The Bears most recent loss at Nashville to the Tennessee Titans underscored a reality this team must face. A pretty good defense and a mediocre offense at best.
The final score of 24-17 was hardly indicative of the wide gulf between the two teams. The Bears were shut out for three quarters. Even though Nick Foles put up 335 yard of passing offense, it was all in a futile effort to play catch up. By contrast, the anemic run game notched a mere 56 yards on the ground. Chicago is 30th in the league in rushing.
Why is that?
Primarily due to the troubles on the offensive line. This group just hasn’t been a force since Kyle Long was injured last year, and subsequently had to retire. Starting center Cody Whitehair got hurt. Then he got Covid. The offensive line has become a revolving door of players from the practice squad. Mistakes and penalties in crucial situations have been costly. Says coach Matt Nagy, “We have a fourth and one. And we have a penalty. Now it’s fourth and six, and now we have another penalty. You just can’t have those. Why is that happening? That’s where we need to make sure we’re holding each other accountable.”
At his Monday press conference Matt Nagy elaborated, “There’s a multitude of issues that we’re having. Where you get a little frustrated is, if there’s ten guys that are doing something the right way, and there’s one guy that’s not. That’s where we got to get that unison back. Understanding the effectiveness of a play or just staying within the platy sometimes. That’s really valuable, regardless of who the quarterback is, regardless of who the running back is, who’s catching the ball in the flat with a tight end. Really, when you look at this thing, this offense, When you stay within and you do that, it’s a pretty effective offense. So I think we have to make sure we continue trusting each other.”
Our greatest challenge is gonna be to make that we all stick together. That we all stay positive. As frustrating and upset and as angry that we all are. It would not be good if we went the other way. That’s where it’s our job as coaches and their jobs as players to stick together.– Matt Nagy
Nick Foles for his part continues to be optimistic. “We have to continue to keep working,” he says. “I don’t know what you expect me to say. Keep grinding. Keep figuring out what we want to do. How we want do it. That’s the only way to be. Quite frankly, we’re the ones in it. we’re the ones playing for the Chicago Bears, coaching for the Chicago Bears. It’s our responsibility to continue to work through this adversity. and figure out what it’s going to take to complete our team. We have the right people to do it. We just have to keep grinding, keep doing it, and staying positive throughout it.”
What are Nagy’s expectations for Foles? “We all need to raise our play where we’re at right now, and some of the injury bugs we’ve had. But that’s what every other team is going through as well. Our job as coaches and as players is to raise our game.Nick understands and knows that. The beauty of having him on this team is the experience that he has. I think one of his greatest strengths is handling adversity. I really do. We’re in that adverse situation as an offense where we are going to look to our leaders to be able step up and make big plays at big times.”
How much adversity can Foles handle? He isn’t very mobile. This is an era of the mobile quarterback. Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees are part of an old breed of aging players. The new crop of star QB’s like Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen can create more challenges for defense with their speed and mobility.
The only real option the Bears had with wheels at quarterback was Mitch Trubisky, and he hurt himself in a the only time he took a snap in the past few weeks. They went out and signed Kyle Sloter. He latched on to the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2017 and has since had pit stops with the Vikings, Cardinals and Lions. Sloter has yet to take a snap in an NFL game.
I’ll never question their effort. Never. But, there’s also an ability and and obligation for every player and every coach to make sure we’re teaching and executing as best we can.– Matt Nagy
What are other scribes saying?
RIck Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote on November 9th, “The offense is lacking a good quarterback, good play-calling, a good offensive line and good karma.The Bears almost NEVER have a decent offense. Go back for decades, and ugliness abounds. You can see it in the endless list of quarterbacks who have tried and failed in Chicago.At some point, you have to see the offensive badness not as a trend, an aberration or bad luck but as the philosophical underpinning of an entire organization. It’s who they are.”
Coaches are fond of saying after a loss. “I thought we had a really good week of practice.” If they lose, does that mean the other team had a better week of practice? This team keeps stressing that they have to work harder. At some point, management may have to come to the realization, that the 2020 Chicago Bears might not have the parts the need to take things to the next level.