Deeper look underscores two main reasons for Bears 3-11 season

Deeper look underscores two main reasons for Bears 3-11 season

(This is not breaking news. It is, however, one observer’s more extended look at the two clearest reasons for the Bears’ 2016 season going as it has.)

Numbers and statistics do not exist or come from a vacuum, so isolating any of them can miss a bigger picture or reality. But in the case of the 2016 Bears, the overall is not hard to figure out. It is, however, difficult to fix, which is why the Bears continue losing (five out of the last six) despite certain positives, ones that cannot offset the two core issues behind the Bears’ dismal season.

First, some context:

The Bears are one of only six teams who rank in the top 15 for both offense and defense, based on yardage output.

The list:

Team Offense Defense
New England No. 4 No. 10
Pittsburgh No. 7 No. 8
Arizona No. 9 No. 4
Dallas No. 5 No. 13
Seattle No. 14 No. 6

And the Bears, who moved into the top 15 with their 449 yards against Green Bay, and still rank No. 9 defensively despite allowing 451 yards to the Packers.

Four of those six teams are leading their divisions: New England by three games, Pittsburgh by one, Dallas by two, Seattle by four.

So what is the problem with the Bears? Two problems, actually. One, the Bears are playing on a longer field. Bears opponents have 19 scoring drives of 50 yards or shorter. The Bears have six.

Two, for all of the sparkle Matt Barkley has brought to the offense, they are playing without the requisite quarterback firepower.

Re. the first: The biggest is a long-field issue. Takeaways. The Bears defense and special teams have simply not gotten footballs loose, or special teams managing returns to give the offense a short field to work with.

None of the other five top-15’ers are worse than minus-1 in turnover ratio. The Bears are minus-11. No team has fewer than the Bears’ three interceptions, nor than the Bears’ 10 total takeaways, on pace for an all-time franchise-low.

“It is a problem and we’re not getting enough takeaways, that’s for damn sure,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “It’s one of the reasons we have the record we have.”

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

The Cardinals are suffering through a 5-8-1 season with the same minus-one turnover ratio as the Seahawks.

But the Bears and Cardinals are the only two of the six with starting quarterbacks posting passer rating lower than 90. Carson Palmer is down at 85.8, and the Bears troika of Barkley-Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer are a combined 85.1.

Perhaps the single biggest reason the 1980's Bears won just one Super Bowl, by consensus of members of those teams, was the inability to keep their quarterback (Jim McMahon) healthy. The 2016 Bears, now on their third starting quarterback, are a distant echo of that team malady.

Barkley’s 75.2 warrants an asterisk because of the avalanche of dropped passes (18 over one three-game period), but the net effect on Bears quarterback play is apparent, and reflected in lost chances for wins.

Former Bear Tommie Harris shows vulnerable side in new music video


Former Bear Tommie Harris shows vulnerable side in new music video

Tommie Harris is showing a more vulnerable side of himself to the world. Known for intimidating opposing quarterbacks as a defensive tackle for the Bears from 2004-2010, Harris opened up about a personal tragedy in a music video he uploaded on Monday.

Harris's song "Deflated" goes into the inner turmoil he suffered after his wife, Ashley, died in 2012. It's a poignant look into Harris's life after football and how he's used music to cope with his new reality.

Harris has even used his music to help others. According to NBC Nashville, Harris joined the Redemption Songs Project in 2018 to help jail inmates express themselves by writing songs of their own.

If you'd like to hear more of Harris's country music, he uploaded "Grand Canyon" last November.

Here's what the 2020 NFL draft TV broadcast could look like

Here's what the 2020 NFL draft TV broadcast could look like

The 2020 NFL draft will take place as scheduled on April 23-25 despite the nationwide social distancing campaign enacted to combat the outbreak of COVID-19. 

The NFL canceled the three-day party in Las Vegas and the league won't hold any public events to celebrate the players or the teams, but the show will go on in a much different way.

NBC Sports' Peter King outlined how this year's draft will likely be broadcast, which will be a familiar sight for anyone who's working from home or paying attention to how television has adapted to these challenging times:

If you’ve done Zoom video conferencing, or you’ve watched recent nightly newscasts, maybe you’ve seen eight or 10 people on the laptop screen or the TV all ready to be called on by a host. Imagine the same thing on draft night. The NFL will send out about 50 portable camera kits with microphones to top prospects and college coaches, with better-than-FaceTime quality, so NFL draft coverage will be able to bring in, say, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow from the family home outside Athens, Ohio, when/if he’s the first pick of the Bengals. Then Burrow will be able to do his media availability with the Cincinnati press, and whatever other one-on-ones he chooses to do.

It'll be a stark contrast to how the NFL draft is traditionally conducted. From the days of Radio City Music Hall in New York City to the traveling roadshow it's become in recent years, the league has done a remarkable job turning its biggest offseason event into arguably the biggest event in the sport aside from the Super Bowl.

Diehard fans of the draft will enjoy the broadcast regardless of whatever form it takes. Whether it's a red-carpet event or a zoom-style meeting, the teams will still pick their players and fans will celebrate (or loathe) the selections. The casual observer may not be as impressed, however. The emotions of draft day, especially when players realize their life-long dream by walking across the stage and bearhugging Goodell, will be lost. At least, there will be less of it.

Sure, watching prospects celebrate with their families in the comfort of their own home will be fun, but the cloud of what really matters -- the coronavirus and the devastation its causing across the globe -- will be unavoidable. The setting of this year's draft will be a constant reminder of it, too.

But the show must go on (apparently). And if the NFL has proven anything over the years, it's that the league knows how to take advantage of every opportunity it has to captivate an audience. 

Maybe, just maybe, the best thing the draft has to offer fans this year is a much-needed distraction from the stress and anxiety of the real world. Don't bet against the NFL accomplishing that goal.