Football

If Super Bowl rings were given out for pre-game hoopla, over the top predictions, and general meatheadedness, the Bears wouldn’t have needed to play another game this year – “Crown they ass” tonight and have the parade tomorrow. But always remember, the hype is just that, hype. Once the game was finally kicked off, none of the peripherals mattered anymore, and this was truly unfortunate for the Bears.

In what was a harbinger of things to come, the Bears, a 3 ½ point home favorite, limped out of the gate offensively; Managing only 98 yards in the first half and looking like a unit that hadn’t had any preseason game action to get ready for actual, live, as real as it gets, fucking games. Somehow despite their impotent offense, the Bears were able to garner a 1st quarter lead with a Field Goal. Who would have believed that a 1st quarter, 38-yard Field Goal from Eddie Pineiro would be the beginning and the end of the Bears scoring output for the night?

After the Pineiro 3-pointer, the next promising Bears drive stalled out at midfield after Matt Nagy wanted to show everyone how creative he was and ran wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson up the center’s ass on 3rd & short for a loss. If we are going to sit around and talk about how creative Nagy is and how much fun it must be to play in his system, then we must recognize when he gets too cute for his own good. This was certainly one of those instances.

A great Pat O’Donnell punt was downed inside the 10, and the defense was back on the field, which at this point in the game, was the Bears best offense. Overall, the Bears were “who we thought they were,” which is damn dominant. The Packers offense managed only 213 yards, of which 47 yards came via the run. Even future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers was limited to 166 yards on 18-30 passing while being sacked 5 times. This is the beautiful thing about this Bears team; the defense can keep them in every game, even as the offense is still a work in progress.

Thankfully for my eyes, a very boring and borderline unwatchable first half ended on a stalled Bears drive and a failed Packer Hail Mary. At this point, the game almost had a pre-season feel to it; penalties and mistakes everywhere, missed assignments, and general fuckery overall.

The 2nd half started with more of the same from Trubisky and the offense; another 3 & Out. At this point, the game felt like Trubisky wasn’t exactly struggling, there was just has not any room for him or the running game to operate. The general lack of offensive success that we saw throughout this game was more a byproduct of a much-improved Packers defense than it was of poor execution on the offensive side of the ball.

But then suddenly, and finally, things changed. With about 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, something clicked in the passing game and the offense was able to establish some momentum. Trubisky hit on a few medium/deep balls (which he has struggled with his entire career) and even though the next two drives stalled out due to penalties, some continuity was finally taking place on the offensive side of the ball. Another reason to be positive at this point was that, despite being 1-11 on 3rd down, the Bears were only down by 4 points with 9:00 remaining in the 4th quarter.

A short Mason Crosby Field Goal extended Green Bay’s lead to 7 with 5:00 remaining, and soon thereafter, we reached the seasons first tipping point: facing a 3rd & 10, Trubisky found Allen Robinson for a first down inside the Packers 30-yard line. As this impressive 13 play drive continued, was it improbable to think that, even though the Bears have scored 3 points in 55 minutes, they would tie this thing up? Hopes were quickly dashed and we got our answer immediately thereafter as Mitch Trubisky hung up a corner route and was picked off by former Bear Adrian Amos to essentially end the game.

The electricity of one of the most anticipated season openers in team history had now become a deafening silence. This wasn’t just another regular season opener, it felt different, it seemed to mean more.

In the end, the Bears lost.

To the Packers.

At Soldier Field.

On their 100th anniversary.

This one stings.

It’s extremely hard to come up with any concrete takeaways after the first game of the season, however, there are a few things to question and/or consider:
• It’s fair to blame the offensive struggles on simply being out of sync, but at what point in the game or the season can we stop making excuses for a Bears offense that was average (at best) last year and flat out mediocre tonight?

• All I heard all week is how old Jimmy Graham is and how he’s a shell of his former self. Well, I’d take this dude over any Tight End on the Bears roster. Not only was he a great red zone target tonight, he was arguably the only Packers receiver who had the ability to stretch the field.

• The number of flags and stoppages kept this game from having any flow to it whatsoever. Add this to what was a very inefficient offensive performance by both teams, and it was a shitshow from a viewing perspective.

• Allen Robinson sneaky had a 100-yard receiving game; none more important than that drive saving catch on 3rd & 10 late in the game. His 13 targets were a game high.

• Anthony Miller did not produce a single catch while only being targeted 1 time. If the Bears want to be successful this year, this has got to change.

• Tarik Cohen and I had the same amount of rushing attempts and rushing yards tonight. When you talk so much about making it a priority to get this guy the ball, why is it that he so often disappears?

