They always say that things can change in the blink of an eye, and that’s exactly how most Chicago Bears fans feel after Monday night’s embarrassing blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Nothing went right offensively and the defense lacked its usual bite. Are things finally coming to a head offensively? What adjustments can this team possibly make in-season to make the needed improvements offensively? All of this and more coming up in my 10 Takes.
1. You get what you invest in and right now, there’s plenty of holes on offense
Heading into the off-season, most fans would agree the Bears had multiple holes within the offense. Despite that, general manager Ryan Pace spent minimally, and not overly effectively, and now it is starting to show in a big way.
I don’t think anyone was expecting a massive one-season turnaround, but in most ways this offense doesn’t look remotely improved and that’s a cause for real concern. The run game is still bad. The offensive line (albeit, two with key injuries now) looks like swiss cheese. Instead of seeing what their 2019 fourth-round receiver in Riley Ridley has, they are content keeping veteran Ted Ginn Jr. active to “field” punts.
There are a ton of holes and it doesn’t appear this team can plug them quick enough to stop a sinking ship offensively.
I guess that’s what happens when the general manager hasn’t spent a single first round pick on an offensive line or spent anything before a late round pick on attempting to develop an offensive tackle.
2. Replacing Leonard Floyd with Robert Quinn did not have a good look to it Monday night
Has Quinn been as much of a non-factor as his base numbers would show? Absolutely not but when you consider that Floyd was younger and a former first round draft pick of the team, you’d expect a more sizable upgrade in production coming from the veteran in Quinn. Simply put that has not happened so far.
Quinn has one sack over six games, while Floyd recorded two by himself last night. While things can’t be evaluated within a one-game sample size, it’s very clear that at the very worst, the team’s big investment in Quinn has not paid off nearly as much as they had hoped for. This is also an investment that will linger on the payroll for multiple years due to the structure of his deal.
With so many holes offensively, it’s not hard to question why Pace continues to invest much more cap resources on the defensive side of the ball.
3. It has reached that time where there needs to be some serious conversations regarding Matt Nagy giving up his play calling duties
Coming over from Kansas City back in 2018, most had expected this offense to take a big step in the right direction. In some ways it did and many felt good about former No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky heading into 2019. Since that point, it’s been all down hill and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
The argument that Trubisky wasn’t the “guy” at quarterback still holds plenty of water. Even so, Nick Foles was a “hand picked” option for Nagy due to his familiarity and as we’ve seen, the results haven’t been much better, if at all. They also changed a ton of their offensive coaching staff this year. All off-season, fans were told Juan Castillo was going to be a bigger difference maker than the offensive line personnel. We have yet to see that come to fruition.
The reality? None of it is working. Castillo may be a good coach, but he doesn’t have a ton of talent to work with and virtually zero depth on top of that. They can’t run the ball, they are struggling to protect the quarterback and the play calling has been increasingly poor.
After all of the off-season changes, there’s one person to look at and that’s Nagy. I’ll leave you on this topic with this:
On the broadcast last night, Brian Griese talked about how Foles primary complaint within this offense has been that Nagy will send in a play call that Foles knows won’t work because he simply won’t have enough time to snap it. To me, that sounds like a complexity issue and something that has been an issue from the jump with Nagy running this offense.
4. At (5-2), the Bears are still in a good position moving forward, but splitting these next two games could be the key to the season
If you thought the schedule was about to lighten up after their mishap in Los Angeles, think again. The Bears will head home on a short week to play the (4-2) New Orleans Saints this Sunday afternoon, followed by a quick road trip out to Tennessee to face a (5-1) Titans team that has looked purely dominant on the year.
The difference between (6-3) and (5-4) is obviously big, even with five winnable games over their last seven. Here’s to hoping Nagy and this coaching staff can find a way to right the ship because if not, this could be a long few weeks for Bears fans.
5. Eddie Jackson finally got that ever illusive defensive touchdown for the first time in 2020
I’m sure there was a point during that fumble recovery where every Bears fan was holding their breath after they saw a flag go down as Jackson marched into the end zone for the team’s lone touchdown of the night. Luckily for them, it was an offensive penalty and the play stood. After Jackson had a pair of pick sixes called back, this was a welcomed sight in somewhat of a dark game.
All in all, Jackson is having a very good year. While the interception numbers may not be there, teams are rarely targeting him. It was also good to see that his mid-game knee injury appeared to be nothing more than a hyperextension.
6. Allen Robinson needs to be more involved
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Foles spreading the ball around and finding the open receivers, but when the game was still within reach, Robinson had just two catches. On the game, he finished with four catches for for 70 yards, but 42 of those came on a deep shot down the field with the game already out of hand.
At least to me, it seems like the Bears are involving the wrong players on offense as of late, including guys like Demetrius Harris, who continues to simply be bad.
7. Speaking of being more involved, rookie Cole Kmet is finally showing flashes and it’s a welcomed sight
Early in the game, it was once again the Kmet show. This is the second straight week in which the rookie tight end appears to becoming more of a factor on the offensive side of the ball.
His first catch was a slightly underthrown deep ball that he was able to haul in and get 38 yards on. On the night, he finished with two catches for 45 yards and while that in itself isn’t overly impressive, it’s clear that he’s becoming more comfortable within the offense. Now it’s time to reward him with more playing time, even if that means more pass catching situations.
8. In terms of the playoff race, it was one very bad week for the Bears, but one that happens on occasion to most teams in a season
To put it lightly, the Bears got very little help this weekend from other teams in the NFC playoff picture. Obviously it’s still pretty early to be looking at playoff seeding or even counting a team in for the playoffs, but it’s still something that is fun to monitor.
Despite all but one of the top eight teams within the NFC winning, the Bears still find themselves as the fifth seed heading into Week 8, mostly in part to their conference record. The good news? Things will level out in the NFC West with head-to-head matchups. The bad news? The Bears schedule doesn’t let up until their Week 10 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Again, splitting these next two games could be the key to this team’s season.
9. Looking ahead to the off-season, how the Bears choose to address not only the quarterback situation, but the offense as a whole will be interesting to watch
Ideally, you’d like to see Pace take another first round swing at a quarterback in the draft. That’s usually the best way to find your franchise quarterback, but with guys like Zach Wilson playing out of his mind lately, it’s possible that the top four quarterbacks in the projected 2021 draft class could be off the board before the Bears pick in the first round.
On top of that, the Bears need a lot of help on the offensive line and a pair of better pass catchers. Which begs the question — Would the Bears spend bigger money on acquiring a veteran (aka Dak Prescott or maybe even Derek Carr) and spend their top-end draft resources on the offensive line and weapons?
Only time will tell, but this is going to be a crucial off-season to get this offense back into the 21st century.
10a. This is your weekly reminder than Khalil Mack is still one of the best defensive players on the planet
Mack added yet another sack to his stat line on Monday night and as we’ve continued to see, he’s a long way away from being “done” in this league. Seems like a weird thing to say for a player in his prime, but there were too many Bears fans that believed Mack was never going to be the same player he was in 2018.
10b. Mario Edwards Jr. has been yet another good veteran find along the defensive line
Despite the fact that he continues to see minimal snaps, Edwards’ impact when he’s in the game continues to show. He finished the game with a pair of tackles-for-loss, including blowing up Robert Woods on a run play in the third quarter of Monday’s game. He’s been quite the under the radar find so far in 2020.
10c. Enough is enough with Ted Ginn Jr. as the punt returner
He didn’t field a single punt on Monday night. Enough is enough at this point because it’s clear this is something he does not want to do.