Moon: Thoughts for Bears after wild-card weekend


Moon: Thoughts for Bears after wild-card weekend

Takeaways are more than just things defenses crave and offenses abhor. They’re also are learning opportunities presented by events, and there were a few for the Bears in the first seven days following the end of their disappointing 6-10 season:

A history first

John Fox would be the first to agree that the Bears need to be far better than their historically bad 1-7 at home in 2015. But the Bears were a healthy 5-3 on the road, which doesn’t exactly make them as a playoff team, but all four of the winners from wild-card weekend won on the road.

First time that’s ever happened. Which is a little surprising, because “road” teams in wild-card round routinely have better records than the home teams, which are “home” teams only because they won weaker divisions. The Kansas City Chiefs were 11-5 to host AFC South champion Houston’s 9-7. And the Green Bay Packers at 10-6 were clearly better than NFC East winner Washington at 9-7.

And what was that “what’s wrong with the Packers?” business again?

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!

For perspective purposes…

Blair Walsh’s far-wide-left miss of a field-goal try from 27 yards to cost the Minnesota Vikings advancing on to the NFC divisional playoffs doesn’t make Robbie Gould’s miss from 36 to win the San Francisco 49ers game any less gut-wrenching. But the Gould miss pales next to the Walsh head-shaker, from 10 yards closer, even if “the pressure of playoff football is real,” said former All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison on NBC’s post-game show.

Interestingly perhaps, Walsh was the only NFL kicker with more field goals made (34) than Gould (33). Gould missed six. Walsh missed four…. make that five.

Dump Gould? In six playoff games (’05, ’06, ’10) Gould has had six field goals to kick. He made all six.

[MORE: Who will be Bears offensive coordinator after Gase's departure?

Cause for concern?

One of the semi-constants in the NFC North is that the Detroit Lions will overcome elite talent and manage to self-destruct and under-achieve more often than not. That’s how you become an organization that has won exactly one playoff game since 1957.

But on Sunday the Lions officially hired Ernie Accorsi as special advisor to team president Rod Wood.

This is not good news for the Bears.

Accorsi was a key consultant in the search that produced Ryan Pace and John Fox, actual football people with successful backgrounds, for the Bears. Wood was CEO of Ford Estates and was the choice of owner Martha Firestone Ford, neither of whom have any connection to football, which you like to see if you are a competing football organization.

But Wood and the organization bringing in a football force, as the Bears did, rather than again rely on Chairman George McCaskey and President Ted Phillips, points to astute executives with the savvy to know what they don’t know. Accorsi already was involved in the Lions’ hiring last Friday of Bob Quinn from the New England Patriots.

The Lions making intelligent organizational decisions is not what the Bears, Packers and Vikings need. Better to have Detroit perennially having the high first-round draft choices that come to an organization with just two winning seasons since the turn of the century.

[ALSO: Offensive free agents Bears could target

Coaching inanities…

Just when you think the NFL couldn’t get more dysfunctional come the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, owner Malcolm Glazer and GM Jason Licht firing coach Lovie Smith after a season in which Smith increased the team win total by four despite a rookie quarterback (Jameis Winston) starting. Smith was tasked with rebuilding a team in shambles after the inept tenures of Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano. Only twice in the seven seasons since Jon Gruden left after 2008 have the Buccaneers won more than the six games they netted with Smith in 2015.

Smith effectively restored some sort of equilibrium to a Bears franchise that had exactly one winning season in the eight years before his hiring and one playoff trip in nine years. Firing Smith despite his having one losing season in his final eight said something about GM Phil Emery; firing Smith after tripling the Tampa Bay win total in one year says even more about the Buccaneers organization, with Smith the linebackers coach for teams that had only one losing season in his tenure there (1996-2000). Call it class-lite.

It’s one thing to make a coaching change when the direction of things is all too clear, as it was with Marc Trestman. It’s another altogether when the rate of ascent just isn’t steep enough for someone.

Cleveland, hiring its fifth head coach since 2009. Miami, where Adam Gase is the fifth head coach since 2011 and which didn’t think Todd Bowles at 2-1 as an interim that year was worth a longer look. Now Tampa Bay.

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


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.