Well, that's that, all of that. The Bears capped off their terrible season, the worst that most of us have seen with our own eyes if you go by record, and now we can put this... thing behind us and move on into the 2017-2018 season as if nothing had happened.
... is what I'd like to say, but, you know, word counts, professionalism, and oh right, we still have to discuss some things about the game.
I'll spare you all the descriptions of the scoring, since things hit ludicrous speed before the six-minute mark of the first quarter hit, and we'll get into the bullets pretty much immediately.
- So we can start with Matt Barkley and all but close the book on him being in serious contention for the starting spot in 2017. The last two weeks, and even back to week 15, have had the look of a quarterback trying to make too much happen and forcing things, especially throwing to Alshon Jeffery, and his decision making has been suspect at times as well - such as forcing a throw to a bracketed Alshon Jeffery. Barkley looked a lot better when he didn't have expectations, but over the last three games his INT total skyrocketed, partly because of his receivers but also because of his own decision making. His toss while being sacked last week was just horrible. He does get some credit for coming in as a 4th-stringer and starting out well, but the Bears can't get their "QB of the Future" soon enough.
- Jordan Howard looked really good once again (5.9 YPC, 135 yards) as Dowell Loggains actually remembered to use his greatest asset, the running game. Loggains called a very solid game, and it's frustrating because he'll have some games where he's actually a competent OC, but other games when he just goes out of his mind. The Bears didn't have a good year putting points on the board (just 28th in the league entering the game) but it comes back to the same problems that seem to plague this team: failure to convert third downs and finish drives, execute plays, and bad decisions and bounces that turn the ball over. My biggest complaint with Loggains is his tendency to get too cute with individual plays, but he does find ways to get guys open and sometimes that creativity works. Exhibit A: Cam Meredith's first career touchdown pass to Matt Barkley.
- You know, also for what it's worth, the Bears' offensive line had a really solid season, but tight end is a gaping hole. Logan Paulsen must have had a solid in-line block at one point this season cause I can't think of another thing he did all year that was beneficial to the Bears, and the collection of guys after him with the minute exception of Daniel Brown was nothing special at all. Zach Miller will be back but after him is the same collection of question marks (and even Miller's health continues to be a question mark).
- I realize that the Bears' back eight and pass-rush was operating with next to nothing and that's after having benched Tracy Porter for the start of the game with a case of New Years'-Itis, but Adrian Amos' season couldn't have come more mercifully to an end. For all the safeties, really. Speaking of Porter, I do like Cre'von LeBlanc as a developmental guy (maybe a nickel), but I'm not sure if it's shortsightedness or can't-play illness that keeps Deiondre Hall (two tackles on the day) off the field and gets Jonathan Banks on the field ahead of him. Porter almost assuredly doesn't have a future with the team, so why he's still taking snaps is a mystery to me. Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee missing the game led to the vaunted Willie Young and Sam Acho tandem ... yeah, not exactly, as the team recorded four tackles for loss and no sacks (and only one quarterback hit, by Akiem Hicks).
- Though the way they actually tackled people I was amazed they recorded any tackles.
- I do like LeBlanc's ability to get after the ball, but that unit has a severe absence of ability-to-play-the-ball. Another trend that needs to end.
- Alshon Jeffery's future being up in the air makes the emergence of Cam Meredith this season a huge thing for a unit that could be in the market for some more talent anyway. Kevin White is a complete unknown right now, and if Jeffery walks, the receiving unit of White, Meredith, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson - yeah, that's an awe-inspiring unit. Meredith is a very capable receiver (not quite #1 good, yet, but certainly a 2 or high-3), but this unit needs White to hit home, badly, in order to even be a serviceable unit.
- Jeremy Langford looks good with space and catching the ball on the move, but as a straight-ahead runner... yeesh.
- Thompson did have a great kick return when he slipped a few tackles to get the Bears down into field goal range before the half, but that's another position that can be upgraded quickly.
- Oh, by the way, thanks to Langford and Mycole Pruitt, the Bears have their own Buttfumble moment.
- Sam Bradford set the NFL single-season completion percentage record, which is pretty good for a guy acquired just before the season started and hit with a coordinator change midway through the year. He didn't exactly throw all the way down the field, but when facing a team as allergic to tackling as the Bears is, it's not like he needed to.
- Cordarelle Patterson had two targets, one reception and 39 yards. Yeah, it was kind of a killer one-on-one with LeBlanc. It'd be nice to actually learn that Kevin White is a better receiver than Patterson or Laquan Treadwell but until he sees the field more consistently...
- Oh, by the way, Kyle Rudolph is still really good.
- John Fox said coming out of the half that the team needs to stop beating themselves. Is it just me or does he say that every week, and it couldn't possibly be that his team throws interceptions, took costly penalties, has Bralon Addison muff a punt to be recovered by the Vikings, etc., because they're bad, could it? No, the team isn't doing itself any favors, but this game especially wasn't a case of "We just threw a bad throw, we're still in this game if we stop beating ourselves." No, it was a case of "This game is out of hand by the second quarter because the other team is kicking your arse because you're bad." Five turnovers and 10 points is a sure sign of getting clowned by a team that since the bye week looked irreparably broken.
So that's all I've got for the final week of Notes on this terrible season. I'd like to close out by saying that, yes, it was a trying season, but going forward, be good to each other here. We're all on the same team, and just remember that even if you disagree with somebody on an aspect of the team, keep in mind that we're all happier when the team does better. We're all fans, and everybody wants what they think is best for their team.
And on a more personal note, thank you all for reading these all season long. As far as I'm aware, I'll be still doing these and the pre-party Livestreams next season, and I appreciate all your feedback, comments, and especially, thank you for reading and participating in these posts. I love doing these pieces all season long and I hope I can keep doing them and that you guys will keep reading them.
So for the final time, what did you take away from yesterday's 13th loss?