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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

TIME TO PANIC?! A Step By Step Guide to Appropriate Panicking About the Bears

In lieu of my traditional Good, Bad, Ugly breakdown of the third preseason game (in short: GOOD- Offense moved ball, Defensive line did stuff. BAD-everything else. UGLY- Kelvin Hayden), I've gauged the reaction of many Bears fans and surrounding media following the event and decided things need a bit of tweaking. So I'm here to help you all understand just what the appropriate level of panic is on the following Bears:

Jay Cutler: He was sacked twice, the first two times he's gone down all preseason. He was also picked for the first time after Garza snapped the ball early and Jay did a Jay thing trying to get rid of the ball in a hurry. Otherwise though he moved the ball pretty well, had a touchdown nullified by a ticky-tack penalty and another dropped, and averaged almost 8 YPA against the best secondary in the NFL. He finishes his preseason completing 66% with a passer rating just a notch below 100. He's fine. PANIC LEVEL: you know when you wake up at like 1 AM, and you think OH SHIT WHAT TIME IS IT DID I MISS WORK and then you realize it's 1 AM and you have like six more hours of glorious sleep left? That.

I Suppose it Was Inevitable

There was never a chance we were going to make it through an entire season without this happening. There's just too much butthurt over grumpy interviews and short responses and unreasonable expectations for a Sun-Times reporter not to write at least one article comparing Johnny Manziel and Jay Cutler.

But I thought we'd make it farther than this. I thought we'd make it past literally Johnny's first appearance.

And of course it had to be Telander. He just can't figure out how to be nice to Jay. He tries so hard, but he only manages to sound condescending and bitter. Which, in a way, describes Rick Telander perfectly. So I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

And so the 2014 Fisking Season begins, as I lovingly open the box that contains my italics.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Season Two, Episode Eleven: Only the Very Realest Talk

Sir, I'm sorry to wake you like this but... they said it couldn't wait. The Expedition they... they found it, sir. Another episode, right where you said it would be. The chopper is fueled and ready, we'll meet them at Fort Booker and ride from there. I just have to ask, sir, how did you know?

This episode is lessened by my absence, which is owed I'm sure to the filthy children I had the misfortune to be near at the museum. Harbingers of pestilence, all of them. And they talked through the whole damn show at the planetarium. Anyway, what was I talking about?

Oh right, the podcast. Kyle and Travis discuss preseason, game two and sundry other things. I'm sure they left appropriate gaps for you to just imagine my incisive observations, so here's a quick checklist for improvising your very own Erik Dialogue™
  • Endeavor to use as many words as possible to make simple points
  • Say "Go HAM" entirely too much (I can't stop, what's wrong with me)
  • Awkwardly compare two things in a way that doesn't quite make sense which your friends will reference every day for the next two years
  • Try to make a bold claim only to realize you've somehow fallen into the middle ground again because your cohorts are Goddamn cartoon caricatures of people
Just follow those simple steps and you, too, can experience this demonstrably inferior podcast while thinking of me the entire time the way I always do.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bears 20, Jaguars 19: Gentlemen, Start Your Overreactions

In the five drives this preseason in which the Bears first team has been on the field they've nabbed two interceptions, allowed two field goals, and given up one touchdown on a drive where they started backed up at their own 18 thanks to a fumble (oh, and they forced a 3rd down sack and killed that drive, yet it was overturned by a bullshit "point of emphasis" defensive holding call). They've allowed just one run longer than seven yards on those drives after being #32 in run defense last year.

Have their been moments of ugliness? Sure. The pressure failed to get home on a few third downs tonight and Chad Henne made them pay. The Bears were playing a vanilla two deep safety concept and there was space underneath. It happens. It's been happening for 10 years now. Ryan Mundy followed up a pretty good start against Philadelphia with a pretty crappy game tonight. I have the same concerns everyone  has, but of course there's more panic than necessary because they gave up a bunch of passing yards in the first half of a preseason game.

My point? It's finally Bears season, and Bears fans are back in force. Love y'all.

The Good:

Jay Cutler: One benefit to the Bears running attack being ass so far this preseason has been that Jay has mostly worked on 3rd and Long passing and he's been very impressive in less than easy situations. He was pretty successful in that scenario last season as well. It's a welcome change from the Martzian days where anything longer than 3rd and 5 probably meant Jay was destined for pain. Jay was 7 of 9 for 75 yards and a TD tonight. So far in the preseason he's 16-22 for 160 yds, 2 TDs, 0 Ints, and a 123 rating.  Most importantly he's yet to take a sack. Stay healthy, Jaiy. This is going to be fun.

Pass Protection: The Jaguars defensive line isn't world-class by any measure, but Sen'Derrick Marks, Chris Clemons, and Red Bryant are not a bad group, and they destroyed poor Josh McCown last week, so it was nice to see Jay have all of the time he could want.

Linebackers: They were atrocious last week, and weren't perfect this week, but Bostic and McClellin deserve a nod for making some plays in the backfield. Bostic in particular obliterated Luke Joeckel to blow up a Toby Gerhart run on 3rd down and force a field goal. I was heartened somewhat by their efforts, at least.

Jeremiah Ratliff: He's been in the backfield a lot so far. It's nice to see. Of all of the terrible things that befell the defense last year, having no presence at under-tackle was the worst. If Ratliff can fix that, good things will follow.

Sherrick McManis: He's always been solid on special teams, but Sherrick really impressed at corner tonight, breaking up one TD pass and being in on several other plays. I wonder if he's putting heat on Kelvin Hayden, who did not impress tonight at all.

Josh Morgan: Unless Eric Weems walks on water during practices, I don't see why the hell he should get another chance to run with the ones. Morgan caught all three of his targets for 41 yards, with one very impressive leaping grab. He's got by far the best NFL track record of any of the candidates, and it's not even close.

Blake Bortles: I'm sure Ron Hyperbole Jaworski will have Bortles in the hall of fame by tomorrow if he thinks Logan f*&king Thomas is a Pro Bowler, but Bortles made some very nice throws tonight. I was impressed.

The Bad:

Safeties: They were bad. Specifically Mundy, who was out of place on the only long run the first team D allowed and on one of the third down conversions as well.

Kelvin Hayden: I'm glad to hear Kyle Fuller is fine, because Hayden does not appear improved from his year off. Marqise Lee abused him twice. The penalty on him was bullshit, but, oh well. Kelvin Hayden sucks. This is not news.

Eric Weems: I've said it three goddamn years in a row. What purpose does this man serve? He was terrible on all three kick returns he got, fumbled to set up a TD, and I am not at all surprised his "great camp" hasn't translated to anything in games because when a man's best season (11 catches for 90 yards) is a bad game for Brandon Marshall that person does not usually break out in year eight. I saw the better version of this movie when it was called Devin Hester, and this direct-to-video sequel sucks. Get him off the field. 

The Ugly: 

Injuries: Kyle Fuller left after the first play of the game, which cost him some useful developmental time. Fortunately X-rays on his ankle are negative and he said he should be fine. The Zach Miller injury sounds much worse, and that's sad. Miller clearly has the talent, but unfortunately health sometimes is a skill, too, and he doesn't appear to have that.

 That's all for now. I saw nothing that will cause me to panic yet, but I didn't exactly expect the defense to dominate overnight, either. Next week will be a very interesting test. I'm sure the response to that will be perfectly measured, regardless of what happens.

Go Bears.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Season Two, Episode Ten: FOOTBALL IS (kind of) BACK

There's a piping hot SKOdcast cooling on the windowsill; and I know you're going to steal it so I went ahead and baked two and I put one up there because you ragamuffins just look so cute all dirty from playing all day. In it, we discuss preseason game one with Travis, who did not watch it because his life is now ruled by a tiny woman who communicates primarily by shrieking and/or urinating. We also briefly touch on predictions for tomorrow night's contest against the mighty Jaguars, fresh off their rousing victory over Lovie Smith's Bucs.

As usual, join us in the shoutbox for tomorrow night's game (or at least the first-team snaps).

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Bears 34, Eagles 28- Fly Bears Fly?

The Bears won their preseason opener tonight 34-28, racking up 491 yards of total offense. 399 of those yards came through the air, as Bears quarterbacks completed 29 of 44 passes (65.9%) for 407 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, and just 2 sacks. Unfortunately for Jordan Palmer, both sacks and the first interception came while he was under center, and that should have some impact on things going forward.

Most importantly for the Bears, besides no starters suffering injuries during the game (although Jared Allen, Kyle Long, Jordan Mills, Tim Jennings, and Martellus Bennett all missed the game for various reasons), was the fact that the starters all seemed to play well. The first string offense looked very effective in brief duty, with Cutler leading a long scoring drive that culminated in a rocket strike to Zach Miller for a touchdown. The first string defensive line made it's presence known early on, with Jay Ratliff pressuring Nick Foles into one interception and Willie Young pressuring him into another. Preseason or no, the Eagles have a very good offensive line and  those kinds of results are encouraging to see.

Most of the game was dominated by the backups, of course, and so we'll discuss the notables below.

A SKOdcast Double Duper in Honor of the Return of BAER FOOBAW

It's SKOdcast day, loyal readers and/or listeners, as well as PRESEASON GAME ONE DAAAAAAAAAAAY. Get ready for six to twelve snaps of not-that-hard-hitting Bears football followed by a scrimmage between 44 people who will hopefully never see this much playtime again.

Thanks in part to the birth of his spawn, Travis is to blame for the delay on posting episode eight as well as his absence from episode nine. HOWEVER, this allows us to present you with a delicious double scoop of pods and/or casts (please tell your server beforehand if you have any allergies) pertaining to training camp and the looming preseason.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. We (or at least I) will be in the SKOsbox for at least the interesting parts of tonight's game, feel free to join us if you want to discuss the incontrovertible evidence we will see that the Bears are going 4-12 or 15-1.

*editor's note: I uploaded the wrong file, so if you had to listen to Travis eat French toast and discuss whether or not my dad had diarrhea, you're welcome.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith and Quarterback Inflation in the Modern NFL

Anyone remember the 90s? Outside of the awesome zubaz and Clinton's extra-marital stuff? Me neither. But what I do remember is that teams really, really sucked at drafting quarterbacks back then. Between 1990 and 1999 there were twenty quarterbacks taken in the first round. Of those twenty quarterbacks, four were Peyton Manning (greatest ever), Donovan McNabb (actually underrated, really good), Steve McNair (probably overrated, still pretty good), and Drew Bledsoe (he...did some things, right? I remember him doing a thing once. You might remember it, too. No, not that thing. The other thing). That's an OK group, although Peyton is the only truly great player to come out of the entire decade.

Of the other 16 quarterbacks, the best of the group is probably Kerry Collins. You never want Kerry Collins to be the best of anything, unless for some reason you are ranking "best 1990s quarterbacks who were also drunken racists," and even then we all know we're just waiting for someone to crack and tell Brett Favre's darkest secrets.