By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
This would be a good time for an official State of the Union address for the Chicago Bears, though at such times the average administration would have a better approval rating than this franchise currently has.
Still, such a re-grouping and re-focusing of mission is underway for the Bears after their 36-25 defeat to the New Orleans Saints Sunday, featuring a deceptive score courtesy of two garbage 4th quarter scores for Chicago, which was down as much as 36-10 to the NFC South leaders.
Once again, needed reform starts with the very top of the franchise’s daily management. Remember the likes of ex-general manager Phil Emery and ex head coach Marc Trestman, that was an attempt by the Bears to modernize to what was becoming the new NFL.
The Bears are starting to getting to the point where they have fallen behind 0-2 in the count when it comes to modernizing their franchise. Of course another miss and fail wouldn’t equal a strikeout since it doesn’t seem to matter who is in charge of the Bears because they are destined to repeat the same mistakes.
Worst case scenario for the Bears’ 100th season is playing out right in front of our eyes. After the game it became obvious that any thought centering around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky getting a long term contract is a ridiculous one. He shouldn’t even be the assumed starter right now. But when have the Bears really shown accountability besides talking about it and it feels unrealistic to expect a huge turn from the status quo.
What a horrible turn of events for this historic franchise, here are some food for thought and general venting on the Bears crushing defeat.
What the Future Holds
After last season, the general idea around the team was that they finally were on a stable path of growth so success would be soon to follow. Enough games have been played to see that no substantial growth has occurred.
Head coach Matt Nagy is supposed to be the architect of a top offense but more importantly he is supposed to be a great head coach. Certainly he isn’t the latter right now and it may be time to say he isn’t the former which is a more alarming concern. Whatever modern offense this is, the Bears are practicing the opposite as they secure a spot within the very worst offenses in the league.
Let’s say they get to the 12th worst offense, what an improvement that would be and it still would be nothing in comparison to the top teams in the league. It looks very clear that Nagy wants to throw the ball a lot and doesn’t have the quarterback to do it. A bunch of head scratching answers came in Nagy’s post game about his commitment to the run.
Read between the lines Bears fans, he either isn’t the play caller or he is saying he doesn’t believe in running to win and doesn’t like doing it. When general manager Ryan Pace was hired, it was believed he would build the Bears in a fashion like the Saints which of course was his previous place of employment. When Nagy was hired both him and Pace talked about how much they were on the same page with seemingly everything, a synergy of sorts.
We are seeing what that all means now, Pace wants an air raid offense and so does Nagy. Neither of them really seem to respect the running game much at all based on Nagy’s play call and Pace’s history in building teams. Yet in perfect irony, the man Pace had such a good relationship with in New Orleans, head coach Sean Payton was giving it to the with the run game.
More importantly, though, Payton brings it every week trying to win and doesn’t care what it takes to accomplish the “W.” Thats why Pace hasn’t succeeded without Payton and why the Bears as a team look so far away competively from the Saints today — the Bears are concerned about winning a certain way, the Saints are concerned with winning, period.
These final 10 games in 2019 won’t be about minor details, like whose starting at right guard, unless this season turns a complete 180 immediately. Instead these next 10 games will be about seeing how well the coaches and front office respond to this embarrassing 2019 campaign six games in. Its easy to be a flash in the pan team but its impossible to sustain success with bad people in charge.
The Times, They Are a Changin (They Better be…)
Quarterback is easily the most important position in the NFL and the Bears look like they have even a bottom five player at the position.
Don’t get it twisted by the phrase “look like” — that’s only there for the one percent chance that quarterback Mitchell Trubisky can still develop into something. Which means the Bears better start putting as much time and resources was they can into finding viable options at quarterback immediately. Whatever Trubisky does is simply irrelevant because he has not showna capability of consistency and 10 games shouldn’t erase all the bad he’s done unless his play hits the stellar elite level.
Every game the Bears come into a contest they are playing with one arm tied behind their back because the offense doesn’t provide anything. Usually the one arm behind the back thing is to make a fight fair, the Bears are one arm tied behind theirs backs going up against world class fighters.
Remember what we saw with the Minnesota Vikings after their loss to the Bears, the team looked ready for a breathtaking implosion. The main reason was because quarterback Kirk Cousins didn’t inspire any play from his team. In the wake of the worst Viking performance so far, he was almost overthrown with his receivers willing to lead the mutiny.
But in the next three games, Cousins goes on a tear and suddenly the Vikings are all good under the hood. Quarterbacks are the heart beat of a team, when a team believes they have a guy that can win them games it becomes an almost religious uplifting experience. When your quarterback stinks, then the entire team is susceptible to doom.
This is why quarterbacks both get too much praise and too much criticism, that’s the job. Quarterbacks have to be the leader of the entire team because getting that position right is the only proven engine that can deliver on the long road to success.
Number one priority for this off-season is to fix that quarterback room and add in some guys that can actually be a capable starting quarterback. The question will be if they have the capabilities with whose in place…
In the city of Chicago, every Bears fan is hoping the team saw what a quality franchise is and how far away they were from becoming one. Early into the season the Saints locked up Payton to be their coach for a long time.
A positive future was just about guaranteed because of the occasional greatness the team has shown in drafting players, developing those players, leading players and being innovative with them. The Bears desperately want to that to be the overarching reality, but they continue to miss the mark. If the McCaskeys really want to see a winner then they have to make the people they hire accountable.
Why should Pace get another chance at drafting a quarterback when he has failed to draft one every year or more than once? Not to mention this little ol’ detail, he miss evaluated some quarterbacks you may have heard of in Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. You would think an owner would truly ask themselves if it would be better having Pace pick your next guy or someone else.
On top of the problems at quarterback, the next big question will be is Nagy just as incapable to do his job as Trubisky seems to be. The Bears are the only team in football that has yet to reach 300 yards of offense in a game. Would any great coach or play caller ever go through a streak like that? Because remember there are still two winless teams and one of which is trying to tank.
How could ownership allow Nagy to put together more games of bad offensive output than good in his first two years and expect it to be significantly better in the future? Its all the same answer for every question, the Bears don’t adhere to accountability from top to bottom.
Changes have to come swiftly if the embarrassments pile up, the names like ex general manager Jerry Angelo, ex head coach Lovie Smith, Emery, Trestman were all fired abruptly in a desperate attempt of accountability by ownership. Reality is settling in that all those names didn’t perform much differently from the names running the Bears today.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR