibly sad that it took one 5'11'' undrafted white guy to find Jay a reliable red zone target not named Greg Olsen. Either way, it'll be interesting to see if his role diminishes now that Earl is coming back, or if someone else loses reps because of it. You win this round, Whitey.

Earl Bennett: The BBE only caught 3 balls for 20 yards before going down with what may have been a lacerated spleen. Ouch. He's coming back for the Philly game, and I for one, am glad to see him. I'm betting Jay is happy too.

Sam Hurd: He's played. He hasn't been terrible. Hasn't been remarkable either.

Tight Ends:

Kellen Davis: Well, he's been as much of a red zone threat as his predecessor (8 catches, 107 yds, 2 TDs), but his blocking hasn't been as much of an upgrade as I hoped. It's been an upgrade, undoubtedly, but Martz still needs to get over the delusion that his tight ends can block defensive ends on their own. Windmills do not work that way.

Matt Spaeth: I like him. He's made some great blocks, and he scored a touchdown in the opener on that PA pass to the 2nd tight end that has worked for the Bears since time immemorial.

Offensive Line:

J'Marcus Webb: The numbers aren't good. He's allowed seven sacks, and he's also been penalized seven times. That said, he's still played well enough to give us hope. The raw totals aren't great, but he hasn't been consistently victimized. He's been quite dominant blocking the edge in the run game, and, outside of the Detroit game, he's been more good than bad. I think his arrow is pointing up.

Chris Williams: Well, I'll be damned. Williams has been, without a doubt, the most consistent player on the Bears entire line. He's allowed just 1 sack this year. If you saw that coming, you, sir, are some kind of sage. Not that I'm not thrilled. It'll be nice if Chris develops into a consistent starter at left guard and the Bears actually salvage something out of what could have been another first round disappointment.

Roberto Garza: Roberto's transition to center has been awesome. He hasn't bobbled snaps, he's managed the shotgun well, he's actually done something in the run blocking department and he's allowed just one sack. In short, he hasn't been Olin Kreutz, who proved that he's the asshole I long suspected him to be by walking away from New Orleans in the middle of the season. Good for you, Roberto. I love being right.

Lance Louis: I was high on Lance Louis after last year, and during the preseason. His injury really set this team back, as did the decision to go with Omiyale at right tackle in Detroit instead of Lance. Now that he's playing consistently he's been a big part of the team's success in the run game and he's certainly an improvement in protection, considering he hasn't allowed a sack this year.

Chris Spencer: Then again, Chris Spencer also hasn't allowed a sack this year and has played well out of position. I think the Bears will roll with Carimi and Louis with Carimi back, but I'm glad Spencer's making it a tough call. This is called depth. It's awesome, and it will mean a lot less Frank Omiyale in everyone's lives.

Gabe Carimi: Gabe looked promising in the preseason and against Atlanta. He allowed 1 sack in 6 quarters of work before going down with an injury. He'll get his job back, but it's nice to know Louis can step in if Gabe falters. I don't think he will, though. Carimi, Webb, and Louis give me a lot of hope for the future of this team at those spots.

Frank Omiyale: I saved Frank for last because, well, God, I hate him. How he keeps getting opportunities I'll never know, especially when he somehow recovered his job after losing it against Carolina, only to lose it again against Detroit. He's allowed 4 sacks and been penalized five times despite starting just three games. He is the Devil.

That's it for now, since this is a mile long.

Prognostication Bukakke, NFL Week 8

Dolphins (0-6) at Giants (4-2)

Code Red: God damn you, Miami. All you had to do was not give the Tebow morons one more week to smile and you'd have not only provided me with endless laughs at their expense but another victory in the Prog. Bukakke. You did neither, and you may go straight to hell. Giants win.

Iggins!: If I were to whine I might point out that USF had that game in the bag before that stupid last second Cincinnati drive. BUT I WON'T (wait a minute...) Anyway, Giants win.

Mrs. Code Red: Ha....Giants. The Dolphins blew their only chance at a win, possibly this entire year.

Jags (2-5) at Texans (4-3)


Mrs. Code Red: Matt Schaub is playing well, Owen Daniels is a consistent tight end, looks like they may have Andre Johnson back. Yep, those Texans are a great, well-rounded team on offense. Texans win. *Cough*Arian Foster can die*Cough*

Code Red: I'm staying out of this. Texans win.

Cardinals (1-4) at Ravens (4-2)

Code Red: Someone should have told Arizona that the team sucked and they'd have gotten better value by keeping their draft picks, shutdown corner, and cash than by trading for Kevin Kolb. Wait, that someone was me. Ravens win.

Iggins!: There's much more wrong with this team than their slightly above mediocre QB. Fitzy maybe should've gone somewhere else. Ravens win.

Mrs. Code Red: Well, the Ravens lost to the Jaguars, so it doesn't seem impossible they could fuck this up. But maybe they'll learn their lesson and run the ball with Ray Rice, and Code Red will stop spending every weekend crying in the fetal position about his fantasy team. Ravens win.

Vikings (1-6) at Panthers (2-5)

Iggins!: So this QB draft may actually turn out pretty damn good. Shocking! Except that I said Cam Newton would be great and I've been espousing the virtues of Christian Ponder since he was a Junior at FSU. Toots own horn. Cam wins here.

Code Red: I was actually pretty impressed with Ponder, and the Panthers run defense is absolutely turrible, so I'm taking AP and Ponder with the upset. Vikings win.

Mrs Code Red: This is the kinda game that Cam Newton Should win. Cam wins.

Saints (5-2) at Rams (0-6)

Code Red: The Rams suck, but the schedule makers really boned them hard for the first half of this season. Saints win.

Iggins!: It's pretty easy to pick against St. Louis at this point. Saints win.

Mrs. Code Red: Why pick the Rams until they actually win? Note: We may never pick the Rams this year. Saints win.

Colts (0-7) at Titans (3-3)

Iggins!: I think we know who the Titans are now, and we also know that Indy is worse. Titans win.

Code Red: These two teams got beat by a combined 89 points last weekend. But the Colts are awful-er. Titans win.

Mrs. Code Red: I have nothing witty to say here. Poor Colts. Titans win.

Lions (5-2) at Broncos (2-4)

Code Red: The Lions are hurting, and I was enjoying their little fall back to earth (it shall continue after their bye), but there's no way they collapse against Tebow like the Dolphins did. Lions win.

Iggins!: It would make my day so hard if Tebow beats the Lions and they tailspin to finish 6-10. But alas, I can't go that far out on a limb so I'll just hope I'm wrong. Lions win.

Mrs. Code Red: The Lions might not be as good as many people thought they were, but they're better than Tebow. Lions win.

Redskins (3-3) at Bills (4-2)

Iggins!: So Beck is starting. Hightower and Moss are out for a long time. And they're playing Buffalo. Bills win.

Code Red: All of these things are true, but hopefully Buffalo's soft run defense will be good for Ryan Torain. Bills win.

Mrs. Code Red: Bills win, the Redskins have earned my ire for benching Sexy Rexy and giving him pneumonia. Dick move, Washington.

Bengals (4-2) at Seahawks (2-4)

Code Red: The AFC North gets to play both the NFC West and the AFC South. That's the jackpot, and it's resulted in absurdities like a soon to be a 5-2 Bengals team. Odd. Bengals win.

Iggins!: Andy Dalton and AJ Green would like Cam Newton to sit the fuck down so they might get some rookie of the year consideration. Bengals win.

Mrs. Code Red: I can't pick the Seahawks. Bengals win.

Patriots (5-1) at Steelers (5-2)

Iggins!: I'm not yet convinced the Steelers are really good. Pats win.

Code Red: The Steelers seem like they've straightened out their issues enough to slow down Brady a little bit, that, and New England's piss poor defense, should get Pitt the win at home. Steelers win.

Mrs. Code Red: As long as Tom Brady can keep the Steelers offense off the field (also, the Patriots terrible defense), the Patriots should win.

Browns (3-3) at 49ers (5-1)

Code Red: That soft AFC North schedule has also allowed a .500 Browns team to hide all of their many, many inadequacies. The 49ers are actually good. Strange. 49ers win.

Iggins!: We have to face facts that the thing that was most wrong with San Francisco was Mike Singletary. And that hurts me deeply. 49ers win.

Mrs. Code Red: 49ers. They're actually good. Bizarre.

Cowboys (3-3) at Eagles (2-4)

Code Red: Call me superstitious, I'd rather face an Eagles team coming off of a win over their divison rival than one coming off of a loss. Eagles win.

Iggins!: Yeah as bad as Philly has been the Cowboys are too spotty to pick on the road. Eagles win.

Mrs. Code Red: I don't trust Tony Romo. Eagles win.

Chargers (4-2) at Chiefs (3-3)

Iggins!: This may be totally ridiculous, but the Bolts have looked bad and the Chiefs seem to have remembered the formula. Have to pick the Chiefs here.

Code Red: The Chiefs have remembered the formula indeed. The formula being: Play the Vikings, the Colts, and a Raiders team starting Kyle Boller. Apparently the Chargers are none of those things. Chargers win.

Mrs. Code Red: If Philip Rivers can't make something of this game, I'm not sure what to think of the world anymore. Chargers better win.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prognostication Bukakke, NCAA Week 9

Iggins!: 81-41
Code Red: 77-45
Mrs. Code Red: 72-50

Michigan State (6-1) at Nebraska (6-1)
Code Red: What the hell? Michigan State looked so damn...average...but they beat Wisconsin? Wisconsin beat Nebraska 48-17...transitive property never fails. MSU wins.

Iggins!: Hm. I don't really want to take chances but basically, the two games in which MSU has struggled were road games. They lost big to ND and only won 10-7 against a pretty mediocre OSU team. I really think MSU is a better team, but the matchup suggests NU wins, so I'll take the Huskers to win.

Mrs. Code Red: I like Nebraska better, but Michigan State looked really impressive beating Wisconsin...Michigan State, I guess, but with much hesitation.

Oklahoma (6-1) at Kansas State (7-0)
Iggins!: Oh crap, this game is this week? Oklahoma reminded us all why they lost last year; because some games they play like an NFL team and some games half of them are playing Tetris in their heads. I really like K-State but I don't think they're ready for this yet, and they're ranked much too high. Oklahoma wins.

Code Red: Yeah, I just can't see Oklahoma losing two in a row. Oklahoma wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Oklahoma is the superior team. They shouldn't lose again. Oklahoma wins.

Illinois (6-2) at Penn State (7-1)
Code Red: This game shall determine if Illinois has a January 1st bowl somewhere in its future still, or if this is just another incredibly talented team that Zook will drive down to the Hemorrhoid Ointment.Com Bowl. Illini win, me hopes, but the faith, she is sinking.

Iggins!: DE-FENSE. Penn State has lots of it. And Illinois is as one-dimensional as it gets. And it's in Happy Valley. I'm surprised you picked this game, knowing your homerism would slant you? Penn State wins.

Mrs. Code Red: I hate to pick against Illinois, but I for sure think Penn State will win. Zook's going to fuck this season up like all of the others.

Clemson (8-0) at Georgia Tech (6-2)
Iggins!: I said I'd stick with them. And GaTech looked like dog vomit last week. Clemson wins.

Code Red: Man, Georgia Tech really fell off once conference play started. And they play in a shitty conference. That's a bad sign, man. Clemson wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Yeah, easy non-conference games are misleading. Clemson.

Wisconsin (6-1) at Ohio State (4-3)
Code Red: Wisconsin will have much rage to extract here. Wisconsin wins.

Iggins!: This is going to be a beating. Wisconsin wins.

Mrs. Code Red: The loss was a fluke. I take Wisconsin here.

Baylor (4-2) at Oklahoma State (7-0)
Iggins!: RG3 can't do it all by himself, and if this proves anything it's that Baylor just got lucky with one recruit and they will never be consistently prominent. OK State wins.

Code Red: Oklahoma State is the best team in the Big 12. OK State wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Not only are they the best in the Big 12, they're a contender for best in the country. OK State wins.

Wake Forest (5-2) at UNC (5-3)
Code Red: I think this may be Wake Forest's first ever appearance on the Prognostication Bukakke. Wake Forest wins.

Iggins!: Hm. This is a tossup, so I'll take UNC to win.

Mrs Code Red: I think you're right. I've never seen Wake Forest here before. I know literally nothing about them. I guess go Wake Forest?

