By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
This was a Sunday night that wasn’t worth waiting all day for.
Marking the final home game for the Chicago Bears in an embarrassing 2019 regular season, this disappointing squad found new, more personal ways to let down its organization and its fans in a completely one-sided, 26-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It was a game that showed the world how far off the Bears are from being legitimate contenders, even though coming into the season the team believed they were on the cusp. Instead, the Bears are now limping across the finish line and into an off-season where they will lick their wounds.
Part of the dismay from the loss was the special connections these two teams share. Bears head coach Matt Nagy was a Chiefs assistant under Kansas City’s coach Andy Reid and infamously the Bears selected quarterback Mitchell Trubisky over the Chiefs’ MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 draft.
Both Reid and Mahomes outclassed their counterparts in this first regular season clash between the four, making it look like a heavyweight boxer taking out a lightweight competitor. To make matters worse, the entire nation watched as this embarrassment aired on Sunday Night Football. Why, oh why, couldn’t NBC flex the Bears out of that game?
Nonetheless, even if this game was played on Mars, the same result would have occurred and the same shame would be weighing the Bears down right now. The harsh reality of the Bears current situation is that fixing it in any way is going to be quite the task.
Here are a few more observations from the bludgeoning of the Bears by the hands of the Chiefs.
Offense is Broken Again
Nothing has been more frustrating this year about the Bears than their offense. To be more specific, the play calling and quarterbacking are completely broken. Having an issue at quarterback and offensive efficiency are some of the worst problems any NFL team can have. Last night, Trubisky showed why he has deserved so much criticism.
To start, Trubisky really struggled to see the field and was often late or oblivious to reading blitzes or coverages. Then add in the usual inaccuracy downfield and general lack of playmaking. Tack on a sub-60 percent completion percentage and a yards-per-attempt of 4.6 and you have a night full of horrible numbers clearly showing Trubisky is not even passing the eye test at this point.
All the blame shouldn’t fall on the quarterback, plenty of times the Bears coaches haven’t helped with their awful play calling. Don’t be fooled by some of the statistical yardage the Bears accumulated. Like last week against the Packers, the Bears moved the ball between the 20s very well at times but they never could consistently get in the redzone and give themselves a chance to score touchdowns.
When the Bears drafted Trubisky and hired Nagy it was an effort to modernize the Bears offense. Clearly this offense is broken right now and big changes to personnel and the scheme need to be made in the offseason. It is especially concerning that the Bears offensive guru in Nagy could not fix any of the issues throughout the season. A lot of self-evaluation needs to occur for the entire team to move forward, but the offense especially needs to re-think how it does things.
Questions Need Answers
Bears general manager Ryan Pace has been pretty quiet through the 2019 season. Soon it will be his time to answer for this mess.
Pace is well known by now in Chicago to be essentially a ghost during the season, usually his availability boils down to a season-opening press conference and an end of the season press conference. This upcoming season-ending media session, if Pace still has the stones for it, is probably about the only thing Bears fans are looking forward to right now to clear up many current grievances.
A lot of questions need to be answered by Pace, especially concerning Trubisky and the offense. Before last season, Pace was having a rough go as Bears GM but was somehow rewarded with a contract extension at the end of 2017. Then a successful year a season ago brought some positivity and enthusiasm for the job Pace was doing by Bears nation.
How quickly things can change in life or the NFL.
Flash forward to today and fans can count among Pace’s works a good defense that is being wasted, a bad offensive line which Pace hand-picked, a tight end position featuring no contributions, and most importantly, the selection of a bad quarterback over two potential hall of famers.
Whether he likes it or not, Pace needs to understand that he has to answer for this. The Bears often speak about how much they care about winning for the best fans in football. All the fans deserve to hear just how this season could have gone as bad as it did as well as how the heck he plans to fix it.
Remember, the Bears have currently five picks in the upcoming draft with only two picks in the top four rounds. As for the salary cap, the team will have to make many difficult decisions to create cap flexibility. These are seriously limited resources for a team that needs a lot of help.
Bears brass is going to have to make a list of the biggest problems and try to thoroughly solve a handful of the biggest issues because they wont be able to address everything.
The season concludes next week when the Bears go to Minnesota. This game may or may not be meaningless to the Vikings, it just depends on their result with the Packers on Monday Night Football. A loss to the Packers would make the Vikings a wildcard team with no hopes of winning the division.
It will be interesting to see next week how meaningful or meaningless the game in Minnesota will be, but regardless the Bears have to play a good game. Anything less than a good game from the Bears continues to open up all types of conversation. Of course a win doesn’t really mean much since all focus is onto next season.
Many tough player personnel decisions loom for the Bears in the off-season, starting at quarterback and working way down to the 53rd player on the roster. Pace should also be heavily evaluating the coaching staff to see what changes need to be made there as well.
Team health has to creep into the minds of the coaches and front office too for this upcoming game. Playing guys on Sunday makes a lot of sense until a bad injury happens to a key player. The last thing the Bears want is to compound the end of an already rough season and having to start worrying about next year due to an injury.
Mystery clouds the Bears future in a way few could have predicted for the team. One more game is left and one last chance awaits to create any type of positive vibe to conclude this lost season.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR