*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
I was all jacked up to watch this game live. Couldn’t wait. Had all my Bears gear on (mentally). Ready to watch the young cubs grow to full Bears!! The Bears kicked off to the Pats, and then Brady takes them right down the field like the Bears never played football before…a quick 7-0 New England lead…as I sat there going…”Well, this sucks. I knew the Bears didn’t have a shot. Why did The Computer think the Bears could beat Belichick?”
Suddenly, it’s 7-3, then a Cordarrelle Patterson fumble on the ensuing kick return and a quick TD later made it 10-7…another miscue and it’s 17-7 Bears, and I’m like…”See, I knew the Bears had this. The Patriots are dead. The Bears are going to the Super Bowl.”
The Bears kickoff to Patterson, again, and deploy the worst kick return coverage alignment in the history of football (let’s kick to the right and all 11 of us go straight and cluster to the right side of the field…I’m sure Patterson won’t figure out how to run the other, open, direction). CP takes it to the house. And the next thing I know…at the half, Patriots 21-17.
After the half…pop-pop-pop the Bears go right down the field and take a 24-21 lead. YES!!!
Before I could fully enjoy the Bears resurgence after the half…it wasn’t long before it was a miserable 38-24 Pats lead with Trubisky dealing out picks to the secondary. The Bears did answer the bell with 6 minutes left…they got a turnover and then right down the field for a TD, 38-31 Pats with 3+ minutes remaining…but they couldn’t stop the Pats from running down the clock. Trubisky heaves a final Hail Mary that is caught, one-half-yard short of the goal line. Pats win/Bears lose 38-31.
I had the same thought watching live as in my re-watch – I’m watching a future great team (the Bears) playing/developing like a new born foal…wobbly legs, trying to get their stability, soon to be standing tall…soon to be running fast and growing strong. They’re not there yet but I can see their future as clear as my own hand to my face. I’ve watched too much football the last decade to not see this. It’s coming. It’s happening. They’re not there yet. I don’t know when they will be…probably the next step forward is like in 3-4-5 weeks with a couple easy wins coming and then if they knock down the Vikings Week 11. It’s going to happen…this year, they’re going to hit their stride -- but like the Rams last year…they’ll make noise and then lose in the playoffs (or miss the playoffs final week), but you’ll see that they’re on the brink of something special. This Bears team is a generic brand of the Rams/2017 (and KC/2018) – close, but not the real thing.
I think it will take into 2019 because unlike the Rams and Chiefs, the Bears don’t have that ‘belief’ yet because Trubisky still doesn’t realize how great he is. He’s never been ‘the guy’…’the Mahomes’ let off the leash. He’s in the phase of going 1-2-3 plays showing a better-than-Mahomes version of play and then play #4 he’ll regress back to game-manager/unsure/untrusting of his abilities and surroundings. Jared Goff fought through that last year, but Goff had and has way more natural confidence than Trubisky – Goff has been ‘the guy’ everywhere he’s been. Trubisky never has, not really…so he’s still trying to get used to being the Amazing Spiderman…doesn’t have total control over his web shooting all the time, doesn’t fully realize he can defeat bigger/scary-looking monsters with ease -- but he’s getting there…quickly.
If the Bears win their next two vs. NYJ and BUF, and jump to 5-3…they should get to 9+ wins and be a playoff threat at minimum. You don’t want to play this team down the stretch, as they get all their superpowers figured out. If they win their next two, we project 9-10 wins and an NFC North title battle with the Lions in the end (MIN and GB will fade off on schedule, maybe/possibly…both threats to get hot and take the title).
If you bet on the Bears, like me, and want that 6th and/or 7th win to get your payoff…it’s coming. By Week 13 end they’ll have 7 wins, if not sooner. Don’t be rattled at the 3-3 record…they should be 5-1 or 6-0, and better than that – they are starting to discover themselves. It’s a process, and bad losses come with it…whacking a worthy opponent will be the next sign you’ll see of them stepping forward.
The Patriots are the Patriots. Headed to 12 wins and their whole world coming down to whether they get the #1 seed over KC or not. I still think this is the worst Patriots team I’ve seen in the last decade...but still ‘the Patriots’. They’re damn lucky they didn’t lose to KC Week 6 and to the Bears here.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Mitchell Trubisky (26-50 for 333 yards, 2 TDs/2 INTs, 6-81-1) played an uneven game here, but it was an encouraging uneven game. ‘Uneven’ because he intermittently made bad decisions (not what you think, I’ll explain) and sometimes looked like the best QB on the planet. Not many guys I can say ‘looked like the best QB on the planet’ and mean it…that’s the great part of being a Bears fan – the future, what’s to come.
The bad decisions were this – throwing to Josh Bellamy and not-ready-for-primetime Anthony Miller and Kevin White and Dion Sims a combined 14 times in a game and expect to beat the Patriots. 14 passes to that group…and 4 catches. Sims with a critical drop – you have to know Dion Sims has cement hands. You can’t throw to him in crisis. Trubisky’s two picks…both passes hit the hands of Bellamy (0-0-0/4) and Miller (2-35-0/7) before the DB then luckily grabbed the non-caught balls away from them. Throws to Bellamy-Sims-Miller in key spots literally cost the Bears the game…and they were mostly good-great-smart throws.
Trubisky will learn in times of crisis, you can’t go to ‘your guys’ enough. Tarik Cohen had 12 targets…he should’ve had 25 targets versus throwing to those other jokers.