Stanford (7-0) at USC (6-1)
Iggins!: Stanford by several touchdowns.

Code Red: The Barkley-Luck matchup should rack up some points. Should be a fun game but USC will fade late to lose by multiple scores. Stanford wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Andrew Luck will be the number one overall pick, therefore he should win this game. Stanford wins.

Florida (4-3) at Georgia (5-2)
Code Red: Georgia's recovered quite nicely and will break their losing streak in the World's Largest Outdoor Coke Orgy. Georgia wins.

Iggins!: Everybody got so angry in Georgia when the Dawgs lost to two great teams to start the year. Mark Richt wants you to suck it now. Georgia wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Neither looks particularly good to me, but Georgia appears to be the better of the two.

West Virginia (5-2) at Rutgers (5-2)
Iggins!: West Virginia's bane is... Syracuse? That's odd. I'll still take WVU to win here, though.

Code Red: I don't feel comfortable picking them, but West Virginia will win.

Mrs. Code Red: I know nothing about either team, I'll gamble with Rutgers because I've got nothing to lose. I'm crazy like that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bears 24, Buccaneers 18- Making it Look Difficult

Outside of one bumbling sequence in the first quarter, when drops by Roy Williams and Marion Barber led to a an interception and a safety, and the fourth quarter, the Bears were clearly the better team today. The problem, however, is that they struggled to sustain that dominance and found themselves hanging on for a 24-18 win that was far more difficult than it needed to be.

Dropped passes, nonsensical runs up the middle when Forte was dominating the edge, a bad interception by Jay Cutler, and some very poor discipline in the Cover 2 allowed Josh Freeman to compose himself long enough to throw two TDs and make it a ball game.

Fortunately, the Bears still were the better team, sealing the deal with their fourth interception to salvage a 4-3 record before the bye. Last year they took a 4-3 record into a week 8 bye and emerged with a 7-2 run to lock up the 2 seed in the conference. This year? We'll see. It'll take more complete efforts, rather than the second half bumbling we saw today, to lock up a playoff spot in a much tougher NFC.

I'm not the gloomy type, however, so I'm happy enough to take a two game winning streak into the week off. Carimi and Earl Bennett should be back after the bye, so at the very least the Bears will go into the second half with the offense they expected to have to begin the season. Hopefully we'll see some consistency. On to the breakdown:

The Good:

Matt Forte: Pay. The. Man. There aren't many occasions where I find myself in complete lock step with the meatball crowd, but the fact that Matt Forte's future as a Bears isn't secure really frightens me. He once again carried the team with 25 rushes for 145 yards (5.8 YPC) and a TD, to go along with 38 yards receiving. He's now the first running back since Priest Holmes in 2004 to have over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his team's first seven games. That's ludicrous. Don't let him go, Jerry.

Marion Barber: Helped out Forte with 6 rushes for 39 yards and a TD, although his drop on the screen led to Cutler's first interception. Jerk.

The Offensive Line: There was pressure throughout, and Jay rushed some throws he probably didn't need to, as well, but they paved the way for 177 yards rushing and allowed just 2 sacks, which, for this team, does merit the "just".

The Briggs/Urlacher Duo: 11 tackles, 2 passes defensed, 2 interceptions. Just 30 yards rushing for Tampa. That'll do it.

The Defensive Line: They seemed to get winded in the fourth, and the pressure died off a bit, but for most of the game Freeman was harried and harassed and completely ineffective, and although they registered just one sack, they contributed greatly to the four interceptions.

Chris Conte: Everyone on defense has played better the last two days, so you can't just give Conte and Paea the credit, but Conte played very well in this game, with a couple of tackles and a very impressive interception at the goal line.

D.J. Moore: The nickelback in the Cover 2 has just one job, really. D.J. does that very well, as his seventh interception in the last two years ended today's game.

The Bad:

Jay Cutler: He was off today. The first interception wasn't his fault, nor was the Brutal Roy Williams drop that preceded it, but his second int was awful and he rushed several throws that he just didn't need to rush. It wasn't an awful day, all things considered, and had Marion not dropped the screen that led to the first pick his totals on the day would have been much more respectable, but I was really hoping to see him build off of the two great games he'd had before this one.

The 4th Quarter Playcalling: Why the hell did Martz' go away from the outside runs that had destroyed Tampa for the first three quarters? Why'd he go away from play action in favor of straight dropbacks? Why's he keep calling that Hester reverse that's worked once in 2 years and has otherwise resulted in a never-ending series of fail? Gah. Oh well. They won.

Roy Williams' Hands: I didn't want to throw him completely in the bad, as he had a great catch and run TD, but his first drop pretty much ended what had been a very productive drive and he nearly lost another one in the fourth quarter. I want to give you a chance, Roy. Don't make me mad.

Anyway, Detroit lost and Green Bay is somehow not murdering Minnesota yet (it's only the 2nd quarter), so maybe things are looking up. Enjoy your bye week, all. Go Bears.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Prognostication Bukakke, NFL Week 7

Broncos (1-4) at Miami (0-5)
Code Red: Miami Has to get a win at some point, and this seems like the place. Dolphins win.

Iggins!: Miami is so dysfunctional. They can't get out of their own way, and this is Tebow appreciation day, IN MIAMI, that is not a joke. Broncos win.

Mrs. Code Red: I'm taking the Broncos. I mean, Tebow HAS TO WIN, right? He's the Messiah.

Texans (3-3) at Titans (3-2)
Iggins!: Hm. The Titans have looked good in spurts this year, but all three Texan losses came to great teams in close games... I love the Texans so I'll take them here.


Mrs. Code Red: The only thing I know about the Titans is that they aren't that good. I guess the only thing I know about the Texans is that they aren't that bad? Fuck Arian Foster. Texans win.

Bears (3-3) at Bucs (4-2)
Code Red: Well, damned if one blowout win didn't restore all of my confidence in this team. Wait. No it didn't. Oh well, hopefully the improvement continues and the neutral site should favor the more internationally recognized Bears? Bears win.

Iggins!: Do the Bears run 6 or 7 man protections all game long? Then they win! If they do not they will lose badly. I'll take the Bears cautiously.

Mrs. Code Red: I can't believe the Bucs are 4-2. I've watched two Bucs games, I think, and they look shitty. Bears win. Then again...the Bears have also kinda looked shitty. But the rules are the rules.

Seahawks (2-3) at Browns (2-3)
Iggins!: Ugh. Gotta take the home team. Browns win.

Code Red: These teams make Football Jesus cry. Browns win.

Mrs. Code Red: I'm torn between saying the Seahawks and hoping to steal a win, or admitting defeat and playing it safe. I'll play it safe and go with the Browns. Also, no team should put neon green and teal together.

Chargers (4-1) at Jets (3-3)
Code Red: The Jets haven't looked impressive in a single game all year. Chargers win.

Iggins!: If the Jets could just switch their QB they'd have a shot. As it is they're screwed. Chargers win.

Code Red: 'Tis True. Rico Mirerez be all up in yo franchises, ruinings your postseason expectations.

Mrs. Code Red: Yay, Backup team! Go Chargers!

Redskins (3-2) at Panthers (1-5)
Iggins!: The Panthers are the best 1-5 team I may have ever seen (not saying much). Four of their losses were against top flight NFC teams. The Redskins may have been brought back to earth last week, and with Beck starting now I think the Panthers will win.

Code Red: Dammit. You haven't taken any of the teams I was hoping you'd take. Panthers win.

Mrs. Code Red: They benched Sexy Rexy! Cam Newton shall take my revenge! Panthers win.

Falcons (3-3) at Detroit (5-1)
Code Red: If the Falcons can run with Turner and get to Stafford, they could win. I feel that's not going to happen, though. Lions win.

Iggins!: Lions win.

Mrs. Code Red: It hurts my soul, but I think the Lions will win.

Steelers (4-2) at Cardinals (1-4)
Iggins!: Oh Steelers. By many, many points.

Code Red: THE WHISENHUNT BOWL. Steelers win.

Mrs. Code Red: This week sucks. Steelers win. Why does Arizona even have a team?

Chiefs (2-3) at Raiders (4-2)
Code Red: Trading away your entire future (a 2011 1st rd pick and a 2012 2nd rd (that could become a 1st) for a fading quarterback?) is bad. However, a heavy dose of Run DMC should be enough to sneak the Raiders past the Chiefs. Raiders win.

Iggins!: The Bengals certainly kicked some ass with that trade. The Chiefs figured out their identity the two weeks they had before the bye, But I think the Raiders are too good. Raiders win.

Mrs. Code Red: The Chiefs are gonna win sometimes...and they've been looking better, but the Raiders seem to be a much better team. Raiders win.

Packers (6-0) at Minnesota (1-5)
Iggins!: MASSACRE. Packers win.

Code Red: So much blood. I've decided that this year's Packers team is a better version of last year's Patriots. Their offense is seemingly unstoppable and you just hope some divinely inspired team can find a way to bump them off in the playoffs before they can make a run at title #2. Packers win.

Mrs. Code Red: Well, this is laughable. Packers win, but should the Vikings pull it off I can only assume divine intervention is involved.

Rams (0-5) at Cowboys (2-3)
Code Red: Sam Bradford should give Tim Couch a phone call to get some advice on dealing with life as a first overall pick suffering on a franchise with no talent. Cowboys win.

Iggins!: The Rams are confusingly terrible. Even Romo can't choke this one up. Cowboys win.

Mrs. Code Red: Cowboys, even though Tony Romo has found a way to blow everything so far, I think he and Miles Austin will get the Cowboys and my fantasy team on track here.

Colts (0-6) at Saints (4-2)
Iggins!: What a terrible lineup of games this week! Saints win.

Code Red: Indeed. Bad week to try and advance in the standings. Saints win.

Mrs. Code Red: The Colts are gonna win at some point. This is so not that point. Saints win. (plus, Drew Brees has the cutest baby in the world).

Ravens (4-1) at Jags (1-5)
Code Red: Oh come on. Who thought this was going to be a good game even before the season? Ravens win.

Iggins!: This is going to be one of the most boring weeks of football I have ever witnessed. Ravens win.

Mrs. Code Red: Ravens. Why is this televised?

Prognostication Bukakke, NCAA Week 8

So I skipped last week due to gross negligence on my part. Two weeks ago I cut Iggins' 8 game lead down to five. We'll see if I can make some more headway.

UNC (5-2) at Clemson (7-0)
Code Red: Per usual, it wouldn't shock me if they lost. However, Clemson is legitimately good. Clemson win.

Iggins!: I will pick Clemson until they lose from now on, I guess, so they'll probably be losing this week. Clemson wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Clemson, because they're undefeated. Logic.

Auburn (5-2) at LSU (7-0)
Iggins!: LSU. By a lot.

Code Red: Oh definitely LSU. The games suck this week.

Mrs. Code Red: LSU. They're really good.

Wisconsin (6-0) at Michigan State (5-1)
Code Red: Michigan State did a nice thing by dispelling the illusion that Michigan was good. However, Wisconsin is a murderous juggernaut. Wisconsin wins.

Iggins!: Wisconsin is much better than 6th in the nation. Wisconsin wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Wisconsin. Because they're a better team, maybe a national title team.

Washington (5-1) at Stanford (6-0)
Iggins!: Fun fact, neither of these teams has beaten a team with a winning record yet this season. In other words, Washington isn't actually good. Stanford wins.

Code Red: Andrew Luck is dreamy. Stanford wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Stanford I guess. This week does suck.

Penn State (6-1) at NW (2-4)
Code Red: Northwestern's due to break out at some point. NW wins.

Iggins!: I have to say Northwestern wins here if only because all you need to beat PSU is a great offense.

Mrs. Code Red: Northwestern. I think they tend to pull games out of their asses.

Cincinnati (5-1) at USF (4-2)
Iggins!: A BIG EAST SHOWDOWN. The conference of six! Soon to include perennial powers like SMU... and Navy... let us all hope this removes the Big East's autobid. USF wins?

Code Red:

Mrs. Code Red: Should I care? Does anyone? Cincinnati (the town) sucks, I think. USF wins. Their win over Notre Dame is meaningless, but it's still the best thing either of these teams has done.

USC (5-1) at Notre Dame (4-2)
Code Red: Ah, both of these once proud teams are pretty mediocre. USC's defense blows. I think Notre Dame will take advantage. ND wins.

Iggins!: I'll take Notre Dame because of home field advantage.

Code Red: You sonofabitch. TAKE USC, DADDY NEEDS THE WINS.

Mrs. Code Red: I'll take USC, then. Bitches.

Utah (3-3) at Cal (3-3)
Iggins!: This is tough. I'll take Utah because Cal is so goddamned irrelevant.

Code Red: I'll take Cal because Utah is so goddamned irrelevant.

Mrs. Code Red: This whole damn week is irrelevant. U..tah?

Texas Tech (4-2) at Oklahoma (6-0)
Code Red: There were only a few good games this weekend. This isn't one of them. Oklahoma wins.

Iggins!: Oklahoma wins by 50.

Mrs. Code Red: Oklahoma. There's no way Texas Tech can win this.

Oklahoma State (6-0) at Missouri (3-3)
Iggins!: Missouri was very overrated this season. OK State wins.

Code Red: If they were rated at all they were overrated. No one should have looked at Missouri and said “oh, they merit discussion.” OK State wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Oklahoma State.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bears 39, Vikings 10- I Don't Know What it Means, but it was Awesome

So the Bears may have fixed a lot of their issues last night with some well-timed lineup changes and an adjustment of their protection schemes on offense. The result was a 39-10 destruction of the Vikings, a team that I actually had convinced myself to fear last week due to their solid pass rush and the always-correct transitive property of football, which stipulated that Jahvid Best's 155 yard night last week surely would result in at least 384 yards for Adrian Peterson. Then again, the Vikings may have just been a lot worse than we thought, and the Bears are still heavily mired in the thick of the NFC. So we'll see. Whatever its implications for the future, that game was still fun as hell to watch. On with the breakdown:

The Good:
-Devin Hester: He's always killed them on returns, but for whatever reason the Minnesota Vikings are also the one team that's been consistently victimized by Devin Hester the receiver. For his career, Devin has 370 yards receiving and 5 receiving TDs against the Vikings, far more than he has in either category against any other team. Last night he managed to destroy double coverage on the deep bomb we've been waiting for from him and Jay for about three years. He finished with 5 receptions for 91 yards (18.2 YPC) and 1 TD, and had one drop on a pass that would have given him his second career 100 yard game. He also added his 16th career return TD on a 98 yard kickoff return, his fourth career return TD against Minnesota. friend of mine postulated that Devin's family may have been attacked at some point by Nordic tribesmen, filling him with a never-ending lust for vengeance. I don't know. He was awesome last night, and I hope he can find a way to start exploiting other teams in a similar fashion.

-Jay Cutler: Mike Martz went old school last night and decided to build the entire game plan around protection Jay. What a novel concept. The run game clicked early and the play-action pass proved devastatingly effective, and Jay finished with his most efficient and effective game of the year so far, as he finished 21 of 31 (67.7%) for 267 yds (8.6 YPA), 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. His first touchdown pass to Hester, which came with only 2 receivers on the pattern and EIGHT men in to block, gave us yet another glimpse of what Jay can do if he just has time to fire the ball deep, and it was beautiful. Hopefully we see more of this going forward.

-Matt Forte: Al Michaels made a snide remark during the game about all of the Pay Forte signs in the crowd, saying "its easy for fans to spend someone else's money." Fuck off, Al. Its easy for anyone with a fucking brain to see how important Matt Forte is to the success of this team and how royally screwed they'd be without him. Matt chipped in another stellar game with 17 rushes for 87 yards (5.1 YPC, he's averaging 5.3 YPC on the season) and 6 catches for 36 yards. Pay the man, Jerry.

-Stephen Paea: Paea spent the first five games inactive on the bench. I don't know if he needed that time to get acclimated to the pro game or not, but his first game seems to indicate it was a mistake. I was beyond excited about the kid when the Bears drafted him, as he was a holy terror at Oregon State and he set a combine record in the bench press. He's got a strong first punch and could potentially take over for Anthony Adams and upgrade this team at the nose tackle. Last night he showed that potential with 2 tackles, a safety, and some stout run defense. I can't get too excited, but at the very least it was a smart move to get the kid some reps now. You drafted him to be a difference maker, so give him a chance.

-Julius Peppers: Played on a bum knee and wound up with two sacks. I'd really like to find those sonsofbitches who said he "took plays off" when he came to Chicago and see what they think of him now.

-The Rest of the Defense: It helps that Minnesota is shitty, so all of this comes with a huge asterisk until proven otherwise, but the Bears defense did exactly what they were supposed to all year long: they stopped the run, limited McNabb and Ponder to the meaningless dink and dunk crap, and then they racked up 5 sacks. Conte and Major Wright played fairly well, as far as I could tell, in that they were everywhere they were supposed to be all night and limited anything that got past the second level to a moderate gain. That's a vast improvement over the last few weeks. Again, hopefully this can continue against teams that aren't quite so shitty.

-The Offensive Line: Jesus Christ, I can only imagine how things might have turned out differently in Detroit had they gone in with this lineup (WHY IN GOD'S NAME DID YOU PUT OMIYALE BACK IN AFTER YOU BENCHED HIM AGAINST CAROLINA? WHY) and this gameplan. They neutralized Jared Allen and Brian Robison for most of the game, limited the damage to one sack, gave Jay time to throw, and cleared holes for Forte. Please don't let this be yet another momentarily epiphany by the coaching staff that disappears the second they think they can outsmart someone.

The Bad:

-Nothing really that I could see. All three phases played well. Just hope it wasn't too late, and that it's more than a mirage.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lions 24, Bears 13- Tired.

I've spent a lot of time around these parts defending Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo. Lovie far more than Angelo, but still, my general feeling has been that it's hard to fire a regime that's won more than it's lost. Well, I'm done. I'm tired of seeing the Bears go into these situations completely outmanned and outgunned. I wouldn't be pissed to see this team keep Lovie and fire Angelo, as I think Lovie generally wins when he has enough players to do so, but I'd not be heartbroken to see them both thrown overboard at this point. Jay Cutler and Matt Forte played as well as two players possibly can play with no one around to bail them out. Cutler dropped back 43 times and was able to set his feet maybe twice. That's inexcusable.

