The Bears lost a heartbreaker in New Orleans to enter the bye week at 3-5. After a game of missed opportunities, Chicago will now need to manage five wins in eight games just to break even for the 2017 season.
Once again, Windy City Gridiron is going to offer some strong reactions in order to save fans the effort. Robert is going to find the silver lining, while Josh is going to rain on Halas Hall. If you’re ready, here’s the Week 8 Bears’ Overreaction (That was a Touchdown! edition).
Robert Zeglinski: Logically, given the comedy of self-inflicted errors and a bogus touchdown overturn for Zach Miller, the Bears shouldn’t have been in the game against a more complete Saints team. But to their credit, Chicago’s now elite defense, yes elite, wouldn’t let them relent. It was far from a perfect game for the unit, sure. However, tell me the last time the Bears had a defense that could get them the ball back in such quick succession in crunch time when they needed it? The Lovie Smith era in what feels like ages ago, for sure.
This is a scary and confident defense loaded with playmakers at every level from Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd, to Danny Trevathan and Adrian Amos. They will give Chicago a chance to win every game through the remainder of the season, rookie quarterback and flawed offense aside. At the very least, they’ll make watching these Bears more than interesting. They’ve made them “fun” again. I’m plenty encouraged by their heartening effort of late, fighting through adversity The Bears’ defensive swagger of old has returned.
Josh Sunderbruch: The other thing of old that has returned is the stink of disappointment surrounding the quarterback. I have to begin by pointing out that Mitchell Trubisky showed why the plan was to sit him. He was not bad, really, but he was not good, either. His actual passer rating of 63.15 (this included the 25-yard touchdown pass that was inexplicably reversed) was poor, and the simple fact is that he took at least one sack he did not need to take. He continues to show promise, but at some point it would be nice to see him actually take command of the offense.
Apologists might say that he’s not helped by his play-caller or by his receivers. Both of those facts are true. However, he is also not helping them as much as he should, and Chicago has the right to expect more out of the No. 2 pick in the draft. It would be nice to finally have a quarterback with production instead of potential.
Robert Zeglinski: I’d actually say we’re getting what we should’ve expected out of Trubisky. Which is more than okay. He’s a talented rookie that will make the occasional flash play, such as his 46-yard run or dimes to Tre McBride and Zach Miller. He’s also an inexperienced rookie that doesn’t read the field well yet and who still has trouble going through his progressions, etc. etc.
You have to remember, this is a man going on now 17 non-high school football starts. The raw development was to be expected and the crucial aspect of that is, is that he’s learning on the fly now with live bullets flying in his direction - as opposed to sitting on the bench. The best experience is actual experience. His play has been anything but disconcerting.
For me, more than anything regarding Trubisky, it’s noting how he responds to adversity. On the road in New Orleans, one of the toughest places to play, and there he is driving his team and beyond predictable offense down field with chances to win. Fun fact: Trubisky faced 13 third and long’s on Sunday. If we include the Miller catch, he converted seven of them. That’s uh, pretty good.
The young quarterback clearly has the mental fortitude to succeed as a great player. He just needs to refine his skill set and receive more help as time goes along.
Josh: As time goes along? Hasn’t that been the mantra for about three decades now? Back to an earlier point—the defense played well. Except when it didn’t. You know, like when Kyle Fuller lined up offsides and gifted Drew Brees with an extra four points. Or like when they allowed the Saints a numbingly bad 9.5 yards per attempt.
Look, the two turnovers were obviously good plays (even if they were ultimately wasted--see above), but there is a difference between making good plays and playing well. The Bears defense needs to turn the corner and start playing well.
Robert: They have turned the corner and have been playing well. In the month of October, they collectively allowed four total touchdowns, scored three themselves, had 14 sacks, eight takeaways, and had a safety. Also, they allowed just one passing touchdown. In the 2017 NFL, that is a ridiculous statistic. This defense has finally come to the point that we originally envisioned with Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator back in 2015. Some minor blips do not deter that ideal.
More so, they can’t be expected to completely shut down every offense throughout, every single week. The other guys get paid too. The key is how they respond and they have been doing that remarkably well of late. The margin for error is low for them given the Bears’ offense, but they still gave Chicago a chance to win on Sunday, as they have for the past four weeks and most of the season. That’s all you want out of your unit. They’ve come to a point of comfort with talent across the board.
Josh: If the defense didn’t allow 14 points out of the gate, then the offense looks really different. Football is 60 minutes, and all of those minutes count. If the Bears know they can’t play from behind, then it’s up to the defense to keep them from getting...you know...behind. This isn’t tough to understand.
On the other hand, maybe someone, somewhere, can explain why Connor Barth has a job in the NFL. I mean, he might be a nice guy. I’d be okay with him working food service or something (but nowhere near a fryer, where he might miss and cause a grease fire with his usual grace), but I really don’t understand why he is employed as a placekicker.
Look, I get that he’s been asked to make some hard kicks. However, that’s actually his job. Hitting the little dink shots is not a meaningful skill. If he can’t make the kick in a dome, of all things, then why is he being kept around?
Robert: That I won’t be able to argue well. When your offense is as currently limited as the Bears’, you need your kicker to be more than an abject liability. The teams that the 2017 Bears are modeled after i.e. the 2001 and 2005 squads, each had solid to great kicking seasons from Paul Edinger and Robbie Gould. Barth, currently at six of 10, is technically “passing” but not good enough for a team with a non-explosive offense.
The bright side is, that with a bye week, Chicago has the option to search for a replacement and have tryouts again. There’s no way they can move forward with a sieve at the position. And I’d guess they will. I know, really going out on a limb. Someone such as a recently healed Cairo Santos would do wonders.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times, is an editor for Windy City Gridiron, and contributor for The Athletic Chicago. Josh Sunderbruch is the numbers man and a writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow Robert on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.