As a self-proclaimed insanely crazy Bears fan, I am nothing short of furious with my team right now. Our arch-rivals requested to play us on the first Sunday Night Football of the 2018 season, the kickoff of their 100th season. We had the game. It was ours to lose. We had an easy interception, but it was dropped. We were stopped on the final drive but were bailed out by an unnecessary roughness penalty, just to turn it over on downs for real this time. And once again, we crumbled and fell to the almighty Aaron Rodgers, and we are once again left weeping on the ground while our foes to the North taunted us with a song entitled: “The Bears Still Suck.” But, what does this meltdown really mean? Could it actually be a good thing for the Bears moving forward? Or does this mean that Matt Nagy is another stupid coach and our beloved franchise will not be rebuilt from the ground all the way up to a brilliant kingdom, and Virginia McCaskey at the ripe age of 96 will pass away without ever seeing another competent team? I will be answering those questions in this article.
Aaron Rodgers started 0/3 against a swarming Chicago defense. Nagy then brilliantly called a perfect drive and marched straight through Green Bay’s defense. Vic Fangio’s defense then forced another punt which gave the offense the ball back and earned Chicago another three points. Score: Bears 10, Packers 0. Khalil Mack would let his presence be known, creating a sack and getting great pressure, which led to a Roy Robertson-Harris sack that shortly injured Rodgers’ left knee, to the severity of which is still unknown. After Rodgers was gone, backup DeShone Kizer led an electrifying drive that ended in a Mack strip/sack which Mack recovered. Before the first half would end, Mack would intercept a Kizer pass and return it for a touchdown. Halftime score: Bears 17, Packers 0. The Bears received the second half kick and drove down and made a field goal. Score: Bears 20, Packers 0. Myself, the entire city of Chicago and Bears fans across the world were partying like it was 1999 at that point, but then, we saw it. It, was Aaron Rodgers returning from the locker room and running onto the field with his helmet on.
The Bears’ defense proceeded to get picked apart by a revised Packers’ game plan. The offense followed that up with a slew of uncreative, ill-advised play calls by Nagy. The momentum had shifted. I knew what was happening. I knew that we had already lost, but I didn’t want to believe it. I did my best to block those thoughts out, but I could not avoid the inevitable. The Bears’ offense continued to bog down while Aaron Rodgers was just getting started. Continuous drives that ended in touchdowns. But that’s not the worst of it.
Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith were expected to play about 20-30 snaps each. Mack played a total of 41 snaps, but Smith played just 8. In fact, on his first NFL snap, he recorded a sack. The only reason he was in on those few plays was because of an injury to fellow inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, who returned a few plays later. Once it came to that time when Rodgers was picking apart the Bears, the Bears needed Smith’s athleticism, sticky coverage ability and instincts. Nick Kwiatkoski, the starting ILB opposite Trevathan, is a great run stopper and is very disruptive when blitzing, but was exposed when the Packers started running those short, quick routes in order to avoid Rodgers holding on to the ball for too long. There was a video from Bears-Broncos joint practices in the preseason where Smith was covering Demaryius Thomas in the red zone, and Thomas couldn’t get open to save his life. That was Smith’s second or third ever NFL practice, and he was great in coverage. Imagine how he’s improved since? Brace yourself now, because here comes the two worst decisions made by the Bears. Picture this: Jordan Howard just had a magical run on 2nd & 13 to make it 3 & 2. Howard, all of 6’1”, 224 lbs., is beastly and would have been able to make the first down. Run it up the gut with an extra back, a full back, and some tight ends helping out on the edge right? Haha. No. Nagy calls a pass that was incomplete and stopped the clock. Score: Bears 20, Packers 17. Matt Nagy told everyone that he would be “aggressive” this game. So instead of going for a near-surefire first down and sealing the game, Nagy kicks the field goal to put them up by six. Six, not seven. Seven is a touchdown and extra point, if you didn’t know. The worst possible thing to do here was literally hand the ball to Aaron Rodgers, who is down six with just over two minutes left. And what did Nagy do? He handed Rodgers the ball and said “Beat us. Bet you won’t.” “Bet” was Rodgers’ reply. Nice “aggressiveness,” Nagy. On a play where Mack got tremendous pressure on Rodgers, and he was forced to throw the ball early, Davante Adams, the intended receiver, fell on the route and the ball went right into CB Kyle Fuller’s hands, but he GAGGED and dropped it along with Bears’ fans hopes and dreams. Rodgers then threw a short pass to a wide open Randall Cobb, who ran for a touchdown. Mason Crosby extra point: good. Score: Packers 24, Bears 23. The Bears would turn it over on downs on the final drive, but an idiotic play by Clay Matthews gave the Bears a first down. The Bears went on to turn it over on downs, again. No silly penalty to bail them out this time.
A Game to Build Off Of
The first half and the first part of the second half was the most dominant play of football I’ve seen since the Falcons did just that in Super Bowl LI. We saw the creativeness that Nagy has, and we saw the dominance of the defense. We also saw nice plays all over from Mitchell Trubisky to his new and improved targets. Nagy said after the game that he “hopes [the players] felt [the pain of the loss].” He also pointed out some of his awful second half play calls and how he could build off of that and improve.
A Humbling Loss
If the Bears had continued to dominate, they would enter the rest of the season riding up high, maybe a little cocky, and then they would go get exposed by a Russell Wilson, or a Tom Brady, or, I don’t know, Aaron Rodgers. Now, people are laughing at the Bears once again. Headlines that say “Rodgers does it again, leads epic comeback against Bears” will torment the Bears in their dreams for nights on end. The Bears are angry. They know that they are a playoff-caliber team, and they can prove it. Much like the Eagles after Carson Wentz went down, the Bears are now underdogs.
Matt Nagy is Another Awful Bears Coach
*Hypothetical situation* Nagy goes back to the basics, and gets exposed for it. Much like Marc Trestman, who was supposed to turn Jay Cutler around and make the Bears a powerhouse once again, has failed and another glimmer of hope in the Windy City is dimmed and fades away.
In my opinion, the Bears will be fine. I still believe that they are a playoff team right now. They’ve got a great opportunity to dominate the Seattle Seahawks on national television and regain their respect. Mitchell Trubisky will be fine. Matt Nagy will be fine. Despite the second half meltdown, the Bears will be fine. I am confident that the Bears have an extremely bright future, and the final scenario I wrote will not happen.