Honestly, I've got a stream of consciousness thread of my notes for you to read below, but there's not much you can base the future of this team on at this point. I've maintained for several weeks now that you're looking at probably trying to find the following in free agency and the draft:
- Two (2) offensive linemen
- One (1) tight end
- Fiveish (5ish) defensive players
The team playing today is unlikely to look much, if anything, like the starting lineups in September 2016, and that's fine. The 2015 Bears didn't have enough talent to find a way to win a lot of close games.
But you have to look at coaching. You'll see it in my notes, too, but here's why I think Gase isn't ready to be a head coach. It seems that because he's limited by his personnel, he's decided that he needs to consistently limit his quarterbacks greatest traits (mobility and arm) and instead set up a lot of bubble screens/quick outside passes that the players aren't always capable of executing. Because of this you get holding penalties and borderline pick plays and that's not going to fly when you need to matriculate the ball downfield.
Further, the red zone play calling just before the half, 30 seconds left, running the ball down their throats. So what do you call on first and goal? Pass. Pass. Then you get a false start on what was presumably a pass play (by pro bowl right guard Kyle Long), and then you throw another incomplete pass and settle for the field goal. Wasting opportunities.
Fangio, as well, hasn't been as impressive as I'd hoped. He is still obviously limited by talent. However, everything we always get is how great he can scheme to that and get the best out of guys, but we consistently don't see pressure when pressure is needed, linebackers continually make the worst possible choices when on the field. Where can we draw the line on which part is coaching? It's hard to say. The breakdown on the first drive of the 2nd half is an example of the perfect blend of bad. A quarterback fleet of foot is rushed by only three guys, and allowed to extend the play. Atrocious.
Refs are bad. How bad? Lovie Smith was two for two on challenges. Obvious things, too. Plays that should clearly have been called, and never needed challenging.
This season always had the feeling that it could go either way, but it went the way many expected. That's fine. But there's a lot of reflection for the coaching staff, and it shouldn't just be on the players. Figure out where the holes are, and Pace needs to try and plug as many of them as you can.
Injuries abound in the game as well, with Grasu and Goldman both going out. I tweeted it yesterday during the game, but I'm not sure Grasu is the starting center just because I'm not 100% sure he can beat out a decent veteran in a training camp battle. That's not bad. You can teach him to be a valuable center/guard fill-in while allowing him to bulk up.
Goldman, on the other hand, is worse for development, so hopefully it wont' be something too serious.
So here we are near the end of the season, with an unsatisfying divisional matchup next week. The Bears have flashes of good, but still a lot of bad. Let's not read too much into this game either way, because again, these Bears now are not the team of the future. They're a team ruined by injuries, who never had a chance to reach their potential. They need a lot of retooling in the offseason, but let's hope they get out of Detroit healthy.
Ugh, this is going to be a long game, no Jeffery.
The Bears convert an early first down. This is a change from the traditional "throw up in your own hands and waste first possession" that we've seen in many games.
The reason Gase isn't ready, in my opinion, 2nd drive, third play, wide receiver screen gets destroyed for a four year loss. Next play? another quick pass to the screen, now it's 3rd and 14. Just terrible.
Bears defense has an average first drive against the Buccaneers, can't generate enough pressure, but able to cover well enough to force a punt. That's what this game is going to be, I guess.
Langford doesn't know how to drop forward and push for the yard on the 2nd drive, gets stood up just shy Of course it doesn't matter because Hroniss Grasu holds. And then the punt gets blocked. Handing the game to the Bucs.
3rd drive, Bears successfully get 8 yards on the first play, despite the fact that Grasu is on the field.
Another holding penalty on the outside pass, and in a few plays they go from 2nd and 3rd in the Bucs zone to a 3rd and 13 that ends up with a dumpoff pass to Forte, and then a punt. Again, continually moving the ball side to side is going to cause exactly those problems.
The Bears have outside linebackers, it seems. I'm not sure I've seen a real inside linebacker on the team yet, whether they are in a 3-4 or a 4-3 or nickel or dime or whatever those random defenses in tecmo bowl were. (You know, where you didn't call a defense, you just sorta tried to guess what the other guy was doing.)
4th Bears offensive drive. Man these teams suck. As shown by the offensive line doing so little that a tipped ball gets returned by a defensive lineman. Luckily it's completely negated by a facemasking call against the defensive which is just a weird turn of events. Football is kind of stupid when you think about it.
Matt Forte isn't going to be here, based on Langford and the little we've seen of Carey. Excited to watch him join the Patriots next year.
This drive, the Bears benefit from a dumb facemask penalty and a big pass interference penalty. What I like is that backfield combining Langford/Carey. More of that, please.
The Bears defense makes sure to let the Bucs move the ball downfield immediately after, and they make it to midfield in a few short plays. After praising Doug Martin and talking about how much money he's going to make, he fumbles and the Bears get the ball.
Bears 5th offensive drive. Put in good position at their own 45. Better than their punt returner can get them.
On this drive, they've got the three wide receiver set that shows screen, and the packaged play that sets them up to either go up the middle or throw based on what Cutler sees at the line. Now that you've set the screen tendency, use it as a decoy sometimes. Good stuff from Gase there.
Bears settle for a field goal after the turnover. A better team takes the touchdown there.
Bears get the ball back again, and run a great 2 minute drill, running the ball consistently this quarter. 30 seconds left, 2 timeouts, first and goal, here's the plays: Pass. Pass. False Start. Pass. Field Goal. WHY GASE ISN'T READY
Bears break down and let the Bucs score. Bucs tgake the lead on the first drive of the half, because the Bears couldn't figure out how to score touchdowns on two redzone trips.
Bears start at their own 20. Bears don't seem to have 3rd and middle plays in the playbook today, throw goes to Bellamy just in front of the first down marker. Lovie Smith is absolutely correct in challenging the spot becqause it was never a first down. Hint: get the ball past the sticks.
Oh, Eddie Goldman's hurt. Which means even less pass rush. I'm not even sure how you'd calculate negative pass rush. But we're going to determine a system.
Big deep pass breakup for Porter. A better throw and that's six, because he got beat bad.
Bears give up another big pass playdown the left side. Should probably stop doing that.
Jones-Quartey made the most of his day, stealing a TD away at the goalline.
Doug Martin fumbled again. The Bears followed it up with a terrible play. Grasu gets hurt near the goal. Grasu and Goldman out in the same game.
Big receiving TD for Carey. Seriously, Forte will go out as yet another great Bears running back to get barely a sniff at a championship.
Bucs come out for home run shots to try and counter, and Fuller with the big breakup.
Cutler's getting a lot of passes tipped lately.
In a big 3rd down, Winston drops a low snap and then gets sacked. NOW THAT'S A LOVIE SMITH QUARTERBACK AM I RIGHT. Then they missed a field goal.
Jay Cutler's arm seems to still be very strong.
Here we are, in the fifteenth game of the season, watching the Bears play a bad Buccaneers team, and they seem to have FINALLY cracked the code for how to run down the end of a game.