I always like the Chicago Bears.
And 2021 is almost at its conclusion. Why harbor negative feelings?
This is the part of the game preview where I try to find an overarching theme for the contest. But Sunday is one tough tamale.
The Bears are too banged up on defense to find relevance there. (What even is this defense without Mack, Roquan and Hicks?)
Without Justin Fields playing – and he shouldn’t play until he’s 100% healthy – there’s little relevant happening on the offensive side of the ball. You want to get excited about Larry Borom and Darnell Mooney? That’s fine. But those two guys are going to be part of the program next season. Their next “important” game is in September.
So, what is worth watching? The score. The Bears have to keep this game close and competitive because if they don’t Soldier Field is going to a nightmare. The fans have had enough of the coach and they want blood. If the score gets out of hand in the second half, the only audible things on the telecast are going to be “Fire Nagy” chants. And those chants will be leading everyone’s game stories.
The Bears need to stay in this game and have a plausible chance to win in the fourth quarter. Will they?
There will be plenty of time for me to write thoroughly about what Stephen Sondheim’s life and career means to me. But the world is currently flooded with those types of remembrances. As time moves along, and there’s distance from his passing, I will spend some more time with this difficult topic. For now, I’m sharing ten songs that display his genius in this form I love – musical theatre. They are ranked because I like ranking things. But the rankings are meaningless.
(10) Someone in a Tree, Pacific Overtures
(09) Comedy Tonight, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
(08) Losing My Mind, Follies
While “Fire Nagy” chants fill even the smallest stadiums in Illinois, the Chicago Bears are doing the right thing by giving their coach at least a chance to fight for his job. Had the Bears lost to the Detroit Lions, that story would be different.
Perhaps it can be argued that a last-second win over the worst team in the league shouldn’t matter, but keep in mind that the Ravens, Browns and Vikings were also taken to the wire by Detroit, with several of them deserving to lose. There’s no such thing as a bad win, especially when draft status is not impacted.
Thanksgiving’s victory isn’t likely going to mean anything, but giving Nagy a chance to dig out of this hole will surely look good to candidates interested being his replacement. (Firing Nagy mid-season, a year after making the playoffs, might turn off some candidates.) Since there would be no actual benefit to firing Nagy right now, why risk eliminating any potential replacements? Especially considering the most interesting rumor involves one of Nagy’s good friends, Ryan Day. While the Bears being “in the hunt” is a punch line today, it might not be a week from now.
Sunday, the Bears face a team from the southwest, at noon, on what is expected to be a cold and rainy day. Nobody likes the term “Bear weather,” but there have been plenty of warm-weather teams who have struggled to deal with it over the years. The Cardinals are very good, but they’re young, wounded and have their own coaching distraction to worry about. Likely working for a contract extension, Kliff Kingsbury didn’t even shoot down the rumors about Oklahoma.
The Cardinals have a top-10 offense and defense, but if ever there was a chance for a massive upset, this is it.
It’s likely going to take nine wins to make the playoffs, and if the Bears win Sunday that won’t be as far-fetched as many believe, especially if the team can get back to running the ball and playing defense like they did earlier in the year. (They’ll also need their young quarterback to replicate his Pittsburgh performance a few times down the stretch.)
The most likely scenario is a loss for the Bears — probably even an ugly one. That coupled with a sure loss to Green Bay next week will seal Nagy’s fate. The Bears will be out of the playoff hunt and can move on from Nagy with time to interview coaches before the end of the season, thanks to a recent rule change.
Fans can hate Nagy all they want, but those looking at the job from a distance will look positively on two playoff appearances in two years. They may see things they think they could do better, but nobody will paint the picture fans have of Nagy matching the incompetence of John Fox and Marc Trestman. They’ll see a coach who made the playoffs with horrible quarterback play and they’ll know how difficult that is to accomplish. They also know what all coaches know: If you don’t win enough, you won’t have a job for long.
Nagy is still a winning coach and has dug out of holes before. The Bears have nothing to lose by giving him the opportunity to do so again.
In many ways it’s a great time to be a Bears fan, but a lot of us aren’t feeling entirely joyful. Through three games I find myself filled with a mix of optimism and frustration. I’m also annoyed by my own frustration because last year I would’ve killed for the Bears to be where they are now.
So what’s my problem?
Chicago is 2-1 and in first place in the NFC North. That’s great! They have an elite, lights out, game-changing, championship-winning caliber defense. That’s great, too!
They also have an offense that is struggling, and no one is struggling more than the future of the franchise, Mitch Trubisky. Or as Adam Hoge said on the latest Hoge & Jahns podcast while recapping Sunday’s game, “the defense looked like it could win a Super Bowl, the offense looked like it didn’t belong in the NFL.”
That’s… not so great.
Shortly after the Bears 16-14 win I got on Twitter and posted five initial thoughts about the game and where the team is at this point in the season:
Three days later, and I feel the same way. The Bears are in a good position, regardless of how the offense has struggled, and I still believe that Trubisky will get better as the season progresses. And yet, the frustration lingers for two main reasons:
It’s dangerous to make any grand proclamations three weeks into a season. But the Bears win over the Cardinals was a great indicator that, at the very least, they don’t suck.
Whether they’re actually good or not is still to be decided. While it was widely regarded as a game the Bears should win, winning in the NFL is difficult, especially for a young team flying nearly across the country on a short week. Travel difficulties are very real in the NFL. We see even the best teams struggle with them. This was a schedule test, one the Bears passed.
The offense is horrendous.
There’s no arguing that.
But the defense is incredible.
Khalil Mack isn’t just great, he’s a generational talent. The other big addition, Roquan Smith, flies around and finishes with a boom. They’re fast, they’re physical and, for the first time since Lovie left town, they attack the ball.
Obviously, for the Bears to graduate from a team that merely doesn’t suck to one that is actually good, the offense needs to be better. They do deserve credit for three scoring drives in the second half. And, really, they should’ve had two in the first half, but Cody Parkey missed what should’ve been an easy field goal.
Still, good teams score touchdowns and that’s the next goal for the Bears.
The Bears have played three games. So have the Packers, Vikings and Lions. After those three games, the Bears have the best record in the NFC North.
Weird part of this Denny Green video is he wasn’t wrong. The Cardinals absolutely dominated the Bears in this game, offensively and defensively. It took some of the flukiest developments ever for this result to happen. How fluky? The game actually has its own Wikipedia page.
I always like the Chicago Bears.
To paraphrase the great Lou Brown from Major League, the Bears won Monday night. If they win this Sunday that’s called a winning streak. And they’re the heaviest favorite they have been on the road since probably the mid-2000s. I just don’t see any way this group loses this game.
There will be little mention of Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky in this post beyond this: everybody is now seeing what I’ve been telling them to see for six months. Mike Glennon isn’t any good. It doesn’t require stats. It doesn’t require nuance. It doesn’t require Bill Belichick’s football acumen. If you open your eyes and watch him play quarterback you become deftly aware of his limitations. They are many. He’s just not any good.
On the rest of the game…
There was no giddy-up in this 2017 Chicago Bears season. There was no reason to believe this year’s model would be a significant improvement over 2016’s clanky, too-often-in-the-shop lemon. Then, in the first preseason game, a normally useless affair, the sun rose over a dark night sky. The narrative changed in an instant. There it was. There was the future. And that future was – dare we believe what are our eyes doth see – bright.
Last night the organization that drafted Mitch Trubisky went out of their way to shield their fans from that big, beautiful sun. Darkness returned. Mitch Trubisky didn’t get time with the first-string offense. Mitch Trubisky didn’t get time with the second-string offense. Mitch Trubisky was buried on the depth chart – behind two quarterbacks he’s infinitely better than – in a decision that was equal parts inane, irresponsible and indefensible.
Leaving Bruno Mars w/ one question for #Bears. Why did you want to see let less Trubisky instead of more Trubisky???
— Silvy (@WaddleandSilvy) August 20, 2017
Dear Ryan Pace,
How much more do you need to see?
He hasn’t been any good in the games he’s played in the NFL. He hasn’t been any good in camp practices for the Bears. He hasn’t been any good in the two preseason games he’s started. When do you expect he’s going to suddenly become good? Is it going to happen between now and the start of the season? That’s not much time, Ry.
You had to see what we all saw last night. A running game getting bulk yardage and an offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage. Only one thing was missing. A capable quarterback. And you made the boldest move of the NFL Draft to acquire one! What the hell are you waiting for?
I know, I know you gave Glennon a boatload of cash. That was silly. But you’re in the clear on that now. Trubisky has given you a mulligan. There won’t be a single newspaper column criticizing you for making this move. You know why? Because nobody wants to see Glennon play a single snap for this franchise.
Trust your eyes. Glennon is awful. Make the move.