You hate them enough you have to do it twice. Windy City Gridiron’s Jeff Berckes went a second round with us to talk about Chicago’s finest football team.
1. So let's update the folks first. You said the following about John Fox back in mid-November: "I'm surprised he made it through this week. He's toast. We've been writing John Fox obituaries all season. We're scouring the league for top coaching candidates. He better get in touch with Jeff Fisher and see if they can go halfsies on a timeshare somewhere." Has anything changed other than his continued existence on the team?
I don't have any update as to whether or not he has been in touch with Jeff Fisher yet, but I think the only thing that has changed is that Fox knows he's done. He's made some comments in his press conferences that reveals he is fully aware that he won't be back next year. There were some rumors that he might not last out the year, but if he's made it this long, it's hard to imagine he won't finish the year out. The big win against the Bengals (33-7) looked like Fox-ball in the first half and then things opened up in the second. I wonder if, with reality setting in, he starts to allow things to open up more, be aggressive on fourth down, etc., or revert back to what he knows best. If he loses out, he'll finish his career in Chicago with the worst record of any Head Coach in franchise history.
2. Likewise, now that we've gotten almost a full season of Mitch Trubisky, what's the feeling?
Last time we spoke, I mentioned my piece about how Bears fans needed to exercise some patience with Mitchell Trubisky. You could sense a low level of panic, with some fans, including at least one of our writers, using the B-word. Maybe there are some fans that can predict the future or are such amazing talent scouts that they can determine that, but my opinion is that you need to view your QB through his first three years before making a determination on him. I'm sure the Rams are glad they didn't dump Goff after last year. So, maybe it's a low bar or maybe I'm an easy grader, but I like what I've seen. He has the arm talent, appears to have the leadership qualities, and he's an athletic guy that can extend plays. What he needs are reps and weapons, reps and weapons, reps and weapons. Give him those and I think the Bears have their future.
3. What was the difference for the Bears to finally snap their losing skid and notch a win against the Bengals?
Fun story - the Bears are undefeated against the AFC North this year at 3-0. Cleveland next weekend so maybe a clean sweep? I'm lobbying for a realignment for 2018 or, at least, allow the schedule to repeat next year. Honestly, I think the offense made some good adjustments at halftime and the Bears were able to complete drives for scores. So many drives have stalled out because of penalties this year and while the Bears still committed 10 fouls last Sunday, they were able to stay relatively clean on the scoring drives in the second half. It's chicken and egg, but Trubisky was able to attack all parts of the field and both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen ran the ball well. The breakout game of rookie Tight End Adam Shaheen might signal the first true weapon of the Trubisky Era. Oh, Trubisky Era...I like that. On the other side of the ball, the Bears defense was salty. They left a few plays on the field - honestly, Dalton should've finished the game with 3 or 4 picks - but the good news is they're putting themselves in position to make those plays.
4. Thoughts on Devin Hester's retirement?
Well, first things first, Devin Hester was the most exciting player in the league for a long time. His returns were appointment television. He impacted the game by forcing teams to kick out of bounds, sky punts to induce fair catches, and squib kickoffs - not to mention plenty of shanks. The amount of hidden yardage alone is staggering and provided an annually weak offense great field position. His return records are staggering - yardage and touchdowns. You can't tell the story of the NFL without talking about Devin Hester. That is why he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. If you're one of those people that think specialists don't deserve induction, feel free to blast away in the comments. But there are kickers and punters in the HOF and the best the game has to offer needs to be celebrated in Canton and that's what Devin was - the best in the game.
His Hall of Fame credentials need not consider his play at WR, which was never going to meet expectations of some people around the league. If I have one issue, it's that Lovie Smith didn't try to make him a nickle corner in his defense. He played some corner early in the preseason of his rookie year and then flipped to WR full time. His play at WR limited the number of returns he was in on, which was a mistake, and he never developed into a polished route runner. I would have rather seen him learn the craft at corner but it is what it is.
5. How's the Bears kicking game holding up?
It's not. The Bears are on their third kicker of the year and at this point, they're just hoping to get through the end of the year with a warm body. It will be one of the many areas that the Bears need to invest in this off season. Maybe this time they'll bypass the bargain bin and treat the kicking position like the asset it is - the perfect accouterment to a good defense and running game.