After a night of questionable calls, the Bears are still looking for clarity on roughing calls

After a night of questionable calls, the Bears are still looking for clarity on roughing calls

One of the more under-appreciated aspects of winning an NFL football game is that the conversation that follows typically doesn’t involve the refs. But when you lose a heartbreaker in part because, say, Bradley Chubb was flagged for roughing the passer on a pretty clean-looking hit – that’s when you get reactions like this, from Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe: 

“What I want to know is where did the second come from?,” he said.  “The commissioner needs to review that. That’s our win. Time is gone. They ran out of time.” 

There’s no denying that the Bears benefited from the Chubb miss, which the NFL tepidly defended by calling it ‘a judgement call.’ There’s also no denying that they had their own share of trouble with bad calls – most notably on this QB pressure from Eddie Goldman: 

And this hit courtesy of Leondard Floyd: 

After the game, both seemed at a loss regarding how to avoid those types of calls in the future; Floyd never even got clarification. 

“They haven’t explained it yet,” he said. “I didn’t realize it would be a penalty. That’s my bad.” 

“Sometimes those [calls] can get into that subjectiveness there of how it is, and when they're landing on guys, they're looking for that little extra oomph,” Matt Nagy said on Monday. “So, it's not an easy job by any means for them to see that. I know it's something that they're going to be looking at because it is difficult when you're a D-lineman, or whoever you are, tackling him.” 

Through two games, it hasn’t been the number of penalties they’ve had, but the yardage they’ve lost that’s hurt them the most.  The Bears have been flagged 17 this season – tied for 4th-most in football – though 11 NFL teams already have at least 17, so that’s not as bad as it sounds. What is a bit more concerning, though, is how only two teams (Minnesota, Cleveland) have had more yards taken away through flags than the Bears (176). 

“That’s football, man,” Akiem Hicks said. “You’re going to get good calls, you’re going to get those calls, you’re going to do whatever you have to do to come out on the right side. You can’t let that stuff slow you down.” 

So then how, as a diving 300-pound lineman, do you manage to avoid showing that ‘extra oomph’ when literal physics are working against you? Is there some secret solution? 

“Yeah,” deadpanned Eddie Goldman, “not [landing] on him.” 

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Former Bears DC Vic Fangio off to rough start as Broncos coach

Former Bears DC Vic Fangio off to rough start as Broncos coach

Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was one of the few head-coaching candidates last offseason whose reputation in the league was based on defense. With most teams looking for the next young offensive guru, Fangio's stature as a veteran defensive coach made the Denver Broncos' decision to name him their head coach a pretty bold move.

After a 3-6 start and a change from Joe Flacco to Brandon Allen at quarterback, Denver's lacking offense has sparked internal frustration, according to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora.

The real source of the difficulty, however, appears to be Fangio.

Fangio has had issues with offensive assistants, the sources said, and at one point top receiver Emmanuel Sanders in essence walked out on the team, leading to his eventual trade. Lines of communication have been strained, and Fangio has been quick to dispute play calls and come across as overbearing on the headsets, sources said, which has created issues in-game and otherwise.

Fangio's time in Chicago was highlighted by the dominant performance of the Bears' defense in 2018, one that led the team to an NFC North championship and its first playoff berth since 2010.

But he was never able to establish himself as the kind of coach who could handle the media or other responsibilities that come along with being atop the coaching food chain. His to-the-point and sometimes brutally honest style worked well for a grizzled defensive coordinator, but head coaches are held to a different standard.

It would be unfair to expect Fangio to change who he is at this point in his coaching career, which began with the New Orleans Saints 33 seasons ago. 

Maybe we're just starting to see why it took so long for him to actually land a head coaching position.

(Too) Bold Predictions: The Blake Bortles-Mitch Trubisky debate gets answered once and for all

(Too) Bold Predictions: The Blake Bortles-Mitch Trubisky debate gets answered once and for all

(Too) Bold Predictions aims to take nuanced, well-researched information and use it to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 

J.J. Stankevitz
1. Eddie Jackson -- finally! -- has his first two interceptions of the season.
Does this count as a bold prediction if I've predicted it, incorrectly, multiple times this year? Whatever. Either way: It finally happens! Jared Goff has nine interceptions this year and the Rams' offense has looked broken at times. Sunday should be a nice opportunity for Jackson to finally get that takeaway he's so hungry for, and we'll say he stacks another one on it. These things do come in bunches, after all.

2. Blake Bortles vs. Mitch Trubisky gets settled once and for all.
Sean McVay intentionally put Blake Bortles in the Rams' loss to the Steelers last week, as if one of the NFL's foremost offensive minds was taken over by Jason from "The Good Place." The prediction here: Things go catastrophically wrong for Goff in the first half Sunday night, but the Bears aren't able to capitalize, holding a 6-0 lead at halftime. With the Rams' season on the line, McVay breaks the glass and gives Bortles a shot in the second half, which goes...actually, kind of well? I have the Rams beating the Bears in my official prediction, and I wouldn't imagine a Bortles-led offense would be good enough to beat the Bears. But is a Trubisky-led offense good enough for the Bears to beat the Rams? This could be an ugly, yet fascinating, night if Bortles and Trubisky wind up quarterbacking against each other.

Cam Ellis
1. David Montgomery has his most impressive game of the season. 
The Bears probably aren't going to have a lot of success running it through some of the interior gaps, because, you know, Aaron Donald and all. The Rams' run defense is great (3rd in DVOA) so getting over the (kind of arbitrary) 100-yard mark may not happen, but without Adam Shaheen, Trey Burton, and Jalen Ramsey smothering Allen Robinson, the Bears aren't going to have that many options available to them on Sunday night. It sounds like Montgomery may be a gametime decision, but it's hard to imagine how the Bears move the ball at all without him. Whether it's total yardage, the number of touchdowns, or some jaw-dropping display of his space alien abilities to avoid being tackled, Montgomery's the story on Monday morning. 

2. The Bears' offense looks as good as it has all year. 
Like I said in prediction 1, the Bears' offense goes into Sunday night with a serious lack of NFL experience at the skill position. Shaheen and Burton are out, so they'll have to rely on JP Holtz, Ben Braunecker, and Bradley Sowell, who I promise are all real people. Allen Robinson has to go up against Ramsey, and David Montgomery's ankle has made him a maybe. But who cares?! All the common sense says a Trubisky/Cohen/Braunecker core probably isn't getting the best of Wade Phillips, but (Too) Bolds is not the place for common sense. For no rhyme or reason, something about the Bears' offense clicks tonight. Will it be fun? Yes! Will it continue going forward? No!