By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
One true thing about the NFL is that it never lacks for drama, and with teams who spend whole seasons figuring themselves out like the Chicago Bears, each week of play is like a drama factory.
The latest high-concept model off Chicago’s production line will be this Monday Night in a game against division rival Minnesota that could say a lot about how the remainder of the Bears’ season will play out.
Each team is in the midst of what amounts to surprising turnarounds after the initial six weeks of the season, where the Bears started out 5-1 and the Vikings started 1-5 and were maybe the most disappointing team in the NFL.
Since then, the Vikings got to their bye week, took a big breath, and pulled off big divisional wins against the Packers and Lions. The Bears’ haven’t had the benefit of any weeks off and in the meanwhile have stumbled clumsily through their last three games, going from a possible No. 1 seed in the NFC to completely on the outside of the playoff picture.
This Vikings team comes in hot, relatively so, but they look like a team that still has its best football ahead of it, mainly due to their imposing rushing attack.
Meanwhile, the sky is falling in Chicago, where healthy runners are at a premium right now and not too productive even when they can get on the field.
A loss to the Vikings could be the point of the season where we all look back and say that’s when the Bears playoff chance was officially lost. Maybe a silver lining has presented itself with head coach Matt Nagy giving up play calling duties this week. Nagy has consistently failed to take advantage of opposing defenses’ weaknesses, losing games that were somewhat served up on platters to the team, such as this past week against the Titans.
Time is running out for the Bears and their chances to make this season a good one, here’s how the Bears can take the right step in reinvigorating their season.
Remember to visit WARR on Anchor, WARR Media’s podcast platform, for the podcast version of 4th and Goal(s), featuring more detailed breakdowns of each game’s talking points.
On the Right Side of the Margin — Takeaways exist as the ultimate decider in football games. With that in mind its not surprising that one team in this game is two games below .500 and the other has loss their last three games.
Both the Bears and the Vikings have a -3 in the turnover differential, ranking them among the worst teams in the NFL at giving the ball away. One of these teams has to be better than the other at that key element of the game Monday night. That will be the team that wins.
More Stuffing — We’re getting close to the time where Bears may be looking for more stuffing on their plates, but they showed an ability to stuff last week against one of the most imposing runners in the NFL in Tennessee’s Derrick Henry. A repeat performance will be needed Monday night against the only runner putting up comparable numbers to the Titans bruiser — Dalvin Cook.
Another Opportunity — Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Bears performance offensively last week was that they looked horrible versus a maligned Titans defense. Nagy and crew get another bad one this week, better strike while the iron is hot.
A New Cook — No, we’re not talking about Dalvin, though he could have likely done as good a job as Matt Nagy in running the Bears’ offense over the first half of the season.
Speaking of Nagy — if you don’t know, his play calling stinks. Therefore, after much delay and fan suffering, Nagy has passed play calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
Lazor is a veteran coordinator who’s called offense in multiple stops in the NFL, can his play calling help make the offense flow better? Something has to, or the Bears’ downturn will continue with no stop.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR