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Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Victorious Bears and these other winners and losers

Spoiler alert: There are more than ten thoughts. I do this once a year, get off my back.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Bears Season 1.5
At the end of last season, I wrote this about the first season of the Matthew Charles Eberflus era of the Chicago Bears:

I haven’t been overly impressed by Matt Eberflus, Luke Getsy, and the others this season, but there’s not a lot of things that I think are particularly egregious, either. It’s like if I gave a carpenter a bunch of warped boards and asked them to make a bookshelf. Could it still stand? Absolutely, but I’m probably not going to get a lot of utility out of it. Remember - there were several games this season where they looked lost, only to come out in the second half and look like a markedly better team. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Let’s restock the roster and give them another year before we go to the mattresses.

And what do they need? Well, in my estimation:

4 offensive linemen

4 defensive linemen

At least 1 linebacker

Another corner/nickel

2 wide receivers

They have the cap space to buy a few of those and should be able to do some in the draft. This team *could* look much, much better in 2023 without making some overly splashy moves.

They got some of those things.

I think that this team still lacks a lot of talent at some pretty critical areas, but the most maddening thing is an absolutely lack of consistency. I believe that’s attributable to coaching in this instance - bouts of success seem to be treated as a fluke because surely, the tried and true methods of HITS football will persevere.

1) Bears Direction
The annoying thing to write is that they’re sorta trending in the right direction. The last few weeks the defense has been doing exactly what they said they would, despite it being against some really lackluster competition. You should win at least half of the games you can hold your opponent to less than 20 points in. That’s enough for a competent offense to be able to work with, but then it’s consistency again because...

2) The QB “Controversy”
There is not a controversy. Justin Fields is the more athletic big-play generator and should be starting over Bagent every time. I said this during the Vikings game:

This is the part of Justin Fields game I would most want to see improve - the problem in wanting to defend him religiously as some on Twitter do (You’re basically a cult now. Deal with it.) is that the average fields line is roughly 13.6/22.7 for 161 yards, 1.1 TD, .8 picks, and 3.48 sacks.

When the backup comes in and distributes the ball efficiently, extremely unspectacularly, and posts basically the same line? Yeah, it’s not that the UDFA guy is the second coming, but there should be a bigger divide between the two right? Justin had some games where he figured it out this season, but again, the competition would leave you wanting.

I am convinced his time in Chicago is nearly done - he may be traded pre-draft, but I could see him in the room with a rookie pick and Bagent, held for trade in camp when someone is much more desperate. I do hope he does well. I like him as a person and hope he can succeed, but at this point, I think he’s also just a really good backup.

3) More like Paylon Johnson, am I right?
I would re-sign Jaylon Johnson, but I would also make a condition of his contract that he can’t wear bright orange sleeves ever again in his life.

4) Last Bears/Bagent thing
If there is ever a hall of fame for “incredibly specific statistics,” the fact that Tyson Bagent recorded the third-highest completion percentage by an undrafted rookie quarterback making his first career start in the common era fully deserves that spot. He trails only Sam Wyche and Devlin Hodges.

5) Some Close Games This Season
Not counting the results of MNF, since this is Monday afternoon as I write this, 72 of 105 games this season have been within one score in the fourth quarter. That makes for some great Red Zone/channel flipping and probably makes those with bets extremely nervous.

6) Counterfeit Bills?
Live by the Allen, die by the defense, I guess. Despite Allen registering three scores, the Bills lost their third of the season. Allen has 17 games with at least 2 TD passes and one rushing TD, which ties him with Steve Young for third-most in NFL history. Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers have more. (22 and 20, respectively.)

For a 4-3 team, the Bills aren’t doing a lot to inspire faith. Losing to the Jaguars, barely squeaking past the Giants, and dropping one to a Patriots team that can’t get it together. Their schedule still has some games that could jump up and bite them, too. Do they just need to get to the postseason, or are they worried about an early exit?

7) Obligatory Taylor Swift Mention for search optimization
The best song on Folklore is “My Tears Ricochet.”

8) 17
Four teams scored 17 points this week. Four teams scored 17 points last week. Four teams scored 17 points in week 2. I got nothing else for that, I just thought it was sorta weird. (And yes, I am aware that’s 2TDs and a Field Goal.)

9) You hate to see it, but more than that, you Love to see it
The Green Bay Packers dropped to 2-4, and that is a fantastic feeling. What’s not great though is this:

61.7% completion, 1201 yards, 7/4 y/a, 11TD, 6INT
57.5% completion, 1263 yards, 6.5 y/a, 10 TD, 7INT

The top line is Justin Fields this season - the bottom is Jordan Love. Paper stats aren’t everything, but keep the big perspective if you’re going to talk trash.

10) Eagles Bulking Up
Besides their bulky short-yardage play that some hate, some love, and some are just tired of, they look to secure their secondary for the back half of the season by trading for former Titans safety Kevin Byard.

Coming off a night where they held off the Dolphins, this boost should provide them some security as they still have five division games as well as matchups against the Chiefs, Bills, 49ers on their list.

Speaking of the Dolphins...

11) Hard Knocks in Season
The Dolphins have been announced for Hard Knocks in Season. Given the walking sound clip of a head coach they have, this shouldn’t surprise too many.

Mike McDaniel has put together a good squad down there that can do some things. They’re set up well for the rest of the season schedule, but twice now, teams have shown how to frustrate them on offense, and when they’re frustrated on offense, it becomes a long night for them.

That said, Chase Claypool is on their team now, and we know that he’s the anchor that’s sunk more than one ship, so Godspeed Miami.

12) Wyld Stallyn
Broncos safety Kareem Jackson was suspended four games for multiple violations of unnecessary roughness.

The final straw was a hit against Packers tight end Luke Musgrave. As written in a letter from NFL VP of Football Ops Jon Runyan:

On the play in question, you delivered a forceful blow to the head/neck area of a defenseless receiver, when you had the time and space to avoid such contact. You could have made contact with your opponent within the rules, yet you chose not to.”

Football is bang-bang, but there are definitely different ways to go about it. If this was his first offense, it’d be egregious. From now on, he’s never going to get the benefit of the doubt on these calls, so he’s going to have to watch himself further. He’s already indicated he will appeal.

13) Blundercats
The Ravens completely exposed the Lions on Sunday in a 38-6 victory that didn’t even look as close as that score suggests. Lamar and crew may be finding their stride in a perfect spot for the back half of their schedule. This crew will be an extremely tough obstacle in the playoffs.

14) Minnesota Mugging
I still can’t believe Addison came away with that touchdown last night. Football is silly.

Editor: Yep, Kev did more than 10 thoughts. He’s OG like that.