1) Last week I wrote about the Chicago Bears giving the blueprint on how to stop the Los Angeles Rams Tom Waddle Color Rush Jersey , but also wondered if any other teams had the defensive talent to pull it off. The Philadelphia Eagles may not have beaten the Rams as dominantly as the Bears did a week ago, but they slowed L.A.’s rushing attack and got after quarterback Jared Goff, and held on for a 30-23 win that made the top and bottom of the NFC playoffs more interesting. The Bears are now a game back of the number two seed in the NFC, and the Eagles (7-7) are a half game behind the Minnesota Vikings (7-6-1) for the 6th seed with a long shot still going for the NFC East title. 2) Philly is still alive for their division because the Dallas Cowboys laid an egg against the Indianapolis Colts by getting shut out 23-0. Andrew Luck wasn’t spectacular at QB, but Marlon Mack rushed for the most yards in his career 139 on 27 carries, with 2 TDs, and their defense has started to come around. The 8-6 Colts are still on the outside of the AFC playoff race, but if they can sneak in they have a complete team that could get a win or two. 3) At 6-7-1 the Cleveland Browns are still alive for a playoff spot, but even if they miss out, that team is in good position to compete for the post season for the next several years. They have a young core of talented players on both sides of the ball and the rest of the AFC North has to be a little wary of what they’re building. 4) The New York Giants took running back Saquon Barkley in the 2018 NFL Draft instead of getting a quarterback to replace Eli Manning — which in hindsight looks like a good move because Barkley is an electrifying talent — but they’ll surely get a QB this offseason, right?“Yeah, I want all our players to be back,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said a day after his team lost to the Tennessee Titans, 17 to 0. “I believe experience matters.” There’s no way he’s talking about the 37-year old Manning though is he? Yep, Shurmur believes that Manning has “years” left as a starting QB in the NFL, saying that, “Eli playing QB I think gives us the best chance to win.”Manning isn’t playing quite as bad as we all seem to think (he’s completing a career high 65.9% of his passes), but not having a legit back up plan beyond Kyle Lauletta seems like a bad idea. 5) And speaking of the Titans, what’s up with Derick Henry? In his last two games he has 50carries for 408 yards (8.16 ypc) and 6 TDs. Tennessee is 8-6, winners of three straight, but in the 8th seed. They have a winnable game up next against the Washington Redskins, and they close out the 2018 season hosting the Colts. 6) The 8-6 Baltimore Ravens are hanging onto the 6th seed in the AFC, and they’ve won four of their last five games behind QB Lamar Jackson. He hasn’t been very good at passing the ball as a rookie, but he has 427 yards rushing in his 5 starts.He’s been impressive enough that the Ravens are expected to move on from Joe Flacco this offseason. 7) Miami Dolphins’ running back Frank Gore is out for the rest of the season with a sprained foot, and at 35-years old his career is winding down. He’s currently fourth all-time in rushing yards with 14,748 in 14 seasons, and is that enough to get the 5 time pro bowler into the Hall of Fame? 8) This play almost cost the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. But Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton couldn’t get the ball downfield accurately in their final drive. His shoulder looks bad and they should probably shut him down now that they’re 6-8. 9) The Jacksonville Jaguars are the most disappointing team in football. 10) Leonard Floyd had a slow statistical start to his 2018 season Sam Acho Jersey , but he was coming off a season ending knee injury in 2017, and he broke his hand this preseason. Even though he was sackless for so long, I thought he was doing a lot of small things to help the Bears win games. I tweeted out his splits on Monday, but check these out and let me know if you think he wasn’t hampered early on. In his first 7 games he had 17 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 PD, and a FF, but in the last 7 games Floyd has 23 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 9 QB hits, 2 passes defended, and 1 Int for a TD.He’s also played well in the six games against the Packers in his career with 18 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 5 TFL, 9 QBH, 1 FF and 1 recovery that he returned for a TD. The Bears have to decide on his fifth year option this spring, which will be around $13M, so should GM Ryan Pace pick it up? I say yes.And check this celebration out.11) Since the Bears are on fire this year, I’m cranking the Ten Thoughts up to Eleven because I had to share this latest gem from their social media team.And you can now get your own Club Dub T-Shirt from our friends over at Breaking T.Juct click here to get yours now! General Manager Ryan Pace made a number of moves to help the Bears field the most exciting and competitive roster in his tenure. The draft day trade with the New England Patriots that landed the 51st overall selection was used to bring in Anthony Miller, the competitive Wide Receiver from Memphis. Our draft guru, EJ Snyder, had Miller as his #3 WR in the draft and pegged him as “the best possible fit” for Matt Nagy’s offense and a perfect complement to the free agent acquisitions of Allen Robinson II and Taylor Gabriel. He brings an energy and passion to the field and I was fortunate to get a few minutes with him to talk about his shoulder, his role in the offense, and where he sees this team headed in the future. Jeff Berckes: Anthony, I understand you’re out in Los Angeles working with Panini trading cards right now. What’s going on out there and what have you been up to?Anthony Miller: Panini has some cool events going on. A lot of the guys are just kickin’ it https://www.thebearsfanshop.com/Devin-Hester-Jersey , rookies from this class. We’ve done a lot of card signing. It’s just a good time out here. I’ve been hanging out with Calvin Ridley, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, DJ Moore and a few other guys.One of the Anthony Miller autographed trading cards from PaniniJB: I’ll have to get one of those for my collection! First thing’s first – how’s the shoulder? Are you looking at a surgical repair and what kind of recovery timeline are you looking at?AM: It’s doing good. I’m actually getting surgery on it in 3 weeks. I’ll be laid up for a minute, looking at 4 or 5 months of recovery. It was definitely a risk playing with it.