It’s why Trey Burton (9-126-1/11) had such a big game. Trubisky needed something reliable and he pinpointed Burton with throws all game every time the Pats left him open between their zone. Trub should’ve went to Burton more than Dion F-ing Sims.
Cohen-Burton combined for 23 targets…which means Trubisky is ‘getting it’ for the most part. He’s figured out Cohen is money. He’ll continue to figure that out and use him like an Alvin Kamara/Tyreek Hill hybrid.
I keep harping on Trubisky’s running ability and natural athleticism week-after-week-after-month-after year…and ta-da. You saw it here – he’s also a running weapon. I’d argue that Trubisky has the size, arm, accuracy, release combo better than any QB in football (just not the best decision maker yet…he might be eventually). I’d also argue aside from Cam Newton, he may be the best running QB as well…with his size and speed.
Trubisky is about ‘here’. To be trusted now week-to-week…a QB1. The price went up if you didn’t get him prior, but he’s still available because the ESPN crowd doesn’t believe anymore than they believed in Jared Goff as he mowed things down the 2nd-half of last season.
-- It is Tarik Cohen’s backfield (6-14-0, 8-69-1/12)…it’s his offense. He’s the showtime guy. Trubisky has figured that out…and there’s still room for Cohen to grow for FF because he only plays half the snaps. Wait until he’s used as an RB 50% of the offensive snaps and the other 50% as a WR -- instead of almost always an RB rotating too much in and out. He needs to be on the field all the time. That’s the upside here…that these PPR numbers can go HIGHER than they’ve been as Cohen becomes Tyreek-ish.
Jordan Howard (12-39-1, 1-9-0/1) is a waste in this offense. He ran the ball first play of the game for the Bears…then didn’t touch it the next 12 plays overt two series. He’s an afterthought, a guy to give the ball to keep the defense honest. He’s a buzzkill to the offense when he does get it.
Trubisky is a better runner…Cohen is a better runner, for this offense. Howard is an RB3.5 you HOPE gets a TD to be viable. He’s LeGarrette Blount.
Sell out for Cohen, sell-off Howard. Howard for Kenyan Drake in PPR? Done. I’ll take the Drake.
If you have both Howard+Cohen, keep that in case Cohen gets hurt, if you can.
-- The Patriots have their RB passing game all figured out…James White (11-40-0, 8-57-2/10) is a weapon on purpose. Now, he may see even more work the next week or two because Sony Michel is surely out for many weeks with his injury – if not gone for the regular season.
The Pats will likely deal for an RB now, but it will take a week or so to get them up to speed. All good for White the next week or two.
-- Here’s the thing about Josh Gordon (4-100-0/7). From a fantasy perspective…I love that he’s playing more. I love the team loves him. I love that the masses love him. But then I have this thought – I’ve not seen him make one play with New England or Cleveland where I went ‘wow’, the Patriots stole the next Randy Moss. He’s not as impressive as the next Santana Moss (and he was pretty good) right now…and it’s not a ‘getting used to the offense thing’.
Gordon is playing fine, but not ‘wow’. He’s not making any plays where you drool over his athleticism…and go, “Man, when he ‘gets it’ he’s going to be awesome.” Example, you see Tarik Cohen and you go ‘wow’! You see Mitchell Trubisky run the ball, and you immediately go ‘wow, I didn’t know’. I’ve watched Gordon all year and I’ve never once thought…wow’.
I keep waiting to see the ‘wow’, but all I see is ‘good’, ‘nice’, ‘fine’. I expected ‘wow’.
Do you see/think the same or am I nuts?
-- Trubisky has to find a way to get Taylor Gabriel (3-26-0/4) the ball more in times of crisis. I get that Allen Robinson (1-4-0/5) got hurt and extra coverage swung to Gabriel and also Gabriel got P.I.’d a couple of times a la Brandin Cooks…getting open so the DB had to do something, and we lose the FF scoring to the penalty. But Gabriel has to see the ball more than Anthony Miller does…you can’t win with low Gabriel and heavy Anthony Miller and Josh Bellamy.
Allen Robinson is dying a fast death. He is to the passing game what Jordan Howard is to the Bears’ running game – ‘there’, ‘useful’, but not important. That’s why ARob has been on our ‘sell high’ list for weeks. Now, I’m not sure you can even sell him.
The death of ARob gives rise to Trey Burton, top 5-6 fantasy TE.
-- Two rookie IDPs to hit on from this game…
The Patriots pushed CB J.C. Jackson (1 tackles, 1 PD, 1 INT) in this game more than ever; his first real playing time. Jackson will eventually start for the Pats. He’s really got a good nose for coverage. He had barely played all year until this game. He’s pretty good. Find him on our IDP Dynasty Stash reports.
Bears’ DT Bilal Nichols (4 tackles, 1 TFL) was the MVP of the 1st-half for the Bears here. It seemed like he corrupted the interior and got to the backfield in a flash on every key stop for the Bears defense. He’s forced himself into a starting role…a ‘free’ stud DT for the stretch run for Chicago.
Snap Counts of Interest:
64 = Gabriel
60 = Robinson
52 = Miller
20 = White
19 = Bellamy
46 = Howard
42 = Cohen
63 = Edelman
61 = Gordon
42 = Hogan
08 = Dorsett
06 = Patterson
54 = K Mack
48 = Elandon Roberts
35 = Roquan Smith
34 = Bilal Nichols
31 = JC Jackson