If the Bears’ visit to Green Bay was intended to represent a benchmark for their 2023 season’s progress, they failed their final exam quite emphatically.
Chicago’s report cards are currently under review and will be returned to our students throughout the next week. Until then, let’s review yesterday’s season finale one last time.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
- The Silver Lining… is that there is no Silver Lining. There’s no easy excuse for why Chicago lost — after all, the ball bounced the Bears’ way early and often:
- Packers’ K Anders Carlson missed an early Field Goal
- Green Bay’s rookies allowed the clock to run out on the 1st half before picking up extra points
- Packers’ WR Bo Melton dropped a sizzling TD pass that hit him in the hands
- A Packers’ DB dropped an end-zone INT as Chicago rallied
- And then on 4th & 1 I thought the officials credited Chicago with a first down they may not have actually gotten.
- Still, despite all of this, Chicago lost an emphatic 9-17 game. George McCaskey, Ryan Poles, and Kevin Warren are going to have to look this loss in the eye — they have no one to blame for it but the players in the locker room and the coaches that lead them. Do they think this plan would’ve worked if the team had more talent on it? Do they think this Quarterback gives them their best chance at success going forward? These questions felt easier to answer last week than they do now… and that’s likely for the better. If they can’t beat Green Bay, what’s the point?
- Tyrique Stevenson, have a day. The Bears’ 2nd round pick felt like the only reason the game remained close during the first half of yesterday’s game — his pass deflection in the endzone robbed Green Bay of 7 points, then he stole another 3 points just before the first half ended. As if that wasn’t enough, he created the game’s only turnover as well by dislodging the ball from Jordan Love’s grasp in the mid-3rd quarter — He came to play.
- On a day where Chicago’s DBs struggled to compete with Green Bay’s receivers, Stevenson stole downs back for the Bears throughout the game and I loved watching him do it. Hopefully the All-22 paints as rosy a picture of his performance as watching the game seemed to.
- Same song, different verse. Chicago opened the season with a game-plan in mind: stop the run with our front 4, play Cover 2 & Cover 3 behind them, and make opponents grind their way down the field. Early in the year, that’s exactly what opponents did.
- Then, as the defense delivered one underperformance after another, the defense pivoted to running more Man Coverage defenses paired with blitzes up front — this worked, shutting down the offenses in the middle of the Bears’ schedule. As Chicago dominated lesser offenses, they rode this mix of Man Blitzes and Zone-Drop looks to becoming the NFL’s leader in Interceptions.
- But then, for reasons I cannot explain, it is as if Matt Eberflus grew tired of the risk involved with his pressure packages and reverted back to his early-season game plans — after all, the media was so mean to him about Justin Jones dropping into coverage that one time, how could he possibly call plays like that again?
- Thus, the door opened for Green Bay to exploit holes in soft zones with a quick-hitting pass game paired with a wide-hitting run game and, unsurprisingly, Matt LaFleur had no issues walking through that door. The vaunted Bears defense gave up 400+ yards, including a 6-minute backbreaker of a drive that closed the game, as Matt Eberflus’ best-laid plans unwound in front of his eyes.
- Luke, I think it’s over. A Week 18 performance with less than 200 yards of offense feels like it should seal Getsy’s fate in Chicago. His tenure has been mired by poor communication across the offense, an inability to adjust to mid-game defensive changes, and a seemingly frayed relationship with the Bears’ signal caller… but at least we got a few nice opening game scripts.
- Coffee is for closers only. Maybe I’m writing this out of frustration, maybe I have a point, honestly it’s hard to tell. But yesterday would’ve been a great day for Justin Fields to make a statement with his play in the 4th quarter. Instead, his two final drives resulted in a would-be interception and the final punt of the season.
- The future seems far too uncertain. It’s easy for me, a writer, to write pretty words about the failings of Chicago’s head coach, but do George McCaskey, Kevin Warren, and Ryan Poles see things that way? Surely they can’t be satisfied with verdicts against quality teams always seeming to break away from them, but with Eberflus’ recent string of victories I can’t help but wonder if the front office is willing to move on. It feels like the perfect time to make a change to me, but I’m not the one signing the org’s checks. We’ll see what Black Monday brings.
- With a new Quarterback likely waiting in the wings and a reset coming at both defensive and offensive coordinator, this feels like the perfect time for the Bears to pick a new direction at HC — either Jim Harbaugh, Bobby Slowik, Ben Johnson, or whoever else you may have in mind would then have the opportunity to customize the team to their needs via Free Agency before drafting a Quarterback that, theoretically, would become the best QB in Chicago’s history given the environment Ryan Poles may craft for him using free agent money and draft capital. But is the front office willing to fire Eberflus ‘one year early’ rather than ‘one year late’? Only time will tell.
Nick and I recorded a podcast where we talked through the ups, the downs, the ins, and the outs of Chicago’s latest loss here:
Your Turn: How do you feel about yesterday’s game?