The Bears Coach Might Be Broken-Brained – I joked about it in the preseason. It was only semi-serious. But Matt Nagy’s fixation/psychosis about one missed kick last season seemed to be far too big of a story, and one they were pushing themselves. It seemed so odd and so unnecessary, but in the end you didn’t fear that it would get in the way of too much else. The biggest hope was that they were using it as a smokescreen, to cover for Nagy’s offense going cold in December, or to keep hit off Mitch. It was still a leap to think that that weirdness was clouding their view of the rest of the team.
What my book presupposes is…maybe it did?
Matt Nagy had two weeks to reshuffle his offense, figure out what might work, and to prepare to slide a QB who had been out injured–and lacking confidence anyway–back into the lineup gently. He was facing a team without its two biggest offensive weapons.
And he came up with that.
As Brian said in the recap, they ran the ball seven times. It feels like there are two Matt Nagys, or at least he thinks there are. There’s the one calling the plays, and then there’s the one who shows up at the postgame press conference and wonders why they didn’t run the ball or the run game didn’t work. Not that the Bears went exactly anywhere with those seven rushes, but seven isn’t enough to know that you can’t do anything.
It also puts your questionable quarterback into a nearly impossible situation. He’s got to win a game all by himself, something he probably can’t do when he’s healthy and in rhythm anyway. But they didn’t move him out side the pocket. They didn’t try and give him any obvious throws. Your line still sucks, and there weren’t any changes in scheme or anything to help them out either. Even just trying to run the ball at least lets them do something different, gives them a moment.
The special teams suck. They have for a while. Throwout the kick return, which is more individual brilliance than anything. They had two punts blocked. They had two big returns against called back because the other team held or blocked in the back. They lose that battle every game.
The entire summer was fixated on one kick and another kicker and having them locked in the American Gladiator Death Ball. And now we can’t help but wonder if that fixation blinded them to the fact their O-line was leaky, their QB might not be good, their special teams don’t do anything, and their defense is predicated on two guys and having both of them.
Insert “THE GODDAMN PLANE HAS CRASHED INTO THE MOUNTAIN!” gif.
Their Quarterback Is Bad – I’ve tried to defend Mitch, mostly because I just want a Bears QB to be good and I still have all my Jay Cutler tools still lying around. And as above, he didn’t get much help from his coach. As Brian pointed out in his recap, when the line is bad things get hurried, and when things get hurried they look unsure. They look hesitant.
And that’s the thing I can’t get past with Mitch. His throws don’t have any conviction. I’d almost live with wrong decisions if he stepped his back foot in the ground, stepped into a throw and did it with confidence. It might be wrong but I believe in it! Though that would just give us Rex again, I suppose.
But almost every throw Mitch makes look like a pitcher trying to aim instead of throw. There isn’t any feel of, “This is where the ball goes now.” It feels more like, “I guess this is where the ball goes? Maybe?” Which is why passes float, miss their targets, or are just heaved into triple coverage.
Take away his first read, and he feels like he doesn’t know what to do. Take away Allen Robinson and he loses all confidence to make another play. He’s not even running anymore.
Mitch has ten games to save his Bears career. That’s it right there.
They Don’t Have An Answer Without Akiem Hicks – Akiem was an All-Pro last year, rightly lauded in this town, if not downright worshipped. And he still might be under-appreciated.
What makes the Bears special, or did, is having two guys on the defensive line that you couldn’t do anything about. You could double both but someone would make a play because you just ran out of guys to have block. And they’d probably get through those double-teams anyway. You couldn’t just run the ball up the middle because Hicks was standing there, asking just what in the fuck you thought you were doing. You couldn’t run outside because the linebackers were too quick.
You can do all of it now. Khalil Mack is watching run plays go up the middle that he can’t do much about. He’s watching quick passes fired out before he has a chance to get there, with no one up the middle moving the walls into the QB. He’s seeing triple teams when they need time. And no one else is doing much about it. Leonard Floyd has gone to that mystical place that Leonard Floyd goes for weeks at a time, that only he can find. There’s a reason Roy Robertson-Harris doesn’t start. There’s a reason you don’t hear Eddie Goldman’s or Bilal Nichols’s name much right now, other than, “Watch this guy get run over and become one with the soil.”
Secondary doesn’t look as good now. Neither do the interior linebackers. They actually have to do all the shit now. And maybe they can’t.
This isn’t going well, is it?