The Chicago Cubs clinched their third consecutive playoff appearance with a win against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, which had me dreaming of a better future.
One where a rebuilt Chicago Bears team that suffered through some dark times re-emerged as a contender behind a youth movement led by Mitch Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd, and some receivers to be named later. An offense that scores early, often, and efficiently. A defense built on power, speed, and the ability to force turnovers. A special teams unit that turns blocked field goals into touchdowns.
On days like today, I allow myself to dream the biggest dreams. And frankly, you should too.
- However, the reality of now has the Bears sitting at 1-2 with a starting quarterback struggling to find his footing with his new team. Despite Mike Glennon’s early season struggles, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains believes his quarterback is doing enough to win games, writes ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson. Loggains suggested Glennon’s numbers would have looked better had it not been for dropped passes, though, he conveniently leaves out how the numbers would have looked without some dropped interceptions. In the end, the Bears aren’t going to publicly disparage their starting quarterback and will continue to build his confidence behind the scenes and publicly with support.
- The Bears are better off if Glennon isn’t deciding games anyway. In fact, Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly writes one of two stars will be the playmaker who decides which team ends up on top – either Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (because, duh!) or Bears running back Jordan Howard (because, double duh!). Both teams enter Thursday’s game banged up despite having some key playmakers healthy and available, but Green Bay holds the edge at quarterback and that’s what usually decides ballgames in the NFL. On the other hand, the Bears can counter with the one thing that can keep an elite quarterback off the field in the form of a ball-control offense with two running backs who found their stride against the Steelers.
- Of course, Tarik Cohen will have his say when the dust settles. ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson writes Cohen is ready for primetime as the fourth-round pick turned fantasy football darling continues to draw comparisons to long-time NFL standout Darren Sproles. Cohen is averaging 94.3 scrimmage yards per game and 17.4 points by ESPN’s PPR scoring system. He has also played on 48.9 percent of the Bears’ offensive snaps, making him a factor back who is expected to play a major role in the Bears offense tonight and in the weeks to come.
- If the Bears pull off a second straight upset, odds are it will be fueled by the team’s 1-2 punch in the backfield. And if the Howard-Cohen tandem gets the ball rolling, it’s likely because guard Kyle Long will have continued his strong play that started in his regular season debut in Week 3. Jon Ledyard of FanRag Sports explains how Long’s return to the lineup provided a boost to the Bears’ rushing attack, highlighting Long’s best blocks against a Steelers defense that didn’t have an answer to Chicago’s repeated running of the stretch play.
- Over at FanRag Sports, Peter Bukowski sees tonight’s Bears-Packers matchup as a compelling one – no matter what happens. Thursday Night games can be hit-and-miss as far as action goes, but the storylines here are almost too good to fail. If the Bears pull off a win at Lambeau Field, it would go a long way toward proving Sunday’s Week 3 win against the Steelers and their Week 1 close-call against the Falcons weren’t flukes. If the Packers hold off the Bears, Green Bay could stake a claim at re-establishing itself as part of the NFC’s elite. All things considered, a primetime game between the Bears and Packers that has significance for both teams is everything you’d want from an early season matchup between the long-time rivals. Even if it’s on a short week.
- One player who doesn’t mind the quick turnaround is cornerback Marcus Cooper, whose boneheaded play at the end of the first half of the Bears could have turned out to be quite costly. It turned out not to be, with Cooper telling the Chicago Tribune: “There are going to be ups. There are going to be downs. Fans are going to be up and down with you as well. Luckily for me, it’s a short week. So I’m not trying to focus on that. We’ve got Green Bay coming up and it’s just putting my focus there.” Hopefully, Cooper is more focused in the moments leading up to this game than he was before he stopped short of the goal line after the blocked field goal.
- For what it’s worth, Cooper’s head coach believes Sunday’s miscue could be a teachable moment for the Bears’ starting cornerback. Fox predicts Cooper will learn from his mistake, one he hopes probably never happens again.
- After taking a few days to mull it over, I’m OK with how the Bears publicly handled Cooper’s boner. The Bears had options for Cooper, ranging from a good old-fashioned yell fest, a long-time benching, or to throw him back into the fire immediately. I could understand if the team went in any of those directions, but Chicago’s coaching staff chose to send Cooper back onto the field to atone for his mistake – which is exactly what he did. We often see players make one mistake and let it negatively impact the rest of their game. Cooper didn’t allow that to happen as he played his best game of the year despite making one of the all-time worst mistakes you can make on the field. . Ideally, he moves forward and becomes a better player for his experience.