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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, December 3

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Bears In Five - Guess What Down You Need To Convert?
by Craig Aichele, Ramsin Canon and friends

Third down, third down, third down, third down, third down. Third down. THIRD DOWN! OK. Now that that's out of the way: CONVERT YOUR DAMN THIRD DOWNS! As long as we've been writing this column, the sages of the Noble Street League have been harping on two things: the increasing awesomeness of the defensive line, and the Bears' need to convert on third-damn-down. Convert third downs!

OK, sorry. Pop quiz, hot shots: You run for two yards on first down; you throw an incomplete pass on second-and-eight. It is now third-and-eight. What do you have to do to make sure you can continue to have the ball? The answer is at the bottom of this section, written backwards to keep you from cheating.*

Against the Packers, the Bears were 0-for-10 on third downs. That is 0 percent, by the way. This week, they were 3-for-13, or about 23 percent. This against a Steeler defense that was 30th in the league in third down defense. Do better on third downs! For the Bears to make their inexorable march to the NFC championship game a reality, they're probably going to have to go through Seattle, which has an increasingly stellar defense. If they want to do that, they're going to have convert on at least 40 percent of their third downs. You know how many times better they'll have to than 0-for-10? You may think you know, but you actually don't, because there is no real number that when multiplied by 0 yields a number greater than 0. For the love of God, do better on third down!

*!nowd nmad driht ruoy trevnoc dna sdray thgie tsael ta teG

This week's Bears in Five awaits...

One: We're going to have to settle for 12-4.
We haven't had to write about a loss in this column in two months, so this is kind of a new feeling. It's proving to be a little more difficult than it looked at first glance. Not because of the agonizing depression that comes with a loss, but because of all the things that the Bear's did poorly in this past game against the Steelers. To break it down simply, the offense was overmatched and out-played by the Pittsburgh defense. Our defense looked flat and lifeless at times. The line-backing corps in particular missed many tackles throughout the game. And problems with punt returns were still present, so don't worry, those aren't going anywhere. The game plan, at least from our point of view, seemed underdeveloped and uninspired. The Bears blew second chances. And then gave them to the Steelers. This game was ugly. Unless you are a Steelers fan. You're not a Steelers fan, are you?

Two: Why didn't anyone ever give Jerome Bettis a creative little nickname during his career? You know, something that alludes to how he caries the team.
And why didn't FOX give him more face time in the contest against the Bears on Sunday? All joking aside, "The Bus" ran all over the best defense in the league. In the snow. With his artificial hip, two ceramic knees, and his custom-made cane. This old man embarrassed the crap out our linebackers. Especially later in the game to help ice things for Pittsburgh. It wasn't just Bettis, though. Willie Parker and Verron Haynes helped to move the ball effectively through their contributions to the passing game. Parker was just as effective on the ground as he was catching the ball, giving the Steelers a really deadly combination in the running game. So please, Chicago Bears, do not let Father Time and Baby New Year run all over you ever again. No one in this city wants to see that.

Three: Apparently there is no safety net for the safeties.
Injuries have finally hit our beloved defense. Chris Harris was expected to miss the Steeler game after spraining his knee against the Packers. Later last week, we were informed that Mike Brown would also not be able to participate in the upcoming contest against the Steelers. This is when Todd Johnson and Mike Green were inserted into the starting lineup. Unfortunately for this duo, rookie Brandon McGowan outplayed them both. Not only did McGowan lead the team in tackles but made Green's coverage errors more evident. It still didn't seem to be enough, so let's stop kidding ourselves. Three players couldn't do the job that two have been doing so well all season long. Please get well, secondary. In order to effectively handle a Falcons team that likes to run, and contain a quarterback that likes to throw on the run, we're going to need defensive backs who can make solid decisions in second- and third-level coverage.

Four: My favorite boyhood team, the Atlanta Falcons.
Not really. But we do need to stop dwelling on the loss and look to the next game. The Falcons come to Soldier Field next Sunday night for the Bears only prime-time exposure of the season. Let's hope they show up with something to prove to the nation and the rest of the NFL. The biggest concern for the Bears should be stopping an Atlanta rushing attack that features not only quarterback Michael Vick, but running backs Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett as well. If Duckett were on a different team, he could easily be the feature back as opposed to the supporting role he now plays. The rest of the Falcons offense is just kind of there. Passing isn't so important, but they do it. Maybe because they feel they have to. On the other side of the ball, Atlanta has looked impressive at times and bland at others. One player to watch for in particular is linebacker Demorrio Williams. He has had some outstanding games this year and should warrant some consideration for the Pro Bowl. The overall feeling is that the Bears should beat the Falcons. No, they will beat the Falcons.

Five: Are you listening to us yet?
Exciting news from the Bears in Five team, we have been asked to host an internet radio show. will be its new home on the web. Let's be honest, we know you just can't get enough. Instead of just once a week, you'll get us all the time. And the news just keeps getting better; this is a year-round show to feed all of your Bears cravings. And as an added bonus, you get to hear our beautiful man voices. Also, Ramsin eats Skittles.


Bulls in Five -
by Jason Maslanka on vacation.

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About the Author(s)

Craig Aichele, Ramsin Canon and friends are not really friends but rather fierce competitors on the fantasy gridiron. They meet weekly to embarass each other with random football trivia at the Noble Street League HQ. This is where they write their column. Craig knows where every professional athlete went to college, and in some cases the names of their roommates. Creepy. Send comments to

Jason Maslanka began his fandom of the Chicago Bulls in June of 1991, conveniently coinciding with the franchise's first championship. The years since the championships tested his fandom, but it never faltered. He believes that the NBA is more than dunks and hip hop, and that the NBA dress code is a good thing. He thinks most fans don't really understand basketball, and if they did, they'd love it even more. He knows that there are certain players who do the little things for no praise, and stat-mongers who don't really do anything to help their team win. Every week, he plans to execute a beautifully crafted column containing five points you should be thinking about and discussing as a Bulls and NBA fan. Send comments, questions, and arguments to

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