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Blue: 6 and 3.
As of this writing the Chicago Bears are 6 and 3, tied with the Green Bay Packers for first in the NFC North and crazily tied for second in the NFC overall. Drink yourself sick on the Orange Kool-Aid if you will, deriding this years' version of the Monsters of the Midway. Use your sports talk radio show as Dan McNeil did to try to advocate that it would be better for the Bears to lose all their remaining games so that the Lovie-Angelo regime will be fired, leaving us to hope for better in the next leadership team.
Better than 6 and 3?
Should we wish for a fiery young upstart coach (Josh McDaniels) to tear up our formula for success by trading off our quarterback and running out our best scoring threat?
Or maybe we bring in an established coach (Mike Shanahan) to destroy our locker room chemistry by benching our leader at the climax of an important game.
As much as the prospect of a Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden (if for no other reason to let us reclaim our sanities on Monday nights) or an upstart like Leslie Frazier might make you think that the right coach can make us overcome our talent holes, I'll take last week's victory 27-13 over the Minnesota Vikings and look forward to a strong push towards the playoffs in the second half of this season.
The offense appears to have room for improvement, but when your defense is third in points allowed and leads the league in takeaways, the formula for success might just be to not do anything too stupid while in possession of the football.
Mike Martz's playbook might still be a bit beyond the young talents of Knox, Bennett & Co. at wide receiver, but when he opens up his mind to using all of the tools at his disposal, positive surprises seem to arise.
Who would have thought Matt Forte, who amassed 1,715 yards from scrimmage in his rookie years, might do well if given the ball on a consistent basis? Or that Chester Taylor, at a measly $12.5 million over four years, might make for a quality one-two punch at the running back position? Or that both Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis could both catch the ball? Davis hauled in 3 TDs in the 2009 season, Olsen caught 5 for scores, and surprisingly they complement our speedy receivers with routes over the middle.
The offensive line seems to have found some consistency having the same crew take the field each week, and regardless of fans' collective screaming of "Omiyale, YOU SUCK!" they did find ways to keep quarterback Jay Cutler upright or on the move on his feet for the vast majority of the game.
Speaking of Jay, whenever he figures out that settling for three points instead of throwing into traffic leads to more points, he will be scratching that "franchise quarterback" title that we originally traded for.
* * *
The defense continues to be basic but effective, bendable but rarely breakable, and only rarely giving up the big play.
Julius Peppers isn't recording as many sacks as might have been predicted upon his signing, but his run-stopping ability shines, while Israel Idonije with his freakishly long arms and surprising speed more than adequately hold down the opposite end position.
The linebackers contributed mightily to holding Adrian Peterson to a pedestrian 51 yards with a 3 yards per rush average.
DJ Moore continued to surprise at the nickel corner spot, with his fourth interception, and overall the secondary held Brett Favre to 170 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
As stated earlier, this team doesn't give up that many points and seems to still amaze with their ability to force turnovers, so here's to hoping that formula is enough against the likes of the Eagles, Patriots and Packers in the weeks to come.
* * *
Last point about last week: Devin Hester. Now re-installed at both the kick and punt returns positions, there is no way that opposing teams can kick to him after he ran for a combined 146 yards in returns.
Named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week (for the record eighth time) without scoring a touchdown on a return, teams have to respect this thrd phase, which will shorten the field for the offense. Welcome back to ridiculousness, Devin.
Bears at Dolphins
The 5-4 Dolphins come into this game more than a bit nicked up, having lost both their numbers one and two quarterbacks and now turning to Tyler Thigpen, who in the past could not wrest control of the Kansas City Chiefs' starting spot.
Considered the "best third string quarterback" by some in the NFL, I say the tallest midget is still a pretty little feller.
Compounding this is the loss of Jake Long on their O-line and the possibility of no Cameron Wake (Dolphins number one pass rusher) for Thursday's contest.
Reports are that Chad Henne might be ready but with their passing attack severely weakened, the 'Fins will lean heavily on the run, which plays right into the Bears' defensive strength.
But look to a close game as Miami still sports a tough overall defense and the Bears offense always seems to have an emotional letdown after important divisional victories.
Orange: If Star Trek reruns have taught us anything (other than that Tribbles are trouble), it's that a sure fire way to identify an evil twin is a close examination of the suspect's facial hair.
The presence of a dark, cleanly trimmed goatee clearly identifies male impostors, while evil female twins typically remove the pony tails and glasses sported by their angelic counterparts.
However, these are only guidelines. Special cases exist, such the evil twin of Jared Allen, whose doppelganger mimes a badminton serve instead roping up an imaginary calf after a sack. After recording a single sack against the Bears on Sunday, while going up against 7th-round rookie J'Marcus Webb no less, the Vikings probably wished it was the alter-Allen who dressed for the NFC North showdown in Chicago.
While it's easy to spot the doppelganger of a single person, a copy-cat franchise is harder to unmask.
It can be done, but the devil is in the details.
Consider the following statistics and see if you can spot an impostor:
* A featured running back rushed 17 times for 51 yards. He was not injured and at times looked very effective. The team was not down by two scores until roughly eight minutes remained in the fourth quarter.
* A quarterback threw three interceptions in 31 attempts, including two in the final two drives of the game.
* A team went 1-9 on third down.
* A team had three drives that lasted over nine plays. These same three drives yielded a total of three points.
* A team had possession of the football for roughly 25 minutes out of 60.
Alright, times up. Which football team was described above?
Very Bear-like, no?
Every single one of these stats applied to the Minnesota Doppel-Bears in their 27-13 loss in Chicago on Sunday.
Should we give the Bears credit?
Perhaps Garrett Wolfe hid a tiki idol in the visitor's locker room, maybe the Vikings parked their bus on an ancient Indian burial ground, who knows.
Or maybe Johnny Knox figured out how to come back to the ball on busted plays and Jay Cutler discovered that there's no shame in stepping up in the pocket when rolling to his right or being slammed head-first into the ground aren't good options.
If the Bears deliberately changed their M.O., one can only speculate as to the possible reasons why.
Some probable motivations can be deduced.
* Virginia McCaskey promised to authorize the use of cheerleaders in 2011 if the Bears attempted over 500 rushes this season.
* Mike Martz was holding the playbook upside down during the game.
* Matt Forte promised to take running backs coach Tim Spencer and his family out for exactly two rounds of laser tag with the performance bonus of $150 he was to earn for eclipsing the 450-yard mark.
* Seizing on three decades of football experience, Lovie Smith realized the game would take less actual time if the Bears ran the ball more often, thus allowing him to get home by 6 pm for Telemundo's La Ley Del Silencio.
* The McRib is back!
Whatever the reason, the 6-3 Bears were able to vanquish their NFC North alter ego and leave their mirror image crippled at 3-6.
Bears at Dolphins
No amount of $2 well drinks could wash away the memory of last year's 10-6 loss on Thursday night against the 49ers, and this week's Thursday game doesn't project to be any better. While it's not a short week leading into a West Coast trip like last year, it is a short week leading into a bad match-up.
Over the last few seasons, the strength of the Fish was the multi-headed rushing hydra led by Ronnie Brown and renowned Rastafarian Ricky Williams. Unfortunately for Miami, the best days of the wildcat formation have been relegated to Goldie Hawn movies (does anybody else not remember the stars of being in this classic?).
While almost no one in Chicago is intimidated by the thought of third-stringer and likely Thursday starter Tyler Thigpen, they should be. A mobile quarterback who in his last real opportunity posted an excellent second half of the season for the Chiefs in '08, Thigpen will do most of his damage slinging bootlegs to Davone Bess while most of the defense is concerning itself with number one receiver and former Cutler teammate Brandon Marshall.
Andrew Golden brings you the Blue half of this report every week; Carl Mohrbacher brings you the Orange. They welcome your comments.More from Beachwood Sports »
There has been virtually no criticism of hitting coach Todd Steverson. We'll see how long that lasts.Continue reading "Hitless Wonders" »
Posted on Apr 24, 2017