Bears fans thought they had experienced disappointment in its worst form after Aaron Rodgers led a monumental week one comeback at Lambeau.
Then, however, Chicago found a way to top that by losing a mistake-filled game to Miami in overtime.
Again, the Bears have found a way to lose a game in more heartbreaking manner than the last. This time to the Patriots, in a contest that will be remembered as the “one more yard” game.
It isn’t often you see a team complete a final play hail mary without finding the endzone. Nevertheless, wide receiver Kevin White hauled in a jump-ball after the clock struck zero with Chicago trailing by seven.
White came down one yard short of the goal line. White maneuvered quickly and turned, attempting to extend the ball into the end zone. Patriots defenders were ready. Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel surrounded White and had the opportunity to help push White a yard forward.
However, the two receivers reacted early and assumed White had already scored or was going to score. They provided no assistance and Chicago was handed another devastating defeat.
— Chicago Bears 24/7 (@CHIBears247) October 21, 2018
As painful as that ending was for Bears fans to accept, if Chicago could have performed better in other areas before that, it wouldn’t have been in a desperate circumstance during the closing seconds of the game.
Let’s reflect on what we can take away from a wild afternoon at Soldier Field.
Launching it deep has been Mitch Trubisky’s biggest concern.
Despite an abysmal performance throwing the ball, Trubisky still managed to add clips to his highlight reel against New England.
Both of these plays came via running the ball, however. Trubisky rushed for over 70 yards on a touchdown scramble in which the line of scrimmage was at New England’s eight yard line. The quarterback also fearlessly scampered for 39 yards in a key moment later in the game.
Just the way we drew it up.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 23, 2018
It’s great to see how athletic and alert Mitch can be when running the ball. But, the Bears need Trubisky to display consistency through the air. After two solid outings in which the second-year QB completed over 70 percent of his passes, Trubisky went 26-50 through the air against the Patriots.
Trubisky’s throwing accuracy, especially on passes of 20 yards or more, has still been an issue in games in which the quarterback has looked good on paper.
Trubisky has made a living off of short passes and catch-and-runs. Screen passes and little curl routes are great, and they definitely should be a part of Chicago’s offense. However, Trubisky has failed to capitalize when receivers have been open down the field.
Every time Mitch airs the ball out, he tosses a prayer that frequently doesn’t even come close to his intended receiver. Chicago has a speedy, explosive receiving core that possesses the capability of burning defenders and creating space down field. The only thing is, they haven’t been able to exhibit this very often.
Trubisky’s deep ball has been hopeless for the most part. There were multiple occurrences in which Trubisky squandered the opportunity to complete a pass for at least 30 yards against the Patriots.
If Trubisky would have been able to connect more often on long passes, Chicago could have picked up a signature victory over Bill Belichick’s squad.
The quarterback needs to improve his throwing accuracy if he ever wants to be the quarterback Chicago paid for. The Bears will also need this if they ever want to truly contend with Mitch behind center.
This has really been the only thing Chicago’s offense has lacked this season. An offense can’t solely rely on short gains and conservative plays. Trubisky needs to keep improving.
Offense isn’t to blame for back-to-back losses.
Even when Chicago put up 48 points in a blowout victory over Tampa Bay, offense, and not the Bears’ apparent rock-solid defense, maintained its role as the biggest concern moving forward.
But, Chicago’s defense has been an entirely different, less-effective unit in the Bears’ last two games compared to their first four.
If Chicago’s defense played like it did in the beginning of the season, 28 points against the Dolphins and 31 against New England would have been more than enough to win each game.
Partly because of injuries, the defense has been below average recently. One has to hope that when Khalil Mack, Prince Amukamara, and Bryce Callahan are fully recovered that this won’t be the case.
Sure, Mack played against the Dolphins and Patriots. But, it’s evident that the star linebacker wasn’t close to himself in either game.
Mack has combined for only three tackles in his last two games after igniting, and putting up record-setting numbers over Chicago’s first four games. Mack is the leader of this defense. He needs to be at full strength in order for the unit to bounce back moving forward.
Recent struggles from the whole unit are apparent. The Bears’ defense ranked near the top of the NFL in yards allowed per game before beginning their four-game AFC East slate. Now, after allowing 541 yards to Miami and 381 to the Patriots, the Monsters of the Midway rank 12th.
Something that should keep the #Bears defense up at night:
The Patriots had the ball up 7 with 4:13 to play …
With their starting RB hurt …
And they ran 8 offensive plays — all runs — to gain 2 first downs and bleed 3 minutes and 35 seconds off the clock.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) October 22, 2018
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is great at what he does, which is why Chicago locked him up before the season. However, the suddenly non-existent pass rush is largely in part to his recent play-calling adjustments.
A smothering, dominant pass rush was the main contributor to Chicago’s incredible defensive start this season.
Just as much as the Bears need their defense to reach full health again, Fangio needs to go back to calling plays like he did through the first four games.
Fans shouldn’t be surprised with where the Bears stand.
Obviously, a 3-3 start isn’t anything to write home about.
However, considering Chicago went 5-11 last season, you’d think many fans would be content with how the Bears have played so far in 2018. Instead, fans are significantly more frustrated than optimistic.
The frustrations boil down to the fact that many would argue Chicago should be 5-1, or maybe even 6-0 right now.
Regardless, a .500 record at this stage of the year is honestly what a logical fan would have expected before the season began.
Even when Chicago unexpectedly signed Mack, a reasonable expectation was winning 8-10 games. The assumption was also that the 2018 Bears would be extremely competitive, but still a season or two away from a true contender.
Competitive is exactly what the Bears have been. Chicago has lost its three games by a combined 11 points. In other words, the Bears have had an opportunity to win every game they’ve played so far.
That is something this franchise hasn’t had the pleasure of saying in quite some time, which is why fans should be content for the time being. At least you can watch your team again Bears fans.
8-10 wins is still possible and is in fact extremely likely, meaning Chicago is in position to do what they were expected to.
Next season, and especially the season after that, Bears fans appropriately will have higher standards for their team. But, for the time being, Chicago is right on track to satisfy the realistic expectations set for them during the preseason.
Bears fans have been asked for a lot of patience over the years. It may be a nuisance to ask for more. Still, a little more, and hopefully only a little, is needed.
- Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Eddie Herz is a senior journalism major at Colorado State University. He has been a beat reporter for CSU's newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian, since he was a freshman. Eddie has also contributed to the BTPowerhouse.com, a sister website of SBnation. Eddie will be the CSU Football beat reporter for the Rocky Mountain Collegian this coming Fall.
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