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Monday, December 30, 2013

Packers 33, Bears 28- A Fitting End

The most surprising thing is the lack of anger. Not during the game, of course. No, then I screamed so much (particularly at That Goddamn Fumble) that my beloved family dog hid under the table and nearly wet herself. The surprise is that now, a whole day removed, there is no anger.

What could I be mad at? Chris Conte? What could he be expected to do there, other than to be Chris Conte? There was nothing shocking about it. Hell, the greater surprise is his excellent read and interception of Rodgers in the end zone. That last play? Anger seems misplaced at this point. Fatigue, certainly, but anger comes from some kind of surprise, some kind of expectation that wasn't met leading to disappointment. It all came down to one of the most dangerous quarterbacks ever versus the worst defense, and arguably the worst player on the worst defense, in the NFL. The result shouldn't merit anger. Sky is blue. Water is wet. Chris Conte sucks. So we move on.

In the end, the Bears did more than I expected, if you'd asked me to tell you the truth. They led in the fourth quarter. They made me believe for more than a goddamn second that they'd pull it off. Their highly-touted offense actually showed up in a game that mattered and gave me hope that, in the future, with a better defense, they could truly, finally, stop being Green Bay's little brother. We knew that day wasn't going to be yesterday, though, and so there is no anger here. Today they are what they were always meant to be with an offense that good and a defense that bad: 8-8.

Now begins what may honestly be the most interesting offseason the Bears have had in my lifetime, and that's including last year's turnover. Phil Emery has decisions to make, and, fortunately, has the cap room to make them. His entire tenure as Bears GM will be defined by the moves he makes in the next few months. As a believer in Phil Emery, I think this is, oddly enough to say after a gut-wrenching lost to Those Mother F*&kers, a good time to be a Bears fan.

The Good:

Matt Forte: perhaps the most refreshing thing about Trestman's approach to the Packers this year has been that he, of all the Bears offensive minds to tangle with Dom Capers in the last few years, has been the first to have the novel idea of running the damn ball. Forte this year rushed for 235 yards on 46 carries against the Packers. In this game alone he had 157 yards from scrimmage and 3 TDs. Green Bay had no answer for him. Matt, kind of quietly (and that's odd to say for a guy who made the Pro Bowl) had the greatest year of his career with 1931 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. I love you, Matty.

Jay Cutler: He had easily the best game of his career against the Packers, completing 15 of 24 passes for 226 yards and 2 TDs with a 103.8 rating. His only turnover came on a desperation throw on the last play of the game, and while some have complimented him for being a "game manager" in this game, he did most of his damage downfield, with a 37 yard strike to Marshall setting up one touchdown and a 67 yard bomb to Jeffery setting up another. You'll all no doubt be surprised to know that I hope this is Not Jay's last game in a Bear's uniform, and I don't think it is.

Brandon Marshall: He had a painful drop on the last drive, but was otherwise brilliant, and he and Cutler combined for one of the more impressive TDs in Bears memory, with the two of them communicating silently on an hot route on what was supposed to be a run play.

Tim Jennings: He had a nice interception and Rodgers passer rating when throwing into Tim's coverage was just 54.6. Thanks for not sucking as much as everyone else, TJ. See you next year, I hope.

The Bad:

Mel Tucker: I was reluctant to board the fire Mel Tucker train. I'm generally loathe to blame a coach when his players clearly suck, but I've yet to see Mel Tucker do anything this year that inspired me to think he'd be more than average at best even if he was given the 2012 Bears defense. That last play was an abominable call, and the fact that three of the four members of the secondary (all veterans, mind you) played the wrong coverage on a 4th and 8 in week 17 of the season has to fall on him. He can go.

Chris Conte: Just. Go. Away.

Every One of You Assholes Who Just Watched that Ball: Seriously, f*&k you.

Chris Conte: You are a crime against humanity.

Officiating: Jay Cutler himself said there's no way that penalty on McClellin would have been a penalty if it had been a defender gently wafting over His body instead of Aaron Rodgers. That was terrible. So was what was clearly NOT  a touchback. I'm kind enough to attribute these mistakes to mere incompetence rather than any form of corruption, but they did the Bears no favors.

The Ugly:

The end of the season: the worst day of my year, every year. Provided no relative has died. Even then it might depend on the relative.

That's all for now. There will be  much, much more to come as the offseason generally gives me the chance for long-winded reviews and monologues on various topics, and this offseason especially will provide plenty of fodder for discussion. I'll see you all later. Until then, Go Bears.

Chris Conte sucks. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eagles A Lot, Bears 11- Forget What I Said About Fun

As of right now the Eagles have 54 points. They may hit 60. I'm going to go ahead and write this recap now. It'll be quick.

This sucked. Oh my God did it suck. Yet next week we could forget all about it if they beat Green Bay. Or not. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.


The Lions and Packers: They lost. The Bears still control their own fate and Rodgers isn't playing next week. I guarantee it. He's not going to magically heal in another week, folks. If Green Bay wasn't going to risk him this week they won't next week. The Bears can still easily make the playoffs. Not that we'll want to see what's going to happen when they do.

The Bad: 

The offensive line: I'm going to start here, because we expected the defense to suck. Odds are there was no fucking way the offense at it's best could win a shootout with a team that was going to run for 300 yards, but they couldn't even get started in that direction thanks to an abysmal performance in run and pass blocking by the line and Matt Forte. I got horrible flashbacks to OL's of recent memory, and I didn't like it.

Devin Hester: God. Dammit. Devin.

The Wide Receivers: I refuse to believe that the 31st ranked pass defense in the NFL improved so much that Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were suddenly incapable of getting open. They dropped several passes as well. It was embarrassing to see the strength of the team fail to show up at all tonight.

Marc Trestman: The game plan was terrible. The short passing game that had worked so well all season was nowhere to be found as Trestman called mostly deep drops and slow-developing routes against a defense blitzing on every down.

Mel Tucker: I know there were injuries, I know guys like Peppers and Briggs are just older and slower, but this was the closest the team came to playing with a full-deck in months, with Ratliff, Paea, Briggs, all playing, and they were utterly destroyed on every play. There's no way coaching doesn't play Some factor in a team that is fooled by every single play-action, every misdirection, and every screen. He may just be a scape goat, but something tells me even at his best Mel Tucker is probably not a great defensive coordinator, and they're going to need one of those going forward.
Lance Briggs: Jesus, what did you eat while you were out, Lance?

Shea McClellin:  Just stop with this. He's not getting any better. He's the worst defensive end in the NFL and I can't even pretend that's hyperbole. Get rid of him.

And the Rest: You all suck.

Adam Podlesh: I won't pretend that the Eagles wouldn't have scored on that first drive even if Podlesh had booted it seventy yards, but he sure didn't help. He's been mediocre at best the last two years.

The Ugly:

Fuck you, NBC:
In case you didn't notice Michael Bush, Eric Weems, and Dante Rosario came in at the same time as Josh McCown. The fucking quarterback controversy graphics can go straight to hell. That was just Remember the Maine-level media bullshit.

Well, I'll see you all next week for the NFC North title game. With any luck we'll all be here commiserating Cam Newton/Colin Kaepernick or whoever else wins the wild card running roughshod over this defense in a few weeks as well. It's not over yet, even if we might want it to be after this.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Football is Fun Again

It's funny how much a year can change things. Last year the Bears entered the last two games of the season at 8-6, needing two wins and a lot of help to get into the postseason. This year they find themselves in the same situation, and yet the mood is completely different.

Last year's team found itself in desperate straits through its own incompetence. The offense that could never get out of its own way had sputtered in a late season death spiral against the Texans, 49ers, Seahawks, Vikings, and Packers. The offensive coordinator and the quarterback weren't even on speaking terms. A defense that had been so brilliant to start the year saw its takeaways decrease, it's rushing totals increase, and it's leader depart for good with a final injury. The head coach who had survived against all odds on multiple occasions would finally run out of time. There was no excitement left for the stretch run because we were too damn mad that a stretch run was even necessary.

This year it all seems different, at least to me. I don't know if this defense, held together as it is with duct tape and spit, can do a damn thing to slow down LeSean McCoy. All of the excitement of this week may go right out the door with a loss to Chip Kelly's seemingly unstoppable offense. All of this could just be setting up a colossal nutpunch at the hands of Green Bay in week 17, but that doesn't really seem to matter right now.

The Bears, by all rights, shouldn't be in this situation. There's not a Bears fan alive who could possibly have assumed that this team would be in first place in week 14 if you'd told them that Jay Cutler would miss a month and that Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Henry Melton, and Nate Collins would miss even more than that. Given the scope of the injuries that this team has faced this year, Trestman and Co. are playing with house money. They've got no business making the playoffs, and so the sense of disappointment if they fail pales in comparison to the sheer dumb joy of the idea that it's even still possible.

I have enjoyed watching this team this season. They're often outmanned and outgunned, they've alternated between brilliant and pathetic (typically on opposite sides of the ball), and they've never yet been boring. I've spent much of the year trying to simply evaluate this team without even considering playoff possibilities. This offense has given me so much hope for 2014 that I hadn't really considered that they could still make something happen this year. Perhaps they won't, but these last two games, regardless of outcome, should be fun.

That's the thing about football that I often lose sight of in my obsessive focus on this team every year. Since the 2005 Bears first gave me hope, and especially since Jay Cutler's arrival, I've gotten caught up in debates over championship windows and "elite" quarterbacks and have spent so much time pondering end game scenarios and feeling the disappointment of the last few years so bitterly that I've sometimes failed to just enjoy the 16 weeks of football I'm guaranteed. That's not been the case this year. These Bears are fun to watch. They're not elite. Hell, they may not even be good, but they've given me 14 weeks of watchable football. Hopefully there's at least three games left. Go Bears.

Episode 30 of the SKOdCast is now up!

Nobody Expects the SKOdCast Episode 30!

On a Wednesday night, that is, but we've had to move up a day because things.


Listen in as we laugh at Detroit and enjoy the strange twists of fortune that have landed the Bears in first place.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bears 38, Browns 31- Something for Everyone

Do you hate Jay Cutler? I bet you enjoyed those two interceptions then, my frent. Josh McGowen wuddena made dose trows. Good ting da Bears defense bailed 'em out with dat pick six.

Do you love Jay Cutler? Hard not to when the guy completes 71% for 264 yards, 3 TDs, and a 102 rating in leading his team to a comeback win.

Do you love Marc Trestman? Well the guy showed some tremendous balls, stuck with his QB through a firestorm and came out of it on the right side of the victory column. His vaunted offense looked like total shit for large parts of three quarters and still sleepwalked their way to 440 yards and 31 offensive points against the #7 defense in the NFL, and they get a matchup next week against a defense that just allowed 48 points to Matt f*&king Cassel.

Do you love the Bears? Well, the best offense in franchise history managed to overcome it's own issues to keep the team in playoff contention. It was a banner day for everyone. Except Chris Conte. F&%k that guy.

The Good:

Jay Cutler: yeah, yeah, meatball. Eat it. When you complete 71% at 8.5 YPA and have 100+ passer rating, you wind up in the good column. I don't care how good Josh was, the offense is more fun to watch with Jay at the helm, even if it's not always for the right reasons.

Run-blocking: Matt Forte rushed for 127 yards, including *gasp* an easy 3rd and 1 conversion to keep a scoring drive alive. Michael Bush picked up yards, amazingly enough. They iced the game late and kept the chains moving most of the day.

Alshon Jeffery: Holy shit, kid. What did we ever do to deserve you?

Brandon Marshall: 6 catches for 95 yards and a TD, the TD and a beautiful 41 yard jump ball both coming on plays where Brandon flat-out schooled one of the best corners in the NFL in Joe Haden.

Zack Bowman: they were both gift-wrapped, horrid lobs by Jason Campbell, but with this defense you take what you're given.

Chud and Norv: thanks guys. We might have been in trouble there if you had tried running at all against the worst run defense in the NFL. Good thing you didn't.

The Bad:

Turnovers: Oh God, those picks. Neither was a particularly bad read, especially by Cutler standards, but one was underthrown and the other was way too high. Hopefully that was just the proverbial "rust". Then the Marty B fumble that was just depressing because I really never want to be mad at that handsome sonofabitch.

Chris Conte: WHAT PURPOSE DO YOU SERVE?! You can't tackle. You got beat deep for a Josh Gordon TD on a play where getting beat was utterly inexcusable. You let an interception on a game-tying drive bounce right off your chest. I hate you.

The Ugly:

My state of mind: Jesus Christ, me. Take a chill pill. Jay had plenty of time to right the ship and he did, you lack-of-faith having me. I hate me.

That's all for now. Let's root like hell for Baltimore tomorrow night. Go Bears.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Episode 29 of the SKOdCast is Now Up!

 The SKOdCast! Now with 100% more Damon Huard!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bears 45, Cowboys 21- Sure, Why Not?

Well, that was a pleasant surprise. After a week of angst over missed opportunities and trepidation regarding the seeming mismatch between the Cowboys potent offense and the Bears woeful defense, the Bears somehow managed to come up with their most dominant win of the season. The offense scored on seven straight possessions, protecting the defense by keeping the ball out of Romo's hands all night. Josh McCown was as efficient as ever, Matt Forte had holes all night, and Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery made a mockery of Dallas' attempts to play man coverage against them. By the time it was all over the Bears managed a season-high 45 points and kept their playoff hopes alive.

The Good:

Alshon Jeffery: At what point is it OK to start comparing him to the AJ Greens and Calvin Johnsons of the world? Because I'm not seeing a whole lot that they can do that he isn't doing right now. What an absolute monster.

Matt Forte: 20 rushes, 102 yards, 9 catches, 73 yards, 1 TD. Forte went over 1,000 yards for the season tonight as well. This offense is really special. I just hope they don't waste it.

Brandon Marshall: 6 catches, 100 yards, over 1000 yards on the season as well, the first time the Bears have had two receivers and a runningback over 1000 yards each since 1995. This is fun.

Josh McCown: I wish this didn't have to be a debate. I wish I didn't have to keep pointing out the logical arguments in favor of Cutler, the talent disparity, the fact that the offense wasn't exactly unproductive under Jay. I wish it was simple for me just to admire the amazing story that Josh McCown really is. What a night for the guy. 5 touchdowns. Five.

Kyle Orton: did you see him? Glorious.

The Bad:

Run Defense: Historically bad! Huzzah! Never half ass it, boys.

The Ugly: 

Dallas in December: Hahaha. You guys suck.

That's all for now. The Bears stay alive. This week should be interesting, considering we'll all have to take shelter from the rage of a million meatballs when/if Trestman names Jay the starter for the game against Cleveland. Until then, let's enjoy this one.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Episode 28 of the SKOdCast is Now Up!

However, Kyle seems to have failed to embed it correctly. Jesus Christ can nobody around here do anything but me. Talkshoe is experiencing some sort of difficulty at the moment, I'll rectify his grievous mistake as soon as possible.

Episode 28 of the SKOdCast is Live at 6:15 PM

How angry is Iggins! at Marc Trestman? SO ANGRY.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Episode 27 of the Start Kyle Orton Podcast WAS Live, but Nobody Told You About It.

Though you may not have known, Travis and I did do a podcast last Wednesday in anticipation of Thanksgiving and the Vikings game. Both of my cohorts said they would post it and neither of them did, because nobody but me does a Goddamn thing around here. Take this link.