Dec 21, 2021

12/21/21: The 'story of the year'

Vikings Bears Monday Night Football
(USA Today Sports)

Welcome to Midway Minute, the daily Chicago sports newsletter. Did someone forward you this? Join our list for free to get this email in your inbox.

Good morning, frents!

Last night's game was entertaining enough in its own perverse way, but I really wish we'd have been able to listen in on the Manning Brothers' take as it was unfolding.

Fix that next year, ESPN.


⚡
Monday's results
Vikings 17, Bears 9
Bulls 133, Rockets 118
N'western 90, Illinois-Springfield 50

Tonight's schedule
No games

The Bears offense was the gift that kept giving

(USA Today Sports)

How did the Vikings leave Chicago with a win on Monday night?

We should have no idea, really. Kirk Cousins passed for just 87 yards while Dalvin Cook averaged only three yards a carry. The Vikings offense? The Bears outgained them by 11 first downs and 177 yards.  

And yet the night still produced a comfortable and unsurprising 17-9 win for a 7-7 Minnesota team that remains in the NFC playoff hunt.

While we came into Monday night's game expecting the depleted Bears defense to wilt against the Vikings offense, that was far from the case. Sean Desai's unit put on a performance to be proud of, holding Minnesota to a total that any competent NFL offense should have been able to outkick.

But these are the Matt Nagy-led Bears, a team always willing to produce a performance worse than the last.

With Nagy calling plays in Bill Lazor's absence, the Bears produced a total of three points on its first seven trips to Vikings territory.

Only a last-second touchdown throw from Justin Fields to Jesper Horsted made this game look closer than it was.

"Story of the year," Fields said to reporters after the game.

The Bears are now 4-10 and have lost eight of nine games. Their less than one percent chance of making the playoffs has officially been squashed.

It's all over but the shouting and we again must wonder why the McCaskey family has allowed the Nagy era to last this long. While an interim coach may not have been able to drag this roster much farther, it's doubtful he would've done much worse.

And given Derek King's impact on the Hawks roster across town, it was certainly worth a shot at giving someone with different ideas the reins of the franchise.

Nagy is instead on the longest gallows walk in Chicago sports history, hitting double-digits in losses with — check notes, no that can't be right— three games still left to play.

A few more notes and thoughts:

  • Fields had some rough patches, losing his fifth fumble of the season on the opening drive and losing 30 yards on three different sacks. But he never lost composure and put together three long drives in the second half with both his arm and legs. If Jimmy Graham and Damiere Byrd hold onto the football or Darnell Mooney's shin gets down inbounds, we might be talking this morning about how Fields dragged the team to a win. His final line: 26-of-39 passing for 285 yards and one touchdown, plus another 35 on the ground.
  • Robert Quinn is still the dude. On the day he and Jakeem Grant were named to the Pro Bowl, the Bears pass rusher sacked Cousins twice. He has 16 on the season and needs two more to beat Richard Dent's team record of 17 1/2 set over 16 games in 1984.
  • The Bears were penalized nine times for 91 yards and Nagy got an unsportsmanlike penalty for "inappropriate language" after an awful unnecessary roughness call on Deon Bush. The officials weren't quite at Pittsburgh level, but at least we won't have to watch the officials during another primetime game this year.
  • Where were the Bears hiding CB Thomas Graham Jr. all season? The rookie sixth-rounder acquitted himself well and gives the Bears a possible solution for the failed Kindle Vildor experience.
  • The NFL's decision to move to a 17-game schedule has to go down as one of the worst choices in sports ever. All the good teams are just waiting for the playoffs to start and hoping no one gets hurt (LOL, Tampa Bay and Arizona). Meanwhile, we have to watch three more games of this Bears team? That Giants-Bears matchup on January 2 is going to be something.
  • Welcome to the resistance, Brian Griese.


🏈 Recommend Midway Minute to a friend and earn some newsletter swag. Grab your personal referral code here.


News and results


Bulls: No letdown in win over Houston

(USA Today Sports)

DeMar DeRozan scored 26 as the Bulls cruised to a 133-118 win against the Rockets, just one night after a big win over the Lakers.

  • Some bad news: Alex Caruso left the game in the first quarter with a sprained foot. Billy Donovan said after the game that he didn't know how severe the injury was.
  • Some good news: West Side native Alfonzo McKinnie got some serious playing time in Caruso's absence and took advantage of it, scoring 16 points on the night. McKinnie played at both Curie and Marshall and was signed to a 10-day hardship contract earlier in the month.
"I'm a West Side kid. Our house was a Bulls house. This is a dream come true." — Alfonzo McKinnie

Next: The Raptors visit the UC on Wednesday. The Bulls are 19-10.

Hawks: NHL postpones all games through Christmas

Will Monday's decision to keep all teams away from their facilities until Dec. 26 make a dent in the league's rising numbers? We'll see. It might be coming at a good time for the Hawks. Calvin de Haan entered protocols on Monday, the first Hawks player to do so since Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in early November.

  • Tonight's scheduled game against the Panthers had already been postponed. Thursday's home contest against the Stars is also affected.
  • The next scheduled game is a visit from Columbus on Dec. 28. Players and staff must produce a negative test before regaining access to the team's facility on Dec. 26.

1. ESPN's Kevin Seifert drew plenty of blowback from Bears Twitter after writing this article about Justin Fields and putting him in the same sentence as Jimmy Clausen, Blaine Gabbert and Josh Rosen. ESPN.com

2. Ben Pope says Derek King is entering the second phase of his interim tenure: Proving he deserves the long-term job. Sun-Times

3. Michael Jordan has his own cryptocurrency or something. I don't really understand anything about this, either. Bitcoinist

4. The Cubs are looking to hire analysts for their research and development department. Here's the job listing. FanGraphs

5. Chicago's best new restaurants of 2021. Infatuation Chi


You've reached the end of Midway Minute!

If you enjoy this newsletter, you can ...
✍️ Become a supporting member and get extra perks
🍺 Buy us a coffee or beer
👍 Refer some friends and earn some cool Midway Minute swag
🔗 Recommend a link or story

Join the conversation

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Midway Minute.
Your link has expired.
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.