By Bryan Dietzler
(Sorry for the delay in this post. I thank you for your patience)
The Chicago Bears played host to their hated rival, the Green Bay Packers, this Sunday and ended up losing 23-16. Almost everyone thought that the Bears would have beaten the Packers, but in the end, the Green Bay got the best of the Bears, again. They have done that so much over the course of the last few years and it’s become frustrating to Bears’ fans.
Even without their star, Aaron Rodgers, they still end up beating the Bears. How did that happen?
We are going to look at why some of what happened Sunday happened and look at a few key points in the game. Some are obvious, but others are not that obvious perhaps.
The Challenge Heard Round the World
Many people are pointing the finger at John Fox for what happened with that big challenge on Sunday, and they are right but only partially.
I assume there is someone advising Fox, someone up high or viewing a replay, that tells him whether to challenge a play. If there is such a person, then that person responsible for doing that in the game Sunday should be fired.
Fox should take some of the blame for that but not all of it. He couldn’t see the play over and over like those in position to review the replay were. Ultimately, if there were any chance they would have lost possession of the ball on that challenge, he should not have challenged it.
What a bad thing to have happen.
The challenge and loss of possession was a real turning point for the Bears. Had they been able to score, they would have been in a great position to win the game. Perhaps the game was lost on that play. The challenge and its outcome are a good representation of what we have had with Fox and his staff over the last two and a half seasons.
Letting Fox Go
To go along with the whole issue of the challenge, people are now coming out in droves and demanding that Fox gets fired. There are even reports that ownership is upset and ready to let Fox go. The last time we heard reports like that were when the Bears were about to let go of Marc Trestman. None of these reports are confirmed but you can get a feeling from many that Fox will go. The fanbase is dissatisfied with what they are seeing and that’s not helping the team or ownership. It has the “air” of the Trestman firing all around it.
Fox needs to go. That’s plain and simple. He needs to be let go at the end of this season. But after suffering through two bad coaching stints, the team needs to be much more careful about who they chose as their next head coach. The fan base won’t want to endure much more of the basement dwelling the Bears have had in recent years.
But if Fox does go, who should replace him?
That’s a story for another day.
What about the penalties the Bears suffered Sunday? Wow! They came often, and they came at bad times. The Bears need to firm things up with their discipline and play tighter. They cannot afford to keep struggling with penalties like they did on Sunday.
I have talked about this before. A team that commits a lot of penalties on the field represents a direct reflection of the coaching staff and how they are teaching their players off the field.
The penalties are a direct reflection of the Bears’ coaching staff.
With bad coaching comes penalties. We have seen that over the course of Fox’s tenure and have seen it with other teams that struggle with penalties. You can’t win a game when you are behind the chains. Your chances of winning decrease when you have to make up those extra yards. The Bears cannot afford to do that. Every extra yard they must get makes it even more difficult to win with the type of offense they have.
They must get rid of the penalties.
Hot and Cold
Cornerback Kyle Fuller was both hot and cold on Sunday. For some reason, teams like to throw at him at times he comes out ahead, sometimes. Fuller had the one good knockdown but that was about all he could do. The Packers completed 5 of 6 passes for 111 yards while the other members of the secondary combined allowed just 101 yards. He especially struggled to defend against that touchdown catch by Davante Adams. That was the biggest and most critical score of the game against the Bears.
I have called Fuller a near Pro Bowl talent before and believe that he has some good in him. However, despite the fact he’s been in the league four seasons, he still lacks experience. Maybe some additional experience or even a change of scenery might do him some good. The Bears didn’t pick up his 5th-year option so he will be a free agent in 2018.
Is he worth bringing back?
The Bears, coming off a bye week, seemingly had more injuries coming out of it than they did going into it. The key injury of the game was Danny Trevathan’s calf strain. Not much about it was said after the Bears’ game against the Saints. Then he popped up on the injury report to start the week and didn’t practice. It was pretty much known he wouldn’t be able to play against the Packers by the time Friday was done.
Kyle Long suited up for Sunday but sat out with a hand injury. His replacement, Cody Whitehair, was adequate but the offensive line still struggled. Long has slowly missed more and more time due to injuries and is starting to look like he has some health issues. When he’s on, he’s good but he has also seemingly been a little out of rhythm this year. It may not be a good year for Long. Perhaps next year will be better barring a major injury at the end of this season.
Finally, why was tight end Dion Sims inactive for the game? He had been suffering from an illness all week and was unable to play on Sunday. Hopefully, he’s back and better when the Bears play the Lions this Sunday but it’s looking more and more that he won’t be back.
This was a winnable game for the Bears. The Packers have been reeling from the loss of their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers and the stars were aligned for the Bears. But in this case, as they have done in the past, the snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. While the coaching staff should shoulder the blame for some of it, the players had a hand in it as well. They did not play as well as they could have and made some mental errors. But the coaching staff didn’t put them in a position to win.
The Bears were on a bye last week and had a lot of time to prepare for this game. However, they came out and fell flat. Then there were the injuries that popped up over the bye week and caused guys like Trevathan and Sims to miss the game. Then there were the mental errors by guys like Fuller. There were the penalties that cost the Bears field position.
These things added up to one big rotten loss. And although it wasn’t a beatdown, the loss might have stung worse than being crushed by 30 points. The Bears could have won this game and they just couldn’t do it.