Across The Middle: Fox & Co. Officially on the Hot Seat

| October 11th, 2017

Forget, if you can, the clown show on first quarter fourth down in which the Bears were going for it, then they weren’t, then they did, only to have a delay of game. After another game with so many of the same mistakes, it’s hard to have confidence that John Fox is the guy to get the Bears back on track.

Fox’s teams are often ill-prepared and rarely disciplined. That has been a constant since late in the coach’s tenure with the Panthers. His teams commit back-breaking penalties and awful turnovers. Game after game. They never get it right. But even with these fatal flaws, Fox has still won a lot of games. Primarily because he is very good at building talented rosters.

What is truly disheartening is what we saw from Dowell Loggains.

I’ve praised the Bears offensive coordinator’s work with the likes of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. The game he called Monday night with Trubisky was predictable and displayed a lack of understanding his opponent.

The Bears started 7 of their first 10 drives in jumbo formations and proceeded to run the ball. The Vikings were all over it as (a) none of the runs went for more than seven yards and (b) only two went for more than five. This left them in obvious passing downs for most of the game. They couldn’t win like that against a defense as good as Minnesota’s with any quarterback, much less a rookie making his debut.

I know he was going against a good defense and calling plays without good receivers isn’t easy. But we saw Pat Shurmur move the ball against the Bears defense in the second half without his quarterback, running back or best receiver. Loggains has to know how to use the weapons he has — and with guys like Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Zach Miller, the cupboard isn’t nearly as bare as some make it seem.

Fox is going to be done as a coach soon. But this 12-game stretch with Trubisky is the most important of Loggains’ life. He has to find a way to at least move the ball. This was a rough start.

Falling on the Sword

Perhaps the biggest contrast between Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky is accountability and, by all accounts, that was huge in the locker room after the game. The rookie shouldn’t be the more mature, responsible one, but he was. He took blame for everything that went wrong, a contrast from Glennon who often cited shared blame for his mistakes.

It’s a little thing, but it’s the little things that make teams respect a leader.

That said, he absolutely, positively can not throw that interception. Rookie or not, that was as horrendous a decision as you will see. It was first down in a tie game, a turnover guarantees a loss. It can’t happen. Now, he needs to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Witholding Judgement

It’s been popular to say the Bears need new receivers after they played one of the best defenses in the league but I want to see the guys they have in a better position to succeed. These receivers obviously aren’t good, but no team can lose their top two receivers and still put a good group out there. The question is if they’re capable and I don’t think we have an answer for that right now.

If anybody expected this ragtag group of receivers to win regularly against one of the best defenses in the league, they were expecting too much. Markus Wheaton isn’t going to win against Xavier Rhodes. Even the best receivers don’t beat him often.

That said, they will need to show the ability to make plays at some point. I liked what I saw from Tre McBride in his first extensive action. I’ll be interested to see Wheaton going forward with Trubisky and I think the Bears really need to play their best receiver — Kendall Wright — more than half the snaps.

In Wright and Wheaton, the Bears have receivers who have had success in the league. Neither should be the best receiver on a team, but they can both contribute to a good team. They just aren’t going to beat a secondary like Minnesota’s.

There’s no question that it’s a position they’ll need to attack again in the offseason, but, for now, this is what they have to work with. All-22 camera angles showed they won at times in previous games. If they can do that going forward, I think the Bears will have success.

Bring on the Ravens

If what we’ve seen early in the season holds true this week, this could be a mismatch.

The Bears have turned the ball over more than all but one team. The Ravens have taken the ball away more than all but one team. Is there any real reason to think either of those trends are going to end?

Baltimore’s defense is solid. They’re only 16th in yardage, but 10th in scoring, largely because they have nine interceptions. The Bears might be stingier in terms of yardage, but they can’t take the ball away and are 25th in points allowed.

If ever the Bears were going to intercept a pass, this would be the week. Joe Flacco has been picked on more than four percent of his passes. The questions about Flacco’s eliteness seem to be way in the past. I’m not even sure he’s a serviceable starter.

If the Bears can bottle up the Ravens rushing attack, they should be able to stop them.

But the Bears offense isn’t going to move the ball the length of the field against this defense. They need takeaways. And, just as importantly, they need to protect the ball. So far, they haven’t shown they can do either. Until they do, they just aren’t going to fare well against good teams.

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