Important lyrics: "In the car, I just can't wait/ To pick you up on our very first date\ Is it cool if I hold your hand?/ Is it wrong if I think it's lame to dance?"
The beginning of the Marc Trestman era. I remember very clearly being so nervous about getting rid of Lovie Smith. Was he taking us to the Super Bowl every year? No. But his continued success made me, and I would assume some other Bears’ fans, start to question the decision. But at this point, I was a young 21 year old kid, what did I know?
With that questioning though comes nerves and excitement. I remember deep diving into Trestman and his success as a QB coach in multiple locations. I was so intrigued reading about his CFL success. It made me feel like I was on a first date. What could I expect? Am I right to be so intrigued and excited? Am I going to leave disappointed or happy? That optimism and opportunity was the story of this season for me.
And not only that, but there was some success! Plus a roster with a giant arm QB and 2 big body wide receivers. They were 8-8, but their offense was ranked second in the league. They had tools at every offensive position. Surely it was all going up from here, right? …right?
Important lyrics: "They can’t make things worse for me/ Sometimes I’d rather die/ They can tell me lots of things/ But we can’t see eye to eye."
Wrong. This was a season of the most visceral and tangible disappointment I can remember as a Bears fan. All of the offensive promise fell off a cliff. The offense was ranked 23rd in points and 21st in yards. Cutler threw 18 interceptions, many of them particularly egregious, after only 12 the year before. The -123 point differential was the worst since 2000. It felt like the bottom of the barrel.
Most vividly, I remember sitting at my copy editing job in the newsroom on a Sunday night watching the Packers go up 42-0 with absolute ease in the first half. There were 2 40+ yard bombs to Jordy Nelson, a 56 yard catch and run by Eddie "China Food" Lacy, and a lot of sadness. It was one of the most deflating losses I can remember, and I was pretty sure that no matter how hard the Bears tried, it couldn’t possibly get any worse than this.
They could tell me a lot of things: That the head coach was fired. That the offensive coordinator was fired. That I was never going to have to see a Mel Tucker defense for my favorite team ever again. But after this disappointment, I didn’t know if I’d ever believe again.
Important lyrics: "I fell into a bog/ Slipped inside the slime & sludge/ I fell so far"
The beginning of the John Fox era was definitely a metaphorical bog that the Bears fell into. More accurately, they dove in head first.
The Bears made a (relatively understandable) mistake. After absolutely crashing and burning with an unknown commodity who had never been a head coach before, they wanted a more experienced coach. They wanted to feel like they knew what they were getting. Their mistake came in what they thought they were getting vs. what they actually got.
They thought they were getting a defensive mind who could step in and improve a defense that was 31st in points allowed and 30th in yard allowed the year before.
What they actually got was an absolute sinkhole of conservatism and stagnated thought. They got someone who was OK with 8-8 and still thought it was 2004, which left the franchise half in and half out of some quicksand.
Important lyrics: "For a second, let's be honest/ Nothing will clean your filthy conscience/ Everything you do makes me wanna vomit/ And if this tour doesn't kill you, buddy, I'm on it!"
At this point, I cannot think of a Bears fan I know that was not ready for John Fox to be fired. Not even just normal fired. Stuffed into a rocket ship and fired into the sun.
The Bears continued to be pathetic under Fox, and had a -120 point differential on the year. For all that was made of his defensive prowess, his defense was 24th in scoring, and the Bears went 3-13. We also had to endure his insufferable personality in the media, refusing to explain anything to anyone and being extremely offended that people would even ask. If that didn’t somehow kill his time in Chicago, I was ready to handle it myself.
The Bears ended the season with a particularly bad 38-10 intradivision loss to the Vikings where the Bears continued a trend of putrid offenses and put up 140 yards. Fox finished the season 3-13, tied for the worst mark in Bears history post-implementation of the 16 game season.
With things being this bad, they had to fire him? Right? ….right?
Important lyrics: "What do I get, oh-oh, what do I get?/ I only get sleepless nights/ Alone here in my half-empty bed/ For you things seem to turn out right/ I wish they'd only happen to me instead"
Wrong. What do we get? More John Fox.
There’s a couple different ways this song is fitting for the 2017 Bears season. For one, this was a season where the Green Bay Packers finally, finally didn’t win their division. If the Bears were a halfway competent team, they could make a push at an open division championship. But what do we get? More John Fox. What do we get? 29th ranked offense. What do we get? Kendall Wright as a leading receiver.
Moreover, this is the draft. I don’t even necessarily need to explain without you knowing what I’m talking about. The draft where Ryan Pace was so enamored that Trubisky drove a Geo Prizm and called his parents a couple times a week that he traded up to draft him 2nd overall. After a league-wide QB renaissance and playing against Aaron Rodgers year after year after year, what do we get? Maserati Michell.
Other teams around the league are experiencing success, trips to the playoffs, and offenses that are actually fun. What do we get? Another rancid, forgettable year. But with it came the end of the John Fox era, and a new man entered the arena for one of the rare glimpses of hope in recent Bears memory. That man was…
Important lyrics: "Some call it slums, some call it nice/ I want to take you through/ A wasteland I like to call my home/ Welcome to paradise"
Matt F’ing Nagy. It seems insane to look at him as being a beacon of hope knowing how it turned out. But man, I thought we were about to live in paradise for a long time.
Fresh off of a humiliating playoff loss where the Chiefs fumbled a big lead (before which Nagy lost playcalling duties, gee it sure seems like these should have been warning signs!), Nagy became the head coach of the Bears. The former Arena Football League quarterback was supposed to be the Mitchell whisperer. And in fairness, Mitch had his best year in his NFL career with 3,200 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and some big contributions on the ground as well.
The Bears finished 12-4, won the division, Matt Nagy was the Head Coach of the Year, and things were looking up.
Oh, and the Bears traded for former DPOY Khalil Mack in the offseason.
But while we called it nice, could you also call it the slums? The roster was not necessarily great. The Bears added Allen Robinson who led the team in receiving but still underachieved, and outside of that the receiving corps was not good. Trubisky had huge question marks in his game. The running back room was uncertain. The defense was absolutely stellar, but starting to age. That’s all without mentioning the soul crushing double doink that ended the season. But for a brief moment, it felt like paradise.
So it had to just keep getting better right? It was all up from there….right?
Important lyrics: "And when there is no hope/ I'll smoke some crack, I'll shoot some dope!/ When there's no enemies/ I sit and stare at my T.V."
*Narrator voice* It did not just keep getting better from there.
In fact, it crashed and burned. The questions about Mitch turned out to be the rule, not the exception. The questions about Matt Nagy did too. The defense was still elite, but could no longer could carry an offense that was 29th in the league in both scoring and yards.
The hope of the last season made all of these issues more upsetting and difficult. It truly felt like there was no longer any hope for the Bears to string a couple good seasons together. We started following this roller coaster pattern of having a good season, and then a few years in the dumpster.
The defense was still so good this year, which was the only thing to look forward to. But as a longtime Bears fan, especially as the league transitioned into such an offense-heavy emphasis, it became so tough to watch a great defense and a horrendous offense. So many games this year felt like the hype of watching the defense shut down opponents at the beginning of games, and sitting and staring at the TV waiting for the offense to do something.
The offense generally wouldn’t follow up great defensive performances and the Bears finished third in the division, out of the playoffs, and questioning their quarterback, coach, and GM. Such a familiar tune!
Important lyrics: "I'm feelin' deep deep blue/ I don't know what to do/ Ah, honey, where are you?/ Leggo my ego!"
At this point I was just so sick of Matt Nagy. I remember texting a friend several times during this season to something of the effect of "the smartest guy in the room strikes again!" Nagy had this horrific tendency to have to try to outsmart everyone and be ten steps ahead, when in reality it just ended up leaving him about five steps behind.
You can still see it now that he’s the OC in Kansas City. The week 1 3rd and 1 end around that got stuffed behind the line (when you have Patrick Mahomes on your team) is a great example. That overly cutesy playcalling, and the general air of "heh, check this one out" that his plays exuded just became unbearable, especially since it led to another bottom third finish on offense.
The Bears snuck into the playoffs in the expanded wild card and put up a stinker of a game against the Saints. A late touchdown to Jimmy Graham made it look closer than it was, but it never felt close.
That Matt Nagy ego not only grated on me like not much else ever has, but felt like it played a big part in Trubisky’s weird journey of development (or lack thereof), which came to a head this season. I was beyond ready to Leggo of the Ego.
2021: Time Bomb- Rancid
Important lyrics: "Black coat, white shoes, black hat, Cadillac/ Yeah, the boy's a time bomb"
Like with his predecessor John Fox, this season felt like it was unnecessary. Did we really need another year to evaluate whether Matt Nagy was "the guy?"
This experiment was about 2 seconds exploding at the end of the 2020 season, and spent 17 games on the absolute brink this season as well.
With Justin Fields being drafted this offseason, it was do or die for Nagy, and it was a hopeful time where Bears fans were (and still are) hoping that they finally have the quarterback that this franchise has been lacking for decades.
But you could tell early on, this season (as well as Matt Nagy’s Bears career) was a time bomb waiting to blow the roof of the building.
First, Fields was inexplicably named the second-string. Nagy was, for some reason, adamant that Andy Dalton was the QB1. Another big-ego, "we’re going to do things MY way" decision. Tick, tick, tick tick.
Then, he decided after taking second-team reps all preseason, that Fields was the starter. Against Cleveland. Who had Myles Garrett. Tick, tick, tick, tick.
Then Fields finally debuted, and as many predicted, got slaughtered to the tune of 9 (nine) sacks. TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK.
Decisions like this were abound and ultimately wound up in a 6-11 (TICKTICKTICKTICKTICKTICK) record.
By the end of the season, between the 12 fumbles, the inept offense (again), the injuries and missed games, and just general sense of discombobulation, the explosion was nuclear, and Nagy and a whole host of others were out of there. Who possibly could have seen this coming????
Important lyrics: "I'm about to have a nervous breakdown/ My head really hurts/ If I don't find a way out of here/ I'm gonna go berserk"
A new coach. A new offensive coordinator. A new offensive system. A new GM. A total overhaul.
It’s a feeling that Chicago Bears fans have become used to. This cycle of "blowing it up" seems to happen quite a bit.
What hadn’t happened up to this point (at least for me) was this feeling of urgency. To me, this HAS to be the regime to fix it. I can’t handle another new coach. Another new GM. Another new QB. Another new offensive coordinator. Another new offensive system. And more importantly another "well, let’s wait and see" approach.
The struggles of this season were expected, and honestly felt like almost a blessing at the time. Getting the number one pick, being able to flip that, seeing Justin Fields have some success (even if the struggles along the line meant it was mostly with his legs), all felt like things that showed signs of improvement and a bright future.
But man, the negatives made it tough to believe. A decline in performance from last year, a year which I thought was as bad as it could get. A roster that, top to bottom, was Swiss cheese. Several positions filled by players that probably shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of a depth chart anywhere. A horrible terrible no good very bad offensive line.
Thinking about the future of this team really did make me want to have a nervous breakdown, and make my head hurt. And if we didn’t find a way out of it and into some success soon, I certainly was going to go berserk.
Important lyrics: "I am a patient boy/ I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait/ My time, water down a drain/ Everybody's moving/ Everybody's moving/ Everybody's moving, moving, moving, moving/ Please don't leave me to remain/ In the waiting room"
Things were in place to change. The Aaron Rodgers era was over. We added talent on the defense, especially at linebacker. We added a top tier wide receiver in DJ Moore. Fields was allegedly in place to succeed as a passer as well as a runner.
On top of that, we started off the season against the Green Bay Packers. A rivalry that was allegedly about to start to tip in our favor.
This is the season everything changes right? ….right?
We all know how that turned out. It probably still hurts, deep in the pit of all our stomachs. I know it does for me.
What gets to me the worst is that no matter how long I wait, no matter how much everyone else seems to be able to move and shift things around, get new coaches, get new players, get new systems, and be able to have at least the same amount, if not more, sustained success, the Bears are stuck in neutral in the same place they were 10 years ago. Questions at quarterback. Questions at head coach. Questions at the coordinators. Questions at the GM. And most of all, a half-assed, piss poor product on the field.
So I wait. And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.
Will that change? Or will I remain stuck in the waiting room, watching my time on Sundays go like water down the drain?