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Bears vs. Vikings: Notes from the final game of the John Fox era

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
As was the case throughout the year, Mitchell Trubisky showed some potential, but bad coaching held him back on Sunday.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL regular season has come to a close, and for the Chicago Bears, it was a quite a maddening one.

Their season ended on New Year’s Eve with a 23-10 loss on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. Although head coach John Fox has not been fired as of this writing, it is assumed that he will be by the time this article publishes. Here are some of my notes from the final game of the John Fox era.

  • And the last first drive of the John Fox era ends in a three and out. How fitting.
  • Eddie Goldman got called for a roughing the passer call early on in the first quarter. That turned the momentum in favor of the Vikings.
  • Adrian Amos is usually a surefire tackler, but he was unable to wrap up Stefon Diggs. That broken tackle gave Minnesota possession inside Chicago’s 15-yard line.
  • The Vikings did a great job running the ball on their opening drive. They ran for 29 yards on six attempts, one of which being a one-yard touchdown by Latavius Murray.
  • Jordan Howard’s first two runs went for a loss of yards. Both of them came on first down. Here’s a tip for whoever the next offensive coordinator may be: maybe don’t run so much on first down? I mean, defenses seem to be expecting it.
  • Bryce Callahan got called for pass interference on Adam Thielen, marking the second big penalty that the Bears had in the first quarter. You simply can’t afford to make those dumb penalties if you want to get your defense off of the field.
  • Spesking of penalties, the Bears got bailed out by a holding call on Latavius Murray. Otherwise, they would have allowed a big pass to David Morgan, who is currently Minnesota’s long snapper. A long snapper.
  • Ryan Quigley did a great job pinning the Bears at their own five-yard line. Minnesota’s special teams unit also did a great job getting under the punt and preventing it from bouncing into the end zone.
  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Dontrelle Inman is very effective on slant routes. On Chicago’s first first-down passing play, Mitchell Trubisky found Inman and hit him for a gain of 19 yards. Consider the fact that Xavier Rhodes was covering him, and Inman’s play was made even more impressive.
  • Anthony Barr is a freak. He swallowed up Michael Burton on what was just the fullback’s fourth carry on the year.
  • Christian Jones absolutely KILLED Marcus Sherels on the Bears’ third punt of the game.
  • Mitchell Trubisky had a pretty solid first quarter. He finished the quarter going five-for-six and gained 38 yards. Considering how good the rookie was at completing passes that early, it would have been smart to try to throw the ball downfield a bit more. After all, the Bears did have ZERO rushing yards on four attempts in the first quarter.
  • Stefon Diggs had a great catch on a short slant route early in the fourth quarter. Prince Amukamara was all over him, and yet Diggs was able to power out and snag the ball in a tight window.
  • Marcus Cooper nullified a play that would have resulted in a fourth down with an illegal contact penalty. A fitting symbol of what will likely be a one-year stint in Chicago.
  • Adam Thielen created good separation from Prince Amukamara on an out route to pick up the first down.
  • Bryce Callahan had yet ANOTHER pass interference call on a pass intended for Jarius Wright in the end zone. They have another solid nickelback in Cre’Von LeBlanc, why not put him in the game?
  • If you started Latavius Murray in your fantasy football league, then you were a happy man or woman. He ended up with 111 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Talk about amazing.
  • Penalties absolutely killed the Bears in the first half, and most of them came on defense. Chicago usually finds most of their penalties come on the offensive side of the ball.
  • Roy Robertson-Harris has potential to be a long-term rotational piece on the defensive line for the Bears. He has a good blend of athleticism and power, and he showed that off on his sack.
  • I took a bathroom break, and, of course, I missed Bryce Callahan’s punt return. Fortunately, I was able to see the replay, and it was a display of great coaching by special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers. Minnesota was competely fooled, and they thought that Tarik Cohen had the ball.
  • Callahan blended in with his surroundings by kneeling near the sideline. As Charles Davis said on the FOX broadcast, the return made up for Callahan’s two pass interference calls.
  • Stefon Diggs lost seven yards on a jet sweep. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard read the play perfectly, and Diggs had nowhere to go.
