Football

That about sums it up.

I’ve said it before, but just to reiterate, I’m hardly a football expert. Just a Bears fan who’s as frustrated and disappointed as you are. Tonight was ugly, as ugly as it’s been, because other than the Saints game the Bears have been in every one and just missed here and there to lose. This was being outclassed, which hurts as a fan more than anything.

What makes it far worse is the lazy-ass narratives that come out of it. Yeah, we know Mahomes was taken 10th and Trubisky 2nd. This is such an easy branch to reach for when someone wants to sound right and profound. It’s over now. And it’s not fair to use that to judge Trubisky. To judge Ryan Pace? Absolutely, and it will almost certainly be his defining moment, probably for worse. But you have to keep those separate.

That doesn’t mean Mitch should be absolved. He was bad tonight, but so was everything. The gameplan sucked. So did the o-line. The defense was kind of helpless. We could do this all day. And those things have happened far too often this season.

I know everything now has recency bias, especially in the NFL where things change so much from year to year. But we’re still only 12 months removed from probably the most fun Bears team of our lifetimes (depending on how old you are). No one wanted anybody fired or cut then. It can’t be completely negated. Now, other than Allen Robinson no one has taken a step forward, and that team is basically still here. Is that on Pace? Maybe, maybe that’s everyone’s ceiling. Or is that on Nagy? Combination thereof?

If the Bears lose next week, their two-year record will be 19-13. That hardly seems like a fireable record. Remember, this team punted Lovie Smith after a three-year stretch of 29-19, and that sent them on a five-year spin-cycle of idiocy. You have to be careful on these things.

Also some history. Remember that John Fox was forced on Ryan Pace after he was hired, and he had to tailor a team to that idiot. That doesn’t mean those three years should be completely erased from the records or the evaluation, but weighted less heavily than you might normally. Again, when he’s had the run of the place, 19-13. And to repeat myself, that only means that next year is the make-or-break for everyone.

As I’ve said, the ship of Mitch being great has sailed. But I don’t see that we have to give up on good, though it seems a readily available thing to reach for right now. He missed Allen Robinson on a deep throw that could have started this game on a different note. And it’s another in the category of throws the Bears had to have, as I’ve catalogued. Hit those five throws, and the Bears probably have 10 wins right now. At least nine for sure. And if Mitch is never going to be that guy who hits those throws, and he might never be, well then it’s time to move on.

But fuck, Josh Allen is a playoff QB. So’s Kirk Cousins. So’s Carson Wentz. A year ago, you wouldn’t have swapped any of them in here. All that means is everyone gets one more spin. Matt Nagy isn’t solely responsible for the mess that Mitch is now, but he’s got a hand. A big one. Can he accent what Mitch does well next year? Is there anything? We’ll find out, because there aren’t many other options. You want to ride on the Andy Dalton merry-go-round? That’ll land you with y0ur dick in the dirt as well.

It sucks, because that team last year was so much fun and this one has been such a goddamn drag and you can’t remove the emotion out of it when it comes to the Bears. Especially when they’ve pretty much been a calamity for most of our lives. It’s beyond old at this point.

But we can do better than lazy. At least we’re going to try.

Football

And farther down we go…is there anything to be gleaned by the brief spasm of competence in the second half? Or should all focus be on the Wannstedt Era like first half?

Brian Schmitz (@_BrianSchmitz): I really liked seeing Mitch move around, that seemed to make a difference and resembled 2018 Mitch, which was my favorite Mitch. I have no idea why, but I’m not convinced this team is done. I don’t like this team or organization so it’s not that I am being bias, I just think there is too much talent on defense for this team to roll over and die.

Wes French (@WFrenchman): The first half was worse than any Dowell Loggins era half in recorded history. Mitch had an expected completion percentage around 68%, but was actually only accurate on 47% of his throws. The defense has given up an average of 2.4 10+ play drives/gm after only giving them up at a 1.6/gm clip last year.

The offense can’t really move the ball, the defense can’t get off the field on third down. the couldn’t even field the final kickoff cleanly to give us what was sure to be a game ending sack or turnover from Mitch.  I am convinced this team is done. We saw nothing new, we heard the same excuses, we got the same results we’ve been getting all year. This team is not bad, but it’s poorly coached and the QB is regressing. The schedule only gets tougher from here, and this upcoming week against the Lions could be a masterclass in awful coaching.
Can’t wait.
The Bears actually had me thinking they might fuck around and come all the way back to claim the kind of win that can help turn an uneven season around. Then they stalled at midfield, punting the ball back to the Eagles with just under 9 minutes to play, pinning them at their own 11. What happened next was a lesson in how to grind a game to the end, as Philadelphia went SIXTEEN PLAYS and 69 yards while eating up all but 29 seconds of game time and kicking the FG that would put them on top with the 22-14 final.

