If you happened to catch talk-sports radio in Chicago this morning, you might’ve heard hosts and phone-in listeners alike saying that tonight’s game between the 3-2 Bears and 0-5 Giants is going to be a blowout.
And WGN’s David Kaplan has no idea why.
“I don’t think (the Bears are) anywhere near as good as the people here in Chicago think,” Kaplan said on The John Feinstein Show. “I don’t hear anybody saying the game’s going to be even remotely close. I completely disagree. Let me tell you why: The Bears don’t pressure the quarterback very well, (and) they don’t stop the run up the middle very well. If you don’t pressure Eli and get him on the ground three or four times, not only do the Bears not cover (the eight-point spread), I don’t know if they win the game.”
The Bears are 3-0 against teams that are a combined 4-9 and 0-2 against teams that are a combined 8-2.
Yes, the Giants are last in the league in rushing yards and interceptions thrown, but they also have Victor Cruz – and elite pass-catchers have destroyed the Bears this season. A.J. Green? Nine catches, 162 yards and two touchdowns. Antonio Brown? Nine catches, 196 yards and two touchdowns. Jimmy Graham? Ten catches for 135 yards.
It doesn’t help that the Bears defense – including Charles Tillman, who is nursing a sore knee – is banged up.
“If you add all of that up, Eli can make some plays in the intermediate passing game,” Kaplan said. “I don’t know if the Bears can win the game. I really don’t. Jay Cutler has to be big time tonight because last week he (put) it on the ground for the Saints, (and) he (threw) a couple picks. When he’s that Jay, we’ve got no shot.”
Cutler is averaging 273.6 passing yards per game. He has 10 touchdowns and six interceptions on the season and has thrown three picks in his last two games.
“If bad Jay shows up today and the Bears lose tonight, there will be, seriously, mass panic (in Chicago),” Kaplan said. “They’re already ticked they lost out on Joe Girardi. Now to lose to an 0-5 Giants team? Yeah, the bloom will be off the rose.”
Speaking of Girardi, who signed a four-year extension with the Yankees, the Cubs need a manager – mainly because they just fired Dale Sveum, who went 66-96 this season.
Kaplan’s solution? Greg Maddux.
“Greg Maddux wants to manage the Cubs,” Kaplan said, “and if it’s true – (if) what I’m being told by friends of Greg that he’s ready and he wants to do it (is true) – you go make that deal. Immediately. You get more credibility back in the eyes of the fan base, which they desperately need. And I know you don’t just listen to the fans or you’ll be sitting with them, but you have to consider that your fan base is now at the point where they’re apathetic. That’s far more dangerous than being angry.”
The Cubs have not won a World Series in 106 years.