Football

Three Things We Learned From Week 15: Not Enough I Need More

In The What I Learned Category, It’s Probably The Coach: This has been the big debate about the Bears all season, and will be this offseason and even into next season. It won’t be helped by Patrick Mahomes swaggering on in here next week either, but that ship has sailed. The fact is the Bears can win with Mitch Trubisky at the helm, whether or not it’s as fun to watch as Mahomes would have been.

To me, the ship on Mitch being great has sailed too, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be good. And good, with what this defense can be in the next year or two, is enough. Maybe more than enough. But as we’ve gone week to week here I’ve started to lean from “Mitch doesn’t have it” to “It’s Nagy.” And maybe a little of the offensive line mixed in.

There have been a few things that could have caused Matt Nagy to go off the deep end. The throwing up all over himself as KC offensive coordinator in the playoffs is only two years ago. Repeating that feat with the Bears last year, and then trying to blame the kicker for all of it is still fresh in the mind as well. And maybe Nagy is trying to overcompensate for losing his marbles (mental and the ones down there) in the playoffs this year by being fully creative all the time.

Again, we know what Mitch does well. Rollouts, actually running the ball, play-action. Pick and stick. This should have been the whole game plan from Week 2 on when Week 1 didn’t go so well. It hasn’t been until lately, and then it basically went away again in Green Bay to the point that even Mitch was bitching about it in the post game presser.

The Green Bay defense is certainly better than what had come before, and going to show you a lot of looks. But at some point you’ve got to do what you do well and figure out the rest. Nagy has outthought himself pretty much the entire season, and a better-than-it-feels season from the defense is now going completely to waste.

That doesn’t mean this is unsalvageable, because it’s far from it. All it takes is Nagy seeing what is in front of him, and maybe a tight end and one or two changes on the line. And then presto, it could be 12 wins again. But sometimes admitting things about yourself is the hardest thing to do. Is anyone going to tell him?

I Love Akiem Hicks But Don’t Want To Watch Him Play Again This Season: As fun as Khalil Mack was to watch last year, Akiem Hicks might have been just as much. Regularly putting two linemen on their ass and destroying entire offensive gameplans by himself, and looking like he was having a blast doing it, the joy seeped through your TV. So like most Bears fans I was delighted when it was announced he’d be back, because he’s the difference between this defense being really good and something from a distant moon in a another galaxy.

And then we had to watch him clearly in a world of pain, gut through it, and for what? I can’t imagine what state that elbow is actually in, but two or three times you saw him drag that thing to the sideline and try and comprehend the pain he was in. And football players don’t like to show much. In the 4th quarter when he was just lying on the Lambeau turf for a minute, it was just a metaphor for life. You can suck it up and gut it out and think you’ve got it measured by the world always has another jolt for you to leave you in even more pain that you thought possible.

Nagy is saying he still might play in the last two games. I don’t know what the point would be other than risking literally tearing his arm off below the elbow. That’s enough.

Packers-Bears Games With Something On The Line Are The Best And Worst: They rarely happen, which is maybe why they’re both. The past two seasons they’ve met in the opening week, which hasn’t gone well, but it’s hard to know what the stakes are. Most of this decade, one team has sucked and the other has been good (and you know what that alignment has been most of the time). Last year, by the time the second meeting came around the Packers season was over. These kinds of things rarely mean something to both teams in the long run. Of course, they all did in 2010…and look how that ended. Maybe it’s better if they don’t.

But there was something about the fading winter sunlight, the cold, and both teams having urgency and desperation that carried over into the fans and the whole experience. I don’t think I’d live through another playoff game between the two, but at the same time wouldn’t it be nice to get one over on those assholes when it really meant something? Just once?

One day.

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