Football

Three Things We Learned From Week 12: Approaching Suck

The Bears Offense Is Basically My Creative Writing Process – I’ll let you in behind the curtain a bit. From time to time, I like to dabble in fiction writing. Just to do something different, just to see if I can, just for myself. I have these big ideas, and occasionally one of them sounds pretty cool. And I poke around the edges, feeling like I might crack the case on a truly great story that might actually go somewhere one day. I come at it from different angles trying to find what will feel right. I prod, I rewrite, I ponder. But I never really get to the middle of it. Whether laziness or stubbornness or simple lack of talent, I just can’t quite bring to the page what I only have a loose grasp of in my mind. It never looks like it I think it should, even if I can’t actually state what that is clearly.

Maybe that’s why I identify with what the Bears have looked like the past few weeks so closely.

There are times when Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky look like they’re really moving toward what makes the Bears offense move. Whether it’s rolling him out, play-action, no-huddle, simplifying everything, the Bears actually get down the field. You saw it. There are big plays. People look open and Mitch looks decisive.

And then it just goes away. For whatever reason. Maybe a penalty, maybe one bad throw or bad decision, or sometimes just overthinking it and a constant telling of themselves, “You aren’t this you are something else so go back to your home, loser!” Or thinking it’s not creative enough and no one will care. And you saw that too, and you keep seeing it, with various pitches to receivers or RPOs or Tarik Cohen finding the next best way to run to the sidelines.

The Bears are inching, at an excruciating pace, to what would have made for an average offense. And it’s probably too late. Mitch has looked better, at an increment you can’t see without various tools, each week. But he only had one way to go. It’s sad, because even the meager total of 19 points every game would have seen the Bears with three more wins and not only in discussion for the playoffs but the division again. And 19 points isn’t even good!

Maybe both the Bears and myself have to hold ourselves to lower standards, and believe that through steady work we can crack open something. Or maybe I just like identifying myself in the ways I choose to waste my time.

I’m Sorry For Ever Doubting Khalil Mack And Am Terrified He Will Come Looking For Me – As you’ve probably guessed, from the very first half against Green Bay last year, Mack may be my favorite Bear of all time. There’s just something about a player who can make other people who are the best in the world at their job look so helpless. So maybe I was just disappointed I wasn’t getting to see him simply throw people out of his way like they were beaded curtains as often this year.

It’s hard to fathom that Mack went through a game like last week that he didn’t scratch anything on the stat sheet. Surely it was Chuck Pagano’s fault for not finding new ways to get him one-on-one. Or maybe it was everyone other players’ fault on the defense for not taking advantage of the wide berth he was giving them. Or, gasp, was it that Mack just wasn’t as good as we thought?

Pish tosh.

Mack has been facing two or three blockers every goddamn play, and without Akiem Hicks to Kool-Aid Guy his way through the middle of the line, the Bears haven’t been able to make that count. That’s not on Mack. And really, the Bears only need one or two plays from Mack to change a game. And they got one yesterday.

I’m sorry Khalil. Please don’t hurt me. I’ll never lose faith again.

Soldier Field Will Always Be Toxic – I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team booed on the opening kickoff before, but I guess I can scratch that off the list after Eddie Piniero sent that kick out of bounds. After missing two field goals last week, he always was going to have a short leash. And I want to believe a lot were doing it out of humor, but I doubt that. Because when have Bears fans had a sense of humor?

I’m not saying a team should always be cheered when they play like garbage. And lord knows Bears tickets are expensive enough that when the product before the customers is that unwatchable at times, bile and ire are going to rise at a quick rate. But it feels like we’ve become the new Philadelphia, where fans are simply waiting for the chance to boo and are almost only there to do so and are becoming the show. It’s part of the identity now.

And it’s been this way for a long time. If Bears fans had earned any cred, maybe you’d go along with it. But this is the same group that makes as much noise as it can while the Bears are on offense. Who openly bitched about Lovie Smith’s defense and then spent years pining for it again. Turned on Jay Cutler about four minutes into his Bears career. Still thinks Mike Singletary was any good or should be coach now. Ditka.

Look, the Bears have deserved a shit-ton of criticism and booing this year, there’s no getting around that. But when it becomes the main objective, what are we even doing?

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