That drive killed me. I hate the Bears.
What do we make of this defense? Yes, probably overworked, but had a chance the past couple weeks to make definitive stops and didn’t do it? Is it simply Hicks not being there or something more?
Brian: I still feel like they are one of the premiere units in the league; but the results are saying otherwise. The shitty part of this entire equation is that the secondary continues to improve and is playing at a very high level. Once Hicks returns, they will be as good as ever; but I’m just not sure it matters how great they are. Chuck Pagano is fine. He simply oversees the operation. Nothing he has or hasn’t done has effected the way this unit plays.
Tony Martin (@MrMartinBruh): They haven’t forced turnovers this year to the extent that gave the offense short fields and as a result gave them the lead with which they could take more risks which results in more turnovers. It’s a huge ugly cycle.
Wes: I’m not sure I’m ready to give Pagano a pass. A recurring thing is NOT being able to get off the field to either close out a game or get the ball back to have a chance to win or tie. The personnel seems fine, but the QB pressures have been down since week 2-3, starting with the London game. The same game where a bad penalty led to a 4th down conversion and ultimately the game winning TD for Oakland. Even the Week 2 win in Denver saw the defense unable to make a stop, setting up the dramatic walk-off FG.  Getting off the field to end the game has been a major problem all season, and that has to fall at someone’s feet…
Looking forward, they do have the Lions twice and the Giants in the next month. Any hope?
Wes: I don’t think it’s a matter of WHO they play. They should definitely beat both teams and come away with three wins, but is anyone really that optimistic after that first half we all just saw? Mitch is STILL routinely missing wide open throws from clean pockets. Maybe the defense can’t get off the field because they’re so gassed from playing 40 minutes a week. Nagy needs to take more responsibility, but at this point I’m finally handing in my Mitch hype team membership. I decided to jump in feet first after the pick was made because why the hell not, but this has been a disaster. Whatever they’re working on week to week, it’s not helping. He’s not a starting calibur QB in the NFL, and that right there has a lot to do with why this team is 3-5 and not 5-3 or 6-2.

Call me jaded or whatever, but I just don’t believe this team is capable of doing enough well, on a consistent basis, to say “yea, the upcoming schedule puts them back into it.” They should’ve beaten Oak/LAC, and without those wins the games against Det/NYG can only get them to .500 before the final stretch of Dal/GB/KC/Min.
Brian: The Lions and Giants are looking at the Bears on the schedule and thinking they have a chance.
Football

Hello! This is something I did at FanSided last year. But Fansided is dumb and evil, so I’m bringing it to you, the people. It’s not mean to be serious, because you shouldn’t take the NFL and the Bears seriously.

You Can Only Get Away With A Backup Defensive Line For So Long

For one week, the Bears rolled in backups, beer vendors, and a couple janitors into the rotation against the Vikings and they were all getting to pose behind the line after making a play. They didn’t need Akiem Hicks or Bilal Nichols that week, and you wondered if they were just unearthing people like Sarumon and the Urukai. But there’s a reason Hicks is an All-Pro level player, and you’re supposed to struggle to replace him. Trying to do it for a second straight week showed that.

Without Hicks, the Raiders seemed to figure out they could throw multiple people at Khalil Mack and Eddie Goldman, and no one else was going to be able to make them stop. And that’s how it proved. We’re doing the Leonard Floyd early-season thing, where we wonder why he isn’t running wild when only facing one guy. Backups proved to be backups. It’s football, injuries happen, and they determine a lot of what will happen in January. It went well for the Bears last year, which is why it still feels like such a missed opportunity.

If Hicks’s elbow suddenly putting up a carnival tent inside his skin keeps him out long-term, it’s a huge problem. Especially for however long Nichols is out along with it. Once you get your backups on film, you give everyone a chance to see what they can and can’t do. The Raiders and Jon Gruden pretty quickly figured out what they couldn’t. At least the Bears will know what’s coming.

You Can Only Get Away With Your Backup QB For So Long

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, because we did this last year. Chase Daniel gets you out of the Thanksgiving game, as backup QBs are kind of designed to do. Get you out of a game. One. Two is pushing it. So the next week, Daniel made enough plays to keep the Bears in it against the Giants when the defense took the week off, but he also made enough plays to get you beat. He got you out of the Vikings game. Here comes a second straight game with him behind center, and boy didn’t it look the same? Enough plays to give you the lead, enough plays that put you in that hole to begin with and then lost you the game. That’s kind of what a non-starting QB in the NFL looks like. There’s a reason every rule is meant to protect starting quarterbacks. Your season is fucked if they get hurt.

There were two sacks at least that were from Daniel holding the ball too long, possibly because he’s not much taller than a fire hydrant. In more Rex Grossman comparisons, he has a nasty habit of running straight backwards when under pressure instead of stepping up, possibly because stepping up into the pocket would cut off his vision even more. He should have had three INTs, got bailed out by a roughing-the-passer call for one (and game-changing penalties appear to just be things that are going to happen every week). The other two were bad.

He didn’t get much help. It went a touch overlooked in the buildup to the season, but the Bears couldn’t really run the ball last year. We pinned it on Jordan Howard or Matt Nagy’s over-creative nature, but there weren’t many places for Howard to run. We wanted to think the more explosive and elusive David Montgomery and another year of Nagy’s schemes would get around it. Yeah, well, Kyle Long is made of more spare parts than the car they give Matt Damon at the end of “Good Will Hunting.” Charles Leno was doing his own version of Hamilton out there, and has been. Again, switching Whitehair and James Daniels…was that really so clean?

The difference in football is that you can’t solve it from outside the organization. In the other three sports, if your right fielder can’t hit or your second-line left-winger gets hurt or you need a new small forward, there’s a trade deadline for that. Football doesn’t work that way. How do you solve this internally though?

Everyone Is An Expert On Jet Lag Now

This was an argument making the rounds right around the second quarter, and it was the Bears decision to fly out to London on Thursday evening, arriving Friday morning. What it ignored was that the last time the Bears had to do this, they thwacked the Buccaneers after flying out on Thursday. Most teams fly out on the Thursday. They get a plane you and I will never see. They have experts on this we don’t. They weren’t attempting to sleep in a coach seat next to the smelly guy while sitting up. It’s fine. Whatever. They lost because they got their ass whipped, not because they were groggy. Shut up.