114 Comments

In Coin Flip Season, Bears Lacking “The Winning Play”

| December 14th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.28.54 AM

Take out the six quarters these 2015 Chicago Bears have played without their best player, quarterback Jay Cutler, and here’s how the point totals stack up:

Chicago Bears – 269

Opponents – 268

If you needed more evidence that this team’s season has been one, long coin flip…this should do it.

The Bears could have easily beaten the Redskins, Niners, Vikings, Broncos and Lions. They also could have easily lost to the Raiders, Packers, Chargers and Chiefs. Nine of their thirteen games have been decided in the final minutes and have been defined by a winning play. This sport is not that complicated. When the Bears have made that play, they’ve won. When they haven’t, they’ve lost.

What happens if Jeremy Langford catches a pass in the Minnesota game? What happens if Sherrick McManis catches a jump ball interception thrown directly to him from Kirk Cousins? What happens if Robbie Gould makes a chip shot at the death of the Niners game? They couldn’t convert a two-pointer against the Broncos. They lost in overtime to the Lions. One play, one moment of brilliance (or just professionalism against San Fran), would have won each of these games.

And it ain’t on the coaches. Sure, we can all quibble with the defense’s inability to start a game or the offense’s conservative approach but coaches have one job: put players in position to win games. And the listing above proves the Bears coaching staff has done just that. Each and every week the Bears have a chance to win.

They don’t win because they’re not good enough. Outside of the quarterback and running back positions, both undeniable positives, where are the Bears good enough to be a winning team? Their offensive line is young and developing but can be overmatched. Their receivers and tight ends are never healthy. Their defensive line needs two starters. Their linebackers neither stop the run nor consistently rush the quarterback. Their coached-up secondary has been the season’s nicest surprise but still lacks playmaking talent.

They need better players. Because two or three better players may have made the difference and swung this group into the postseason. If they find those guys this offseason, the 2016 Bears could be special.

Tagged: , ,

  • EnderWiggin

    I have a feeling the Bears extend/sign Forte and Jeffery. We have the flow this year for both of these guys plus whatever else Pace can muster. We do need a shitton of position upgrades though.

    • willbest

      Jeffery is going to get the franchise tag. Forte will hit FA, at which point all bets are off.

      • Irish Sweetness

        The franchsie tag is 12.8M for a WR. Alshon ain’t worth that.

        • willbest

          They had a stat up in one of the last two games that the Bears average nearly 2 yards per play with Jeffery in the game than when he isn’t. So um.. yes he is.

    • CanadaBear

      I’d love to see Forte stay but I have to believe some crappy team will offer him 4 years for a lot of dough. if not, having him back on a 2-year deal would be awesome.

      • SC Dave

        What if they had to buy three years to keep him?

        • CanadaBear

          It would have to lower the per year amount. I just can’t see 3 years unless it’s team friendly. Personally I’d love to see him play for the Beloved his whole career but that seems very unlikely. Teams rarely show any loyalty to the player so I totally understand when a player goes for the most money. Only reason to take less is because your family loves it there and you don’t want to move.

      • The GP

        Hello Tennessee!

      • That Guy

        The Bears have a ton of cap room. If we don’t keep him, it will have little to do with money.

        More likely it would be Pace wanting to try to get a high compensatory draft pick.

        • willbest

          That only works if they don’t sign whichever Jets D-lineman that doesn’t get the franchise tag. Which they are going to Fing do because that is a no brainer.

          • That Guy

            No, we have money for both, and for a long term for Alshon.

          • willbest

            I mean you don’t get the comp picks if you go out and sign awesome a bunch of mercs

          • That Guy

            Not sure exactly how the system works. I just know Baltimore has basically built their free agency philosophy on getting comp picks, and it has worked out really well for them.

          • Irish Sweetness

            How much do you pay Alshon? The #1 got kicked out the door. AJ gets paid the same automatically? He hasn’t looked like a #1 to me. He wants 12M a year – you give it to him?

          • That Guy

            Yes, you give it to him with a smile. He actually might get a bit more than that if you’re looking at a long term deal.

            Best deal for the team with Alshon’s health issues would be something like $75-$80M over six years with $30M guaranteed. Basically you pump up the cap figure in years 4-6 to make the agent look good, but keep the guarantees low to protect the team if he’s constantly injured. If he’s playing well after 3 years, you give him an extension to reduce the annual cap hits and back load again. The worst thing that can happen from a cap perspective is he plays all his good years in Chicago and the last couple are expensive (like Peppers or Briggs), but by then you have years to plan for the hit.

  • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

    Did anyone else drink an entire Manhattan in one gulp when Cousins simply threw that pass straight up into the air and we neither intercepted it nor knocked it down? Straight up in the fucking air man.
    I was at a family party and the crowd grew silent as they waited for my reaction. My reaction was to conduct the Manhattan project on myself.

    • CanadaBear

      I ordered a huge dessert and ate it all. My Beloved Bride dropped me off and went shopping. First time I’ve had an entire dessert in years (due to shares-ees). The fucking bartender busted me the minute my Little Love Dove walked in the door. FUCKER! Gotta admit it was funny.

    • Sherrick Fucking McManis.

      • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

        straight up in the air.

    • willbest

      My wife was out shopping and I had our 3 kids at home. I went out to the garage turned on the miter saw and let our a few choice cuss words.

    • I screamed at the TV as to how he could not only fail to grab that interception but let it be completed.
      I then posed the same question on Twitter and got the perfect response: It’s Sherrick McManis. What else do you expect?

