Week 16: Bears blown out, limp toward disappointing finish to season
Don’t worry, Bears fans: it’s almost over.
In the meantime, let’s vent about what went wrong in the latest embarrassment suffered by Chicago’s football team, as they lost to 41-21 to Washington and fell to 3-12 on the season.
1. Bears look ready to go home
After the Bears’ loss to the Green Bay Packers last week, some fans took solace in the fact that the team at least put together an inspired effort to hang tough and fight back against a tough opponent.
This time, aside from a brief spurt at the end of the second quarter, the Bears looked done.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) December 24, 2016
On defense, tacklers—Deon Bush was a particularly bad example early in the game—dove at ball carriers with their heads down.
Cornerbacks passed off receivers in zone coverage to safeties that weren’t there.
Matt Barkley looked like the backup quarterback that he is (and that I’ve been trying to tell you that he is).
Even John Fox and Dowell Loggains seemed to be ready for this one to be over, as Fox refused to challenge an extremely questionable spot early on that could’ve gotten the Bears a stop and Loggains insisted, once again, on throwing the ball at every turn with Jordan Howard averaging 6.6 yards/carry.
Not sure what was compelling anyone to play Jeremy Langford more than 10 snaps, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a desire to win.
I’ve run out of things to say in terms of how bad this football team is from a talent and coaching perspective, but it had at least been nice to see the Bears refuse to quit.
Today, I’m not sure whether the Bears just ran out of gas or gave up. But whatever it was, it was bad. And everyone should feel bad about it.
2. Tracy Porter’s done
Today may have been the last home game Porter will suit up for in Chicago, and it was about as bad as it could be.
Tasked with being the primary defender on Jackson to start the game, Porter had absolutely no chance to stay with the ultrafast wide receiver, getting torched repeatedly.
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 24, 2016
I know he’s hurt, whether it’s him having to get his knee drained or dealing with shoulder issues all season that have kept him at less than 100%. He clearly wants to play, but this is what happens when you play such a demanding position after turning 30. The body doesn’t do what it needs to anymore.
And if his body isn’t letting him do his job, then the Bears need to stop playing him. After all, the moment they put in Deiondre’ Hall, he immediately did an exponentially better job covering Jackson downfield than Porter did (hands-to-the-face penalties, notwithstanding).
Hall should start next week at corner opposite Jonathan Banks so that he can get reps and the Bears can see if he’s capable of being a starting-caliber corner next year. His time as now.
Porter’s time as a player is just about done, let alone his time as a Bear.
3. Cameron Meredith, Deonte Thompson deserve a shot next year
Could you have imagined that we’d be talking about the exploits of Meredith and Thompson as actual contributors at wide receiver at any point leading into the season outside of preseason games?
That’s what injuries will do, I guess.
But seriously, seeing what these two have done with their extended time on the field as receivers, it’s a solid assumption that they’ve played their way into consideration for the Bears’ future.
Despite some issues with drops, Meredith (9 catches for 135 yards, 1 TD today) has emerged as a very solid 3rd/4th option as a receiver, which will make it easier for the Bears to say goodbye to veteran WR Eddie Royal at the end of this season.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 24, 2016
Though Thompson has had a much more limited role as a pass-catcher, he broke out for a huge game last week against the Packers (8 catches for 110 yards), showing that he too is capable of being more than just a special teamer.
It’s too early, obviously, to tell what this team will look like next year, but
For one, both guys clearly have special teams value, though Thompson’s kick returning hasn’t exactly been impressive due both to bad decision-making and poor blocking.
4. The Bears need at least one new tackle
Early in the season, it was Bobby Massie that we were hating on as a fan base. But as the season as progressed, it’s actually the other tackle spot that has been worse for the Bears.
After giving up a strip sack to Julius Peppers last week, Leno spent most of his day getting pantsed by Preston Smith. Midway through the third quarter, Smith blew by Leno and wrapped up Barkley, who foolishly threw a ball down the middle of the field while falling to the ground that was intercepted by cornerback Josh Norman.
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2016
All in all, Massie has improved significantly over what he started out as this season. Interestingly, he’s been better than his career scouting report—especially since Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans—against the pass.
In fact, in this game, he held a very good defensive end in Ryan Kerrigan in check through most of this contest, not allowing so much as a pressure.
But with Leno’s play slipping, particularly in the passing game (running blocking was never his strong suit), expect the Bears to go looking for that mythical left tackle vineyard in the draft next spring. Truthfully, if the Bears got two new tackles, I wouldn’t be sad.
5. Time for Bears to stop settling for nothing at quarterback
I hope Bears fans enjoyed it while at lasted. It sure made for a couple of really interesting games and some gutsy comebacks, but you can’t tell me you didn’t see it coming to this.
I’ve said before that Barkley deserves an opportunity to compete to make next year’s team and to likely make it as the team’s backup quarterback, but at no point was I anywhere near saying Barkley should start for this team. And you shouldn’t have either.
Throwing into triple coverage?
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 24, 2016
Honestly, after watching him throw for five interceptions today on a variety of terrible decisions and purely bad throws, aren’t you tired of seeing this movie as a Bears fan?
Jay Cutler, for all his talent, hasn’t panned out the way we wanted here in Chicago, and, despite the fact that he’s clearly better than any QB on this roster, it is probably time for him and the Bears to part ways.
In light of this, it’s time that the Bears really tried to invest in the quarterback position, whether through trading for Jimmy Garappolo or drafting a guy by the end of Day 2 this coming spring.
Enough with getting excited by a few decent performances by plucky backups just because they’re “better than Cutler,” only to be reminded that they’re bad by games like this.
Enough waiting to draft guys until the 5th and 6th round because you think we’ll just load up on defense and be fine, only to watch them drop quietly out of the league.
And enough shaking your heads against high QB draft picks because “it’s the worst QB draft class in years!” before you’ve even seen them play a down of NFL football.
The time is now, Ryan Pace. This team has a lot of needs, and the best player available at the top of the draft likely won’t be a QB so I’m not expecting a QB going to the Bears in the top-5.
But seriously, don’t listen to the complaints. If your guy is there, get him. Because this is ridiculous, and Bears fans need to stop settling for less from their quarterback position.
One Last Thing:
The Bears are now 3-12 and coming off of their most embarrassing home loss of the season. Don’t tell me that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that John Fox’s job is safe.
Because it’s not. And it sure as hell shouldn’t be.