  • I predicted that Jordan Howard would have less than 40 rushing yards due to his inability to do well against elite run defenses. Although that isn’t necessarily all his fault, he continued that unfortunate trend this week.
  • Linval Joseph and Danielle Hunter pressured Trubisky into making an intentional grounding call in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. That Vikings defensive front is no joke.
  • Michael Floyd made a great catch on a deep go route, but Kyle Fuller’s coverage forced Floyd out of bounds so the pass couldn’t be complete.
  • Chicago’s defense was expecting Case Keenum to kneel, but he hit Diggs on an out route towards the side line with just one second left on the clock. That’s some impressive stuff.
  • Kai Forbath, fortunately enough, missed a 55-yard field goal, preventing the Vikings from extending their lead even further.
  • There aren’t many football teams that can win a game with -1 rushing yards in the first half.
  • The FOX haltime showed a clip of dogs catching frisbees at halftime in Minnesota. I found myself wanting to be in the stadium to see it, but then I remembered that the temperature outside of the stadium is lower than the amount of rushing yards that Chicago had in the first half.
  • The long snapper got two big plays again.
  • I’m looking forward to the Bears adding some weapons in the offseason, because this current group of wide receivers can’t consistently create separation.
  • Trae Waynes tripped Tarik Cohen up for yet another run that resulted in negative yards. The Bears tried to run a counter, but Waynes stayed patient and was in perfect position to bring the rookie down.
  • Callahan did a great job breaking up a Case Keenum pass intended for Adam Thielen. Thielen ran a flag route and tried to make the catch on a jump ball, but Callahan got his hand in the way and broke up the pass.
  • Brian Robison overwhelmed Tom Compton on the interior, bringing Trubisky down for Minnesota’s first sack of the game. Neither Compton nor Bradley Sowell are expected to be back next season.
  • Christian Jones hit Marcus Sherels hard again on special teams in the third quarter.
  • Adam Thielen is an elite wide receiver. I don’t know if that’s necessarily a hot take, but that’s a take, nonetheless. His route running savvy, reliable hands and ability to gain yards after the catch were all on display this week.
  • Stefon Diggs made a catch on a post route in the end zone for a touchdown against Marcus Cooper, who really had a poor game this Sunday.
  • Dontrelle Inman finished off the third quarter with a fantastic leaping catch in traffic.
  • He hasn’t been consistently showing up in games, but he has shown flashes of being a player that the Bears would be wise to bring back this offseason.
  • The Bears ran a wildcat play, which has been a bit of a reoccuring play in their offense. Tarik Cohen lined up in shotgun, faked the handoff to Jordan Howard and ran left for a first down, their first run for over 10 yards on the game.
  • Josh Bellamy gained big yards on a cross route. He found a lot of space and used it to pick up 30 yards.
  • The Bears had four chances to score a touchdown inside the 10-yard line, but they failed to do so and ended up turning the ball over.
  • Chicago was in perfect field goal range, but, per usual, a stupid penalty by Bradley Sowell knocked them back 15 yards. Like I mentioned earlier, he’s gone.
  • Mike Nugent made a 55-yard field goal. I repeat: a Bears kicker made a field goal from long range. What a paradox.
  • Sam Acho, who has stepped up since Leonard Floyd went down with an injury, picked up his third sack of the year. But, with six minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Bears being down by 13, it didn’t matter too much.
  • Dontrelle Inman ran a great in route for a gain of 21 yards. He ended the game with five receptions for 94 yards. As far as players with expiring contracts go, Inman may have made more of a last-minute plea to stay on the team than anyone else.
  • Chicago finished the game with 10 penalties resulting in a total of 116 yards lost. That, in addition to their lack of a ground game, brought about their demise in this game.
  • Michael Burton got another touch, and again he did nothing with it. He caught a ball near the goal line and failed to score.
  • The Bears had four tries to score near the goal line AGAIN, and AGAIN the Bears failed to score. That’s a combination of a great Vikings defense and terrible play calling.
  • If you’re reading this, then John Fox is no longer is the head coach of the Chicago Bears. I’m writing this as the game is going on, so I’m assuming that he got fired some time before 7 a.m. on Monday. If you’re reading this and he hasn’t gotten fired, though, then hang in there. It’ll happen eventually.
  • I just wanted to take the time to thank you guys for reading these notes. I’ve had a great time doing these, despite the Bears’ less-than-stellar season. Let’s hope that next year brings about success and turnaround for our beloved franchise. Bear Down!