The Chicago Bears Week Six and Seven News and Notes

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears earned their second win in a row with a crazy overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. The following is some insight into the game and a few observations from it. Also included are some updates from the start of the week.

Giving it Away

I have been a Bears fan for 34 years and have never seen so many chances to seal a victory lost as I did on Sunday. The inability to close out the game and win is a direct reflection on the coaching staff and not the players. The coaching staff puts the players in the positions they are in, and they did not do a good job of putting the Bears into positions to win Sunday.

A perfect example of this is the punt return for a touchdown the Ravens had against the Bears. Ronde Barber talked about this on the broadcast, and I am not sure if everyone caught it. The punter, Pat O’Donnell, did not kick the ball out of bounds against a punt block formation. Instead, he kicked it to the return specialist who took it up one sideline and had smooth sailing all the way to the end zone. With their gunners in closer, there was no one out on the edges to get the punt returner.

The Ravens planned that perfectly and the Bears fell for it.

I can go into further detail why this didn’t work out well for the Bears if you want me to. Just send me a message.

Penalties can also be a reflection of the coaching staff’s influence on players and I have brought this up before. The penalty issues that the Bears have been struggling with stem directly from how this team is coached.

Perhaps it’s time for a new coaching staff?

Adrian Amos

Adrian Amos has been with the Bears for three years and has played in 37 games and he has started a majority of those games. Amos lost his starting job this year but got it back when Quintin Demps was sent to injured reserve with a broken forearm. Up until Sunday, Amos didn’t have a single interception in the three seasons with Bears.

He was often criticized for his lack of turnovers and not being opportunistic. And sure, it’s just one game but Amos has a lot of promise. If he can continue to produce turnovers as well as keep providing big hits (have you ever seen how good of a hitter he is?) he could easily keep his starting job. He may even get a second contract with the Bears. Yes, it’s too early to predict what will happen with him after just one very good game but he should stick with the Bears for a while.

He might even get a second contract.

Turnovers

The Bears had success getting turnovers Sunday but also turned the ball over themselves and they have done it often. The Bears have a -8 turnover ratio right now and that’s serious. The turnovers that their offense have had have led directly to all of their losses of course. Just think of the Minnesota game where they probably could have won had they not turned the ball over twice especially at the end with that interception.

Chicago needs to tighten things up with the turnovers. They need to hold onto the ball and not make poor decisions. They need to teach quarterback Mitchell Trubisky how to protect the ball better when he goes back to pass. The Bears also need to ratchet up their pass protection more to help provide Trubisky with some comfort and the knowledge that when he drops back to pass, he isn’t going to get strip sacked.

Maybe he needs to hold onto the ball better?

If the Bears can get their turnovers under control, they can and will win more games. These mistakes are killing the Bears and we would be talking about a lot better team if they didn’t have them.

Eddie Goldman

Did anyone else notice that Eddie Goldman had a big game? After spending some time injured off and on during his first two seasons in the NFL, Eddie Goldman had a small resurgence against the Ravens on Sunday. Goldman registered six total tackles in the game against Baltimore giving him 16 for the year. Six solo tackles for a nose tackle is great.

He played like a man possessed and made a lot of important plays.

We will hope that Goldman can continue his stellar play and play like this throughout the remaining games this season. But, the most important thing is that he remains healthy. Goldman has had a hard time doing that since coming to Bears. At least for now, it looks like he’s well on his way to having a solid season. If he can play like he did on Sunday in every game, he could be a guaranteed Pro Bowl.

Let’s hope he can do that.

Kyle Fuller

What more can you say about Kyle Fuller? He had a game that was worthy of some “player of the week honor” if they had an honor for the kind of performance he put up. He was often targeted by quarterback Joe Flacco and beat back the attempts to pick on him. Fuller ended up with five tackles and one assist but more importantly, he had three passes defended.

He wasn’t letting anyone catch anything near him on Sunday.

With Fuller’s contract up this March, he might have just earned himself a second contract with the Bears. Perhaps a one-year prove it deal that might get him into something bigger in 2019. If for some reason, the Bears let him walk, he should be able to find a home with another team.

But after his performance so far this season, let’s hope the Bears don’t let him walk.

Injuries

The following players are listed on the injury report for the Bears heading into this week:

Hroniss Grasu-Grasu was inactive on Sunday with a hand injury. The biggest question with him is, is he a better center than Cody Whitehair? The Bears may need him to play there as soon as he can.

Nick Kwiatkoski-The inside linebacker was inactive for the game Sunday due to a pectoral issue. Hopefully, he will be able to make it back this week.

Markus Wheaton-Wheaton is going to be out a while longer with a groin tear. It wouldn’t be shocking if he ended up on injured reserve.

John Timu, Mark Sanchez, John Jenkins and Taquan Mizzell were inactive on Sunday.

Also on the injury report is running back Benny Cunningham with a hamstring injury. He was limited in practice. Tanner Gentry was limited with a hip injury and Sherrick McMannis did not practice due to a hamstring injury.

Tarik Cohen

Finally, I wanted to end this post with one of the most positive things or players rather, for the Bears this season. What more can you say about Tarik Cohen? Cohen has been a bright spot for the Bears all season long despite some problems returning punts. He did have the one fumble Sunday, which hurt but his touchdown pass was a work of art and an indication of things to come.

There were a lot of skeptics when the Bears drafted the tiny running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, including this writer. Cohen’s YouTube videos soon followed showing his athleticism but in the NFL you don’t need to catch two footballs doing a backflip. You need to catch one ball with a defender bearing down on you. And Cohen proved that he can do that. He’s been impressive and should help this team win games for seasons to come.

Follow me on Twitter @bdietzler.

An Abbreviated Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens Game Preview

By Bryan Dietzler 

The 1-4 Chicago Bears will travel to the East Coast to take on the 3-2 Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at noon. As we will find out, the Ravens are one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL but are above .500 which is difficult to do in the NFL this season.

The following is an abbreviated look at the Chicago Bears and the Baltimore Ravens from a statistical perspective. How do they match up? Who has the edge and ultimately, who will win?

Let’s find out.

The Mitchell Trubisky era has begun, and it began with some promise on Monday night. Had it not been for a fumble and an interception, the Bears may have won that game. But chock the loss up to the fact that the Bears are now comfortably in rebuilding mode and are trying to look further ahead. But they need to keep in mind that to build, they need to play the games that are immediately in front of them.

This game against Baltimore is another stepping stone for Trubisky.

I won’t throw out any of the Bears’ passing numbers here because Trubisky hasn’t had enough time to develop any kind contribution to the passing game yet. I can tell you that last week he threw for 128 yards on 12 of 25 throws for a completion percentage of 48. He had one touchdown, one interception and was sacked once. He rushed three times for 22 yards and had one fumble.

Trubisky and his passing game crew will face a Ravens defense that is ranked 9th in the NFL allowing just 205.2 passing yards per game. This does not bode well for the Bears, but then again, right now, they aren’t entirely capable of putting that many yards as it is so this could be about right. But anything is possible.

The Bears pass receivers were rocked by another injury that will keep one of their own out for a while. Markus Wheaton has a groin injury and right now will miss about six to eight weeks. He never really “got off the ground” anyway and wasn’t that much of a factor. The Bears have Tanner Gentry coming up and he will play Sunday. Deonte Thompson is no longer with Chicago as Gentry has taken his place.

I often talk about the tight ends as being a factor in the passing game. Dowell Loggains needs to call some plays to get them involved more in the offense. Dion Sims and Zach Miller can be weapons but they just have to be utilized, need to be in the right place at the right time and they must catch the ball. That’s been a struggle not only for the tight ends but also for the receivers. They must get their hands on more passes and help move the ball down the field. If Trubisky needs to find a reliable receiver, and he does, he will find it in his tight end group.

It cannot be mentioned enough just how important the running backs are to the Bears. The Bears won their game against the Steelers in Week Four thanks to a powerful running game and it will be important that they try to get that going against a Ravens’ defense that is allowing 123.4 yards on the ground per game. That makes them the 23rd ranked rush defense in the NFL. Chicago rushing offense is putting up 117 yards which is ranked 12th. If they can get Jordan Howard and company going in this one, they could make it a close contest.

I wanted to reiterate that the Bears had found some success throwing to the running backs prior to Trubisky taking over as the starter. In their game against the Vikings, the Bears had just one catch by a running back (Tarik Cohen for -6 yards). They must get the ball out to their running backs early and often Sunday.

Finally, I wanted to touch on sacks. Sacks play a huge role in any game and it’s vital that the Bears’ offensive line keep Trubisky as clean and upright as possible. The Ravens come into this game having registered 12 sacks this season while the Bears have allowed nine. Granted, that’s not terrible but two of those sacks were sack-strip-fumbles. Consider those points left on the field and points going to opponents.

Those must stop.

The Bears’ defense hasn’t been that bad at all. They looked good against Minnesota and had it not been for mistakes made by the offense; they might have held the Vikings back enough to win. But with the offense putting them in tough positions the defense hasn’t done as well as it could do.

When you look at points allowed, the Bear’s defense is allowing 24.8 points per game which is 25th. The Ravens are scoring an average of 18 points per game so the Bears can hold them. The question is, can their offense not commit the turnovers that they have before to keep their defense from having to defend the short field to try not to allow a score.

The Ravens rely on quarterback Joe Flacco to move the ball down the field through the air. Since signing a contract extension back in 2016, Flacco has stumbled with performance and injury issues. His passer rating, this year, is 71.0 and this is the lowest in his career (the season is not over yet of course). This number is being dragged down by a rare 12 percent completion percentage against the Jaguars, so his percentage is a little deceiving.

Chicago is allowing teams to pass for an average of 204.8 yards per game which is 8th in the NFL. The Ravens are 31st in the NFL with just 158.4 yards passing per game. The Bears have an opportunity here. If they can keep the Ravens from throwing the ball all over them, they could keep this game close and the may even win.

The Ravens leading wide receiver in catches is Javiours Allen with 20 but the leader in yards Mike Wallace with 209. Wallace can stretch the field turning short gains into long ones so the Bears secondary needs to keep him contained. Hopefully, they are completely healthy and ready to keep this passing attack in check. They need to be ready because the Bears have a great chance to win this game and they cannot let the normally sluggish Ravens passing explode and carry the day.

The Ravens’ rushing attack is gaining an average of 130.4 yards per game, good for sixth in the NFL. The Bears will have to watch out for Allen and Alex Collins who lead the team in rushes and yards respectively. Chicago’s defense holds opponents to 100.2 yards per game so something might give here.

Hopefully, it’s not the Bears’ defense.

Chicago needs to clamp down on the Ravens’ rushing attack and not let them control the ball and the clock. The Bears also need to possess the ball the way the Ravens’ will try to do to win this game.

The Bears increased their sack total by four last week and now have 13 sacks. The Ravens have only allowed nine through five games but the Bears have had success getting to the quarterback. The Vikings offensive line was supposed to be stout but the Bears still got four sacks. They can get to Flacco on Sunday.

They must get to him to make this a winnable game.

In looking at the Bears’ injuries, they have Marcus Cooper returning to full practice after suffering from back problems. That will help the secondary out. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski is questionable with a chest injury but the Bears need him to play because John Timu is out with an ankle/knee injury.

Guard Kyle long is ready to go after resting his ankle and fellow offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu is questionable with a hand injury.

Wheaton will be out with a groin tear.

Hopefully, Kwiatkoski will be able to play. Having him out has been a burden on the defense so it would be great if he were back.

The Ravens have a long list of injuries for this game. So far, they have ruled starting right guard Matt Skura and running back Terrance West out. The Bears should be able to take advantage of Skura being out and get to Flacco through the right guard position. But will they?

Baltimore is listing two players as doubtful. Starting defensive tackle Brandon Williams may not play because of a foot injury while third-string outside linebacker Tim Williams should miss the game because of a thigh issue. Not having Brandon Williams in the lineup should help the Bears in the run and passing games should he not be able to play.

Superstar outside linebacker and pass rush specialist Terrell Suggs didn’t practice on Friday but that was due to a non-injury related issue. He will be ready for this game.

The Ravens then have seven players listed as questionable. Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman are on the report. Maclin has a shoulder issue and Perriman has a knee problem.  Starting right cornerback Jimmy Smith has been hampered with an Achilles issue while his backup, Jaylen Hill, has had thigh problems. Defensive tackle Carl Davis, a starter has a thigh issue and did not practice most of the week while backup edge rusher Anthony Levine Sr. was limited with a thigh injury.

Finally, Maxx Williams, a special teamer, is questionable with an ankle injury.

I have said this before and I will say it again, this will be a close game. If the Bears can limit their mistakes on offense and not hand the ball over to the Ravens then they have a great chance of winning. Their defense will have to play very well to keep them in the game, not let it get out of control and they can do that if the offense doesn’t make mistakes.

We all know the Bears problems on the road. That will factor into this game. However, if Chicago can play inspired football, they have a shot at beating the Ravens. I am even going to go out on a limb and say that they will win this game.

As Bears fans, we hope they do.

Score Prediction: Chicago 21 Baltimore 20

Please follow me on Twitter @bdietzler

The Chicago Bears Week Six News and Notes

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears hosted their division rival, the Minnesota Vikings, this past Monday night in their only Monday night game of the 2017 season. No one gave the Bears much of a chance to win this game, but Chicago played the Vikings tough, albeit sloppy and almost won.

It came down to the final few minutes, but the Bears fell just short of winning the game thanks to a field goal in the final seconds by Minnesota

Chicago ended up with a 20-17 loss but have a lot to look forward to.

The Trubisky Factor

It was rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s first regular season game, and despite a couple of critical errors and drops by his receivers, he had an encouraging game. Sure, he looked terrified to start (you could see it on his face), but as the game went on, he started to settle in and get more comfortable in the offense. Trubisky had a fast start and then cooled off before helping to engineer the offense’s only touchdown drive of the game.

But in the end, his only interception of the game caused the Bears to lose their bid for a comeback and their chance at stealing a win fell short.

But don’t let that upset you Bears fans, better times are ahead.

You can tell that with Trubisky at the helm, the Bears are headed in the right direction. Despite the fact he had two turnovers, his upside appears to be much better than Mike Glennon’s and he represents the best hope for the Bears to turn things around and build a winning franchise. T

The future in Chicago is bright thanks to Trubisky.

If he can get some help from his wide receivers and tight ends, he will have better days and will win some games perhaps even this year. But the team has a lot to do to rally around him and help get to where he needs to be. Some of the things that they need to do, like get help at the wide receiver position, can’t be done until next year.

The Drops

I had alluded to the fact that Trubisky may have had a better game had he not had so many drops by his receivers. The drops have to be concerning and we cannot seem to find a reason for why this is happening. Is it bad mechanics? Is it the fact that the receivers are not used to the quarterback and therefore haven’t adjusted to the passes that he is throwing?

Are the receivers on the Bears just that bad?

Who knows why but one thing is for sure Trubisky is not going to develop quickly or “well” if his receivers keep dropping passes. But how do you fix something that’s been going on for two years (with the dropped passes)? That’s not that easy because it means getting rid of most of these guys and bringing in new receivers.

If that’s what it takes to win then, the Bears need to do that, desperately.

Penalties

You must admit that the penalties the other night against the Bears were concerning. If you watched the broadcast, you might have heard that the officiating crew that called the game, headed by Jerome Boger calls the most penalties in the league. It sure seemed like it didn’t it? Well, it’s not just the fact that the officials may have been calling this game a little tight. Chicago has struggled with penalties during the season as well so this was no coincidence.

The Bears have had 38 total penalties through five games including eight on Monday night. They had a season-high of ten against Pittsburgh and a low of four against Atlanta. They have an issue with discipline as well as playing clean football and it showed on the national stage Monday night.

The issue with penalties stems directly from how the players are coached. Good coaching brings discipline and discipline means fewer penalties.

Perhaps the Bears need better coaching?

Sack Attack

After having nine sacks through the first four games, the Bears got four on Monday night in impressive fashion. They even recorded a safety to go along with several tackles for a loss. They got two sacks from Leonard Floyd and another two from Akiem Hicks. Granted, they got their sacks against a less than mobile Sam Bradford but they showed that their pass rush is getting better and is moving in the right direction.

Hopefully, Floyd and Hicks can be counted on to rush the passer consistently and help keep the Bears defense from getting beat through the air.

They had their coming out party now they just need to do what they did as much as possible.

Eddie Jackson

Speaking of coming out parties, rookie safety Eddie Jackson had himself a nice game on Monday. Not only did he record four tackles but he also had a critical pass defended. The Bears even threw him in on special teams to return punts. Jackson has slowly been finding his comfort zone and may have finally found his comfort zone Monday night. The Bears need him to find it because they are hurting at safety and need all the help they can get.

Jackson just might be the best draft choice that Pace had out of this year’s draft. So far….

Other Items….

Linebacker John Timu was hurt against Minnesota. He is currently listed as out with injuries to his left leg and ankle. The good news is linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski returned to practice so he may be coming back soon. That will be huge.

Marcus Cooper continues to be out with back spasms and Hroniss Grasu is still nursing a hand injury.

The Bears released kick return specialist Deonte Thompson and brought wide receiver Tanner Gentry up from the practice squad. The move to let Thompson go should have come six weeks ago.

Next Sunday, the Bears will travel to Baltimore to talk on the Ravens. We will have a full preview of that game, on Bearsgab, later in the week.

Please follow me on Twitter @bdietzler.

 

The Chicago Bears versus the Minnesota Vikings In-Depth Game Preview

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears, fresh off a loss to division rival Green Bay, will host the Minnesota Vikings in their only Monday night appearance of the 2017 season. The Vikings are coming off a loss as well, 14-7 at the hands of division rival Detroit. They are desperately looking for a win. They come in with a record of 2-2 while the Bears have won just one game this season.

By now everyone knows that rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will start Monday night. He replaces someone who could never quite do what the Bears needed him to do in Mike Glennon. The future is now, and it’s time they start to move forward. And with such a heavy investment in Mitch, it’s about time they did.

With this game being Trubisky’ s first start it will be a tough outing for the Bears’ passing game. It was already anemic and mistake-ridden air attack anyway so why not move forward instead of keeping it in neutral. That must have been what the Bears’ decision makers thought when they decided to put Mitch in.

We won’t talk about the Bears pass offense rankings. You can throw all that out now that Trubisky is in the lineup. The rookie will be facing the league’s 24th ranked pass defense so there will be some opportunities for them to pass the ball if they can get him going.

And if Mitch can throw the ball well hopefully his receivers will be there to not only catch it but hang onto it.

Mitch may want to rely on some of the team’s strongest pass catchers, their tight ends. Guys like Zach Miller and Dion Sims could help the rookie gain some comfort, and they could be a safety outlet when the heat is on. Trubisky needs to find a receiver he can rely upon and one of the tight ends would be a great outlet for him to throw the ball too.

When it comes to pass protection, the Vikings defense can get to the quarterback. They have 11 sacks in four games and their leader in sacks is Everson Griffen with five. Griffen will present many problems for the Bears’ offensive line. He will be going up against the likes of Charles Leno Jr., who, despite his critics, is one of the better offensive left tackles in the game.

Leno will have his work cut out for him on Monday night though.

The secondary for the Vikings has some great players in it. There is Bear “killer” safety Harrison Smith. Chicago fans know him all too well. He and two other teammates have one interception a piece this season so Trubisky better be wary of where Harrison and those guys are. If he finds them too often, it will be a long night.

The Vikings do play well against the run. Coming into the game, the Vikings are ranked third in the league allowing 71.2 yards per game. The Bears must run the ball to win and they could find it difficult Monday night. But having all of their offensive linemen healthy and ready to go will go a long ways to ensuring that they can run the ball. Chicago will see some success running the ball against the Vikings.

Remember last Halloween?

The Bears rushing offense is gaining an average of 117.5 yards per game which is 12th in the league. The Bears can win games on the ground so if they can run the ball well, they can win. But will the Vikings let them?

Minnesota’s best linebacker is Anthony Barr. Barr has recorded 26 total tackles this season and can make plays anywhere on the field. The Bears have to be wary of him. Taking care of Barr, who plays on the outside, will be the job of either Leno Jr., Massie or a tight end when the Bears run the ball.

Hopefully, those blockers will be able to take him out of the picture and free up some running room.

The will also need to worry about the Vikings leading tackler strong safety Andrew Sendejo. He can make plays in the secondary and will sneak up to play the run. Every blocker the Bears have available on Monday needs to be wary of those Sendejo and the aforementioned Smith. They can dominate any game.

Going back to the passing game, I don’t want to sound like a broken record but the Bears receiving corps is anemic. There is no star in that group and no one has stepped up to be their number one wide receiver. And with a rookie quarterback that makes his development even more difficult.

Aside from the tight ends and running, is there any other receiver who can step up?

The Bears have gotten some good play out of their defense and they can help Chicago win games if their offense can limit the mistakes.

The defense has been rocked by injuries as the linebacker and safety groups have seen starters go down. Of course, we all know that Jerrell Freeman is gone for the season and Nick Kwiatkoski is a few weeks away from coming back. Strong safety Quintin Demps will be out as also. And now outside linebacker Willie Young has been added to the injured reserve list.

Danny Trevathan will miss the game due to a suspension but even though the Bears’ defense is hurting they can still play and play well.

It’s not yet known who the Bears will face at quarterback for the Vikings. At last check, Sam Bradford was still a day to day decision. Case Keenum has been a good game manager and had a nice game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but Chicago needs not to let him repeat that performance. They can prevent that with a solid performance from their pass rushing defense.

The Bears pass defense is ranked 15th against the pass allowing 220.8 yards per game. Minnesota’s passing offense is gaining an average of 263.2 yards per game which is 8th in the NFL. The Bears will have their work cut out for them. But not knowing who will play quarterback makes it a little hard to prepare.

The Vikings receivers are pretty good. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are two very capable wide receivers. Diggs already has four touchdowns this season and is difficult to cover.

The Bears must shut him down.

Chicago’s secondary has its slip-ups, but overall, they can be solid. They have some strong players at the cornerback spot and use a three-man rotation to help keep things fresh. Prince Amukamara, Kyle Fuller, and Marcus Cooper are the starters. Bryce Callahan comes in as a nickel back and has done well this season.

There is a lot of talent in this group.

But the pass rush is the key component for making sure the Vikings can’t pass the ball all over the field. Chicago’s defense currently has nine sacks this year. Their leaders there are Pernell McPhee and Willie Young with two apiece. When you compare that to the top team in the NFL in sacks (which is Jacksonville with 18) that’s not great at all.

The Bears must get pass pressure on whoever the quarterback is for Minnesota. And now that Willie Young is out for the year, rushing the passer will get tougher.

Chicago’s most capable pass rushers are Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, and Pernell McPhee. They will go up against an offensive line that has allowed just five sacks all season.

Getting a sack on Monday night is going to be difficult for the Bears. But even if they can’t get sacks, they can hurry the quarterback and make him rush his throws. That could help generate turnovers which the Bears will desperately need to stay in this game.

Stopping the run hasn’t been difficult for Chicago. They’ve allowed just 85.5 yards through four games which is good for sixth in the NFL. The Vikings have rushed for 108 yards on average which is ranked 17th. Remember that their leading rusher, Cook, is out for the year. So, facing a new running back may either be good or bad for Chicago.

When it comes to points scored per game, Minnesota is ranked 19th scoring 19.8 per game. Chicago is allowing a whopping 26 points per game which is ranked 27th. The Bears need to turn that around and start holding opponents to fewer points.

Maybe they can start against the Vikings? If they want to win they must that and this is the game to start a new trend.

When it comes to special teams, the Bears have some trouble in the kicking game with Connor Barth. Their dissatisfaction with Barth showed this week as they brought in some other kickers to try out. However, as this article is being written, the Bears have not signed a new kicker.

Barth is two of four on field goals this year which is disappointing. Compare that to Vikings kicker Kai Forbath who has made all but one of his field goals this season (six of seven). The edge here goes to the Vikings. The problem is if the game comes down to a field goal kick the Bears may not be able to win the game or trust Barth to win it.

That’s unfortunate.

The Vikings leading kick return specialist is Jerick McKinnon and he has a 26.1-yard return average. Chicago’s kick return teams are allowing an average of 17.5 yards per return. They must not allow McKinnon or any other special teamer make a mockery of them on Monday night.

The team that plays the best on special teams may win the game as a mistake on special teams could help swing a close game in one team’s favor.

The Bears leading kick return specialist is Deonte Thompson with a 23.3-yard average. Minnesota’s special teams are allowing 22.6 yards per return the numbers are even. Maybe the Bears can get something going here.

Pat O’Donnell has been solid this season. His average is 48.6 but the most important thing is that he has dropped eight punts inside the 20. The Bears should be very comfortable with him punting the ball. Minnesota’s special teams units feature Marcus Sherels who is averaging a lowly 5.6 yards per return. The Bears’ punt coverage teams, which are allowing just 8.7 yards per return so they aren’t getting killed there.

The Vikings punter, Ryan Quigley, has a 42.7-yard average with seven placed inside the 20. The Bears punt return specialists are averaging 8.7 yards while Tarik Cohen leads the way with 7.8 yards per attempt. Chicago needs someone to break some long returns and either get good field position or get into the end zone.

That will help them win this or any game.

The coaching staffs for both teams are very experienced. When it comes down to the head coaches and what they have to offer, Fox may have an advantage over Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer in years being a head coach. However, Zimmer is a smart coach who makes good decisions.

They match up well with against one another.

Anytime these two teams get together; the outcome is difficult to predict. Last year, in their first game, no one expected the Bears to beat the Vikings. At that point, Minnesota was having a strong season while the Bears were struggling like they are now. But Chicago derailed the Vikings so anything is possible on any given day in any game between these two teams.

This being Mitchell Trubisky’s first start, it will be a tough outing for the Bears. But I hope I am wrong. Every Bears’ fan hopes that Trubisky will be able to play a strong first-ever game. Coupled with a strong rushing attack and opportunistic defense, maybe he can help the Bears win.

But they won’t win it. It will be close but they will fall just short. Trust me; there will be better days ahead for the Bears.

Score Prediction: Minnesota 24 Chicago 17

Follow me on Twitter @bdietzler

The Chicago Bears Week Four Observations

By Bryan Dietzler

After a somewhat successful game against the Pittsburgh Steelers the previous Sunday, the Bears headed north to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have had the Bears number for a while, but Chicago has been able to sneak in a win now and then.

I was one of many people who felt that the Bears would make Thursday night’s game against the Packers a close one. You would have thought that with the Packers missing some of their key starters the Bears may have a better chance of not just keeping it close but could win the game. Green Bay had not been playing that well either so it appeared as if Chicago would have a good chance.

At least on paper, it looked like that would happen.

But it didn’t.

In another weird game, the Bears struggled to get anything going while the Packers looked like world beaters.

Chicago lost to Green Bay 35-14.

The Bears made many errors and just couldn’t seem to do the right thing. Green Bay made it look easy and it really shouldn’t have been as easy as it was.

In a word, it was frustrating.

The following is a look at some of the observations made during the game and some critiques of the Bears’ performance. Granted, there was more bad than good but there may be at least one big positive thing that comes out of the loss that will help set the Bears in the right direction.

Glennon’s Decline and Removal

I said this in my story about the Steelers game HERE about Glennon looking pretty bad. Well, folks, he followed up last Sunday’s performance with a miserable game against the Packers. Sure, his stats don’t look terrible as he threw 33 passes completing 21 of those for 218 yards and a touchdown. But it was the two interceptions and two fumbles that did him in. That, coupled with his poor decision-making, pocket presence and mobility and Glennon showed us, once again, that he is not a starting NFL quarterback.

Glennon’s showing Thursday forced the Bears to bring in Mitchell Trubisky as their starter. A new era has begun in Chicago and we will hope it’s a good one. It is certainly necessary.

What Glennon has received in his contract, compared to what he has done for the Bears makes him look like a thief. Chicago paid him like a starting quarterback, he hasn’t delivered and is not what the Bears felt he could be. Perhaps Chicago’s offense didn’t fit Glennon’s style?

It’s likely more Glennon’s fault than anyone else’s’.

One thing is for sure and that is that the Bears weren’t going to win many games with Glennon at quarterback. And they may not win that many with Trubisky but the future is now.

Starting the rookie was the best thing for the Bears future and it was time for the Glennon era to end.

The Hit that Shook the World

By now, the hit that linebacker Danny Trevathan delivered on Thursday night has a been analyzed, replayed and talked about repeatedly. It’s almost old news. The most important thing is that Davante Adams not seriously injured. He is no longer in the hospital and is in the league’s concussion protocol.

We learned the other day that Trevathan was suspended for one game for the hit (it was reduced from two games).

Did he get what he deserved?

If you have seen the hit, it’s scary. I know people who had anxiety over the hit and it was difficult to watch for some. The hit appeared to be completely blatant and, in my opinion, it looked like it could have been avoided. Of course, it depends on who you talk to as to whether you think it could have been avoided.

And I am not a football player and cannot relate to how things happen in a moment like that. That being said, I am not an expert and I don’t claim to be an expert.

Most everyone seems to think the hit was blatant and that Trevathan got what he deserved. Some fans seem to think it was an avoidable hit.

The suspension puts the Bears in a bind. One of their best defensive players is going to be out for a game leaving the Bears thin at an already thin position. Chicago will now have to rely on guys like John Timu, Jonathan Anderson, and Christian Jones.

Hopefully, they will step up.

The Dynamic Duo

Much has been said about the impact that Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen have had for the Bears. You can credit them for the Bears’ win against the Steelers. Also, despite the fact, the Bears lost big on Thursday Howard and Cohen piled up the yards.

The two have been the most positive aspect of the Bears’ offense so far.

There has been some concern that the Bears are going to wear Howard down by utilizing him so much. The evidence that he is getting beat up has been easy to see. Howard could hardly get up three times during the Steelers game and appeared to be hurt at least once in the Green Bay game.

It’s been reported that he has an AC joint sprain and that’s why we have been seeing him favoring his shoulder a bit this season.

With the Bears running Howard as much as they have been the question now becomes, how much longer will he last? And if he can’t go can Cohen run the ball consistently?

The answers are not long and no.

What we need to see is more of Benny Cunningham. He is the key. If the Bears can have him come in and spell the starters more often that will work wonders for the running game. We saw the coaching staff get Cunningham involved in the game Thursday night so they need to keep that up.

If they don’t, Chicago’s best running backs will fall apart; the running game will grind to a halt and Chicago will drop even deeper into the hole.

Quick Hits

There are just a few quick things I would like to say about the game and the Bears in general.

Strong safety Quintin Demps was put on injured reserve this past week. His play was disappointing anyway and it might have been only a matter of time before he got hurt. Now we wait to see if Adrian Amos can do anything special. He has yet to get an interception since coming into the league and that’s very disturbing.

I have talked about Pernell McPhee a lot since he came to Chicago. I have been critical of him but I am going to give him props for a fine performance against the Packers. With one sack and three tackles, McPhee is slowly starting to look like the player we hoped he would be when he came to Chicago

Hopefully, he will continue to improve and not get injured.

Leonard Floyd got out of the doghouse a bit as he got his first sack of the year Thursday night. There were some, including this writer, who felt Floyd could lead the NFL in sacks. That may not happen. He has been asked to drop into coverage a lot thanks to his speed so he is missing out on sacks that way. But Floyd is getting stymied at the line when trying to rush the passer.

There is still a lot of work Floyd needs to do to become an effective pass rusher.

The Chicago Bears versus the Green Bay Packers Quick Injury Analysis

By Bryan Dietzler

The Chicago Bears will face their biggest rival, the Green Bay Packers, at Lambeau Field this Thursday night in Green Bay. The following is a quick review of the injury report for both the Bears and Packers and what each injury means to both teams.

Chicago Bears

Tom Compton-OT/G-Compton practiced in full on Monday and appears to be ready for the game. The Bears may need his services Thursday.

Quintin Demps-SS-He will be out with a broken forearm for this and the next few games. Adrian Amos, last year’s starter at free safety, will take his place.

Hroniss Grasu-C-Grasu has been limited in practice all week with a hand injury and is questionable for tonight’s game. If he is out, that tightens up the depth at the center position and may force some reshuffling.

Nick Kwiatkoski-LB-After tearing his pectoral muscle against the Buccaneers, he won’t be available for this game leaving Christian Jones and John Timu to man his position. Hopefully, they will be able to continue to step up.

Josh Sitton-RG-Sitton did not play in last week’s game and was limited in practice this week with a rib injury. Consider him a game-time decision that could cause some reshuffling on the offensive line for the second week in a row.

Akiem Hicks-DE-Hicks was just added to the injury report with a foot injury and is listed as questionable. Hopefully, he plays because the Bears need his leadership and pass rush ability tonight. With Aaron Rodgers being one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league, getting a lot of a pass pressure on him and getting him down is a must.

Overall, surprisingly, the Bears aren’t as banged too terribly but the possibility of having Hicks out is concerning. Hopefully, he will be able to play.

Green Bay Packers

Davon House-CB-House will be out of the lineup with a quad injury tonight. House, the Packers starter at left corner, will be missed. This means that Quintin Rollins will likely have to step in and play tonight.

David Bakhtiari-OT– After a week of limited participation in practice, he is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury going into the game tonight. Should he not be able to play, Adam Pankey will take his place.

Bryan Bulaga-OT-Bulaga, the tackle opposite Bakhtiari, is also listed as doubtful and will probably be out for Thursday’s game. Having both of their offensive tackles out tonight is not good for Green Bay. Hopefully, Chicago’s pass rush will be able to take advantage of this and get a lot of pass pressure on Rodgers. If Bulaga can’t play then the Packers will have to do some switching around to make things work.

Mike Daniels-DT-Daniels has a hip injury and has been limited in practice all week. It’s not known yet if he will play and if he can’t then Montravious Adams should take his place.

Nick Perry-LB-Perry enters the game as questionable but practiced in full after starting the week limited. It appears as if he is a go but if he can’t go then Kyler Fackrell will get the starting nod.

The Packers had five other players who started out the week limited in practice but ended it with no limitations. They were:

Safety Kentrell Rice with a groin injury.

Wide receiver Randall Cobb with a chest injury.

Running back Ty Montgomery with a wrist injury.

Linebacker Jake Ryan with a hamstring and a concussion issue.

Defensive tackle Quinton Dial with a chest injury.

Green Bay may have some critical pieces of their offensive line missing in this game so Chicago needs to take advantage of that. They need to rush Rodgers, contain him and not let him make plays with his feet. That will be easier with Bulaga and Bakhtiari out.

Hopefully, that will help even things up a little bit.

Score Prediction: Green Bay 21 Chicago 17

Please follow me on twitter @bdietzler

The Experience of Seeing the Chicago Bears Play the Pittsburgh Steelers Live

By Bryan Dietzler

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to travel from my home in Iowa to Chicago to see the Chicago Bears play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field. While the game was hot the Bears passing game was not and even though the game was discouraging at some points, there are things the team can hang their hat on.

And despite the oddities and inefficiencies, the game was a real treat for me and so many other Bears’ fans.

If you weren’t at the game, you might not have seen some of the things that you typically don’t see on television. One thing you didn’t miss, if you weren’t, there was the extreme heat. The temperature reached 95 degrees and the humidity was near 100%. Anyone who was in the sun the entire game had to be tired and dehydrated when it was over.

The players on the field had to have been worn out after it was all said and done. It was hot!

Lucky for this writer, I was only in the sun for about a half an hour. After that, the rest of the game was very comfortable.

The most frustrating thing about this game was the play of quarterback Mike Glennon and the Bears receivers. Glennon does not throw, take a snap or stand in the pocket well nor do his receivers adjust to his throws. And of course, drops are an issue.

There is one major conclusion that can be drawn out of the performance of the offense on Sunday and it’s simple. Glennon stinks. He is so bad the Bears don’t even trust him to throw the ball. That’s why they ran the ball on so many offensive plays. What the Bears did is not a great way to win but it’s what they had to do and it was effective on Sunday. But it won’t be effective that all the time.

Here is my fearless prediction.

I believe that you will see Mitchell Trubisky after Chicago’s upcoming Thursday night game against the Green Bay Packers. If Glennon cannot throw the ball effectively or if the coaching staff won’t let him throw it, then they will start the rookie and let Trubisky finish the season as the starter.

If that happens, you can bet that Glennon will be gone at the end of the season.

The most disappointing play of the game was Marcus Cooper’s fumble on his return of a blocked field goal at the end of the first half. Instead of taking care of business and just taking the ball into the end zone, he started to slow down at about the ten-yard line and began to showboat.  That’s when disaster struck.

Pittsburgh Steelers special teamer Vance McDonald came up behind Cooper as he was taking his leisurely stroll towards the goal line and knocked the ball right out of Cooper’s hands. The ball was batted out of the end zone giving the officials one big mess to sort out.

In the end, Chicago settled for three points when they could have had at least six. That could have been the difference between winning and losing. Chicago was lucky that they won the game or that the three to four lost points weren’t the difference in a loss.

Hopefully, someone on the coaching staff or a fellow teammate pulled Cooper aside and let him have it. After watching Jordan Howard run rampant all game and get up slowly three times, it makes me wonder how much longer he will last. The Bears cannot afford to use him like they did Sunday in the remaining 13 games of the season. And they can’t run Tarik Cohen that often either. Chicago must find their passing game and that may only come by starting the “kid.”

There were standouts like Howard, Sherrick McMannis, and Akiem Hicks but there was one player that had a nice game and deserves a few words.

That player is outside linebacker, Pernell McPhee.

We know what McPhee went through some tough times to start the 2017 season but has begun to bounce back positively. On Sunday, he had one sack to go with three tackles and looked quick. He wasn’t limping around with his hands on hips like he was last season. McPhee looked young, fresh and fast.

That’s encouraging.

Injuries did happen in this game and will affect how things shake out with the Bears shortly. Strong safety Quintin Demps broke his forearm and will be out indefinitely. Offensive lineman Hroniss Grasu suffered a hand injury while Josh Sitton sat out the game. Rookie tight end Adam Shaheen left the field with an apparent arm injury but he did return.

And of course, there was Howard who looked like he was hurting throughout the whole game. But he just kept on going.

Injuries have hurt the Bears a lot this season and they keep happening. They cannot afford to have that many more or else they will suffer the same fate as they did last year. Their rebuilding effort will be derailed and fans will be upset.

I know you can’t control injuries but the Bears appear to be cursed when it comes to them.

The game was one of the most emotional games this writer has ever attended at Soldier Field. It was up and down all game. It was full of mistakes, replays and penalties.  There were some great moments, great plays and a lot of strong individual efforts by several Bears’ players.

But in the end, it was fun and so well worth the trip.

While it may not have appeared to be a strong effort by the Bears, it was a win and that’s what matters most. Getting that first win meant a lot to the team and their fans.

Before I close, there is one more thing that I wanted to say about this game.

Sunday, the stadium was filled with Pittsburgh Steelers fans. While this game was a home game for the Bears, the Steelers fans were just as loud and anxious as the Bears fans were.

Every single Steelers fan I met, sat by or talked to was courteous and helped make the experience even better.

It was truly a great experience and a great Bears game.

Note: I would like to thank the two people that sat in front of me at the game. They were a couple from Canada, who were half Steelers and half Bears’ fans.

You made it a great experience!

Please follow me on twitter @bdietzler

The Chicago Bears versus the Pittsburgh Steelers Abbreviated Game Preview

By Bryan Dietzler

After a terrible 29-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the 0-2 Chicago Bears will come back to Chicago to host the 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh, after a slow start to the season in Week One against the Cleveland Browns finally got something going in Week Two and defeated the Minnesota Vikings 26-9.

The Bears offense has been struggling mightily in the two games they have played, especially last Sunday and seem to have no solution for the problems they have on offense. While they found some rhythm in Week One and were able to play a close game against the Falcons, they were not able to get anything going against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Their offense was, in a word, “futile.”

Now they host a team that can either put up 40 points on them in a heartbeat or flat out lose the game. It will depend on which Pittsburgh Steelers team shows up.

Can the Bears take advantage of Pittsburgh should the suffer a lapse and not play well? Pittsburgh has struggled in games they are supposed to win before, and they might do it against the Bears.

We hope.

The offense will remain under the control of quarterback Mike Glennon for this game and that is good and bad. It’s good because the Bears don’t want to go to option two and start rookie Mitchell Trubisky. It’s still too soon to start him and playing him against Pittsburgh’s defense might not only hurt him but could cause problems in his development.

