11/26/21: The Bears climb a mountain they made themselves

Another Thanksgiving, another win in Detroit

Andy Dalton Chicago Bears Detroit Lions
(USA Today Sports)

Welcome to Midway Minute, the daily Chicago sports newsletter. First time here? Join our list for free to get this email in your inbox.

Good morning, frents!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and happy Black Friday. May you get more "push" while trying to nab the best deal than either o-line got yesterday.

Last call for Club Dub

(USA Today Sports)

In a better world where the Bears are contenders, you might feel comfortable buying the spin of a 16-14 win in Detroit on Thanksgiving.

You know: A short holiday week on the road, a depleted roster that was missing QB1, WR1 and LB1, everyone in the league gets paid, even 0-10-1 Lions teams.

A win's a win.

What we got instead was a narrative centered around the Bears circling the wagons following the report of Matt Nagy's imminent firing and a motivational Thanksgiving eve speech from both George McCaskey and Andy Dalton.

"We've been through some stuff, some distractions, the last couple days," Nagy told reporters in Detroit. "But it just proves who they are, what type of fighters they are, what type of winners they are."


Not exactly win one for the Gipper.

Don't get me wrong. Give me the option between a Bears win or loss and I'll take the victory every time unless the next Peyton Manning is waiting in the draft with a loss. Losing to the Lions would've ruined my Thanksgiving dinner and it would've even hurt the appetites of those who insisted they wanted the Bears embarrassed. (You know who you are.)

But the 4-7 Bears resurrected Club Dub after their first victory since October 10 to celebrate overcoming obstacles they made themselves.

Give Nagy credit at least for recognizing why the team was even put in a position to have its week upended by Mark Konkol's Patch.com report.

"When you lose five games in a row, you understand, and when you’re 3-7, you know that territory you can get to," Nagy said. "That comes with the job.”

How much longer Nagy has that job is now the question. The Bears have 10 days before they return to action against the Cardinals at Soldier Field and the extended break would've been an ideal time to say their goodbyes.

Were the Bears actually planning to go through with it this weekend as Konkol reported? The only way we'd know for sure is to hook George McCaskey up to a lie detector test and we have a better chance of seeing a Ryan Pace team in the second weekend of the playoffs than that happening.

But at some point, they're going to have to figure out a suave way to send Nagy on his way. New NFL rules allow for head-coaching candidates to be interviewed the final two weeks of the season, but the original coach has to have either been fired or given notice that he's not coming back the next season.

Do you trust the McCaskey family to stick the landing on that over the next six weeks without making it awkward?  

I already know your answer.

As for Thursday's game, I think it gave us a good look at what the 2021 Bears season might have been like had George McCaskey not reportedly stepped in to make Justin Fields the permanent starter in early October.

Dalton joined Chase Daniel and Mitch Trubisky in the club of Nagy QBs with a Thanksgiving win in Detroit. He completed 24-of-39 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown to Jimmy Graham. He was more than serviceable and the performance will likely get him paid again on the free-agent market this winter.

But despite playing the winless Lions, the Bears offense still struggled to do much more than get Cairo Santos into position for three field goals — including the game-winner with no time left.

The defense, meanwhile, is lucky it was playing the Lions, particularly after Roquan Smith left with a hamstring injury.

Some people seem ticked the Bears didn't win by double digits, but the truth is that the Lions played much better teams close this season.

More importantly, this is just who the Bears are — a team with flawed roster construction made worse through bad injury luck and poor coaching that couldn't win early. It now looks for meaning in wins over a franchise that's six weeks away from its second 16-loss season.

A long December awaits with back-to-back dates against Arizona and Green Bay, plus games against Minnesota and Seattle. How the Bears will spin any of what happens there is anyone's guess.

Recommend Midway Minute to a friend and earn newsletter swag when they sign up. Click here to get started.

Thursday's results
Bears 16, Lions 14
Auburn 62, Loyola 53

Today's schedule
Blues at Hawks  (2:30, ESPN+)
Bulls at Magic (6, NBCSCH)
Northern Kentucky at DePaul (4, FS2)
Loyola vs. Arizona State (6, ESPN News)
UT Rio Grande at Illinois (7, BTN+)

Heat at Bulls (7, NBCSCH)

Eastern Michigan at DePaul (1, FS1)
Sharks at Hawks (6, NBCSCH)

College football preview

Northwestern (+6.5) at Illinois (2:30, BTN): I think it'd be fun if Pat Fitzgerald and Bret Bielema started a bad-blooded instate rivalry. Maybe it starts this weekend. The Wildcats have won six straight in the series and eight of the last nine.

#5 Notre Dame (-20.5) at Stanford (7,  Fox): The Irish should be fine so long as they don't get distracted by all the scoreboard watching they're doing elsewhere.

1. Trying to make sense of the Bulls' inexplicable loss to the 1-16 Rockets on Wednesday night. Blogabull

2. Nikola Vucevic is looking forward to his Orlando return tonight. Sun-Times

3. Scott Powers on why the Hawks need to hire some permanent front office people sooner rather than later. The Athletic

4. Michael Jordan and the Greek Freak have lifted a luxury watch startup to a $1 billion valuation. CNBC

5. Michael O'Brien with a preview of the six state title games involving local teams this weekend. Sun-Times

BreakingT Black Friday sale: Get Chicago t-shirts for your holiday people. 20 percent off sitewide with BOOM20 or 30 percent off $100+ with BOOM30

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