After a (5-1) start, the Chicago Bears find themselves falling fast after a two-game losing streak. In most cases, a small skid could be written off as simply just that, but in the Bears case, things feel much different. All those breaks they were catching earlier in the season when they were making improbable comeback? Gone. The play is getting sloppier and the frustration on the sideline is becoming more visible.
Is this a loss that will sink the season? Likely not, but either way, this team needs answers and they need to find them quick.
1. First and foremost, Javon Wims should be given his walking papers
On the Bears’ second drive of the third quarter, they started out with a healthy five-yard gain from Allen Robinson, but then all hell broke loose. A scuffle ensued and at the bottom of that pile was Wims, who came up clapping and yelling. Most fans first reaction was that he drew a penalty and was actually helping his team but the reality was much different.
On the replay, Wims was shown throwing not one but two punches at defensive back Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, both of them without a swing back. They both appeared out of nowhere but regardless, it changed the entire drive and led to the Saints kicking the go-ahead field goal.
This offense cannot afford stupid penalties, even though they will happen, it just can’t happen like this. What Wims did was beyond selfish and as head coach Matt Nagy said “That’s not how we roll,” among a few other quotes that shows how wrong Wims was. Long story short, Wims is the team’s fourth receiver and barely made the team. There’s no room for this, especially from a backup with little value. The Bears need to send a message and cut bait.
2. Nagy’s post-season presser may have been the most defeated we’ve seen him since taking over two and a half seasons ago
Again, despite being two games over (.500), the Bears look more like a losing team than a playoff contender. Losing winnable games is one thing, but playing the way they did for the majority of the second half in Sunday’s game, is something that drew plenty of criticism from Fox’s broadcast team, namely Troy Aikman.
After the game, Nagy was emotional and rightfully so. Not only does this team have a terrible offense, they are undisciplined and lack any sort of consistency. “are we gonna start going against each other or are we gonna stick together and fight through this thing? And I know what we’ll do, it just takes time. Anytime you lose two games in a row, that part hurts too.” The head coach later challenged his leaders to step up and help right the ship, saying this isn’t how he wants it to be but that it needs to happen.
Despite their hot start, this team appears to be on the brink of a tailspin if things don’t change quickly. Which is quite shocking considering they were off to their best start in almost a decade before this two-game speed bump.
3. We were sold a bad bill of goods on Nick Foles and over the past two weeks, that has become all too apparent
I’m not sure there was one objective Bears fan who looked at the Foles acquisition and thought he was the long-term answer. I also don’t think there were many fans who believed he was actually a legitimately good NFL quarterback. Even so, we were told that he knew that offense and that his familiarity within it and the coaches was why they chose to give up a fourth round pick and guarantee him over $20 million over signing another cheaper free agent option.
So far, I’ve seen a veteran quarterback’s confidence within the offense and his personnel shrinking by the snap. Over the past two games Foles is getting hit more behind a makeshift offensive line. In turn, he’s not setting his feet and panicking more in the pocket, leading to more sacks. Because of this, his accuracy is becoming an issue, as is his decision making.
Heading into 2020, I was very adamant that Mitchell Trubisky was not the answer and shouldn’t be starting. While I still feel this way, it’s becoming harder for the team to justify playing a veteran that is quickly looking more and more like Trubisky on a weekly basis without the athleticism.
4. Can someone explain to me why general manager Ryan Pace gave Robert Quinn a big free agent deal, while seeing under half of the defensive snaps?
In the off-season, the Bears decided to rescind the franchise tag on Leonard Floyd and sign the veteran in Quinn to a five-year, $70 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. At the time, I did think it was quite a bit of money, but Quinn’s ability to rush the passer and play a big chunk of snaps seemed like a gamble worth taking.
Fast forward eight games into his first year and the numbers aren’t great. He has one sack and while he has been pressuring the quarterback quite a bit, his snap count is what is more concerning. In the seven games he’s played so far this year, he has played (50%) or more just twice in that time span, including (51%) on Sunday.
When you’re paying a guy $14 million a year, you expect much more. Couple that with a few other questionable veteran contracts this year and their bleak future cap outlook, the questions about Pace’s recently roster building decisions are mounting.
5. While it’s still somewhat early and the Bears hold the control in 2021, Allen Robinson’s future in Chicago doesn’t appear to be one that will be long-lasting
For the majority of the off-season and even into the start of the regular season, the push from fans and players to get Robinson extended was a big storyline. Since that point, there’s been no mention of a new contract and the team’s top offensive weapon appears to be growing more and more frustrated on the sidelines.
Late in Sunday’s game, Robinson was seen walking away from the team’s offensive meeting on the sideline and talking to himself in frustration. This came off the heels of a terrible fourth down throw to Robinson, who appeared to be open but was overthrown.
In itself, any player getting frustrated is not a big deal and a part of the game. In the context of Robinson, it’s clear that his frustration goes far beyond one play or even one game. The quarterback play has been putrid throughout his NFL career and his targets have gone down quite a bit over the past few games with Foles under center. Couple that with no new contract and you’ve got a recipe for a messy breakup in the near future, even if they franchise tag him this coming off-season. Yet another situation that Pace has royally screwed up with little-to-no reason behind it.
6. Roquan Smith is starting to look like a No. 8 overall pick
For the time being, I’m done ripping the Bears and would like to look at some of the the positives. What better way to start that by highlighting Smith who had another outstanding game on Sunday.
Smith finished the game with 11 tackles, two and a half for loses and a near interception. He was all over the field, both against the run and the pass. This is exactly the type of product and player the Bears thought they were getting when they took him in the top 10 three years ago.
Consistency is key for him but man, he’s finally starting to come into his own, which could end up making him the team’s best first-round pick in the Pace era.
7. Speaking of young players stepping up and/or developing, the team clearly found themselves a gem in Darnell Mooney
Back in April, Pace traded around and ended up with a trio of fifth-round picks. Among those three picks, he took a small school receiver with a ton of speed. At the time, it was expected that it would take the rookie the majority of the year to earn snaps and develop into somewhat of a deep threat. The reality has been much different, as he has clearly become the team’s second receiver.
On the game, he finished the game with five catches for 69 yards, including a 50-yard bomb and a touchdown. For as bleak of an outlook as this offense has, he has been a clear bright spot all year long.
8. It’s official (at least for me): Cairo Santos is the team’s kicker until further notice
Put me in the category of people who were against even bringing in the veteran kicker to begin with. I believed that since his injury in 2016, he was simply not the same top-end kicker that he was and the Bears had better options to chose from. Turns out, I was wrong and Santos might have revitalized his career in Chicago.
Despite his one somewhat rough game earlier in the season, Santos has been nails and has converted on multiple 50-yard opportunities, including a 51-yard game tying try on Sunday to send the team into overtime.
On the year, he’s (14/16) in total, but he’s also (5/7) from 40 yards and beyond, which is huge. It’s also crazy to think that he’s still just 28-years-old.
9. Fast forwarding a bit to the off-season, what the Bears choose to do at quarterback will be fascinating
I still have my doubts that we’ll see Trubisky again this year, but even if we do he’s got eight games left on his contract and he will surely not be returning in any capacity for 2021. Foles has also proven not to be the long-term option, so what’s next?
Despite their two-game losing streak, they are still on pace for a 10 win season. With their second half schedule, it’s easy to see how they’ll at least finish with eight wins or better. That likely leaves them picking outside of the top 15, which is where at least three of the top quarterbacks in this draft class will go.
When looking at their salary cap situation, it doesn’t look much better, especially if it ends up landing somewhere around the $175 million mark that was projected before the regular season started. If that’s the case, the team would have to move a ton of money around just to make a veteran quarterback work. Even if someone like Dak Prescott his the Free Agent market, could the Bears really afford it?
Teams can always make things work, but the Bears have really put themselves in a tough position moving forward and some of that was Pace’s doing this off-season with moves like Quinn, Jimmy Graham and Foles.
10a. It was nice to Dwayne Harris back there fielding punts
After Tarik Cohen went down Ted Ginn Jr. simply looked like he had zero interest in fielding punts or making plays in that regard. On Sunday, the Bears called up Harris for the game and purely effort based, may have won himself a roster spot and job for the final eight games. It was a welcomed sight and one that should pay off.
10b. Sunday may have been David Montgomery’s best game of the season
While he still has a long way to go, Montgomery’s performance against a tough Saints run defense was one to note. As the broadcast pointed out, Montgomery has been making chicken soup from chicken poop. While sometimes his vision can be questionable, this appeared to be a possible breakout game for him moving forward and one that should make fans happy.