Bears

How Moon's 10-6 prediction on 2015 Bears schedule came to be

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How Moon's 10-6 prediction on 2015 Bears schedule came to be

Chatting with ProFootballTalk.com legend Mike Florio on NBC Radio’s “PFT Live!” Wednesday morning was a good chance to noodle over how a call of 10-6 could possibly be made for a Bears team coming off a two-year death spiral that ended with five straight losses and its 5-11 final count. (One good friend in the business suggested that I made my picks while in a marijuana shop. Let the record show that I have been in Florida most recently and absolutely nowhere near Colorado or Washington. Just in case you were wondering.)

The topic of the day, the week really, is the Bears’ schedule. Florio wondered if there was a wave of civic angst over the Bears getting such a difficult start to the season, with Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle their first three games. While that’s a load of a work order for a team starting out with a new head coach, my take is that the norm for thinking on the Bears is that there’s so much negativity still raging from last season, that most folks don’t think it matters when the Bears would play the Packers, Cardinals or Seahawks; they’ll lose anyhow.

Mike threw out that it might be better for a team beginning over with a new coaching staff and new players to open with easier games and build some cohesion and momentum. My take was a little different.

[MORE BEARS: Bears open 2015 with three straight teams from ’14 playoffs]

The Bears are putting out an enormously changed team, particularly on defense. With someone as accomplished as head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the absence of film on the “new” Bears may be to their advantage. They won’t reveal a lot in preseason, so let Aaron Rodgers figure it out starting on Sept. 13.

I’ve gone against the easy flow that says the Bears under Fox will be every bit as bad as the Bears under Marc Trestman.

I just don’t see it. Both qualitatively and quantitatively, I just don’t see it.

“Coaching” is the qualitative

The qualitative part is Fox. At age 60, he wasn’t going to just take a job to have a job, and he wasn’t going to take an irreparable situation and invest years on a rebuild at this point in life.

[MORE BEARS: Bears' 2015 regular season schedule released]

More to the point, when he has taken over train wrecks (Carolina 2002, Denver 2011) he had them back on the rails in two years or less. Similarly, successful veteran coaches taking over teams routinely effect immediate improvement – Bruce Arians in Arizona, Jim Caldwell in Detroit, Andy Reid in Kansas City. Fox fits with that group and has achieved major turnarounds not once, but twice.

Players are the quantitative

But the quantitative part is no less part of the “10-6” thinking. The Bears project to have not only a radically different defensive scheme with Fangio’s 3-4. They also project to have as many as eight new starters on defense, including every member of the front seven with the possible exception of Jeremiah Ratliff, and even he would be starting at nose tackle instead of three-technique if he finishes the preseason ahead of Ego Ferguson on the depth chart.

Pernell McPhee had more sacks (7.5) in 2014 than any Bear and McPhee played only about half the Baltimore Ravens snaps. Antrel Rolle even at 32 is immediately the best safety the Bears have had since Mike Brown was in his prime a decade ago.

[NBC SHOP: Get the latest Bears gear here]

McPhee and Rolle also bring Super Bowl rings with them, and both are part of position groups that the essence of complimentary. McPhee is part of a pass rush that portends a large upgrade for the entire defense. And Rolle’s veteran presence and excellence anchor a secondary that does nothing but help buy time for McPhee and the rush to get home. And how much does Rolle project to help the development of Kyle Fuller at cornerback?

Here’s the overall:

For no team in the 25 years of my covering the Chicago Bears has the “whole” been so much less than the sum of its parts. And in no case have I concluded that so much of the fault lay with the head coach and staff. Players on the field are absolutely the core of the game. Trestman, Aaron Kromer and Mel Tucker didn’t throw an interception or give up a touchdown. But their “turnovers” bordered on epic.

A criticism of military generals is that they too often are preparing to fight the last war. Similarly, viewing the ’15 Bears through the prism of ’14 is like looking at anything through a prism – the view is warped.

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

The amount of money you'll need to get into Bears-Patriots will make your head hurt

It costs a lot of money to see the GOAT, apparently. 

According to TickPick, a secondary-market ticket site, the get-in price for Sunday's Bears-Patriots matchup is currently sitting at a nice, plump $356. 

That price is, according to this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, more expensive than a ticket to No. 3 Clemson vs. No. 16 North Carolina State ($161) and No. 5 LSU vs. No. 22 Mississippi State (39$??) combined. It's also over 100 percent (116, to be precise) higher than the Bears' following game against the New York Jets. 

This is on top of what is, according to CNBC, already the most expensive gameday experience in the NFL. Soldier's average beer costs $9.50, coming in as the 2nd-most expensive cup of Bud Light Foam, behind only San Fransisco. 

Honestly though, it's not even that cold yet. Who needs heat/electricity when you can have nosebleed seats and *one* beer instead! 

