Surprise! I’ve got a new column coming weekly called The Whole 9 Yards where I give my analysis the day after the game. Hopefully, you make it through all 16 this season.
Here we go!
I’m cool. I’m calm and (finally) collected. I wanted to wait until I got to this point to give any kind of emotional reactionary response. Last night was embarrassing. Last night was frustrating. Last night was enlightening and encouraging.
Immediate reaction from the fanbase was unbearable and understandable at the same time. It’s Green Bay. But with a sober mind, I finally saw some light at the end of an abyss that is the Bears last decade of football.
1. This loss falls on Matt Nagy …
Nagy called a bad game in the second half. He had a playsheet full of man coverage beaters against a defense that committed to making Trubisky beat them in the air against zone defense. He also got away from what was killing Green Bay: running the football.
My only concern with Nagy is game management but context needs to be expressed here. Nagy, a first time NFL coach went up against Super Bowl champion and future first ballot hall-of-famer Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy. Give him time. He has to learn too.
2. But he’s not the only one …
While Nagy is absolutely to blame, I’m most disappointed in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Say this out loud: “A top defensive coordinator is coaching a unit in which he’s returning nine starters with eight of them having at least two or more seasons in his scheme. Four of them were first-round picks. One of them is a top three defensive player in all of football and a partridge in a pear tree.”
Sounds amazing right? How does that equate to giving up approximately 300 yards in total offense in the second half and 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Nagy has a learning curve. Fangio doesn’t and he’s played against Rodgers multiple times in his career.
Have you ever seen SpaceJam? Remember when the Monstars faced Jordan who made something out of nothing with the Looney Tunes and ended up beating the team and the odds?
You see where I’m going with this …
3. Mitch Trubisky started cooking …
… But the food got cold shortly after.
Look, Trubisky has everything he needs to be a successful franchise quarterback. The duress he was under makes a lot of young quarterbacks move slowly and crumble. He was the opposite, rushing the process frequently to close the game. He left a few throws out there that he can easily make and that goes back to his footwork. If his feet are right, you see first half Trubisky. If he gets “happy feet” as he calls them, you get second half Trubisky.
Nagy didn’t do him favors with the play calling, but Allen Robinson should have had a touchdown in the first half and a second-half completion to keep the game and the Bears chances of winning alive.
However, don’t let your emotional scarring and morale damage stop you from seeing the positive in Trubisky’s game. His feet failed him sometimes, yes. Those same feet bailed the seemingly optionless offense out on multiple plays extending drives and moving the sticks.
Trubisky also stayed in the pocket and took some hits, including a late, helmet-to-helmet hit from Clay Matthews. He also didn’t throw an interception by forcing the ball. Threw a dime to Taylor Gabriel and a dart over the middle of the field for a first down to Robinson.
4. Aaron Rodgers was …
… Aaron Rodgers. Unless you’re up by two scores with a minute left on the game clock. The game is not over. This loss stings, because of the rivalry, but how many times has Rodgers thrown walk-off Hail Mary plays to win the game? What about throwing on a rope down the sideline to get in field goal range. He’s the highest paid player… ever, for a reason.
Paraphrasing what former scout John Middlekauff said yesterday, “It took one of the greatest players of all time, playing one of his greatest games of all time to beat the Bears.” I can live with that reality as that means it’s going to be scary for the rest of the NFL.
Tom Brady may be the only other quarterback capable of doing what Rodgers did to the Bears last night. Keep that in perspective when evaluating last night.
5. Khalil Mack is …
… a goon. A dog. A monster. A problem. A gift. An answer. An upgrade. A generational talent. Worth the money and the picks already. Scary.
In limited snaps, Mack had two tackles, a sack, an interception for a touchdown, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery against a solid offensive line in Green Bay. Not to mention he’s only had four NFL practices this offseason … total. Imagine when he learns this scheme completely and doesn’t have to come off of the field. *Whew chilllleee
6. Nick Kwiatkoski was not good.
When the Bears needed him most. He was one of the most problematic. Rodgers targeted his zone in coverage multiple times and each time he was a step late and a yard short.
At one point, people believed he would be a good starter. Some even thought he and Roquan Smith signaled the end of Danny Trevathan’s time in Chicago following the season. I don’t believe Trevathan is in jeopardy at all. He and Smith could form one of the best inside linebacker tandems in the league.
7. Speaking of Smith …
I won’t say he had the same effect on the defense as Mack but boy, was it different when he was out there. He only played eight snaps and logged one tackle, two assists and a sack in his abbreviated play time. Every snap he was out there, you felt the defense move a little more quickly. He plays faster than he tested in the Combine, and he passed that test with flying colors.
Should he start the whole game, it’ll be a different ball game against Russell Wilson’s Seahawks. Wilson is way more athletic than just about any other starting quarterback in the NFL, and the Bears will need to do a good job of keeping him in the pocket behind a terrible offensive line and force him to throw to a depleted receiving corp.
8. The refs were …
Surprisingly good. Out of all of the games I spent my precious time watching, the referees didn’t disappoint me on national television during the loss at Lambeau.
9. It is NOT time to hit the panic button.
It’s not even close. This team showed promise, heart and pain. As former head coach John Fox (I know, I know) said once, “Pressure either makes diamonds or it bursts pipes.” If this loss makes the Bears feel half of what the fans felt (it did), this team is going to be even more aggressive next week. You have to be patient.
It’s easy to look at Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City and compare, but Mahomes has spent an entire year learning an offense that he’s starting to execute now. He spent a whole year getting the kinks and issues out in practice. Trubisky has been in this offense for seven months. Andy Reid is a 20-year-genius head coach. Nagy, while his understudy for almost half of that tenure, has been a head coach for less than 300 days.
This team deserves time to figure it out. To panic or abandon ship after even the first month of the season is ludicrous.
If you’re reading this and have stated “Trubisky sucks”, “Fire Nagy” or anything remotely close, remember that both the coach and the quarterbacks are infants in the experience department and we all know, babies don’t become teenagers overnight.