The Chicago Bears have had a keen grip on the collective mood of the Windy City for quite some time now, and walking around the city on Monday, you couldn’t help but feel the mood was sullen.
Any type of loss is hard to swallow, obviously, but when a team blows a 21-7 lead and goes completely silent in the second half, things start to get dicey. That’s exactly the situation the Bears find themselves in this week, as they dropped a 31-24 decision to the Carolina Panthers. We had the perfect blend of bad Jay Cutler (two really poorly thrown interceptions), and a defense that allowed itself to be repeatedly gashed by Greg Olsen and company. Throw in some bad special teams play and an unacceptable lapse in on-field awareness (Philly Brown’s 79-yard punt return touchdown), and you have the perfect recipe for a livid fanbase.
The question then is a simple one: Just how worried should Bears fans be about the team’s 2-3 start? In what will become a recurring series if the Bears continue to struggle (and maybe even if they don’t) we will attempt to answer that question.
The Bears’ offense is unquestionably the team’s biggest strength, but we’re still worried after the game against the Panthers. The first half seemed to go well, with screen passes providing some great gains, but the second half saw little to no adjustment by Marc Trestman and his staff, as Luke Kuechly and company ran roughshod over the running and passing games.
The Green Bay game was a similar exercise, with the passing game going dormant and the running game slowing down in the second half. That simply can’t happen when you have a team loaded with stars, but since the adjustments being made can be simple strategy tweaks, we’re not as worried about this area as we are others.
The defense was a big concern last year, but this year things were supposed to be better. The defensive line was completely overhauled, and the secondary got a ton of new faces as well.
Unfortunately, injuries have really derailed things for the Bears, so we’re pretty worried on this side of the ball. Kyle Fuller has been as good as advertised, but injuries to Jeremiah Ratliff, Charles Tillman, and Chris Conte all really hurt. The secondary has also been dashed to bits by Aaron Rodgers and Geno Smith (who unbelievably threw for 300 yards against the Bears, but stunk up the joint and got benched on Sunday in a Jets loss), and with little to no pass rush to speak of, things are really trending in the wrong direction for this group.
Special Teams: 9/10
This group is simply a tire fire. There are scant reasons for hope right now, with guys continuing to miss gap assignments, kick returners being swallowed up shy of the 20-yard line, and penalties galore being called for really boneheaded moves (we’re looking at you, Teddy Williams). The only thing this group has going for it are their kickers, with Robbie Gould and Pat O’Donnell doing well to start the year.
Maybe our next edition will feature a “Has Joe Decamillis Been Fired Yet?” ticker.
Yes, the Bears are playing a really tough stretch of games, and they still have a tremendous offense, but simply put, this team doesn’t look like it’s ready to compete. They shrink in big moments on both sides of the ball, they can’t pressure quarterbacks, and most importantly of all, they can’t seem to make the simple in-game adjustments that other coaching staffs can make.
Those are all devastating character traits for a team with playoff aspirations, and if you had to answer the question of whether or not this is a team capable of making the postseason, you’d be hard-pressed to say yes.