The Bears wide receiving corps should be the same heading into Sunday with no standout player to step up and be their number one. Kendall Wright was effective last week but does not have the speed to stretch the defense. Markus Wheaton might be back but he’s rusty and will have to shake that rust off to be effective.

Chicago’s lack of talent at the receiver position is the biggest issue they have on offense. But, for that group, their biggest problem has been dropped passes.

Drops have plagued the Bears since last season and it’s more than just the usual suspects (Josh Bellamy is the guiltiest) who are dropping passes this season. Every wide receiver and even the tight ends (Zach Miller anyone?) have had their hand in dropping passes, especially at critical moments.

It’s important to point out dropped passes and the need to clean those up. They have contributed directly to losses for the Bears in the past, so they need a solution, desperately.

The Steelers’ defense is ranked fifth against the pass allowing just 163 yards per game. Chicago’s passing offense is gaining 233 yards on average which is 15th in the NFL.

But they will be running into the buzz saw that is the Steeler’s pass defense.

The Steelers will get after the not so mobile Glennon and force him to make mistakes. They will sack him and they will rattle him. Can he handle that kind of pressure?

If Chicago’s pass protection continues to struggle as it has in the first two games, Glennon will end up on the ground often. The Bears must do something to protect him and fight the Steeler’s pass rush. Getting Kyle Long back would be a great way to help keep Glennon clean and there is a change that he might be back this Sunday.

However, Josh Sitton continues to miss practice and it’s difficult to say if he will be available for the game. If he’s out and Long is too then, there will be a lot of struggling to protect Glennon this Sunday. (At press time it’s been determined Sitton will be out for this game).

Perhaps they can keep the heat off Glennon by getting their ground game going. But even Chicago’s usually strong rushing attack struggled last week against Tampa.

So far this year, the Bears are averaging 72.5 yards per game on the ground which is good for a low 26th in the league.

For a team that dominated rushing the ball in 2016, this is not a good start to the season.

The Pittsburgh defense is allowing teams to rush for 74.0 yards per game which makes the Steeler’s defense the NFL’s eighth-ranked rushing defense. If the numbers are any indication, the Bears will not be able to run or pass the ball on Sunday.

The Bears offense may get stuck in neutral.

Scoring against the Steelers’ defense will also be difficult and scoring has been a problem for the Bears. While the Steelers are allowing just 13.5 points per game, the Bears are scoring just 12 points a game.

It sounds like a perfect storm for the Bears.

So how can the Bears win this game? They must play good defense and keep the Steeler’s playmakers locked down. Pittsburgh has a lot of talent on offense with guys like Antonio Brown and Le’Von Bell. Martavius Bryant had a nice game last week and provides Pittsburgh with another viable option in the passing game.

With so much talent, what can Chicago’s defense possibly do to help them win?

The Steeler’s offense is averaging 312.5 yards per game which is good for 16th in the NFL. Chicago’s defense is giving up 341.5 yards through two games this year which is 25th.

The Bears have been allowing teams to pass for an average of 251 yards per game which is 24th in the league and rush for 90. 5 yards in a game which is 15th.

The Steelers are gaining an average of 244 yards through the air in a game which is good for 10th in the NFL. Bell and the other running backs in Pittsburgh are getting an average of 68.5 yards per game on the ground. That is ranked 29th, so that’s just about last in the league.

What do the numbers mean?

Chicago may be able to slow the Steeler’s rushing attack and force them to throw the ball. If they do that, then they need to get pressure on Pittsburgh’s quarterback.

Getting a lot of pass pressure against Ben Roethlisberger would do wonders for the Bears. Their top pass rushing playmakers need to step up and get pressure to keep Pittsburgh’s passing game from ripping the Bears’ secondary apart. It’s that simple.

This can’t be the game that Bell breaks out, rushes for 200 yards and embarrasses Chicago’s defense. We have seen that happen before. This should also not be the game Roethlisberger throws for 400 plus yards which is something he often does.

This can’t be “that” game.

Guys like Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd need to step it up. Hicks has shown us that he can be a difference maker. Floyd needs to follow suit and do the same thing. Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee, and Willie Young needs to ratchet things up and get to the quarterback. Everyone needs to do their part and help the defense “win” this game.

The linebackers have taken two huge hits so far and their depth has been tested. Losing Jerrell Freeman and “do it all” backup Nick Kwiatkoski hurts. Now, the guys behind and around them need to step up. Danny Trevathan needs to limit the mistakes and play lights out. He needs to lead the charge to contain Bell and not let him get into the open field.

The linebackers need to keep tight end Jesse James in check as well.

What about the secondary?  Poor tackling, choppy coverage and missed opportunities have plagued them through two games. They will face two very tough wide receivers in Brown and Bryant. The Bears cannot allow them to run rampant. Brown can turn the shortest catch into a long one and if you double team Brown, Bryant, when healthy, can give you the problems Brown can.

The cornerbacks and safeties need to lock them down.

The Bears defense would have to be perfect on Sunday and while they might not be able to achieve perfection, close may be good enough.

But unfortunately, the offense will probably let them down and be the reason they will lose this game. I hate to say that but the offense is not built to win yet. Chicago’s offense has trouble at every position and has shown, in two games, that they don’t have a lot of talent on that side of the ball.

It’s sad but true.

But there is talent on defense and if they can step up, take hold and keep the Steelers from dominating the game Chicago will have a shot at winning. If their offense limits its mistakes and gets the ground game going, they can control the ball and give the defense time to rest. That will help the Bears keep it close.

A refreshed Chicago defense is a good defense and if they can keep Pittsburgh’s offense from running the table, the Bears might win this game.

Might, win this game.

I may get laughed off the internet for saying this but I think the game this Sunday will be close. Chicago will put forth their best effort but fall just short. Consider this to be another game like the Atlanta game where is very close but Chicago won’t be able to do enough to win in the end.

Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 Chicago 16

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