Well, it sure stung. Heading into the second half with a 17-0 lead, Matt Nagy and his Chicago Bears were sitting pretty and had firm control of the game. At least, until Aaron Rodgers happened.
Once again, what felt like a victory clinched in the sweetest of ways, turned into such a sour evening for fans and Halas Hall alike. Like many, if not all fans, I was pretty...disgruntled for the remainder of the night. The disappointment is an all too frequent reminder of what it’s like to be playing against a Hall of Fame player in Rodgers. A moment that everyone who follows the Bears want to end, permanently.
As I see things, moments like these will be coming to an end, sooner than how some may see.
Matt Nagy sees room for improvement, and acknowledges expectations
Yes, there are legitimate questions about Nagy’s play calling; particularly in the second half of the game. Yes, there are concerns about young Mitchell Trubisky’s development headed into the 14th start of his career as the franchise quarterback. Heck, this is a young team that needs to learn on how to secure wins during key moments.
If we have seen anything from this team, it’s that they’re certainly not going to feel sorry for themselves. They won’t settle for anything less than excellence. This whole organization is quite aware of their expectations this season.
Matt Nagy suggested as much in his meeting with the media on Monday morning. The following quote is from Dan Wiederer’s article with the Chicago Tribune.
“So we’ve got to really have that finish mentality. We can’t talk about it. We’ve got to do it, everybody included. I think our guys need to understand that close isn’t good enough, which they will. They know that and they understand it’s a long season. Nobody wanted this game more than we did.” Matt Nagy, via the Chicago Tribune.
Surely, this beats the whole “oh well, we were close, just need to execute better” narrative provided by John Fox during his campaign in Chicago. Nagy knows they have to learn from their mistakes, and I’m quite confident they will learn to win games on a consistent basis.
Despite falling short, Khalil Mack and the Bears’ defense showed serious potential
Khalil Mack, outside linebacker, Chicago Bears. Doesn’t that feel good to say? Like, really really good?
Even though he was with the team for a grand total of eight days prior to his debut, he certainly looked to be worth every draft pick and penny spent on acquiring him. He didn’t even start the game — newcomer Aaron Lynch earned that nod — yet his presence was felt in every snap he played in. Finally, a player who can dominate an entire game by one’s self.
Mack’s night was not just freakish, it was legendary. He became one of only a select few players in history to record at least two games where he registers an interception, a touchdown, sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery in one half of the same game. Even hall of fame players like Lawrence Taylor and Brian Dawkins have accomplished feats like this only once in their respective careers.
His pick six deserves it’s own video for this post.
Having a player such as Mack teamed up with players like Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd should make life easier for others to harass opposing quarterbacks. Take, for example, the debut of rookie linebacker Roquan Smith.
Notice how Khalil Mack is lined up as a defensive end in their formation prior to the ball being snapped. He has, after all, been named an All-Pro player to two different positions on defense. I would look for Vic Fangio to continue using his creativity now that he has such a diverse assortment of players to choose from within his front seven.
Andrew Link does a fantastic job highlighting the Bears’ defense in his week one edition of the rush report.
Overall, a few minor adjustments may need to be made within their game plans moving forward. Yet, players like Mack and Smith are bringing true excitement to the Bears’ linebacker position for many years to come.
He wasn’t perfect, but Mitchell Trubisky showed signs of progression
Yeah, I get it, he should have flashed more than what we all observed at the land of cheese. Completing 65.7% of his passes for just 171 yards, with no passing TDs or INTs would make any fantasy guru’s eyes roll. But Matt Nagy, nor Mitchell Trubisky for the matter, likely care about anyone’s league.
One of the most frequent complaints I’ve noticed is how he doesn’t continuously keep his eyes downfield for big play opportunities. Instead, he’d tuck the ball and scamper for a few yards, probably more often than he should. Again, that’s from a third person’s perspective.
But me, I’m a fan of his improved decision making. Why take the risk downfield while you’re ahead when you can utilize your athleticism and pick up a good chunk of guaranteed yardage? Continue to underestimate what is a very athletic secondary for the Green Bay Packers, and you’ll see interceptions pile up.
Besides, he did occasionally look for opportunities in the scramble drill. Take note of this play, where he found rookie receiver Anthony Miller for a clutch reception on third down.
It’s also a nice thing to have a new arsenal of legitimate weapons to utilize in their passing game. Allen Robinson II, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel all flashed potential when targeted. It just takes time for any quarterback to develop chemistry with any one player, let alone an entirely rebuilt receiving corps.
And honestly, that’s what this all comes down to. Give the young quarterback time to settle in with the new offense, players, and game day strategies. He’s headed into what will be his 14th career game as a starting quarterback in the NFL against the Seattle Seahawks this coming Monday night. Believe it or not, he’s progressing positively as a player. Just be patient.
This team is on the verge of greatness
General manager Ryan Pace certainly put a ton of effort into improving this team. With all the new additions in each phase of the game, it should be expected that a few speed bumps will be felt and ran over. Patience is a virtue.
For people already giving up after watching the first week of action, suit yourself. Loses are frustrating, yet one cannot learn if they do not fail. It is a tragic, yet real part of life.
That is the fundamental lesson Matt Nagy and Co. are, hopefully, going to learn from. He said it himself, “close” is not good enough. I am sure we will see a different approach to this week’s game compared to Sunday’s. A game plan that may see more of an effort to pound the rock with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen each toting the ball. Or, we may see a more explosive passing game.
In the end, this team has the pieces to be great. They simply need time to learn, adapt, and come together as one. There’s no need to mope around with heads hanging low. This team certainly won’t.