Football

Do you hear anything? No? Me either. No noise. No torches and pitchforks. No jobs on the line (yet). It’s pretty boring around here.

Usually in late July we’re all too eager here in Chicago to begin HOT TAKE SZN surrounding the Bears and the NFL. This July, though, feels different. Is everyone just happy to banter about the Cubs division chase and Sox future potential? No, we’ve been doing that every July since 2015. The NBA had a pretty big summer, but the Bulls largely sat that out and everyone is just content they MIGHT make a surprise run at the 8-seed in the East. Hawks prospect camp and convention?? OK, I’m done.

So with nothing new or exciting going on in major sports around the city, why is this late July so different? The Bears, coming off their first playoff appearance since 2010 and second in the last 13 years, have had the quietest offseason in about as long. No new head coach/GM/Front Office personnel. No major signings/high draft picks. Hardly any turnover on the roster/staff, and no real starting positions up for the taking. GM Ryan Pace didn’t even get to make a draft pick until the third day, and there’s been little discussion about the his team or the impending camp since.

The biggest offseason story? Kickers. Cody Parkey long fired into the sun, the talk of both mini-camp and now training camp is the kicking sideshow. Each day’s camp breakdown thus far has started with the accuracy for that day’s kicker; Elliot Fry is 17 of 20 so far! He’s hit from 60 and banged in from 48 and 51 in the driving rain! Eddie Pineiro hit from 63 after doing his best 80s macho movie hunk routine – after his coaches asked him to try from 60 he replied “nah, how ’bout 63”! Suh gnarly, broseph.

The crowds are another HOT story coming out of Bourbonnais. Attendance day one? OVER 8,000!!! Videos tweeted of fans LIGHTLY JOGGING to get front row standing room to see the Midway Monsters strap on the pads and paw at each other! Whoa, did you see that 50-yard bomb from Mitch to Gabriel?? Kahlil Mack and Eddie Jackson are sooooo goood OMFG!!!! I mean, it’s great to see the guys you want to excel succeed in practice, but that’s the bar here, no? To be as good as advertised?

This shit is BORING. But boring doesn’t really mean bad. Consider:

-There was one major coaching change in the offseason, but not the normal refrain of a deficiency in some area. Vic Fangio left to go be the head coach in Denver because his defense was so amazing (while the rest of the team was total ass for most of his tenure). The ensuing hire? Chuck Pagano, a highly regarded defensive mind in his own right that mostly just needs to keep the ship on course. There also are no ‘hot’ seats to speak of at the moment. Weird.

-The players lost to free agency were seen as priced out of their worth at Halas Hall and nary a tear was shed for Adrian Amos or Bryce Callahan. The replacements and other new signings were mostly budget buys met with a collective “meh”.  HaHa Clinton-Dix and Buster Skine swap in for Amos and Callahan. Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson are here to do something in the backfield. Great, fine. I bet you didn’t even know they signed Ted Larson, again, for O-Line depth or Marvin Hall and Peter Williams. Only one of those guys is made up, but I’m guessing you have to look it up to tell me which one.

-The draft was pretty uneventful as well, unless you count trading up 14 or so spots in the 3rd round “eventful”. Sure, they got their GUY at running back in David Montgomery, or so they’ll tell anything with ears. Even he hasn’t generated much buzz since the draft, a soft spoken type that just does his work and stays quiet off the field. Booooooring. The rest of the draft was all lottery tickets and undrafted free agents because Pace only had five picks to work with. They got a Ridley? No, not the one from Alabama.

-There aren’t any big injuries to get all worked up about, either. Adam Shaheen hasn’t practiced in two days, but that’s basically his whole bag of tricks since being wildly overdrafted three years ago. Someone named Emmanuel Hall is recovering from groin surgery. HaHa is on the PUP list, rehabbing a lower body injury but expected back before too long. Whatever.

So this late July, the start to camp is boring. Embrace the boring, it means that most of us are looking forward to September and could give a shit about what happens between now and then. We don’t even get another open practice for a few days; the team has a shorter, closed practice today and is off Wednesday. There’s a preseason game a week after that, so maybe by the weekend we’ll start to get some real battles for the edge of the roster. Those are the positions that help to define serious championship contending NFL teams from the dregs they beat up.

Boring kinda sucks, but we’ll take it after the last decade worth of summers overstuffed with tough questions. Wait and see how these jokers fighting for their NFL lives fair in game reps in a week or so. If you need your fix the rest of this first week, keep refreshing that twitter account of your favorite beat writer to see where Steady Eddie P tells coach he’s spotting his next kick. HOOOOO BABYYYYY!

@WFrenchman on Twitter