As for Forte, he's only averaging 157 yards from scrimmage this year and Jerry refuses to spend any chunk of his 31 million in cap room to lock him up. Devin Hester made one nice catch tonight and had several terrible misses. The difference between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions tonight was pass protection and Calvin Johnson. Detroit's managed to resurrect itself in two years by building up front and finding a playmaker. Jerry's had 10 years to do both and has done neither, and I'm tired of it. This team may salvage 8, 9, or even 10 wins out of the rest of this schedule. It won't matter. They're not elite, and it's only getting worse. Peppers, Urlacher, and Briggs aren't getting younger. Charles Tillman proved again that, although he may be great at forcing turnovers when everything's great up front, he can't cover a guy like Calvin Johnson on his own.

This is everything we feared before the season. It's a team in decline. I was worried on opening day when Michael Turner ripped off 100 yards, but dismissed it in the win. Since then the Bears have shown they can't stop the run, and that's step one in the entire Cover 2 defense. If they can't do that, nothing else works. Tonight they let JAHVID BEST run for 155 yards against them. That's all you need to know. It's going to be long and ugly and we can only hope that at the end of it all someone new is in charge. Hopefully it's someone who can identify the guys we know are worth keeping (Jay Cutler, Matt Forte) and whoever else on this roster might be worth it (Carimi?) and then clean house and rebuild. I know it can be done. Just look at the team that won tonight's game.

Oh, and I'm not going to do a Good/Bad breakdown for tonight's game because we all know Matt Forte and Jay Cutler played their hearts out and no one else did. I will, however, single out Frank Omiyale and Brandon Meriweather. Those guys don't belong on an NFL roster. Or a CFL roster. Or an Arena Football Roster. Hell, Frank Omiyale's caused me (and Jay) enough pain over the years that I don't think he really belongs among the living.

That's all for tonight. Good night, folks. Good night, 2011 Bears.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Prognostication Bukakke, NFL Week 5

Saints (3-1) at Panthers (1-3)
Code Red:
This Panthers team is going to upset someone very soon. I'm not sure it'll be Breesus, however. Saints win.

Iggins!: We are thinking the same damn things this week. I feel like I should pick Carolina, but I just can't pick the Panthers to win until they close the deal once. Saints win.

Mrs. Code Red: Saints. Breesus over Cam. For now.

Raiders (2-2) at Texans (3-1)
Iggins!: The Raiders have had a tough schedule up to this point. They're much better than the 2-3 record they are going to have. They drop this one because they have a pretty atrocious run defense. Texans win.

Code Red: Indeed. This has shootout potential, but whereas Arian Foster vs. Run DMC is fairly even, Schaub over Campbell every time. Texans win.

Mrs. Code Red: Fucking Texans. Fucking Arian Goddamn Foster. I hope he tears his entire leg off (Editor's note: she traded Foster to Iggins! In our fantasy league last week). Sigh. Texans win though.

Cardinals (1-3) at Vikings (0-4)
Code Red: the Vikings have to win at some point, no? The Cardinals have been disappointing, and Adrian Peterson may be the key here. Vikings win.

Iggins!: I'll take the Cardinals because they have a better team, and even though they have yet to capitalize fully on their offensive talent, the Vikings have specialized in failure this year. Cards win.

Mrs. Code Red: The Vikings have been close lately...Vikings?

Eagles (1-3) at Bills (3-1)
Iggins!: Normally it takes teams at least 5 or 6 weeks to start capitalizing on the obvious weaknesses of their opponents. This season every team is running the ball straight at Philly, and that just happens to be their weakness. Fred Jackson goes off, Bills win.

Code Red: I don't know. Buffalo allowed Andy Dalton to run on them last week. Vick should have a big enough game to get the Eagles sort of back on track, although they still have a ton of weaknesses. Eagles win.

Mrs. Code Red: Bills. Last week was just a hangover.

Seahawks (1-3) at Giants (3-1)
Code Red: Wow. The Giants will be 4-1. What the hell? Giants win.

Iggins!: What a strange NFC East we live in. Giants win.

Mrs. Code Red: Laugh laugh laugh. Giants.

Chiefs (1-3) at Colts (0-4)
Iggins!: The Chiefs will have the same record as the Raiders, and that is a grave injustice. Chiefs win.

Code Red: Indeed it is. Matt Cassel sucks. Chiefs win.

Mrs. Code Red: I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the Colts. They were close last week. I don't think they'll go winless, so might as well be the Chiefs. Colts win.

Titans (3-1) at Steelers (2-2)
Code Red: Fuck it, the Titans might be just plain good. Titans win.

Iggins!: The Steelers have looked bad and the Tits have looked good. Titties win.

Mrs. Code Red: Titans, because I have their defense in fantasy.

Bengals (2-2) at Jaguars (1-3)
Iggins!: Wow, who cares? Bengals win?

Code Red: Sigh. Somehow the Bengals will be 3-2. Bengals win.

Mrs. Code Red: Bengals, I guess?

Bucs (3-1) at 49ers (3-1)
Code Red: Harbaugh has some powerful magicks to have conjured a 3-1 record out of this crew. But the Bucs are legitimately good, so Bucs win.

Iggins!: Yeah, we'll see how good the 49er run defense really is. Bucs win.

Mrs. Code Red: The Bucs.

Chargers (3-1) at Broncos (1-3)
Iggins!: Chargers win.

Code Red: Man, the Broncos suck (will never forgive the Broncos Trolls of Aught Nine). Chargers win.

Mrs. Code Red: Go Chargers, Go Philip Rivers. Chargers win.

Jets (2-2) at Patriots (3-1)
Code Red: I'd love Rex Ryan's boys to keep up their unlikely winning streak against the Pats, but the Jets defense hasn't looked anywhere near as stout as usual and they seem to think they can win consistently by having Rico Mirerez throw the ball 40 times a game. That is a fallacy, sir. Pats win.

Iggins!: Apparently Rex went crazy and yelled at his players, saying that they were going back to running it all the time. I've heard you say that before, Rex. I'm calling bullshit. Pats win.

Mrs. Code Red: Pats. I can't help it.

Packers (4-0) at Falcons (2-2)
Iggins!: The Falcons are doing their best to make the Bears win over them in week 1 look very meh. Packers win.

Code Red: Those bastards. Packers win.

Mrs. Code Red: Packers. It's hard to pick against them.

Bears (2-2) at Lions (4-0)
Code Red: The Lions defense has some legitimate holes. They can't run the ball. They're a good team that's managed to escape the last couple of weeks because their opponent let off the damn gas. I think the Bears have enough on both sides of the ball, assuming Mike Martz continues to let the offense work through Matt Forte, to win this one. Bears win.

Iggins!: Here's the deal. The Bears are going to lose this game. But I am a Bears fan and I haven't picked against them in an official capacity (ESPN games, against my dad in head-to-head picks, or here) ever, so I'll say Bears win. (But they won't).

Code Red: I find your lack of faith disturbing.

Mrs. Code Red: Dear God, let it be the Bears.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Prognostication Bukakke, NCAA Week 6

I think Mr. Cox says it all. The current standings:

Iggins!: 55-23
Code Red: 47-31
Mrs. Code Red: 45-33

Onto this week's picks:
California (3-1) at Oregon (3-1)
Code Red: Well, this one's easier than it looks. Oregon wins.

Iggins!: Has Cal ever been relevant? Oregon wins.

Code Red: They were pretty good when they had that one quarterback. Aaron Rodgers. Wonder what ever became of him.

Mrs. Code Red: I'll go with Oregon. My Dad lives there.

Missouri (2-2) at Kansas State (4-1)
Iggins!: Pretty simple here. K-State has been impressive and Mizzou has looked like garbage. Kansas State wins.

Code Red: Indeed, but the slate was pretty unimpressive this week. Kansas State wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Kansas State, because they appear to be better?

Oklahoma (4-0) at Texas (4-0)
Code Red: My horrific record forces me to play it safe. Not that I'd pick an overrated Texas squad anyway. Oklahoma wins.

Iggins!: You noticed me kicking your ass there eh? Surprisingly I'm 4th overall in the BHGP college pick 'em pool this year. When have I ever been good at picking college games? Not since we've known each other. The times they are a-changing. Oklahoma beats a very overrated Texas team.

Mrs. Code Red: Oklahoma. Texas sucks.

Iowa (3-1) at Penn State (4-1)
Iggins!: I'm surprised you added a Hawkeye game! It really isn't my homerism that makes me pick the Hawks; they're simply a much much better team, and Ferentz still has his voodoo magic hold on Paterno. Iowa wins big.

Code Red: Indeed. Iowa is just the better team. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Won't you save me, Paterno? Penn State wins (unlikely).

Mrs. Code Red: Iowa, even if I hate rooting for them.

Miami (2-2) at Virginia Tech (4-1)
Code Red: So tempted to take Miami here, as Virginia Tech hasn't looked impressive at any point. But that's often Virginia Tech's M.O., so the Hokies win.

Iggins!: I agree with your logic, but Miami has looked worse (considering that OSU sucks). VaTech wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Sigh. My gut says Miami but I don't want to fall farther behind. Virginia Tech.

Florida (4-1) at LSU (5-0)
Iggins!: This is going to be a terrible game. LSU wins by 30.

Code Red: No shit. They're destroying this team. LSU wins.

Mrs. Code Red: LSU, I guess.

Air Force (3-1) at Notre Dame (3-2)
Code Red: Damn you, Air Force. You really screwed me last week. Notre Dame wins.

Iggins!: If you would pay attention to the NCAA maybe you WOULDN'T SUCK AT THIS. (I have to soak this in while it lasts), Air Force wins. Seriously.

Code Red: I hate to make the sore losers argument, but if we're looking at a 3 year trend you're still 25 games back. Dammit. Even I want to call myself a bitch for making that comment.

Mrs. Code Red: Air Force. I'm gonna go with Iggins! Because he seems to be on a hot streak.

Texas A&M (2-2) at Texas Tech (4-0)
I miss Mike Leach. Texas A&M wins.

Code Red: Mike Leach is never gone, Iggins!, so long as we truly believe in him. Texas A&M wins.

Mrs. Code Red:
My one upset pick? Texas Tech.

Auburn (4-1) at Arkansas (4-1)
Code Red:
I have no idea what to make of Auburn this year. My gut tells me to roll with Petrino, however. Arkansas wins.

Iggins!: Auburn is certainly an enigma. I'll take the home team to be safe. Arkansas wins.

Mrs. Code Red: Arkansas.

Michigan (5-0) At Northwestern (2-2)
I will guarantee you Northwestern wins this game. I am more sure of this than any other pick I have made this week.

Code Red: Hmm...Michigan it is then.

Mrs. Code Red: Northwestern, I guess. I hate this.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Four More Years!

So last Friday marked the fourth anniversary of Start Kyle Orton. As is my custom, I totally forgot. Not that anyone cares, but Iggins! and I have now managed to keep this thing running at various levels of productivity and competence for an entire presidential term (although Iggins!, has only shown up this year to somehow destroy my two year reign of dominance in the Prognostication Bukakke. That sumbitch got married last weekend, though, so he gets a pass for having a life. I've still got till June before I become one of those rare married bloggers). Most of you who read this site know the basic back story, primarily that the website mostly stemmed from my burning hatred for Brian Griese rather than any actual love for Kyle Orton, but Kyle seems like a decent enough guy and the people who come to me here and on Twitter and ignore my role as a blatant Jay Cutler apologist while bashing me for being some kind of Broncos troll make me laugh, so the name stays. Although the Tebow fans are getting old.

Anywho, I'd like to thank you all for your continued support and I decided this year to list my ten favorite posts on this here website as a celebration of all the fun I've had put this thing together:

10. Bears QB Controversies, Parts One and Two
The best part is they all were meaningless, as all of the participants sucked

9. Worst Ten Bears QBs of My Lifetime, Parts One and Two (sadly before Todd Collins' time)
An old classic. Man, I've seen some awful quarterbacking. And yet people question why I love Jay Cutler.

8. Man I hate Brian Griese
Nuff said.

7. Trent Dilfer, Too
If Trent Dilfer was on fire, I'd not piss on him unless I was drinking kerosene.

6. Go to Hell, Les Carpenter
The ultimate of the "2010 Bears were just lucky" smackdowns.

5. Good bye, Kyle Orton
Bidding adieu to the patron saint.

4. Fun with Fro Dog
I've met Fro. He's not a bad dude in person, but he's sure fun to stick poke.

3. Rick Morrissey, My Mortal Enemy
The never-ending battle with ol' penisnose himself.

2. Defending Jay Cutler
My impassioned defense of our hero following the NFC Title fallout.

And last, but certainly not least, a piece that ages like a fine wine and still earns me at least one hate mail a week from bitter UCLA fans...

1. The Cade McNown Article

Thanks folks. I hope you keep reading.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bears 34, Panthers 29- Just Enough

I apologize for another tardy game recap and my general absences/delays from the regular features here at Start Kyle Orton. I recently moved to a new area and started graduate school, so the changes in my personal schedule and the increase in workload have cut into my bloggin' time. I assure you, though, I will do my best to give you the completely useless information and commentary you've hopefully learned to ignore. Onto the recap:

The Bears did just enough this week to get by the Carolina Panthers. There are plenty of people who've already written this win off while looking at the generally poor defensive performance and the supposed lack of quality of the opponent. I'm not doing that. There were certainly some very good things to take from this game, and that Carolina offense isn't just "promising down the road" good, but very good as it is.

However, there were plenty of things I didn't like about this game as well. As usual, the answers will be found in the next week's game, as a win over the somehow undefeated Lions (I really don't mean to keep trashing them. They're obviously a good, talented team, but the last two weeks have been at least equal parts opponent meltdown and Lion comeback, especially when Tony Romo gift wrapped 21 second-half points for them via his interception-palooza) would really tell us whether this team has legitimate playoff hopes or is perhaps the fading team we all feared they may have been after their lackluster performances against the Saints and Packers. For now, though, I'm happy with a win.

The Good:
Matt Forte: If Jerry Angelo doesn't wise up to the necessity of paying this man, well, I will find a way to visit horrible pains upon his being. You can say what you will about Carolina's shoddy run defense. Nobody that's very good in that area will get gashed for 224 yards, but you also don't back your way to that kind of total on offense, either. Forte showed all day long that he can exploit any kind of hole with that second gear he has. Once he gets to the second level he accelerates like few backs in this league can. Nobody expects 205 yards per game out of him, naturally, but I'd truly like to murder Mike Martz if he ever again thinks he can just give up on the run after two or three unsuccessful attempts. Give Matt at least 15 carries and he'll open everything else up.

Lance Louis: A lot of people laugh when Mike Tice talks about Louis's athleticism, but the guy really is a promising offensive line prospect. Unfortunately, he's never been particularly good at staying healthy. Yesterday he started at guard, but moved to right tackle when Omiyale proved once again that he's Frank Omiyale. At both positions, however, Louis was a mauler in the run game and held his own in pass protection. Chris Spencer's given an acceptable performance the last couple of weeks for a center playing guard, but Louis has the potential to be one hell of a combination on the right side with a healthy Gabe Carimi, whenever they get him back.

Devin Hester: It was really nice yesterday to have Devin Hester remind me why I love him so much. Having spent much of the last few weeks ranting about his (and everyone else's) lack of ability as a wide receiver, I'm glad he reminded us all again of his true value. Both of his long returns yesterday were huge, and both were classic Devin. The kickoff return especially made me laugh, as I immediately said "that's not a good idea Devin" as he took it out of the end zone, then happily wiped the egg off of my face as he took it back 73 yards. Then his punt return was a thing of pure beauty, and may the officials that flagged his celebration rot in hell. The man's the Greatest of All Time. Let him celebrate his record.

D.J. Moore: The nickelback in the Tampa Two isn't much of a cover corner. Their main job is to take advantage of harried QBs and come up with turnovers. DJ excels at this. Any time a ball is batted in the air it seems to find him, and he's very good at transitioning to ball carrier and taking the ball in for scores. Good job, DJ.

-Cam Newton: If my recent destruction in the Prognostication Bukakke (more on that later) hasn't shown you, Cam Newton's incredible success as a pro quarterback is definitive proof that I know absolutely nothing. He's got Aaron Rodgers-level ability. There were a number of times in that game where the defensive tackles broke through the line quickly and I expected Cam to tuck and run toward the edge, and instead he evaded the arm tackles, re-set his feet and made an incredible throw. God, I don't want to see him again anytime soon.

The Bad:

Tim Jennings: With his speed and route-running ability Steve Smith is a nightmare for most corners. I don't disagree with Lovie putting someone other than Tillman on him. P'nut's game has always been best against big, tall receivers, not the speedy guys. However, Jennings got absolutely Destroyed by Smith. He wasn't helped much by the terrible two-deep play of Brandon Meriweather, but man, Jennings has been awful in back to back weeks against Jennings and Smith. Hopefully Charles Tillman is up to the task of slowing down Megatron next weekend, because Jennings sure as hell can't do it.

Brandon Meriweather: For the second time in three weeks a Bears safety broke the cardinal rule of Lovie-ball. Do not get beat deep. In New Orleans it was Major Wright peeking into the backfield, but this week Meriweather got caught looking a couple times, not to mention he's already shown the tendency to freelance and look for the big hit that his detractors in New England spoke of. I'd expect Lovie and Marinelli to work with him more in the coming weeks, and the return of Chris Harris (whenever that is, hopefully soon) should definitely help, but so far its been an auspicious start as a Bear for Brandon.

Defensive Line: The Panthers have a pretty good offensive line with Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil, but there needs to be more of an impact from guys like Julius Peppers and Henry Melton in a game like this. I know Newton probably escaped from 3 sacks that most QBs can't, but Peppers and Idonije were completely neutralized off the edge for most of the game. That absolutely cannot happen again, unless they want 500+ yards of offense from their opponent every week. By the way, back in 2007 I said the Bears should draft Ryan Kalil as Kreutz's eventually heir apparent who could play some guard. They drafted Olsen instead. Both are now Panthers. Make of that what you will. The line also needs to find some way to make more of a mess in the middle. Ryan Grant and DeAngelo Williams have both hurt them inside in the last two weeks.

Jay Cutler: I understand it's hard to get in rhythm when you only throw on third and long for most of the game, and I counted at least two drops, but Jay's accuracy really slipped after a hot start. He was just 3 of 9 with an interception after a 6-8 start. He's really had a hard time keeping the ball down the last couple of weeks. Hopefully Lance Louis and Gabe Carimi can get back and stay back in the lineup and Jay will have the confidence in his protection that he had during the preseason and during the opener, but for now he's just not showing the kind of accuracy we're used to.