By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
In a vacuum of thought, one would have to reach mightily to come up with a downside to a trip to Miami in October, especially one coming from Chicago.
Take, for instance, the number of Chicagoans, or Chicago Bears fans merely, who took advantage of a chance to see Da beloved Bears in South Florida this past weekend. Everyone in Cook, Will and DuPage counties likely had one fam, friend or associate who taunted us with pastel-dripped pics on Instagram from the tip of America’s penis over the last couple days.
But whether you had the resources and the likely vacation day Monday in order to get back home or if you’re currently slogging through the beginning of another weekday already, if you’re a Bears fan you’re dealing with the disappointment of a wild-ass 31-28 loss to the Dolphins from Sunday afternoon.
What to make of this one? Well, if you asked the majority of Bears faithful coming into this game you likely came in contact with a confidence that while not necessarily deserved could at least be backed up reasonably by recent developments — Miami was losers of their last two games while the Bears were riding high on a 3-game streak entering the bye. Miami was notably dealing with a slew of offensive line injuries while the Bears were touting the most intimidating front 7 in the NFL currently, even being able to take advantage of Akiem Hicks not being suspended for coming in contact with a referee.
And then, in the final hours leading to the game, the ribbon was seemingly tied on a gift-wrapped win — Brock Osweiler, the Dolphins backup quarterback, the guy who couldn’t cut it in Denver or Houston when given the opportunity, would be starting the game instead of starter Ryan Tannehill, who with an injured shoulder didn’t want to be deemed food for Khalil Mack and Co.
In our haste to continue a surprising run and set up a showdown of showdowns in the coming week against New England, we all forgot that Osweiler for some reason likes to get in the Bears’ behinds when they cross him.
“Bullet” Brock is what he becomes against the Bears, even though he’s not a straight-enough shooter to keep a job in any other week. The odd Osweiler mojo could be conflated with the bad history the Bears have overall against Miami.
Whenever we see the Bears and Dolphins clash, be it in Florida or Chicago, we get the flashback segment to when the Super Bowl champion 1985 Bears went to Miami on Monday night, lost to Dan Marino, recorded the Super Bowl Shuffle that same week, etc, etc…
It is great history but like everything else regarding that team and that era, it gets tiring to a fan base that hasn’t had much to hold onto in the 30+ years since in regards to historic lore.
But a painful lesson is to be learned from the ’85 team and their bad trip to Miami — if a team that had that much going for it can be lost in the sauce in that Godforsaken part of the country then typically there’s little hope for any other Bears team. Ironically, the Bears had won three of their last four road games against the Dolphins dating back to 1994 but overall the Fins are one of the few NFL teams who have a dominating all-time record against the Bears (9-4).
Basically, we were all too damn confident going into this one and there was little reason given history’s bend to think the Bears were going to extend their win streak to four and stand completely swagged-up going into the Patriots game.
The specter of bad luck and unfortunate development is not foreign at all to the Bears and yet this is still a team with a lot of talent, talent which put itself on display against Miami. The game’s first half had the whiff of stank that we previously saw in Week 3 at Arizona, the kind of play that showed how much in construction this team is, but the third and early fourth quarters were exquisite — overall Mitch Trubisky salvaged his day, which bottomed out after an interception in the end zone late before halftime. Tarik Cohen showed himself to be the kind of multi-use weapon that Kansas City continues to produce to great effect (Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill) under coach Matt Nagy’s mentor, Andy Reid.
Defensively, the positive moments were more fleeting, but Kyle Fuller getting two interceptions seemed like the kind of footnote that should come with a Bears win. Unfortunately, that was as explosive as that side of the ball would be all day.
Dealing with a hobbled Mack (ankle) and likely, though no one would admit it, the stifling tropic heat, the Bears’ defense had its worst performance since the coming of Mack. It wasn’t so much what Osweiler got off, most of his throws didn’t reach past a first-down marker, but it was Albert Wilson’s countless yards after catch and the ageless Frank Gore’s steady churn of yards on the ground, allowing the Dolphins to not only produce a 100-yard rusher — a first against this year’s Bears D — but also allow Miami to win the time of possession battle, which was not a good sign for the Chicago defense in regards to keeping itself strong through four quarters.
Plays were still made in the most desperate of positions — Hicks’ amazing swipe of the ball, stopping Kenyon Drake from scoring at the goal line in overtime comes to mind first, that at least kept the Bears from giving up their first rushing TD of the season — but those plays were only delaying the inevitable.
The Bears already had their chances to win this one by OT, but fumbles by Cohen and Jordan Howard, phantom penalties and real ones (both courtesy of Leonard Floyd) and our first disappointing outing from the New Monster defenders as a whole already lowered a humid haze on the whole proceedings that ensured a weirdness that wasn’t going to be overcome.
Cody Parkey wasn’t going to change that with a 50-yard kick, the former Dolphin wasn’t wearing the right jersey anymore for that. And while we would have liked Nagy to try to make it more of a 45 or 42 yard kick, its hard to push forward against fate after more than 3 hours of it kicking you in the ass.
There was some intention to this game, the problem with NFL seasons is that we can’t tell typically from week to week what it is, its just one part of a 16-game puzzle that only makes sense when all the pieces are placed.
All we know of now is that the Bears are one more team swept up in the overtime silliness that’s sweeping through the NFL unprecedentedly this season. Chicago is still in first place in the NFC North but they will likely have played the third worst game this week in the division since Detroit has a bye.
There was a time late yesterday afternoon where we could at least take some pride in playing in the most fun game of the day but K.C. and New England swept that away with the best game of the season so far, a game with more points than Bears-Dolphins even and more competency than either of those teams could hope for.
And that brings us to the next test: whatever the Bears take from this game they’re going to have to pack light heading back home. The Patriots are back and Tom Brady makes it a point to out-do fresh, young QBs. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t enough, are we gonna be assured that Trubisky, now with two weeks of professional play to his credit, is up for the challenge?
For that matter, can we even be assured if the Bears’ defense is up to wrangle the GOAT after being out-done by “Bullet” Brock once again, who will promptly go back to obscurity after Tannehill’s next cortisone shot.
The Nosfaratu (Brady) and Dr. Frankenstein (Bill Belichek) of the NFL are making a stop in the city just in time for Halloween and the Bears have more demons to strike against if they want to stand a chance at seeing a new, winning dawn of Chicago football.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR