Fresh off what some might consider the low point of the Matt Nagy era in Cleveland, the NFL could not have gifted the Bears more of a softball. The division rival Lions, currently 0-3 with a -28 point differential, visit Chicago this Sunday. Detroit has been competitive for much of its first three games before eventually fading away in a manner that most poor teams do. Dan Campbell’s regime as a first-year head coach is not necessarily trying to win as the Lions begin a long-term rebuild, but they won’t lament any “accidental” victories either.
If there were ever a time for the Bears to claw back to .500 and regroup before a gauntlet of a schedule opens up, it would be now. Upcoming dates against the Raiders, Packers, Buccaneers, and Ravens will not be any kinder. The only problem is that the Bears, at 1-2, have a -37 point differential. And in their two losses, the opposition has pounded them into a very fine paste. While not trying to rebuild (?), they have inarguably been less competitive than Detroit on final score sheets. A surprising, fun defense aside, as usual, it’s how the Bears play on offense that’s to blame.
Despite what would appear to be a talented skill position supporting cast on paper that features Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, and David Montgomery, Chicago is last or near last in the NFL in most relevant categories. Total yards gained per game (191.2); last in passing yards per game (90.7); last in explosive play rate (five percent; anything 20-plus yards); second to last in points scored (13.3); and fifth to last in third-down conversion percentage (32.4). (Oh, and anecdotally, they can’t block any pass rusher with above-average speed.)
But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
You have to make an active, concerted effort to be this lifeless and this pathetic on the side of the ball where the NFL has done everything to make it easier. To be fair, I suppose if there were one team that could fail to rise to the occasion of a favorable rulebook and more dynamic talent on offense across the league than ever, it would be the Bears. The logic and historical precedent add up. There is no bottom in an endless abyss for this franchise. I’m not saying it’s going to happen — I don’t want to see the apathy and downright psychosis this would inspire — but if there were a team that could fail an instinctive, cannon-armed quarterback that runs a 4.40 40-yard dash, it would be the Bears. Even expansion teams have had better fortune with talented signal-callers.
The Bears should beat the Lions. The keyword there being should. But I have no idea how to predict anything positive that will happen for this current iteration. Nagy’s standing makes me question everything of late, to the point where I think I am probably, going insane.
Was Mitchell Trubisky a competent quarterback? (slaps self in face)
Was Anthony Miller really a dynamic, reliable receiver? (slams head on desk)
Were Jordan Howard and Javon Wims et al. failed? (pulls out a glob of hair)
Okay, I won’t go that far. Maybe I do have a semblance of sanity left.
The only guarantees I can make, at this moment, are that as much as the listless Lions are a get-right game for the Bears, the listless Bears are a get-right game for the Lions. And, of course, Nagy will do something, anything that pisses off the entire Northeastern corridor of Illinois. That’s the extent of my Rob-stradamus prognostication. Anything else is too much of a crapshoot with this organization.
Windy City Gridiron picks Bears-Lions and every other NFL game in Week 4 of the 2021 season.