Bears

Moon: This game is more than just another game

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Moon: This game is more than just another game

Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011
Posted: 12:01 a.m.

By JohnMullin
CSNChicago.com BearsInsider Follow@CSNMoonMullin Ron Rivera will not be on the playing field Sunday but make no mistake: He will be a key figure in the game between the Bears and his Carolina Panthers.

Rivera was let go after the 2006 season despite the Bears reaching the Super Bowl. Exact reasons are always difficult to discern -- he and Lovie Smith had increasing differences over schemes; Smith grew tired of Rivera in an annual hunt for a head-coaching job; Rivera was becoming too much of a media darling for a defense that ultimately was Smiths purview.

Where the truth ultimately lies doesnt matter at all at this point. And it does not diminish the regard in which he is still held by his former players.

He was the ultimate players coach, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. You could talk to him about anything.

He wasnt a bitch coach he didnt bitch at you. He would relay his message to you but not where it was demeaning to you. And you definitely got his message.

Rivera has been successful at every stop in his NFL career. He was a member of the 1985 Bears, a second-round pick in the 1984 draft. When he moved into coaching, he was a success with the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-2003), the Bears (2004-2006) and the San Diego Chargers (linebackers coach first, then defensive coordinator). Taking over the woeful Panthers, he already has achieved one-half the victory total for Carolinas full 2010 season.

Lance Briggs was moved from strong-side to weak-side linebacker after Smith and Rivera arrived in 2004, a change that opened the career path for Briggs.

For me, Ron Rivera was just someone who would tell me how difficult it is to make a play, but at the same time, if I can make that play 'we'll shut this play down and you will help our team to win this game,' Briggs said. He had a way of explaining things to a player, to inspire him, and it also let me know that he was there.

He'll tell you, 'That's not an easy play for anybody to make, but if you can make that play, you will shut this play down.' For me, that helps in a lot of ways. I've gone through life with a lot of coaches who say, 'Just do it this way because I told you to do it.' Everybody kind of felt the same way about him."

The feelings are mutual. And this game is more than just another game.

Personally, it means a lot, because its Chicago, Rivera said. Its a great city and the citys been very good to me. The organizations been outstanding. Its kind of a homecoming. I was there for 17 years and its been outstanding.

And Ive told the players, Hey, Chicagos a great city and its been good to me. Im looking forward to coming back and being at Soldier Field.

Run-checking

The Panthers are with the Bears among the bottom-feeders at rushing the football, averaging just 3.3 yards per rush vs. the Bears 3.2.

Ironically, teams can win without being a dominant rushing team. The Detroit Lions average 2.8 yards per carry and are 3-0. San Francisco has gotten to 2-1 despite stumbling along at 2.5 yards per rush. And the Tennessee Titans, with franchise back Chris Johnson, also is at 2-1 despite a 2.4-yard average.

One big difference, however: The Lions have averaged 28 rushes per game, the 49ers 28 and the Titans 22. The Bears average 17.

We have to run and we will, offensive coordinator Mike Martz said. Thats one thing we can do: we can run the football. Well get that right. I have confidence in our ability to run the ball.

The big fella(s)

One of Urlachers assignments often was to spy a mobile quarterback, which he did with a Michael Vick and others. Those also included Minnesota Viking Daunte Culpepper, who was a size-match for Urlacher and then some.

Cam Newton is perhaps a better all-around athlete than Culpepper but he doesn't engender the kind of impact, literally, that Culpepper did.

Hes not like Daunte Culpepper, Urlacher said. Hes not that big. Daunte was big, thick. I dont see Cam as being thick. But theyre all big. Peyton Manning is 6-6, theyre all tall. Its not a big deal.

Were pretty tall, too.

Walter-watching

The firestorm has not abated around Jeff Pearlmans new biography of Walter Payton, Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, as chronicled by ProFootballTalk.com (http:tinyurl.com4yadbww).

Former Payton agent and attorney Bud Holmes declared via TMZ that Payton was not hooked on drugs, did not abuse drugs or use illegal drugs. Holmes is quoted in the book as saying Payton was pounding his body with medication.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan wonder if John Fox had a point about the Bears having the worst offseason in the NFL (1:00), then offer up some prop bets for the Bears in 2019 involving Eloy Jimenez's home runs and Khalil Mack's sacks (5:00), undrafted free agent rookies making the roster (10:00), when/if the Bears will cut a kicker during the season (12:45), running back production (16:30) and how many games Adam Shaheen will play (25:50).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

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Bears summer prop bets: Eloy home runs vs. Bears sacks and others

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USA Today

Bears summer prop bets: Eloy home runs vs. Bears sacks and others

With over a month until football comes back for Bears training camp, JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis & Paul Aspan are killing that time on the latest Under Center podcast by taking a way too early look at some fun Bears prop bets. Here are some of their favorites that they discussed and a couple bonus props.

Eloy HR vs. Akiem Hicks + Khalil Mack + Roquan Smith sacks

Well, That. Was. Awesome.

As far as Crosstown moments go, Eloy’s 9th inning go-ahead home run immediately jumps into AJ vs Barrett territory. Dude broke his bat and still managed to (momentarily) crush one entire fan base while convincing another the rebuild has turned a corner. Poor Jose Quintana. He never had a chance.

With his absurd hot streak of six home runs in his last nine games, Eloy now has 12 homers in 47 games which skews his pace to about one every four games. With 91 games remaining that would put his season total around 34, but it’s safe to say he’s at least in the 25-30 HR neighborhood. Now if they keep throwing Eloy inside fastballs, Akiem Hicks & Khalil Mack could each pass Michael Strahan’s single season sack record of 22.5 and it won’t matter.

As for Hicks, Mack and Roquan Smith, might as well dub them the HMS trio with a trip to London on tap. Those three combined for 25 sacks in 2018 and with five sacks thru the first four games of 2018, it looked like Mack might have a real chance to threaten Strahan’s mark on his own. But then injuries, triple teams and the constant adjustment / readjustment nature of the NFL by opposing offenses held Mack to 7.5 sacks in the final 10 games he played, even if we can all agree he deserved at least two more for this.

Hicks tallied 7.5 sacks and shows no signs of slowing down, so a double digit sack season for him seems to be well within reach. And Smith’s sneaky five sack total in his rookie season will likely only increase with Chuck Pagano’s penchant to blitz and ‘wreak havoc.’

This is a total coin flip, so while you contemplate, let’s go back to the latest, greatest moment in this Crosstown rivalry:

Ozzie is the freakin’ best.

Eloy was probably thinking of that moment on this entire drive up to Wrigley Field Tuesday.

And salty Cubs twitter is (are?) my favorite Cubs fans.

Relax, I’m putting you guys in the World Series later, so take it easy.

Do the Bears cut their kicker before or after their Week 6 Bye?

At least give me some credit for not leading with the obvious kicker prop.

This bet starts with the Week 1 kickoff, because based on what we’ve seen from this ‘oh this is fun --- wait they’re still in real trouble’ kicker competition, who knows if the Bears are still playing kicker roulette leading up to the opener. At first I had this at Week 3, but that puts us all in a world of despair that we don’t want to imagine.

The original prop I...um...proposed...earlier this offseason on the podcast was Over/Under: 2.5 Bears kickers during the regular season. Two kickers seem all too likely while anything over that spells disaster, so we’ll make this more of a timing thing. Which doesn’t really make it any better.

An early season change that involves anything other than a trade for Robbie Gould will send the fan base into a panic. A late season change that involves anything other than a trade for Robbie Gould? Much worse.

Oh, you want to bet that they’ll stick with one kicker all season? It won’t be hard to find someone to take that bet. Just make sure you get like 5-1 odds to make it worthwhile.

