Ryan Bukowiecki is a student at the Illinois Media School and a contributor to The D & Davis Show
And just like that, things have changed for the Chicago Bears.
Or, to paraphrase The Who — meet the new Bears, same as the old Bears.
In a game that seemed as much of a must win as a non-elimination contest can get, the Bears laid a massive egg, finding new ways to lose to a team its well defined how to lose to, the Green Bay Packers, who completed yet another season sweep of Chicago by a 23-16 score Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
This debilitating loss comes just as the 2017 season had begun to look promising in a way that Bears fans haven’t seen in any way since the Lovie Smith era. In going 3-5 in their first eight games, the Bears cleared half their schedule with maybe 3 times more wins than anyone would give them a chance at having prior to the season.
Along with the three wins, Weeks 1 (Atlanta) and 8 (New Orleans), were perceived wins for a team with just a little more combined experience and/or talent. Imagine the lines for this latest Packers game had the Bears entered it with an actual winning record…
When Aaron Rodgers went down last month it elicited new hope in every NFC North team, among them the Bears had a chance to make some noise even though it would likely not end up with the team in a playoff spot but the big bad enemy to the North was as vulnerable as ever entering an always hostile environment for them along the Illinois shores of Lake Michigan.
Going into their bye week, the Bears had a chance to really prepare themselves and gear up to make a statement in the second half of the season, opening with the Packers only six days after their losing in embarrassing fashion on Monday Night Football at home.
All signs pointed to a big week for the Bears in which they would leapfrog the Pack and later play the Lions for a chance to get to .500, but the Bears went ahead and did what they have done consistently under John Fox — lose games that they were expected to win.
Under the Greying Fox, the Bears are now 0-6 when favored — 0-6, people. Five of those favored games came at home. Bout time for Vegas to take a hint.
Usually in the NFL you’re supposed to win some games you are favored in and as bad as the Bears have been in recent years to even be favored, the inability to win any of those games is really damning from this current regime.
On top of the pathetic record when being favored, here is another shocker: usually in the NFL you’re supposed to be best prepared and have some of your best chances to win after a bye week. Bye weeks provide a chance to get a little healthier with extra rest time while coaches have more time to game plan. Such comfort means nothing to the Bears under Fox, who are now 0-3 after the bye under his leadership.
Combine the fact that Green Bay had a short week to prepare for the Bears while the Bears had two weeks and were were favored with more of their top weapons in tact with what we saw on Sunday its clear more than ever that Fox has to be let go no later than the end of this season.
The Bears looked sloppy and unprepared, multiple guys blew assignments and the coaching staff got absolutely pantsed by the Packers’ staff. It was an eye opener of a day for Bears fans — clearly the Bears are as far from being a contender than we could have imagined them to be entering this season.
Dowell Loggains Is a Bad OC
Its hard to just blame the coaches for the performance on the field Sunday, the players are the ones playing the game after all, but considering the bye week one has to think the coaching should have been much better.
Loggains, for some insane reason, decided in his small offensive coordinator brain, to throw the ball 40 times to just 17 runs when the Bears were down only one score for most of the game. On top of that there were penalties a plenty along with dropped passes, bad decisions from the QB and predictable play calling. Loggains has had a season and a half and several quarterbacks to show his stuff off with and its just not working with him.
The Packers defense came into the game giving up 23 points a game and a total of 56 points the last two weeks without Aaron Rodgers as the starter, yet the Bears couldn’t muster up much of anything against a Green Bay defense that hasn’t had anything in the way of a standout performer this season.
Loggains is just another example of why it is important to staff your coaches with play callers with experience and coaches with a track record of game planning and developing talent, if you want to win at least.
And now with Mitch Trubisky being so important to the franchise, his success and development has become more important than anything in the Bears’ atmosphere. Is it really a good idea to leave Trubisky’s continued play at QB in the hands of an OC that at his best fans bewildered week after week at his methods?
To many issues have risen from the offensive side of the ball ever since Loggains was promoted and enough time has passed for Loggains to prove he is not right for the job.
Vic Fangio’s Defense: What Happened?
The Bears’ defense had been showing off its might in the last couple weeks before the bye in games against present or past elite quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Drew Brees.
With a backup QB for the Packers as a known preparation point and the in-game development of the Pack losing both their top two running backs in the first half, it should have been a great day right?
Well it wasn’t. The Bears played okay defense in the first half outside of a missed play by Prince Amukamara that led to a Ty Montgomery rushing touchdown (Eddie Jackson was also clearly held on that play). Hindering their effort, the Bears were not able to get much pressure with only their front four but they had some good success when they blitzed Brett Hundley, who really struggled with identifying the blitzers and getting rid of the ball.
For some reason Vic Fangio decided to not continue to blitz the inexperienced Hundley, especially during the critical drives in the fourth quarter. Pernell McPhee made a mental error in allowing Hundley to scramble for a key third down and rookie third stringer Jamaal Williams looked like an all-pro for Green Bay in receiving. Elsewhere, the less said about Kyle Fuller, who was no match for Davante Adams and looked like 2016 Kyle Fuller, the better.
The defense is the strength of the team right now and they weren’t able to stop the Packers at any key moment in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. It was a poor performance overall by the unit and a real head scratcher considering Fangio’s overall success as the defensive coordinator. No one expected the Packers offense to be so efficient after looking so bad just six days prior against Detroit.
What Does John Fox Do Exactly?
So many things were confusing about yesterday’s game and many of those things have been mentioned online already. Here are some more things to consider, though:
When does a team get unhealthier after a bye week? The injury report this week included so many names that it was like the Bears had played a game last Sunday.
How does Fox mess up that challenge so bad? The challenge made after Benny Cunningham’s faithful dive to the end zone isn’t all on Fox, he has a team of people watching plays, including several with a bird’s eye view he isn’t afforded, to let him know whether to challenge or not. But somehow not one person considered that the ball may be fumbled and the Bears would lose possession, there must have been a lack of knowledge regarding that controversial rule which set the offensive effort back so definitively.
How does Fox still not understand time management? The Bears poorly managed the clock at the end of the first half to the degree which it almost cost them three points and Fox is a big proponent of running the ball and playing good defense, but the Bears didn’t run the ball enough to control the clock.
Fox has had his time management questioned his entire time with the Bears and at other stints in his coaching history, so if Fox doesn’t manage the clock well, doesn’t work well with his coaches in preparation or with in-game adjustments, doesn’t manage his team’s health well and doesn’t win games that good teams usuallywin then it begs the question what does John Fox do exactly?
Without a good answer to the question of what Fox does for the Bears then the only logical move is to get another coach in the building that does something…something that makes the Bears a contender again.
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