The Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs, for better or worse, have many parallels, starting with the obvious connection between Patrick Mahomes and Mitchell Trubisky, two quarterbacks taken in the same draft class who have veered into completely different careers.
Matt Nagy, a former Chiefs protege, was hired as the Bears coach before the 2018 season to do what he and Andy Reid had done with Mahomes; what Mahomes would be was not yet known, but the buzz had built around the quarterback taken eight spots after Trubisky. Nagy was to do the same with Trubisky and turn him into the Bears’ perpetually-sought-after franchise quarterback.
But even beyond the QB-head coach relationship, the Bears seemed to replicate the Chiefs at a granular personnel level. Tarik Cohen, though drafted into the John Fox-regime, could be a do-everything receiver/running back that Tyreek Hill was often used as, just not as fast. Taylor Gabriel added speed to the Bears offense, a staple of how the Chiefs had operated since Reid arrived. Kareem Hunt’s electrifying versatility when he was on the Chiefs was seen in David Montgomery when the Bears traded up to draft him. And Trey Burton was signed to be the Bears’ Travis Kelce. Throw in Allen Robinson plus a defense on the rise, and the pieces were in place for the Bears to get to the level of the Chiefs.
Sunday night, though, showed just how short that plan has fallen. The Chiefs thoroughly outplayed a Bears team that only had pride to play for. Trubisky once again struggled while his Chiefs counterpart reminded everyone how special he is, throwing for 251 yards and two touchdowns while rushing in for another. Mahomes averaged 7.6 yards per attempt compared to Trubisky’s 4.6. While Trey Burton remained sidelined, continuing his disappointing season, Kelce caught eight balls for 74 yards and a touchdown. The ground game for the Bears had at least some life with Montgomery’s 4.4 yards per carry, but the hole the Bears were in was too vast to run it more than 13 times.
“We thought they were going to come in and run the ball,” Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “And keep the ball out of Pat’s hands. I think defensively, we are taking great pride in getting other teams to kind of play our game.”
Most importantly, when the final whistle blew, Soldier Field was laden with bright red and the Bears were 7-8 after a 26-3 loss.
“It’s tough,” safety Eddie Jackson said in the locker room. “It’s our last home game, primetime. It’s embarrassing. We wanted to get the win, but unfortunately, we came up short. Guys kept fighting though, which is always a good sign, but it’s still embarrassing.”
The Bears had costly mistakes, starting on the first drive when Anthony Miller fumbled on a reverse that set the Bears back 10 yards. After a rare stop in the second quarter, the Bears were called for running into the kicker to keep the Chiefs drive alive, leading to a touchdown. Mitchell Trubisky was sacked on a 3rd and 10 in the fourth quarter and the Bears were faced with 4th and 23 (They didn’t convert if you were wondering).
“Could be a bunch of things,” Trubisky said. “Just bad execution, not locked in, just overall just not doing our jobs. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve just got to dig deeper and find a way to finish strong.”
“You know, you hope that [the focus is] there, but I think with focus comes — if there’s not focus, then there’s some sloppiness, and I felt like that kind of matched up a little bit. That’s the part — none of its effort. It’s different than focus.”
The Bears were undisciplined and simply not as good as the Chiefs on Sunday. It’s happened multiple times this season when it is clear the Bears are not the contender we thought they were, and now they have only one more chance to finish .500. Trubisky throwing for 153 yards, as he did on Sunday, would never be enough for the Bears to be serious contenders. Scoring only a field goal against a true contender is not what we thought would happen before the season started.
If there’s anything to take away though, it’s what Prince Amukamara said about Nagy:
“My view was like, ‘I want Coach Nagy to finish with 500 or better.’ He doesn’t know about that and he hasn’t talked about that but as a team we want that for our coach.”Prince Amukamara
If Amukamara’s word is true, the Bears are a team that still believes in their head coach. The kiss of death is a locker room that turns on their coach, and Nagy has kept them together in spite of an extremely disappointing season. A re-tooling is in order, but rebuilding a locker room culture won’t be on the Bears’ list of priorities this offseason.
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