(For those of you doing the math, Anthony is expecting to be fully recovered by sometime in the summer.)JB: I think I can speak for all Bears fans when I say we’re sending positive thoughts for a full recovery and definitely have a lot of respect for being able to play through that injury. Despite missing a few games with that shoulder issue, you were able to have a successful rookie season, leading the team with 7 TDs. How do you see your role in this offense moving forward? AM: I see it expanding even more than you guys have seen. The reasons I was limited in the offense was one, it took me a little time to get a grasp of it and, two, was because of my shoulder. I wasn’t able to play how I really wanted to. I was just making plays however I could. And so Coach didn’t put a lot of my plate this year and I totally understand that. But it’s going to be way different next year. I’m going to be fully incorporated into the offense.JB: It seemed like you were taking most of your snaps out of the slot and sharing some of those targets with Trey Burton. Do you see yourself working more on the outside or expanding your role in the slot?AM: I’m going to be everywhere, man. Inside, outside, doing reverses, everything. Coach Nagy, his offense, you have to know every position on the field because at some point you are going to be at those positions so you just gotta know it. JB: You mentioned Coach Nagy and I just have to ask, from the outside perspective, it looks like he’s really been able to develop a culture that everyone on the team has bought into. What’s he doing to bring you guys together as a team? AM: He just lets us be us. He doesn’t try to make the team be something it’s not. He lets us play loose, have a lot of fun out there so that the experience is the best that it can be for us. Basically, he just lets us have fun. I think that’s all a coach needs to do in order for his players to work for him and he works for us. JB: You were able to make the transition to the NFL quickly – was there a veteran on the team that took you under their wing and what advice were you given to help that transition?AM: Most definitely. I was blessed to be around a lot of great veterans. Guys like Josh Bellamy, Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel. Guys like that were constantly in my ear each and every day on and off the field telling me what to do, what not to do, just making my rookie year a lot smoother than it could’ve been.JB: You mentioned Josh Bellamy first and I find that interesting. He seems to be really well liked by his teammates and serves as one of those “glue guys”. What is it about him that makes him so special to that wide receiver unit?AM: The thing is, that guy, he’s willing to do anything to help the team win. He’s just like me. He’s relentless Danny Trevathan Color Rush Jersey , he comes to work every day with a mindset of no matter what is going on, we’re going to get to work no matter what. He’s just a great guy to be around. He brings a lot of great energy to the team.JB: Going against this Bears defense every week in practice certainly challenges this offense to be better. I know you’re a competitive guy and want to go against the best. What defensive back do you enjoy going against the most in practice because he makes you better?AM: Yeah, good competition. I like going against Eddie Jackson. He’s considered one of our best defensive players. He had a phenomenal season this year. I wish we could’ve had him in the playoffs. That’s a guy I like going against in practice. We make each other better. Bryce Callahan is a good guy to go against there at practice too. He is definitely a sticky defender, has very good feet and hips. That’s another guy we were missing out on toward the end of the season. A couple of unfortunate injures, we wish we had him out there. He’s a good guy to go against. JB: You mentioned injuries and the Bears, while overall very healthy, had a few instances where key players missed a couple games – Mack with the ankle, Trubisky with his shoulder issue, you with your shoulder. It never seemed like you guys were rushing back too soon – is that Nagy’s philosophy of trying to keep you guys protected?AM: Yeah, Coach Nagy didn’t push any of us at any point. If we felt like we could go, we were going to go but we were always smart about it. He would never make too big of a deal out of whether we would go or not. We trust our doctors a lot. The doctors did a great job with the injuries this year. We really didn’t have many injuries though. JB: What are your feelings on all these special plays that Nagy calls that get defensive guys involved? It seems like everyone is having fun with it - does that help everyone buy in more? AM: Yeah, that’s what I like about this team. It’s so fun. Coach is willing to do anything to throw a wrench in the game to confuse the other team. He’s very good at that and whatever way he can find to do that, he’s going to do that and his way is throwing defensive guys onto the offense from time to time. We love it; we have a lot of fun with it. JB: Can we expect you to throw TD pass next season?AM: Definitely. I had a pass this year, it wasn’t for a TD but I know he’s going to have something for me down the road. JB: What would you say was your personal highlight from your rookie year?AM: Man, winning the NFC North Championship, that was crazy, even though I didn’t have any catches that game. Just being in that atmosphere, just being a part of that great win, that great team win, it was awesome man. It was a packed house that night as well. JB: That’s an awesome answer and I’ll tell you it was a great highlight for Bears fans too. As we head into the long off-season, do you have any message for Bears fans?AM: Definitely be looking forward for a continuation of last year. I know we didn’t finish a few games that we should have. The games that we did lose, we lost by one point. So, we’re very close to becoming the team that we want to be. I’m confident that we will be that Super Bowl team, if not next year, it’s going to be real soon. We’re bringing that trophy home. Thank you to Panini for setting up the interview and to Anthony Miller for the time. You can find Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyMiller_3 and I’m found @gridionborn.
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