Football

Three Things We Learned From Week 11 – I’m Looking At You…You’re Looking At Me…

Our Coach/QB Axis Of Confusion – This probably should be one. And it’s basically all we’ve talked about for the whole season, but where else do you start?

I don’t know that Sean McVay is any more of a genius or idiot than Matt Nagy. Something tells me they’re of the same cloth, and the Rams season is likely to spin out of control after this anyway. And I’m fairly sure Jared Goff sucks too. But I guess that means they’re both working with the same thing.

Which made last night’s developments all the more infuriating. Because it looked like McVay had an actual plan, even if it was conservative as all fuck. They were going to run the ball, run it some more, and keep running it, if only to keep it out of Goff’s hands as much as possible. And McVay probably knew that the Bears would shift to that 6+1 front to stymie the run, which they did. And yet he remained patient.

He could do that because Nagy’s offense never got away from the Rams or forced him to have to chase the game, but McVay also knew that when the game was on the line, he could take all that had come before and react off of that to get the one touchdown he would need to win the game. So with the Bears in that same front, the Rams finally went to play-action and suddenly Goff has some pretty simple open and easy throws to make. And it didn’t even matter that his best was called back to an illegal formation. How open was that? And then they went down the field anyway.

When has Matt Nagy ever had a consistent plan like that? When has he ever just said, “We’re gonna do this until they make an adjustment, and then we’ll counter that?” Or has it all been “We’re gonna do everything on every drive?” You know the answer. So do I.

We see the Bears do something that tends to work–I-formation, no-huddle, rolling Mitch out–but it never lasts more than a drive or two. The Bears don’t wait around for the move to stop it. They just assume it’s coming and try to change before it does. But they always end up changing back to something that doesn’t work (hi there, option play on 3rd-and-1 with a possibly injured QB!).

It’s a metaphor I go back to far too much, but watching Matt Nagy I’m reminded of how Chuck Klosterman described how Axl Rose writes songs:

But Rose is the complete opposite. He takes the path of most resistance. Sometimes it seems like Axl believes every single Guns N’ Roses song needs to employ every single thing that Guns N’ Roses has the capacity to do—there needs to be a soft part, a hard part, a falsetto stretch, some piano plinking, some R&B; bullshit, a little Judas Priest, subhuman sound effects, a few Robert Plant yowls, dolphin squeaks, wind, overt sentimentality, and a caustic modernization of the blues.

Matt Nagy’s offense has to do everything, even when it clearly has neither the QB or the offensive line to do so. The Bears need simple. One thing, then a counter. They need basically Tim Duncan’s early career post-game. McVay was content to do that last night. Nagy never has been. And this is what you get.

The other thing is McVay revamped his offensive line that had been leaky all year. I don’t know if that’s available to the Bears given the talent level, and they sort of tried that with flipping Daniels and Whitehair back between guard and center. But it’s definitely not a plus in Nagy’s category either.

It’s Ok Mitch, A Lot Of Careers Come To An End In LA – I have to imagine 75% of being a quarterback sucks, unless you’re one of like the five good ones in the world. You’re the only player, in any sport that I can think of actually, that has to have your own press conference after every game and during the week. You know your whole team is looking at you from the moment you show up. No matter how good your focus is, you have to be somewhat aware that an entire fanbase/city is basically judging your entire self-worth on how you play, even if things within your own team are working against you.

I don’t think Mitch got a lot of help last night. The receivers had a few killer drops. His o-line still sucks, though they held up mostly ok last night even with that Mad Titan Aaron Donald around. His coach won’t accentuate the things we think he does well. He may be hurt. The overarching issues aren’t his fault either. He didn’t trade up to draft himself. He didn’t choose to be taken ahead of Mahomes or Watson, something he can do nothing about and that he’ll never live down. His skills are his skills. His coach’s and GM’s inability to read those correctly aren’t really his fault either.

But what I can’t get past, and really haven’t been able to all season, is the big plays he misses. That’s what keeps everyone from living with the mistakes. The miss to Anthony Miller is a touchdown. Miller would still be running. That would have put the Bears up 7-0 and really erased the worries over the kicker. He missed Braunecker on another that would have gone for 30-40 yards. There were two others where Robinson and Cohen had their men beat but he was going for back shoulder throws that were a good 5-10 yards behind them. The INT was just an awful throw.

You make those throws, or even most of them, and the Bears win. You can’t miss the big plays when they’re there, because they don’t come around that often, especially with this line. Fuck, two of them and the Bears probably win.

Maybe it’s confidence. Maybe a Mitch feeling himself hits those. Maybe. I don’t know that we’ve ever consistently seen it. And you can go back and find more. Gabriel in the Chargers game stands out. And maybe it’s harsh to say just three more throws and the Bears are 6-4 right now with at least a chance of something.

And maybe that’s how thin the line is that takes you from being a good QB to a bad one. But in a league built this much on parity, maybe all the lines are that thin. But at this point, it’s clear which side Mitch is on.

I Blame The Defense Because I’m Lashing Out – It’s hard to get past the Bears defense giving up a game-winning drive in pretty much every loss this year late. The only one that wasn’t was the Packers. They got bailed out in Denver.

But y’know, 17 points surrendered is enough to win. It should be. The defense is still good, and if those drives that lost the game came in the second or third quarter, we probably wouldn’t notice as much. And if you had an offense, those drives in the 4th would be in vain anyway.

Pagano even changed his plans last night. He went to that special front to thwart the running game that had been killing them earlier. Was he slow on the uptake on the final drive with the play-action? Maybe, and he had to know that was coming. But there’s only so much you can do.

Still, he hasn’t found a way to get Khalil Mack loose. Chris Collinsworth mentioned night how Wade Phillips was bringing extra heat if only to get Aaron Donald one-on-one. When has Pagano done that? Khalil Mack can’t go through a whole game without being noticed. And eventually, the excuses of being doubled or chipped, or having the running game go away from him, or being schemed outside more and more are tired. Make a play, or more to the point find a way so that he can put himself in position to do so. Just one sack last night would have made a huge difference somewhere in there.

But again, we do this because we’re simply tired of bitching about the offense and coach. They got the turnovers last night. They got the three-and-outs. An average NFL offense wins that game going away. It’s been that way all season.

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