I’m ditching the normal format this week, as I didn’t get the chance to watch much of yesterday’s game live. Then again, part of me wonders if it wasn’t better that I didn’t.
That possible 2014-type loss that I had been fearing for the past few weeks? Looks like I just predicted it a few weeks too early. In fact, it’s an unexpected parallel to the 2014 post-bye week collapse against the Packers, minus the fact that we actually won our previous game and we didn’t give up 50 points this time. But the devastation is about the same.
Where to even start?
Well, I guess we can go for the obvious one: Jay Cutler did a 180 from his return against Minnesota in the worst possible way.
The stats (16-30, 182 yards, 1 TD on an end-of-half Hail Mary) were abysmal.
The decision-making on his two interceptions was the stuff of nightmares; he threw a slant into the waiting arms of Brent Grimes, who clearly had jumped the route in advance, and then lofted a floater that Chris Conte of all people easily intercepted and ran back for a score.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) November 13, 2016
And his two costly fumbles—again, giving him four turnovers for the game by himself—torched two Bears drives, with one taking away what surely would’ve been a scoring drive and one resulting in a safety.
Aside from the prayer that Cameron Meredith managed to come up with at the end of the first half, bringing the game to 17-10 at the time, Cutler’s second game back from injury was an unmitigated disaster.
I still stand by thinking that he’s ultimately the best option at quarterback for this team, even if Hoyer had remained healthy (though there’s something to be said for the fact that while he didn’t score points, he also didn’t turn the ball over). That said, this game put to rest any speculation that the Bears brass could possibly be lulled into keeping Cutler another year.
His ticket out of town has officially been punched.
Speaking of people about to not be employed by the Chicago Bears…Dowell Loggains has reached Mel Tucker levels of doomed.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an NFL coach, so if he was willing, I would love for Dowell to give me his explanation for why Jordan Howard only got 15 rushing attempts in this game (100 yards) when he was repeatedly gashing the Tampa Bay defense.
Is there a particular reason why he didn’t stick with his 6 yds/carry ground game when the Bears had 1st-and-goal on the 7 yard-line but instead opted to go with three straight pass plays, including a shovel pass to PAUL LASIKE and finally a fumble and turnover on 3rd down? Look, I get when the defense is showing you they want to stop the run, but as they hadn’t stopped it yet, why not stick with it? Also, PAUL LASIKE?
You’d rather put the ball in the hands of PAUL LASIKE than your hard-running rookie running back? WHAT?????? Also, nice job on rolling up Kyle Long’s ankle, Paul. Thanks for nothing. Back to the practice squad with you.
Also, why did Loggains feel the need to throw the ball immediately after Cutler threw his first interception? Why not run the ball and get the chains moving again? Instead, pick-six. Yay.
Or why were Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey eating significantly into Howard’s snaps, when it should be abundantly clear at this point who the best back on this team is?
John Fox to Jordan Howard- "Hey Jordan, we know you've averaged 6.5 yards per carry but we're going with the hot hand" #Bears
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) November 13, 2016
Howard fumbled in the second quarter and was rumored to have an ankle/Achilles injury by John Fox (which Howard denied…???), but he was fine enough to come back in and post 11 yards on his two second half carries. So…I’m a bit confused as to what’s going on there. If he’s able to play, Langford shouldn’t be getting 19/56 (more than a third) of the offensive snaps.
If two Mondays ago was Loggains’ best game as an NFL offensive coordinator, this very well could qualify as his worst, not only because of the results of his play-calling but also because of the sheer lack of adjustment and logic that when into those decisions.
The Grim Reaper has officially opened the screen door to your residence, Dowell, old buddy. He will be knocking shortly.
So, what’d Fox have to say about this mess?
Oh…well, that’s encouraging.
I guess on one hand, at least he played for a score at the end of the first half, using all of his timeouts this time, and was rewarded when Meredith came down with an improbable catch in the back of the end zone on a desperation throw (thank you for the assist, Chris Conte).
🚨🚨 HAIL MARY ALERT! 🚨🚨
🚨🚨 HAIL MARY ALERT! 🚨🚨
🚨🚨 HAIL MARY ALERT! 🚨🚨
— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2016
That’s about where the good stuff runs out.
Coming out of a bye week 2-6 after winning at home against a top-tier Vikings defense and facing a beatable team, this team showed up to Tampa Bay unprepared to win a football game.
Of course, Cutler deserves most of the blame here, but Howard had a costly fumble as well. The Bucs offense was all too happy to turn that into a Cameron Brate (who???) touchdown.
The defense, while playing stoutly most of the game, embarrassingly allowed Jameis Winston to escape from a safety in a play that can be best described as a snippet from Keystone Cops for a huge downfield completion to Mike Evans.
.@Jaboowins escapes the ENTIRE Bears pass rush.
And still finds Mike Evans for 39 yards.
— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2016
Then, on the next play, they straight up forgot about Fred Martino (again, who???) on a 43-yard touchdown throw and catch.
Also, is someone trying to tell us that he has no patience for rookies and would rather play veterans “just because” again?
#Bears RB Jordan Howard on whether he suffered an ankle/Achilles injury as John Fox said: "Nah, I ain’t suffer nothing.”
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) November 13, 2016
If so, bye.
People will point out the positive aspects of this game and refute the idea that the Bears were unprepared to play in this football game, suggesting that the Bears lost because of Cutler’s miscues. But that’s not it. The Bears, as an entire football team, showed that they are not ready to win.
When pushed to the make-or-break point between succeeding or failing, they fail. Given the opportunity to make the game-changing play (like sacking Winston for a safety), they can’t make it. When they come to point where they CANNOT afford a mistake, they self-destruct.
And that is a reflection not just of talent, but of mental toughness and focus. And those things reflect on the head coach. Fox is praised as a great motivator. Where was that motivation yesterday? And if he’s not motivating his players, why is he here?
Personally, I’ve seen enough to know that I’m not interested in having Fox coach this team another year. Truthfully, the only member of the coaching staff I’d particularly like to see stick around (albeit not in a head-coaching capacity) is Vic Fangio. But if Fox isn’t fired before next year, he’d better think long and hard about his approach as a football coach.
If he can’t adapt and learn to compromise, as Tom Coughlin was forced to do with the Giants later in his career, then he should probably get out of coaching. This experiment is not working out.
Now, certainly there were some nice things about the Bears today. For one, aside from the fumble, Howard was great. I think the Bears can rest assured, for now, that they have a real player to partially build an offense around.
Also, Leonard Floyd has now recorded sacks in each of his last three games and genuinely looks like he is settling into being an NFL player. Add that to Pernell McPhee recording like 68 pressures opposite him, and Chicago’s defense is going to be fine, though I’d love it if they could close the deal on plays like the one with Winston.
Leonard Floyd extends his sack streak to three games. High-motor effort there as other rushers (Young, Hicks) collapsed the pocket.
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) November 13, 2016
Bears rookie Leonard Floyd now has 4.5 sacks on the season.
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) November 13, 2016
The Bears are not utterly devoid of talent, especially on defense. But, at the rate we’re going, the offense is about to go through some major changes. Cutler is all but gone, and there will be a new quarterback drafted next year/possibly brought in via trade. Alshon Jeffery, I predict, will not re-sign with the Bears. Eddie Royal’s contract isn’t guaranteed after this season.
It’s going to be an interesting offseason to say the least, and what Ryan Pace elects to do will be very telling as to how he intends to salvage the mess occurring on his watch.
Yep, I’m already looking ahead to the offseason. Because this Bears’ season effectively ended with a nose dive yesterday. That’s what we’ve come to.