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

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USA TODAY

Putting Bill Belichick’s complimentary comments about the Bears in context

Bill Belichick had plenty of good things to say about Matt Nagy and the 2018 Bears during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Some of the highlights:

 

On the Bears’ season as a whole:

 

“The Bears have lost two games, one on a game when they were in control of the game and another one they lost in overtime. This really looks like a 5-0 team to me, if you change one or two plays. You can say that about a lot of teams, but that’s the league we’re in.”

 

On Mitch Trubisky:

 

“I think he’s done a good job of getting ball to the players that are open or in space and letting them be playmakers. He has a lot of them. That’s the quarterback’s job is to deliver the ball to the playmakers and let them go. I think he’s done a good job of that. He’s a tough kid, which I respect. That’s what we would ask our quarterbacks to do, to make plays to help our team win, to get the ball to the players that are open and in space. It’s not about stats. It’s about doing what you need to do to win.”

 

On Tarik Cohen’s usage:

 

“He plays about a little bit less than 50 percent of the time and he’s in a lot of different places, he’s hard to find. He’s a dynamic player that can run, catch, really threaten every yard of the field from sideline to sideline, up the middle, deep. You can throw it to him, you can hand it to him and he’s elusive with the ball and he’s elusive to be able to get open so the quarterback can get him the ball. Those are great skills to have. Any one of those is good and he’s got several of them.

 

“He’s very hard to tackle. But they do a great job mixing him, not just putting him in the game but who he’s in the game with, what the combinations are and then where they locate him and so forth. There are a lot of multiples. It’s hard. Coach Nagy does a good job with that and he’s a special player that you gotta know where he is at all times.”

 

On Trubisky’s 54-yard bomb to Taylor Gabriel on Sunday:

 

“That’s about as good a throw and catch as I’ve seen all year. The execution on that was like 99 out of 100. It was a great, great throw, great route, great catch. There was like a few inches to get the ball in there 50 yards downfield and that’s where it was.”

 

On Akiem Hicks’ impact, who played for the Patriots in 2015:

 

“He’s hard to block. It doesn’t make any difference what the play is, you can run to him and he’s hard to block. You can run away from him, and he makes tackles for loss on the back side. He’s quick and can get around those blocks when there’s more space back there because everybody is going to the front side. He can power rush. He can rush the edges with his quickness. He’s a very, very disruptive player. He’s hard to block on everything.

 

“I appreciate all of the plays he makes. He makes plays on all three downs, against all types of plays, whether it’s reading screen passes or power rushing the pocket to help the ends, to help (Leonard) Floyd and Mack and (Aaron) Lynch rush on the edge. He’s a powerful, disruptive guy. (Eddie) Goldman has done a good job of that. (Bilal) Nichols has done a good job of that too. They have some really powerful guys inside that are hard to block, and they change the line of scrimmage in the running game and the passing game. It really creates a problem, frees up the linebackers in the running game and helps the ends because the quarterback can’t step up in the pocket in the passing game.”

 

On Matt Nagy:

 

“Obviously he's done a great job, as has Ryan with building the team. They have a lot of good players. They have a really experienced staff and they do a great job in all three areas of the game. They're good in the kicking game, they're good on defense they're good on offense. They have highly-skilled players in all three areas.

 

“It's a well-balanced football team that does a lot of things well. Run the ball. Stop the run. Throw the ball. Rush the passer. Intercept passes. Return kicks. Cover kicks. Cover punts. They're at the top of the league in all those categories. Turnovers. Points off turnovers. It doesn't really matter what area you want to talk about, they're pretty good at all of them. That's why they're a good football team.

 

“Coach Nagy and his staff certainly deserve a lot of credit. It's not a one-man band. They're all doing a good job. It's a good football team. I'm sure there will be a lot of energy in the stadium this week. It will be a great test for us to go into Chicago and be competitive against them.”

 

While listening to Belichick rave about the Bears, this missive from former Patriots general manager Michael Lombardi stands out:

 

“Whenever Belichick tells the media on Mondays or Tuesdays that he has already moved on to the next game, trust me, he’s not lying. I worked with Bill for five years in Cleveland, and then during the 2014 and 2015 seasons in New England. Belichick treats every game like a Super Bowl; no detail is too small, no possible scenario or situation goes overlooked. I have heard Belichick break down a bumbling Jaguars team as if it was the reigning two-time Super Bowl winner and treat Blake Bortles like he’s the second coming of Aaron Rodgers. Belichick does it with tape to back up his claims, only showing his team the opponent’s greatest strengths. (With Bortles, I swear, he must have used George Lucas to doctor the video.) No Patriots opponent is underestimated or taken lightly — EVER.”

 

One of the myriad things that make Belichick the best coach in the NFL — and maybe the best coach in NFL history — is how he never takes an opponent lightly, and then how he’s so successful at scheming against what an opponent does best.

 

The Bears are undoubtedly better in 2018 than they were in the John Fox era, or when these two teams last met in 2014 (when New England waxed a moribund Marc Trestman side, 51-23). And a lot of Belichick’s points are valid – that throw Trubisky made to Gabriel was outstanding, for example.

 

But Belichick talks this way about every team he faces. And that, again, is part of what makes him the best at what he does.