WARR Editorial Director Kyle Means offers a quick take on the Chicago Bears’ latest effort and the rest of the NFL each Monday
The Chicago Bears weren’t supposed to win Sunday night’s game against Green Bay, you know that right?
The Bears weren’t favorites in real time, history certainly wasn’t on their side and though they may have been able to tout the best defensive talent in the contest coming in, the Packers still had the best offensive talent on their side. And the damn game is still more about scoring than not scoring.
Yet, in the first 30 minutes of Sunday night’s 24-23 loss — the latest and maybe most intense indignity to happen to the Bears near the corner of Lombardi Avenue and Oneida Street — the Bears provided as shocking and fulfilling a half of football as its long-suffering fan base and bewildered media contingency could imagine from them.
In shooting to a 17-0 lead in that time, eventually 20-0 early in the second half, you could have entertained thoughts of new Super Bowl glory in the next six months, Mitch Trubisky would be our new Golden God quarterback, coach Matt Nagy our wise oracle and Khalil Mack our warrior-poet and maybe mayor-elect. There was a serotonin burst that melted us into our couches and recliners, yes, we are on our way…
Adding to the giddyness provided by Mack’s amazingly efficient and impactful defense, the overall pass rush that for a time shrunk Aaron Rodgers and made him limp off the field like a scrub (the kind of scrub that DeShone Kizer proved himself to be in giving up a pick-6 to Mack) was Trubisky’s sharp throws, the decisiveness of the play calls from the sidelines and the refinement of their execution.
If you were to tell me that the Bears walked through a funhouse mirror prior to entering the second half I would believe it. Everything good for the Bears in the first half went away in the second, starting with Rodgers re-entering the game with something on his hurt left knee and typical Grinchiness towards the Bears in his heart.
Rodgers knows how to ruin things for the Bears, he ruins division title runs, he ruins Super Bowl runs and he can ruin fresh reveals of talent. For Rodgers new Bears aren’t anything to fear, they are new treats to play with before a quick chew and spit out.
What was so dangerous for Rodgers in the first half, that pass rush, didn’t do so much as scuff up his jersey after halftime. His offensive line resurrected around him, the prohibitive league MVP year in and year out showed just how valuable he is, even more so than his recently signed record contract.
The difference in this opening game wound up being the difference between the two quarterbacks — an all-time great still in the full bloom of his prime and a young dude who shows promise but in any drive can go from future franchise talent to another wannabe.
Trubisky in no way can provide the kind of come-from-behind effort that Rodgers did in this point of his career even with a bionically able knee. He didn’t give up but he also couldn’t overcome some playcalling that didn’t support him well, there wasn’t enough tries down the field after the Bears built their 20-0 lead, and there were some bad calls at particular times, like the 3rd-and-1 where a Jordan Howard run would have likely done the trick but we wound up with Dion Sims getting tackled in the flat well before the first down marker.
For the sake of contextualizing, just what did we see in this game?: a promising season gone down the drain? No. Nothing is figured out after Week 1 of the season. A win wouldn’t have meant this team is going on an express trip to Super Bowl 53 nor is this loss, as bad as it is, a sign of things to come and yet another finish in the top-10 of the 2019 draft order. Thankfully, Rodgers is only assured to play the Bears one more time this year and how many other QBs in the NFL can really do what he did Sunday night?
Was it the same ol’, same ol’? In some ways, yes. The Bears did lose a winnable game again, a game lost within a touchdown, something they nearly raised to the level of art under John Fox. But this week is as close as this team will be ever again to the woefulness of the past three seasons.
There’s too much talent on this team to foresee too many more games playing out like this — with forceful guys like Mack and Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith in the front seven they will raise much more hell to come in opposing backfields. The defense backfield has to rally — the Bears’ front office made a conscious decision to keep rolling with the leading talent it had at safety and cornerback from 2017 –guys who all had their pluses and minuses — by resigning most of that unit back, including Kyle Fuller who could have dropped a potential game-clinching interception in a Packers uniform, maybe he should have had that chance.
On offense, Trubisky and Nagy have to grow together and trust each other more. In most cases they together have to make the difference between wins and losses, to not score any touchdowns in the second half is egregious and proof of this duo not being completely there yet in their progression. The talent was there to keep this game in the Bears’ hands but nothing was gonna come from it with Trubisky not finding receivers in man coverage and Nagy not letting him loose in the right times or simplifying things when the young QB looked a little overwhelmed.
All said, this team is young as hell and not fully developed, a lot of its best talent just really tied their cleats for the first time tonight — to have been allowed at any point Sunday evening the chance to even entertain the thoughts we did when the Bears were up 17-0 is a ridiculous gift that we weren’t worthy of in spite of the last five years of Bears play.
What we saw tonight was how bad it can be, but we already knew that, this isn’t our first time losing badly to the Packers. Plus, all that was a second impression. The first impression was how good it could be and there’s no reason right now to believe that the Bears can’t produce more halves like tonight’s first. Eventually those halves will become the new whole.
Follow Kyle Means on Twitter @Wrk_Wrt; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio