Football

Three Things We Learned From Week 9

That time again. Please don’t take this seriously. That’s not what you come here for. 

We’re All Watching Matt Nagy’s Descent Into Madness 

At some point later this season, I fully expect Matt Nagy to fall over on his back, and his eyeballs to be replaced by the rainbow spinning wheel of death and basically be frozen until the McCaskeys and Ryan Pace figure out how you actually reboot a human. Where’s the Command-Option-Escape button on a human (all you pervs out there can make a sex joke here)? There are just too many conflicting plans and feelings within Nagy for him to last like this much longer.

The Bears first play of the day was out of the I-formation, and was a decent enough gain of four yards. If you were to draw conclusions from one play–which would be folly with this outfit because you can’t draw conclusions from whole games–you would say that Nagy had learned from last week and this is what the team needed to run the ball and then hence open up the passing game through play-action.

That was the last time in the first half they did that.

Nagy is hellbent, and it’s getting beyond an Ahab-like fixation at this point, to succeed with the offense that he sees, and not what his offense can actually do. Not only that, it has to succeed with Mitch Trubisky being the quarterback Nagy thinks he can be, and not the one in front of him or the one we saw last year.

And yet at the same time, Nagy doesn’t trust Mitch to throw the ball beyond the line of scrimmage, or didn’t for the first half. So while he wants Mitch to be the QB in his mind to make the offense in his mind work, he won’t actually let him do any of that stuff on the field. It’s like he figures these two things will just be conjured somehow through hope.

And then for a brief period of time he’ll give up, go back to what’s worked the past two weeks, and it will work, and yet he can’t let go. That’s how you get Tarik Cohen trying to run the ball in on the goal line–or having your shortest player try and leap and extend into the endzone–instead of Montgomery on 2nd down. Thankfully Nagy’s brain snapped back the other way for 3rd down and Montgomery got in to make the game at least interesting for a half minute. It feels as if he’s fighting two or three different voices in his head, all wanting and seeing different things. And hey, we’ve all been there, I just paid $10 a pop for the chemicals that got me there.

There are just too many conflicting threads in Nagy’s head. What the offense should be but what it is, along with what he thinks Trubisky can be but actually is, and what he wants to do versus what he can actually do. The reason the Bears can’t find an identity, as they keep saying, is that their coach is seeing about four or five different realities at a time. It’s like Griffin from MIB III, which none of you saw.

This Defense Sure Likes To Talk…Tackle, Not So Much

In this town, favoritism will always bend toward the defense. That’s thanks to ’85 and that they’ll never go away, and even bending back to Butkus and Buffone. Fine, accepted that long ago. So even in the most desperate times, the defense’s failings will get pinned or shared with the offense until it’s obvious we can’t do that anymore.

So yes, while they don’t get any help from the offense, there’s no rule that says they have to let the opponents drive right down their throat on three of the first four drives of the game. Or when the offense does put up points and they are back in the game, to let the Eagles have an eight-minute drive to end it with four third-down conversions, including two screen passes that went over 10 yards.

I understand it’s long-standing Bears tradition that they can’t defend nor run a screen pass. From Ditka to Wanny to Jauron to Lovie and on, the Bears have never done either. The Hawks will never have a power play, the Bulls will never land a free agent worth a shit, the Sox will never draw, and the Bears will never be on the right side of a screen pass. These are universal Chicago sports truth.

But having it in such demonstrative fashion–where Montgomery drops what would have been a game-turning play and then those two–is a mound of salt in the wound.

Overall, the defense had a chance to win the game for the Bears, or put them in a spot to do so. Just like last week. And it got run over. And for too much of the game, the Eagles could do what they wanted and worst of all, the Bears defense didn’t look like it wanted to bother much. Eddie Jackson and HaHa shirked off a couple tackles they didn’t seem all that interested in making. They were in wrong gaps.

There was one play in the third quarter where Leonard Floyd chased down Carson Wentz from behind where all three linebackers just watched. Maybe they were worried about hitting the QB and getting flagged for breathing too had, but this was beyond the line of scrimmage. It looked more like they just left it to someone else.

And that’s scary.

There Are Like Three Good Football Announce Teams

When you find out who’s doing the Bears game on TV a couple days before, what team actually makes you say, “Oh, that’s good.” Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts? I don’t mind Buck and Aikman, but a lot of people hate both. Thom Brennaman spends anytime broadcasting Chicago sports with a can of gasoline and a Zippo. Michaels and Collinsworth are fine, except you can’t escape the fear of the Bears being embarrassed on national TV. Maybe Kenny Albert? Maybe Kevin Burkhardt? Except he sounds like he’s asleep for half the game, and maybe he is.

Dick Stockton doesn’t know where he is. He’s 117 years old and while he is something of an institution, if he were a dog they would have put him to sleep long ago before he got to the state where he falls into his own shit. Mark Schlereth is the king of “Football Analyst Holding A Football.” I’m fairly sure he was erect describing some pulling guard yesterday, on a play that didn’t go anywhere. Yesterday sounded like two drunk stockbrokers trying to do a Statler and Waldorf routine without actually ever having seen Statler and Waldorf.

It was brutal, and it doesn’t have to be that way. There have to be better announcers than what we’re being given, even if the Bears have fallen to the bottom of the heap. Please stop making watching the Bears worse than it already is.

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