To say the past few weeks haven’t been pretty for Bears fans wouldn’t do the pain and misery justice. Three straight losses, all three more than winnable, and the latest coming in heartbreaking fashion. After a solid thumping of the currently 7-3 Carolina Panthers, an aura of hope filled the city of Chicago. Rookie Eddie Jackson became the first player in NFL history with multiple 75-yard defensive touchdowns in a game, the defense regained Monsters of the Midway form and fellow rookie Tarik Cohen grew into one of the city’s favorite players.
Fast forward only three weeks later and the Bears have sunk to the very bottom of the NFC North with no signs of slowing. Just take a look-see at this bottomless pit of despair.
Oct. 29 at New Orleans: The Bears put together a furious comeback against the red-hot Saints after being down by 11 but a Zach Miller touchdown overturned in a controversial call and a legitimate rookie mistake leading to an interception iced the game.
Nov. 5 Bye: Hey, with no chance of adding a loss to their record and a chance to retool for a Packers team coming off a short week and no Aaron Rodgers puts that game in reach.
Nov. 12 vs. Packers: Remember the game that was in reach? Yeah, after an idiotic challenge resulting in a turnover and a defense so sloppy Brett Hundley turned into a winning quarterback, the game slipped between their fingertips quicker than
Nov. 19 vs. Lions: Must we rehash this one? The Bears dominated the Lions on both sides of the ball for a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and squandered it. Connor Barth had a chance to make up for this and send the game into overtime after a massive 19 yard Mitchell Trubisky scrambles to put them in field goal range. Aaaaaand he misses the 46 yarders by a mile. Aaaaaand loses his job.
All three games were pretty well winnable, all were games that, with a couple calls their way and one more big play made, could have completely tilted the game in their favor. The Bears are a young team and it shows almost weekly. A clumsy mistake from inexperience after clumsy mistake from inexperience doomed these games.
Unlike last season, where injuries absolutely gutted the team’s talent pool, there is really no excuse for these losses outside of the youth’s own carelessness. And yeah, a lot of the blame falls on the player’s themselves, no one else is forcing them to fall apart defensively and give too many freebies to an average Lions offense or throwing a cheap pick to end the game against the Saints, but every budding team needs someone to point them in the right direction.
Leadership has been a problem for the team ever since the abrupt end of the Lovie Smith era. It’s been a total carousel for coaches for the past few seasons and it’s hard for a rebuilding team to make progress when there’s a new coach in town almost every season making changes. Simply enough, young players need stability to grow roots.
Even the inevitable firing of John Fox is going to go down hard if the right coach isn’t brought in. At this point, it’s a foregone conclusion that Fox is going to be out of a job this upcoming offseason with his mishandlings of game management, taking until Week Five to start the clearly superior Trubisky and the aforementioned poor leadership really shutting the door on him. Even offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is in hot water with his often imbecilic gameplan and play calling.
Team culture is something that can not be understated in importance because when players want to be there, they buy into the system, they buy into the coaches and they buy into to each other. A great coach can effectively jump-start a team more than any player in history can by simply creating a great culture for the team, especially with a team as unruly and raw as the Bears.
Just look at what Sean McVay has done with the Rams. Outside of just numbers, these new-look Rams have played with a level of confidence the franchise hasn’t seen since the Greatest Show on Turf.
Every team with a winning chance has an excellent coach working behind the scenes. The Bears are a team with solid leadership on the field. Trubisky has taken over the offense with an alpha male style that has even impressed veteran guard Josh Sitton.
Right before the Packers game, he shared with Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette how much Trubisky has taken control of the offense. “We started to break the huddle early, and (Trubisky) said, ‘Get the f— back in the huddle, and don’t break it until I break it.’ He kind of cussed at all of us linemen, and I was like, ‘Hell, yeah. I respect the s— out of that.”’
Sadly though, after the defeat against the Lions, it’s about time to pack up for the season. The Bears had their chances at a wild-card spot if they were able to overcome the Packers and Lions. However, finding themselves at the bottom of the NFC North otherwise puts them out of the playoff hunt and the missed tying field goal was essentially the kill shot in a season sliding out of control quicker than you can say Da Bears.
It’s time to start looking towards the offseason. As hard as it is to say, the Bears goals should be set to just winning a couple more games. Continue Trubiskys development, avoid injury to the young bucks, and try to at least have some fun. Ryan Pace should begin scouting for a new head coach and preferably an offensive coordinator while scouring for a gem in this upcoming draft which already appears to be pretty weak.
With the right head coach and the talent continues to pan out as expected, this is a playoff dark horse as early as next season. For now, let’s just enjoy the little excitement we can get out of Trubisky and Jordan Howard.
Super Bowl LIV here we come.