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The Bears at the Bye: Serious Answers to Hard Questions

The Bears are struggling. Not really, but sort of. It’s complicated. Complicated times beg for simple answers, and a child’s toy is here to help.

NFL: OCT 06 Bears v Raiders
Not the ball in question. This one has no magic and lacks the spherical shape of a true oracle.
Photo by Martin Leitch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Speculation about the Chicago Bears is pretty dangerous heading into the bye week. Anyone showing optimism is blind to the realities of the crumbling offensive line, the limitations of the quarterback(s), and the struggles of the head coach. In the meantime, anyone showing pessimism is a knee-jerk reactionary failing to consider nuance, jumping to conclusions after a small sample-size, and ignoring the current leadership’s 15-6 regular season record.

I usually deal in data, not speculation, anyway. However, five weeks of play under two different quarterbacks is not enough data to really play around with, anyway. Therefore, I find myself left with no other choice but to bring the big questions about the Bears to the ultimate source. Not Football Outsiders, nor Pro Football Reference, nor the ridiculous subjective evaluation (claiming to be precision) nonsense that is owned by Cris Collinsworth. Nope, I’m turning to the Magic Eight Ball.

Question 1). Can Ryan Pace evaluate quarterbacks?

Background: Ryan Pace brought in Mike Glennon, a quarterback so bad he actually merits consideration as “worst Bears quarterback of the millenium.” He probably doesn’t win that contest, but he should make the list of finalists. Then, he traded up to draft Mitchell Trubisky (Career ANY/A 5.74) so that he would not be stuck drafting Deshaun Watson (Career ANY/A 7.17) or--shudder--Patrick Mahomes (Career ANY/A 9.01). At least he settled the quarterback situation in 2017, otherwise he might have been stuck going after Gardner Minshew in 2019 (ANY/A 7.53). To be fair, he also passed on Deshone Kizer in 2017 (Career ANY/A 3.49) and--a year earlier-- Paxton Lynch (Career ANY/A 4.10).

This sort of murky record makes this question seem perfect for the liquid-filled plastic oracle.

Answer: “Ask again later.”

Seriously? Even the Magic 8 Ball refuses to touch this one.

Question 2). Is Matt Nagy overrated as a head coach?

Background: The first Bears coach since Lovie Smith to reach the playoffs, the reigning coach of the year, and a man who supposedly gets “too cute” when coaching the offense. Nagy and his “Club Dub” was the toast of Chicago in December of 2018, but it’s not even Halloween yet of the next year and already some opinions are getting a little frightful.

Against Nagy is the state of the offense--20th in DVOA last year, 26th in DVOA to date this year-- when he is a supposed offensive mastermind. How fans feel about Nagy is also a referendum on Trubisky (see above) and the roster in general. Is Nagy a genius for hiding the weaknesses of a bust-in-process, or is he Trestman 2.0, an offensive snake-oil salesman wasting a stellar defense that features Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson?

Answer: “Most Likely.”

That seems harsh. However, the oracle has spoken. Nagy better get results soon before we get confirmation from the Ouija Board and kick his Arena-league antics to the curb.

Question 3). Are the Bears still going to make the playoffs?

Background: Chicago is 14th in DVOA so far this season, behind all of their divisional rivals. They have a winning record, but they seem to struggle in big moments. Worse, there is a window, it seems, and that window might close. As a result of a number of factors--some real and so very much imagined--the Bears as they are currently constructed only have so many chances to make the playoffs. If they miss this year, it could be bad news.

Ryan Pace promised Chicago sustained success, and at the moment there is just no sign of it. Except, you know, a DVOA rating in the top half of the league for two seasons running, a 70% win rate under the current head coach, and multiple drafted Pro Bowlers.

So, opinions vary. What does the finest decision-making sphere ever offered by Mattel say?

Answer: Outlook good.

Well, that’s a relief. Actually, on that positive note I’m going to leave off there. I invite my fellow fans of Chicago football to relax over the bye.