The Bears are a mess. They’re 3-5, have lost their lost four in a row and, after a 22-14 loss to the Eagles, their season is likely over. A year filled with so much hope and potential appears to have been wasted.
The best-case scenario for the Bears was a defense that repeated last year’s success and an offense that took a step forward, from below average to above average. The worst-case scenario was the defense taking a step back and the offense repeating last season’s performance. It turns out, the offense got worse. The defense, predictably, is not as dominant as last year, but the regression on offense has simply buried the Bears. On a yards per game basis, they are 29th in the NFL, compared to their 21st ranking last season. The defense led the NFL in DVOA last season but has slipped to seventh this season. The result is a 3-5 football team left that is scrambling for answers they aren’t likely to find.
Once again, Mitch Trubisky struggled, going 10-21 for 125 yards. The Bears offense mustered only 164 total yards (that’s correct), not getting a first down until 48 seconds left in the half. The Eagles offense dominated the time of possession, 40:18 to the Bears’ 19:42, and had 373 total yards.
“Just really, really sloppy. Extremely sloppy. I don’t know how many drives there were in [the first half], but I feel like a lot of them were negative plays on first down.”Matt Nagy after the game Sunday
He later added, “We had a lot of three-and-outs early on. We were trying to get in a rhythm, get the run game going, then some play action. We thought we had one down the sideline with [Bears WR Allen Robinson], and I think his second foot was just out of bounds. They have a great scheme upfront with some of the things they did. We just didn’t have a lot of plays in that first half.”
Of the five possessions the Bears had in the first half, three were negative plays on first down. That kind of performance sets your offense back right from the get-go and makes it that much more difficult to move the chains.
“Some of that’s football, that’s going to happen, you’re going to have those negative plays sometimes. What you can’t do is you can’t have them repeatedly.”Matt Nagy on Monday
The Bears defense continued a worrying trend, allowing 146 rushing yards, the third time in the last four games they’ve allowed over 100 yards on the ground. Perhaps it’s fatigue resulting in an offense that can’t stay on the field, but it’s still been a major struggle for a defense that bottled up opposing running backs all season last year.
“I just did a little more talking than I usually do,” Eagles running back Jordan Howard, who had 82 yards and a touchdown against his former team, said Sunday. “There was a little back-and-forth with the guys. Everything else was normal. It was definitely a little strange, because I didn’t really go against them that much in practice. They never really tackled me.”
“Adversity shows you who you are. It shows you who everyone else is around you as well. So it’s one of those things to put behind you and get ready for the next one.”-Khalil Mack
The second half was somewhat an improvement on the nine net yards the Bears gained in the first half, but that is to look at this game with rose-tinted glasses. Being competent for only one half of football is not enough to get it done, and Sunday proved that to be. David Montgomery’s two touchdowns and Trubisky’s bomb to Taylor Gabriel down the sidelines are great to see, but not as an anomaly.
This may be a game the Bears would have won last season. The offense didn’t start to roll until late in the game, but a defense as locked-in as last season maybe makes that comeback more likely. Unfortunately, the sort of domination the Bears defense played with last season just isn’t sustainable year-to-year.
“It’s not playing up to what we know we are capable of,” Trubisky said. “It’s making simple mistakes. It’s getting out-executed [and] getting outplayed when we know we are capable of much more, when we know we have more inside of us, [and] when we know we are talented but we are still coming up short. There is a lot of really simple things that we did last year [and] that we do in practice that on game day we are coming up short.
What else is there to say? It seems it’s been the same story every week, as the Bears are on a crash-course for another quarterback, their window of contention seeming to close with growing rapidity.
“It just sucks to lose like that,” Gabriel said. “To top it off, to lose like that last week, so it’s two weeks of having a chance to win and coming up with losses is hard. It is heart-breaking and crushing to this locker room because we grind and work so hard during the week with each other, so it is tough to see my brothers walking around here with their heads down.”
Will there be a quarterback change? It’s hard to predict. Nagy and the Bears have firmly stood by their quarterback, as they are wont to do. But at some point, with the offense as anemic as it has been, it becomes hard to tell your locker room that you are doing everything you can to win. Don’t get it twisted, Daniel won’t come in and save the season. But the Bears flipped over every stone to answer their kicking problems. Will they flip over this stone?
Twitter: @crbevins11 @radiomogul