Bears

Bears grades: Defense records 6 sacks; Colin Kaepernick finished with net-minus yards

Bears grades: Defense records 6 sacks; Colin Kaepernick finished with net-minus yards

Numbers can be misleading and lacking context, but not these:

Coming into the Bears game on Sunday, lost by his team 26-6, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was averaging 361 combined passing and rushing yards per game this season, including 409 last week against the Miami Dolphins. He was returning to the form that had first appeared, at the Bears’ expense, in Kaepernick’s first start, a 32-7 annihilation of the Bears in 2012.

Against the Bears, Kaepernick lost more yards being sacked five times (minus-25 yards) than he gained with both passing (4) and rushing (20).

“The biggest thing for us was to do blitz, do brush, but always know where he is, know that he could get through a blitz and get out,” said rookie linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, making his third NFL start in place of absent veterans Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan. “You had in the back of your mind to always watch him.”

The Bears were exploited last week by mobile Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (226 passing yards, zero sacks, 46 rushing yards). It was a primer for coping with Kaepernick. “The carryover from last week to this week, seeing the same thing two weeks in a row,” Kwiatkoski said, “definitely gets you more comfortable.”

Defensive line: A+

The 49ers began the day as the NFL’s No. 4 rushing offense and did net 122 yards in 30 carries in the first half. But in the second, just 19, and their quarterbacks were sacked a total of six times.

Akiem Hicks had a career game with a team-high 10 tackles, 2 for loss and 2 sacks plus a forced fumble. Hicks posted a TFL of RB Carlos Hyde with perfect technique against an initial double-team. Hicks then showed some foot-quickness, adjusting a rush through the San Francisco middle for a third-quarter sack, then took down Kaepernick again with a spin move on second effort. Kaepernick eventually cracked and was benched for the fourth quarter.

“That’s what you want for every quarterback,” Hicks said. “You want to put fear in him. You want him to throw bad balls. You want him to make bad decisions or throw the ball into the ground. That’s what you’re looking for as a defensive unit – to put fear in the opposing quarterbacks.”

The defense got some much-needed domination inside. Eddie Goldman delivered a crushing inside rush against double-team blocking to set up a first-possession sack of Kaepernick. Goldman followed that with with complete win vs. C Daniel Kilgore for a sack on the second possession.

Goldman finished with 2 tackles but had one for a loss plus his sack.  Cornelius Washington added 2 tackles and Mitch Unrein 1.

Linebacker: A

Leonard Floyd started in his first game back after a missed week and was badly taken out of an edge set by perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley for a 14-yard run. Floyd was completely overmatched early but was able to adjust and finish with 2 sacks, giving him 6 for the season, and 4 tackles plus another hit on Kaepernick. Floyd also netted a safety with his second sack.

“I think early on [Floyd] was OK,” said coach John Fox. “I think the quarterback got out a couple times to their bench. Once [Floyd] got used to to the speed again, getting back out there, I think he responded well.”

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Willie Young was superb holding his outside position and then closing down on Colin Kaepernick for a sack to push YTD total to 7.5, in addition to adding a tackle for loss and second hit on Kaepernick.

Nick Kwiatkoski again started inside and was solid in schemes that often had him as the only true linebacker. Kwiatkoski was credited with 9 tackles, 2 for loss, and also added 2 pass deflections and a handful of strong controlled blitzes that got some penetration against interior linemen.

Secondary: A

The defense combined to hold San Francisco to 39 total passing yards, which netted out to 6 after the 33 yards in sack losses were deducted. Kaepernick completed just 1 of 5 attempts and Blaine Gabbert, who broke the Bears’ hearts in the 49ers win here with a 44-yard TD run, completed just 4 of 10. The quarterbacks combined for a rating of 42.4.

“We executed,” said cornerback Tracy Porter. “Offensively, we executed. Special teams, we started off a little slow but we continued to execute. When we can execute, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

Cre’Von LeBlanc brought pressure with a superb first-quarter blitz and had 3 solo tackles.

Harold Jones-Quartey was forced into the starting lineup because of Adrian Amos being inactive due to a foot injury, and Jones-Quartey finished with 9 tackles, seven of them solo, and one for loss.

Special teams: D

In a slog of a game and special teams could decide the outcome, the Bears’ ‘teams did influence some the outcome, in all wrong ways. Deonte Thompson fumbled a second-quarter kickoff return, giving the football to the 49ers inside the Chicago 40, this after Bryce Callahan did the offense no favors by fair-catching a second-quarter punt at the Chicago 5. That possession ended with punt but one coming on a delay of game call, and then a punt blocked with a one-man rush on which ex-Bear Shaun Draughn beat an anemic block by TE Ben Braunecker.

After that gaffe produced a 49ers field goal, the Bears bolloxed up the ensuing kickoff, with up-back Paul Lasike finally picking up the football.

Connor Barth converted is one field goal attempt, from 45 yards.

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

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USA TODAY

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

Week 1: Packers at Bears (TNF / NFL Season Opener)

It’s NFL Opening Night. Really not much else to say here. The Packers do host the Vikings in Week 2, so there’s that.

**10 days off**

Week 2: Bears at Broncos

No shortage of juice for the Broncos here. On top of Vic Fangio getting the opportunity to take down his former team, it’s the Broncos home opener. There’s also some ridiculous stat out there about the Broncos being something like 75-2 in Week 2 at home or something (*Not the actual stat, it’s buried in TweetDeck somewhere), so this one will be tough.

Week 3: Bears at Washington (MNF)

 

Washington’s schedule

Week 1 at Eagles

Week 2 vs Cowboys

Week 3 vs Bears MNF

Week 4 vs Giants

Week 5 vs Patriots

So Washington hosts the Bears in the midst of facing all three of their divisional opponents in the first four weeks of the season. I don’t know what it means, I just know I found it interesting. Worst case scenario for the Bears is that Washington is (more than likely) 0-2 and needs to throw the kitchen sink at the Bears to “save” their season on Monday Night Football. But then there’s this: Washington is 2-14 on Monday Night Football since November of 2008.

Week 4 Vikings vs Bears

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 3 vs Raiders

Week 4 at Bears

Week 5 at Giants

Week 6 vs Eagles

Divisional games aren’t typically let down or look ahead spots and that certainly holds true for both teams here. I’d watch out for that Giants game in New York sandwiched between the Bears and Eagles if I were a Vikings fan though.

Week 5 vs Raiders in London

 

Raiders Schedule

Week 2 vs Chiefs

Week 3 at Vikings

Week 4 at Colts

Week 5 vs Bears in London

Week 6 BYE

All bets are off for these London games. The Khalil Mack trade revenge game certainly should be a Bears win, and after facing a murderers row of the Chiefs, Vikings and Colts, the Raiders could be limping across the pond.

Week 6  BYE

Week 7  Saints vs Bears

 

Saints Schedule

Week 6 at Jaguars

Week 7 at Bears

Week 8 vs Cardinals

As JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and I talked about on the Under Center podcast I actually think it’s a good thing the Bears are facing a likely Super Bowl contender coming out of the bye week. Last season, they faced the Dolphins and Giants coming out of the Bye, and the extended post-Thanksgiving break respectively and they lost against bad teams. No excuse for not getting up for this game. And as you can see, there’s nothing to distract the Saints from the defending NFC North champs.

Week 8   Chargers vs Bears

 

Chargers Schedule

Week 6 vs Steelers

Week 7 at Titans

Week 8 at Bears

Week 9 vs Packers

So the Chargers were 7-1 on the road last season, but I think their road success and their 12-4 record come back to earth in 2019. Last season was their first season winning 10+ games since 2009. And we saw the real Chargers (not) show up against the Patriots when it mattered most in the AFC Divisional Round. Give me a healthy dose of Philip Rivers throwing a temper tantrum after Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks combine for the Bears fourth sack of the day.

Week 9 at Eagles

 

Eagles Schedule

Week 7 at Cowboys (SNF)

Week 8  at Bills

Week 9 vs Bears

Week 10 BYE

Week 11 vs Patriots

The already tall task of avenging last season’s double doink playoff heartbreak gets even tougher with the way the schedule falls for Jordan Howard’s new team. Having the Patriots looming could have been advantageous for the Bears, but this being the Eagles’ last game before the bye nixes any chance Doug Pederson’s team will be looking past the Bears and ahead to a Super Bowl LII rematch. Big game at a big point of the season for both teams.