Will Trubisky throw 10 more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (including playoffs for both)

Here’s how this one breaks down by the numbers

Note: “by the numbers” in no way means these have been calculated by any sort of algorithm, python or R - you’ll need to find someone much smarter than me for that kind of data analysis. I’m pro-analytics but I would hope I’d be in a front office if I had that kind of brain power.

Trubisky had 24 passing touchdowns in 14 games last season and we have to account for some growth in his second year in Nagy’s system so let’s give him 30 TD in 2019. Over the last four seasons, Kimbrel has averaged right around 36 saves per season, so let’s cut that in half to 18. And also use it as an excuse to show this again.

The wrinkle in this one is the playoffs. If the Cubs are going to make a deep playoff run, they’re gonna need Kimbrel to shut the door, conservatively, every other game. 11 wins for a World Series, so let’s (once again conservatively, we know how Joe Maddon likes to use his closer) say at least 6 saves.

I know how much Bears fans don’t want to hear the Jared Goff - Trubisky comparisons, but for this example, just hear me out -  it makes sense!

Goff got the Rams to the Super Bowl (or the Rams got Goff to the Super Bowl??), with the former first overall pick throwing one total touchdown pass in the playoffs. Based off that blueprint - and mix in a Freezer Left or a Chicago Special -  it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the Bears could do the same without needing Trubisky to throw more than one touchdown pass in each playoff game. So we’re right in the range of 34 TD to 24 saves.

Stop yelling at me about not automatically assuming Trubisky is gonna be better than Goff. This is a good thing! We’re talking about the possibility of a Cubs World Series & a Bears Super Bowl.

Will the Bears have twice as many sacks vs Rodgers, Stafford & Cousins as those three QBs have passing TD vs the Bears?

I was going to make this a straight up prop of sacks vs touchdowns until I went back and looked at the numbers from their six games last season again.

Bears sacks vs Rodgers, Cousins & Stafford:                                    21!!!

Rodgers, Cousins & Stafford total passing TD vs Bears                    8

We have to account for some regression here, as the Bears sacked Stafford six times in a single game and Rodgers five times in a single game. I also can’t bank on the Bears D to keep this trio completely out of the end zone in two of the six games as they did in 2018.

Boil it down and the Bears averaged 3.5 sacks per game against their NFC North foes and that’s a tall order to run back in 2019. But even if the Bears replicate that, I’m gonna take the three princes of the north to throw 2 TD per game, which leaves the final count at 21 Bears sacks vs 12 passing TD.

Will the Blackhawks & Bulls combine for more total wins than Trubisky’s lowest passer rating this coming season?

For those of us who need want a little action on the back burner thru football season, March Madness, the start of next baseball season, the Masters, and want to (hopefully) sweat it out all the way until the end of the next NBA & NHL regular seasons.

The Hawks (36 wins) and Bulls (22 wins) combined for 58 total wins last season. Mitch turned in a total clunker against the Rams (33.3 passer rating), so if that happens, the Hawks & Bulls are probably - probably -  a safe bet.

But if you throw out that Rams game, Mitch’s 2nd lowest passer rating of 2018 was the week before, against the Vikings, when he posted a 61.9 rating (hey, they won!). Even allowing for the most optimistic of Trubisky growth spurts in his 2nd season under Matt Nagy, if ya threaten everyone at Halas Hall with a couple of Malort shots, even they would admit Mitch is gonna have at least one bad game next season.

If that (foul tasting) *hiccup* is in the 60-65 passer rating range (or if you’re optimistic about the Blackhawks & Bulls - let’s say  65-75 range) this could be an all the way down to the Bulls and Hawks final games next April, wager.

Ah April...just like June...when it’s still cloudy. Rainy. And we’re stuck inside coming up with ridiculous prop bets because it feels like summer will never show up, ever again.

Bears regular season wins vs Cubs playoff wins

Hey, if the Bears are going 12-4 again, this one is easy. This is also easy if you’re a White Sox fan who will obviously take the Bears. But whatcha thinking Cubs fans? 11 wins for a World Series...I gotta proposition for ya! (RIP Prop Joe, still too soon.)