First and Long: Bears-Lions Battle of Embarrassed Franchises, Trubisky Named Sunday Starter, Steelers Stay Undefeated, Goodell Confident NFL Will Finish Season

The makeshift schedule employed by the NFL this year due to COVID postponements is really messing up my body clock. Scheduling a game in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of the week, in the middle of a raging pandemic, when it starts getting dark at 4pm, and while I am on pins and needles regarding the Cubs’ decision on Kyle Schwarber, had me all kinds of messed up. I’ve lost track of time and I’m starting to lose my mind.

But it’s not about me and, in fact, it’s not about any one person in this wretched year. Something cool is happening in Pittsburgh, though, where the Steelers are now 11-0 after defeating the Ravens 19-14 in yesterday’s matinee. I don’t know how many of those ’72 Dolphins are still alive after safety Jake Scott passed away just before Thanksgiving, but they must be really starting to long for the annual champagne toast they celebrate once there are no undefeated teams left.

Pittsburgh’s schedule gets a little dicey in the coming weeks with games against the Browns and Bills, both 8-3 right now, and the 7-4 Colts, but those are all winnable games. Aside from those three, the Steelers still have to play the Bengals (2-8) and the Washington Football Team (4-7). The playoffs are another matter, but only the 10-1 Chiefs stand in the way of a first-round bye. I don’t think we will see our first undefeated championship season in 40 years, because I picked Kansas City to win the AFC Championship and I still stand by it, but it’s not out of the question, either.

Meanwhile…the Bears, my oh my those Bears. Maybe they could sign Schwarber. He could be their best player right now.

Matt Nagy called his team out this week, indicating that their play against the Packers on Sunday night was “flat-out embarrassing.” And he’s sticking with fourth-year QB Mitch Trubisky, who has all sorts of mechanical issues, like throwing a pass with both feet in mid-air.

Trubisky will get the start against the Lions on Sunday in a game that might be Chicago’s last chance for a victory in 2020. When the Bears were 5-1, there was hope that this stretch of games against NFC North opponents could vault them to a division title. But after last week’s loss, Sunday’s game will instead determine who sits in last place come Monday morning.

The Monsters Misfits of the Midway have lost five straight and Detroit recently fired their head coach and general manager, a move that signals ownership’s confirmation of exasperating ineptitude. So there you have it, we’ve got two embarrassed franchises fighting to avoid the shame of being worse than the other. That sits well with Bears fans, I’m sure.

Chicago actually beat the Lions 27-23 to open the season in a thrilling come-from-behind victory that saw Trubisky lead the offense to three touchdowns to erase a 23-6 deficit in the final 13 minutes. The winning score came on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Anthony Miller with 1:54 left. Good times, but sadly, the first three quarters of that game were more of a revelation of just how bad this Bears team is.

Hopefully, the Bears can avoid a sixth straight loss, but, Nagy’s tirade aside, the Lions may have a little more fight on Sunday. On the one hand, it’s nice to see the head coach show some emotion and get on his players, but the possibility exists that his team may quit on him, especially the defense if they haven’t already.

The Monsters are a mess, and after Sunday we’ll know just how much clean-up is needed.

Bears News & Notes

There’s a Flag…On the Play

When you’re starting signal-caller is ranked 29th in the league, there’s not a lot of confidence that things are going to get better anytime soon. Then again, things can’t get much worse.

Northern Exposure

One of the 500 team employees and family members that were in attendance for the Bears-Packers game at Lambeau Field on Sunday had a message for Chicagoans regarding the city’s affinity for deep dish pizza.

Green Bay signed free agent WR Tavon Austin the other day and he will be just the second first-round pick that Aaron Rodgers will throw to in his storied career. Austin last played for the Cowboys in 2019.

A buzz has surrounded the first practices of Lions’ interim head coach Darrell Bevell.

Retired Lions great Herman Moore has been actively campaigning for his former teammate and ex-standout Lions linebacker Chris Spielman to become the team’s new GM.

An explosive offense has the Vikings back in the NFC Wild Card hunt.

Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen has been cleared to play on Sunday after spending last week on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

League News & Notes

Despite a growing number of COVID-19 cases and numerous postponements, commissioner Roger Goodell expressed confidence the league will complete its regular season and playoffs.

Broncos starting QB Drew Lock has been cleared to return to practice and he apologized to his teammates and the fans for his pandemic protocol violation.

Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree may have suffered a torn ACL in yesterday’s win over the Ravens.

Jacksonville’s legacy of losing has Jaguars fans and local investors concerned that development projects in and around the team’s stadium will suffer, especially since many will be opening for the first time post-pandemic.

NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth is getting ripped for an allegedly insensitive and sexist comment regarding emergency Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller, who became the first woman to play in an NCAA Power 5 game this past weekend.


It was reported a few weeks ago that Foles and Nagy had a communication problem, so this is probably not the feel-good moment you were hoping for going into Sunday’s game.

At the Podium

  • “Whatever it is, I know this: We better wake our tails up. Every freaking coach on the staff, every player better wake up and start understanding where we’re at. Have some personal pride. Have a freaking sense of urgency. Know where we’re at. Have some pride in who we’re playing for and why we do this. And then go find a way to win as a team. That’s my challenge to every single person in that building this week.” – Matt Nagy
  • “Did George McCaskey call him in or did Virginia? Virginia wouldn’t do the talking, but she would sure as heck sit there. And George [might say], ‘You know what, you better say something. We’re losing our fanbase. The defense for the first time didn’t perform to the level they’re capable of. You better say something publicly to let our fanbase know that we’re trying to right the ship.’ It was either that or they [may have] said, ‘You’re going to be our coach for a while,’ so [now Nagy] is confident. He’s not worried about upsetting a few players or coaches or whatever because he knows he’s going to be here. You don’t just wake up and change your personality. That does not happen.” – Dave Wannstedt

Halftime Entertainment

Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey – The Bears have to have at least one win left in them, right? I mean it’s the Lions, right?

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