Week 10 vs Lions

 

Lions Schedule

Week 9 at Raiders

Week 10 at Bears

Week 11 vs Cowboys

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Nothing jumps out from the Lions perspective here. Should be a ‘get right game’ for the Bears coming off IMO their toughest stretch of the season. There is some letdown potential with the lowly Lions dropped into this otherwise murderer’s row 5 game stretch.

Week 11 at Rams (SNF)

 

Rams schedule

Week 10 at Steelers

Week 11 vs Bears  (SNF)

Week 12 vs Ravens (MNF)

Super Bowl hangover anyone?? The Bears laid the defensive blueprint for how to beat the Rams – and the thing I can’t still get over: it’s great that a mic’d up Sean McVay realized the Patriots were using the Bears scheme early in the Super Bowl. But how did he not have a counter for it at that point? A team beat you this exact way? The Bears finish what they started a season ago by sending the Rams into a tailspin while Mitch cements himself as a household name.

Week 12 vs Giants

 

Giants Schedule

Week 11  BYE

Week 12  at Bears

Week 13 vs Packers

We’re doing this again are we? Huge letdown spot for the Bears against what should be a really bad team coming off their bye week and the Bears have a short Thanksgiving week looming. I don’t like it. Not even a little bit.

Week 13 at Lions (Thanksgiving)

 

Lions Schedule

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Week 14 at Vikings

We saw the Bears handle a brutal 85-hour turnaround from Sunday Night Football to Thanksgiving last season – so they’ve been here. Last year’s Thanksgiving game did actually come down to Kyle Fuller making a game-saving INT in the end zone at the end of the game. Definitely edge Bears but anything can happen on Turkey day.

**update! I found the Broncos stat!  51-8-2 in weeks 1-2 at home.  Carry on.****

Week 14 vs Cowboys (TNF)

 

Cowboys schedule

Week 12 at Patriots

Week 13 vs Bills

Week 14 at Bears (TNF)

Week 15 vs Rams

Getting funky with back to back Thursdays. The Bears did do this in 2014, losing against the Lions and Cowboys in that order as the Trestman era was coming to its Real Football Coaches of Chicago (in)glorious ending. For my money, I have this as the most pivotal game of the season. With 10 days off afterward, a win could propel the Bears into their crucial home stretch (and the playoffs) in the driver’s seat.

**10 days off**

Week 15  at Packers

 

Packers Schedule

Week 13 at Giants

Week 14 vs Washington

Week 15 vs Bears

Week 16 at Vikings

Week 17 at Lions

Well here’s some fun with schedules. The Packers finish with three straight against the NFC North. And they get to warm up for it with back to back games against the NFC East’s least. Does the Matt Nagy era come full circle from Lambeau heartbreak in the 2018 opener to cementing his second straight divisional crown in enemy territory?

Week 16 vs Chiefs (SNF)

 

Chiefs Schedule

Week 14 at Patriots

Week 15 vs Broncos

Week 16 at Bears (SNF)

Week 17 vs Chargers

Definitely a roll of the dice by the schedule makers to have the Andy Reid – Matt Nagy, mentor vs pupil, reigning MVP vs reigning top defense this late in the season. This game very well could mean nothing to either or both teams. But for everyone’s sake, let’s hope we all get the primetime early Christmas present of watching Patrick Mahomes vs the Bears defense with everything on the line.

Week 17 at Vikings

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 14 vs Lions

Week 15 at Chargers (SNF)

Week 16 vs Packers (MNF)

Week 17 vs Bears

Another fun schedule wrinkle where another NFC North opponents close with a division heavy final stretch. Normally I would have a problem with the Vikings getting to end the season with all three of their NFC North home games in the final month. But we saw what the Vikings did at home with their season on the line against the Bears in the final week last season, so I have my doubts as to whether they’ll even still be alive at this point.

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Legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock dies after car crash

Legendary sportscaster Chet Coppock dies after car crash

Legendary Chicago sportscaster Chet Coppock died on Wednesday due to injuries sustained in a car crash last week, his daughter confirmed in a post on Facebook. He was 70 years old.

"His passing is untimely, unexpected and painfully sad, but all we can do at this time is remember how lucky we were to have such a unique and creative trailblazer help shape into the adults we know he was so incredibly proud of," Lyndsey Coppock wrote.

MORE: NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan remembers Coppock and the impact he had on his career.

We'll have more reaction to Coppock's tragic passing later in the day.