Bye Week Blues

To paraphrase the great Van Morrison, "Have I told you lately how much I hate goddamn bye weeks?"  Well I hate bye weeks, especially this early in the season.  I understand it comes at a perfect time for the ailing Bears but I was just getting into the flow and rhythm of my Sunday routine and here comes the NFL to put me on the bench.  It sucks. 

There's a lot of things we know about this 2009 team (Cutler terrific, Forte steady) and many things we're beginning to learn (Knox a developing star, pass rush improved).  But when I'm asked how good this team is my token response has become that there's too much I don't know.  Too much we can't know after only four games.  Like what?  Like this...

Is Al Afalava any good?

Be honest, do you know?  Afalava became one of the stories of training camp and has been all-but-invisible in his starting role through the first four games.  No one's written about him and I haven't heard Lovie mention his name in a single post-game press conference.  Dan Pompei's coaches' tape analysis of the safeties opens with, "No impact plays here."  The Bears haven't been gashed by any long runs...so that's good.

Can Orlando Pace block an elite pass rusher?
Bob Legere gets more specific: can he block Jared Allen?  There's a lot of season ahead for Orlando and both Atlanta and Cincinnati - in the next two ballgames - pose very specific threats on the outside.  Most were concerned with his durability heading into the year but struggles against the speed of Aaron Curry left me wondering if this guy can still line up opposite a big-time end keep the blindside secure.  Until he does it, how do you know?

Can the Bears play a complete game?
They've yet to lead a game at the half and yet to lose a second half.  The defense gave up 21 first-half points to the Detroit Lions and they've given up 27 second-half points all season.  The offense struggles to get into a rhythm early and seems invincible with the game on the line late.  You just wonder how good this team can be if they show up for all four quarters.

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  • 1st!! And the bye week is good for only 2 things. Resting up from injuries and cheering for the others in the Division and Conference to lose. Heal up Bears!!

  • In reply to mikemuadib:

    And I agree that the byes are too soon. Maybe start them week 6. But this year I have no problem with it. Pisa practiced and said that he will be ready for Atlanta.

  • In reply to mikemuadib:

    Is Al Afalava any good?

    He's been close to making some big plays, but of course they aren't playing Horse Shoes or tossing hand grenades so close doesn't cut it. I say he has shown enough to give us hope he can be good.

    Can Orlando Pace block an elite pass rusher?

    I can't say I've been very impressed to date. I shudder to think of Jared Allen ropin' his white trash heart out over the prone body of our Franchise QB.

    Can the Bears play a complete game?

    I can think of no good reason for them to have come out so flat, defensively, against a Lions team that had EVERY reason to come out flat against the Bears. Especially in Soldier Field.

    The halftime adjustments, so lacking in past seasons, have been outstanding so far but these slow starts can be fatal, especially on the road against a quality opponent. I do NOT include Seattle in the quality opponents category.

    I think questions 1 and 3 will pan out favorably as the team gains more experience as a unit.

    Question 2 has me most concerned. We NEED the answer to be "Yes" for long term success this season. Hopefully, Orlando WILL "pick up the pace".

  • In reply to mikemuadib:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=4540282

    fascinating story about the guy i think is the best wide receiver in college ball right now. what the fuck has happened to wide receivers? what happened to the days of class guys playing the position?

  • In reply to mikemuadib:

    1. Another late round rookie making an impact in his 1st year. The Volcano has had several big pass break-ups in key situations late in games and has played the run well and throw in a sack for good measure. Not bad, huh?

    2. Probably the biggest question of the 3. Yes, if that DE is large like 'Lando is, but a smaller speed rusher seems to give our big guy fits. I just hope he stays healthy.

    3. No. That's not how the Bears operate. Then again, how many teams put together a complete game from start to finish these days anyway? The encouraging thing about last week was that you saw each phase contribute to the win. Obviously it was the offense that kept the Bears in the game in the 1st half, while the defense and special teams stepped up in the 2nd and carried the team to a W.

  • In reply to mikemuadib:

    I seem to remember slow starts on D being our calling card. Doesn't it seem like over the past 5 years we always give up a first possession score? It seems to take us awhile to get in our groove - maybe there's a reason for it in our particular scheme, I don't know. But I do know it's nothing new, and how much more do you like slow starts and fast finishes than the reverse? If we were able to play perfectly from the start, we would have beat that Lions team about 65 to nothing, and that's not an exaggeration given the final score! But is that a realistic goal in the NFL?

    I agree with Jeff, I can't tell yet about whether our whole secondary (excluding Peanut) is any good. But what I CAN say is that this year is evidence that a good pass rush can cover up many sins of the secondary - and that's as it should be! So ALL HAIL the MIGHTY MARINELLI and our 2009 RESURGENT DEFENSIVE LINE!!!!

  • In reply to mikemuadib:

    Don't forget. Last season the defensive "hallmark" was slow FINISHES! Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa, Houston, etc, etc, etc....

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Agreed - if I have to choose one or the other, I'll take the Defense that tightens down in the second half. Although the ending of that Green Bay game sure looked like last year's 4th quarter D, there have been signs of brilliance in each game.
    The safety on Rodgers, the stonewalling of Big Ben in the 2nd half, Briggs picking off Wallace, and the demolition of Detroit in the first minutes of the 3rd quarter.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Trivia Time.

    Which of these all time Bear Safeties started as a rook?

    (Listed in Order of Greatness IMO)

    #8. Mark Carrier
    #7. Tony Parrish
    #6. Todd Bell
    #5. Doug Plank
    #4. Dave Duerson
    #3. Shaun Gayle
    #2. Mike Brown
    #1. Gary Fencik

    Consider where we are if Falafel-Lava is a bust. Manning and Payne and looking at the waiver wire. He shows good instincts, it's hard unless you have the full field feed to see how often he gets out of position.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    I'd say either Plank (1975 12TH! Rd.)
    Carrier (1990 6th overall)
    or Brownie (2000 39th overall)

    Or perhaps all 3.

  • In reply to gpldan:

    i want the Bears to pick up Lorenzo Neal and bring him out of retirement for the 1st Vikings game so he can spear that white trash scumbag Jared Allen in the face and paralyze him...

    I know, that was wrong to say but what a colossal tool he is.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Man...this week sucks for the NFL. The only games I see worth watching are:

    Denver vs. New England
    Cincy vs. Baltimore

    .

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    This comment is like deja vu from a Bears conversation I had 3 hours ago.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Carrier for sure. Remember, they created a rule when the Bears made a deal in principle with him before the draft say that only the team with the #1 pick could do that.

    I THINK Tony Parrish did. And I would definitely move Mr. Parrish
    higher on the list of greatness to about #5. He definitely had a nose for the football and I was sad when we lost him to the 49ers.

    I think Mike Brown started.

    Likewise Todd Bell.

    Duerson? No. He was behind Todd Bell and NOT a Buddy Ryan favorite early on. Duerson started when Bell held out with Al Harris in '85.
    By the way, how'd that year-long holdout work out for you guys?

    Gayle was a backup on the '85 team.

    I don't think Plank did.

    I'd be surprised if Fencik did since he came out of Yale as a receiver.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Brownie absolutely did. I swear it.

    Bring Lorenzo Neal back to go after Jared Allen?
    Speaking of "tools"...I would rather not even contemplate the thought of that cheap shot artist in a Bears uniform, thank you very much. Bastard cost us the Captain of the D through 2007.

  • In reply to MikeBrownhadaPosse:

    Thanks Mike, way to bring that memory back to the forefront. Our D was straight handling LT and the bolts, we'd surrendered like 15 yards on 18 carries, and Brownie was playing like a man possessed. Then Lo Neal yanks him over in a headlock(a play that if you watch in slo-mo, makes you sick and should not just be a flag but an ejection) and ends his season. Complete crap, that D was the best we've had here since '85, and we only got to see 2.5 quarters of it. Horrible. Fuck Lo Neal!!

  • In reply to MattySouthside:

    Matty - My 3 favorite players were:
    1. the entire 85 Bears team
    2. Mike Brown
    3. Lorenzo Neal (until he injured my 2nd favorite player in the history football.

    In retrospect, maybe i could have chosen a different guy to paralyze J. Allen. Maybe chip him with Michael Gaines or something.

  • In reply to MikeBrownhadaPosse:

    where is corey graham?

  • In reply to MikeBrownhadaPosse:

    the reason allen had 4.5 sacks was because grant was chipping him all game.... that's a joke on one of the best pass rushers in the game.... someone needs to actually BLOCK HIM, rather than just let him have an uncontested route straight to cutty

  • In reply to MikeBrownhadaPosse:

    I know Olsen isn't putting up old Tony Gonzalez type numbers but this may be the reason why:

    Receiving Stats
    Player Catches Yds Avg Long TD
    Earl Bennett 15 200 13.3 31 0
    Johnny Knox 14 190 13.6 68 2
    Devin Hester 14 189 13.5 36 2
    Matt Forte 13 92 7.1 12 0
    Greg Olsen 10 94 9.4 29 2
    Kellen Davis 7 58 8.3 18 2

    Bennett has no TD's but some big catches. Forte has some nice TD runs but no TD catches yet. Olsen has some huge catches for first downs and has taken some huge hits. In the preseason everyone expected the 3 WR's to be average and Olson and Clark to have the big numbers. Just because our receivers don't suck and Jay likes throwing to them doesn't mean that Olson is not performing.

  • In reply to Albertintucson:

    Didn't see the Lions game, but certainly in the seahawks game, Afalava was the only defender wrapping up his tackles.

  • In reply to IrishBearsFan:

    More to the point, is Greg Olsen any good ? He's a first round pick, can't block, can't catch the frakkin ball. What is his use therefore ?

  • In reply to mikemuadib:

    File that link under "The beat goes on", Jeff.

    "Liar, liar, pants on fire", Dez Bryant.

    Hmm. I wonder if anyone brings up this little "faux paux" to
    "Prime Time" Sanders on The NFL Network?

  • foist!

  • Great post and thread Max, but I think the longest touchdown given up was against the Pack and Greg Jennings. Vasher and Payne got burned on that play, and the next week they were permanently replaced by Bowman and Manning. The Bears also cut McBride after the game. I agree with your first point about the safeties, they're better than expected so far. I think if these guys can play the same positions all year, their instincts should improve and they will become difference makers. BTW, I'm glad this is the bye week. I'll be fishing in northern WI and a Packer fan friend has a horrible temper during football games.

  • Why are 80% of my memories of Greg Olsen this season have him running downfield like a chicken and then falling down and/or dropping a pass ?

  • As for the safeties...I'm not sure we can really be that disappointed, can we? Afalava hasn't had any huge impact plays, but he has made some nice plays on the ball and seems to tackle well. Manning and Payne have played just fine for the most part. Really, the only obvious mistake was probably Payne biting on the run during the Jennings TD when Vash got beat. I'd say, if you aren't thinking about the safeties much at this point, it is probably a good thing.

  • Your first sentence is spot on.

  • waffle- def agree.... he may have dropped a couple balls but he's also made some big plays and cutty's spread it around well... i would say that all of the receivers (including TE's and RB's) have performed pretty damn well considering what we've become accustomed to for the last 20 years... not to mention they've made some plays on high/low/behind them throws..... but there's no question that, for the most part, they've all been helped by a QB who can throw a little....

  • Couple concerns I have going into the bye:

    I am more concerned about Bowman than I am about the safety position at this moment. (see previous, Pro-Corey Graham posts)

    And, Pace has known shown without a doubt that he cannot cover someone who is significantly shorter and faster. I guess my question is, is that something that can be fixed at this point (without having to chip whoever he is responsible for every down).

    On another note related to yesterday's post about Barber, the Booyah network seems to the think this year's trade deadline is going to be a little more active due to the abnormally large number of teams that are just flat out terrible. That being said, its gonna take draft picks to lure anything away from a bad team, and I dont see the bears parting with any more draft picks, partiuclarly after the success of some of the lower round guys this year.

  • OK, gpldan, what are the answers to your "Safety Trivia" ?

  • Good stuff from Rosenbloom about one of Da Blog's favrites:

    "Israel Idonije treats arthroscopic knee surgery like it's a drive-through. He couldn't bend his left knee, but he still forced a fumble, registered a sack and made some big plays on special teams against Detroit on Sunday. He got scoped on Monday and plans to play in less than three weeks. Just another reason to love the guy as the most unsung Bear. "

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