Hey gang. I locked Lester in the basement and stole the opportunity to do these ten thoughts. Lester will probably be back next week, because he is bigger and stronger than me.
So let me just start off with a brief 9,000 words about why the Bears should never have gotten rid of Jay Cutler.
Until then, though, let’s take a look around the league.
1) Roar in the South?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have won three straight games in London. They’ve only won ten games since the start of the 2015 season.
International friends: does the casual American Football fan in England think the Jaguars are a force to be reckoned with?
American friends: Are the Jaguars a force to be reckoned with? They’re 2-1 and already have a win in a division with a lot of questions. They have a schedule that isn’t too fearsome. Could this be the year that Jacksonville make the playoffs after a decade away?
My gut says no, but keep an eye out.
2) Kick ‘em when they’re down.
Speaking of the Jaguars, they did something during the game that many might find classless.
Already up 37-0 in the third quarter (yeah, I know, weird) the Jaguars went with the fake punt from their own 35. It worked.
Pressed for reaction after the game, Ravens coach Harbaugh said “I don’t have a reaction.” Do you think he should?
Personally, at this level, I’m of two minds. On one hand, you don’t want to be a jerk, but on the other hand, you’re a team of professionals. You lay an egg hard, you can’t blame the other team for playing the game they should. If the game situation is different, that fake punt could be critical. What do you all think?
3) Sticks and stones may break my bones, and maybe ACLs as well.
Darren Sproles somehow broke his arm AND tore his ACL on the same awful play.
You would think those kinds of injuries to a 34-year old who has taken a lot of punishment would cause him to think retirement, but don’t be too sure:
Thanks to everyone for all your continued prayers and well wishes! #TheComeBackWillBeReal #StayTuned— Darren Sproles (@DarrenSproles) September 26, 2017
The success a guy like Sproles has had throughout his career lays the groundwork for how the Bears use a player like Tarik Cohen, and we wish all the best to Sproles in his recovery.
4) I found a way for Glennon to be worse.
Anyone who has been following me on Twitter (shameless plug: @Kev_WCG), spoken to me in real life, or heard me on T Formation Conversation (I got you, Lester) knows that I am what could be comfortably described as “not impressed” by the play of Mike Glennon.
That said, imagine if he had to play behind these pieces of floppy pasta:
Today in Seattle's o-line:— Ben Baldwin (@guga31bb) September 25, 2017
Russell Wilson picks up the ball after a bad snap and what he sees looks like a war zone w bodies on the ground pic.twitter.com/XxttDjowLD
WHAT HAPPENED TO THESE POOR MEN!?! It looks like someone replaced all of their leg bones with campfire marshmallows.
Some bad football in 1st Half of #SEAvsTEN game. Never this before 5 whiffed cuts & a fumbled snap Tough Times for @Seahawks OFFENSE pic.twitter.com/e3eBJD7j7R— Shaun O'Hara (@ShaunOHara60) September 25, 2017
Is this real life? This looks like the part in a sports movie where the woefully inept team embarrasses themselves before being inspired by a rogue Keanu Reeves-type character, or perhaps a young child who is a big fan. It is amazing that Wilson only got sacked once. The Seahawks are 1-2 on this young season, and they have an up and coming team in their division. Is their window closed? I think so, but what do you say?
5) The Rams and maybe 49ers maybe aren’t bad now?
Last Thursday seems so long ago, but we got something that I can’t even remember seeing: a good Thursday Night Game?
With a final score of 41-39, we saw two teams with new young coaches combine for:
- 10 touchdowns
- 800 yards offense
- 17 penalties
Ok, so maybe that last bit isn’t so great. Sean McVay, though, looks like he is quickly getting Jared Goff to figure it out. And yes, the 49ers are 0-3 but they’ve played two close games against divisional opponents in back to back weeks, and something clicked for Hoyer to open up the Shanahan offense. Maybe there is a shift in the NFC West.
6) Gol Darn Von and Done It
Von Miller got what is maybe one of the dumbest penalties this week, and it may have cost his team a chance at the game.
In case you missed it, Miller pulled the classic “TOO SLOW!” on Tyrod Taylor, and we all had a good laugh:
lol at everything here pic.twitter.com/5SjJ38kbTz— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) September 24, 2017
Well, all of us except the ref, who gave an unsportsmanlike conduct. Notice the down and distance - the 15 yard penalty and automatic 1st down allowed the Bills to run another 4 minutes or so off the clock, and more importantly, helped get them to field goal range where they sealed the game’s fate.
Armchair referee time: Would you call a penalty on that, or would you consider that a good-natured joke between two guys who were completely fine with it?
7) LEADERSHIP LIP READING
Such a good teammate. Much passion.
8) See Wat(son) a Rookie Can Do?
DeShaun Watson led his Houston Texans to Foxboro for a last second loss against Brady and the Patriots, but let’s see what he did:
- 301 passing yards, 66% completion, 2 passing tds, 2 interceptions
- 41 rushing yards
- 8 different receivers with at least one reception
Yeah, you want to clean up those turnovers, but it’s a big deal to take the defending Super Bowl champions to the wire on the road.
Maybe the Texans would have won if he’d just sat on the bench behind a game manager...
9) The Dynamic Duo
Jordan Howard and...Bobby Massie!?! (You thought I was going to say Cohen, didn’t you?)
Jordan Howard had a million plays of the game, but probably no single play was as critical as Massie getting to Cohen’s fumble at the end of the fourth quarter. The ball was already at the edge of field goal range, and the Steelers would have had a few opportunities to run the ball, center the kick, and walk out of Soldier Field with their first win since 1995.
Ultimately, we saw a lot of heads-up plays by the Bears, Cooper’s ultimate screwup notwithstanding. Those types of things are what we haven’t seen for a few years, and as our great colleague Ken Mitchell said, it was a “flipping the table” type moment.
10) Thursday Night Throwdown
Call me stupid, but the Thursday night game is winnable for the Bears. They would then find themselves thrown right back into the NFC North hunt.
Consider - the Packers offensive line is completely broken. Their defense is giving up an average of 113 yards/game on the ground this season. In their last two games, they’ve allowed themselves to get to big deficits (Down 31-7 vs ATL, Down 21-7 before coming back against Cincinnati)
The keys will be:
- Getting Rodgers off his game early (With this ramshackle line the Packers have, Hicks, McPhee, Floyd and Young have an opportunity to eat)
- Run the ball hard (The Falcons had particular success running to the right)
- When you have the opportunity to go for the jugular, you go for the jugular
40-50 passing yards at the half probably isn’t going to cut it this time. The ball has to get in the end zone, and it has to quickly. The Packers still have an active front-seven, and the ability to execute on the play action and move around a bit will be crucial.
Give us your game predictions below.
10a) Who are the Kings of the North?
Is there any team in the NFC North that you would call “really good” right now? I see a lot of teams that maybe have one of the pieces in place, but nobody I’d call dominant. The Bears currently sit in a place where a few dynamic plays could put them into a contention point that nobody expected.