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, but how often are those double coverage jump balls won by offensive players vs. defensive players? My guess is the numbers favor the former. And it’s not like we didn’t benefit from them in the past with BMarsh and Alshon.

      • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

        it sucks because that wasn’t even a jump ball. That was a “I’m about to get fucking killed and I suck at QB so I’m just going to fucking launch it poorly”. It was a brain fart and we let them gain 20 on it and convert a key first down in their own red zone.

        • Anonymous

          Agreed. It was a dying quail.

    • SC Dave

      I hated that play.

    • The GP
      • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

        https://imgflip.com/i/vrquc – I don’t want to also remind everyone that the guy that caught it then put the ball on the ground, had a bears player impotently fall over it and kick it right back into his fucking hands.

        • BillW

          At the game they showed the replay of the guy laying the ball on the ground – and then stopped it! NEver saw what happened and the crowd seemed to think they called the play down by contact (and of course there was none) so we were all screaming expecting a challenge flag. The video guy was really clueless on that one.

          Also – the stadium announcer left his mic on a couple times. One time he said “we’re getting killed over the middle”.

          Very true too.

        • Sactowns#1

          That play drove me insane!!

      • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

        http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2015121306/2015/REG14/redskins@bears#menu=gameinfo%7CcontentId%3A0ap3000000600435&tab=recap
        GP, make this into a GIF for me. I don’t know how to isolate the fucking Cousins shitball pass. it’s about 2:30 into the highlight clip.

        • The GP

          what was the time on the game clock

    • 505Bears

      Nope…Nothing surprises me with this damn team. Some great plays, then some plays that pee wee footballers could make. I just shake my head in disgust.

  • willbest

    Rolle to IR, being ambiguous with McPhee’s future this season. McManis had concussion symptoms after the Redskins game. Wilson had surgery on his foot.

    • and still teasing at White. No decision announced until after the deadline.

  • FantuzPhysics

    Rich Rod said about building a college program…same possibly could be said about a new GM/coach at the nfl level…first you lose big, then you lose some, then you win some, and finally you win big.

    If last year was “lose big”, and this year was “lose some”, next year has to be to be “win some” right? We’re an offseason away from being a winning team, but 2 offseasons away from being a good team.

  • StarkyLuv

    This team SHOULD HAVE WON agains Lions, Vikings, Broncos, Niners and Washington. That’s 5 wins that a good team puts away easy. They would be 10-3 (I’m not giving them the first Packers game, which they should’ve won as well).

    Bears SHOULD BE 10-3 and in first place in the division and the #2 seed in the NFC. But they aren’t a good team for the exact reasons you said. But more than not having enough good players, injuries devastated this team.

    Imagine if Kevin White plays this season. Imagine if Eddie Royal doesn’t miss 6 games. Imagine if all the killer injuries on D never happened. Even in the Seattle game where the Bears dominated them the entire first half, Bears couldn’t capitalize because Jay Cutler didn’t play.

    So, it’s kind of a lost season.

    • willbest

      Virginia posts here? Sure sounds like the rantings of a 90 year old suffering from some sort of dementia.

      What killer injuries on D? Mundy? Ferguson? Washington? Ratliff going postal? Shea missing a couple games? I guess McPhee, but Young was getting it done against Cousins.

      You think White and Royal were going to be difference makers if they were there all season?

      • Irish Sweetness

        White, absolutely.

        • willbest

          We don’t know if he will be able to recover his top end speed with metal in his leg.

      • StarkyLuv

        Okay.

    • BillW

      I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as “should have won”. Coaches always say things like “we are what our record says.” Jauron said “what happened in the game is what should have happened”. (Not a great coacj but he did have a good sense of things in my opinion.

      And I can’t see how all the experience the players got, and all the meaningful evaluation the coaching staff and front office has, can be consider a lost season for a team on the rise.

      • Irish Sweetness

        Ceteris Paribus. All things being equal.

        In three games, if our kicker does what he’s paid to do – nothing more nothing less – then we win those games. You SHOULD win those games.

    • Huge Bear’s Penis

      yep you are right i went to all the blogs i could find for the Lions, Vikings, Broncos, Niners, and Redskins. Amazingly enough all their posters were all saying that they should have lost to us and that our record should not be 5-8.

    • AlbertInTucson

      “This team SHOULD HAVE WON against Lions, Vikings, Broncos, Niners and Washington.”

      In the end, you ARE what your record is.

      Still, the “Should have won…” take on this season is frustrating enough just on face of it.

      Add in the fact that if they’d manged to win just TWO of those games they would still be in-the-hunt at 7-6 right now and THAT is REALLY annoying.

      • willbest

        If they had won two of those they would be leading the playoff race. Just 1 of them and they would be in the hunt right now.

      • Irish Sweetness

        I agree. If you want to get into ‘If…’ scenarios … it gets silly. We are 5-8. That is how good we are. That is where we are.

    • Anonymous

      We could also be 2-11. GB, OAK and KC all lost very winnable games against us.

      Plus, even good teams struggle in this league. Look at GB and MINN. Both with good records but both as close to mediocre as they are elite.

      Only elite teams put those games “away easy,” as you said. And even those teams would find themselves in a dogfight in a couple/few of those games you mentioned. Nature of the league.

    • SC Dave

      All idle speculation of zero value or importance. The Bears are 5-8.

  • Cutty of Olivet Nazarene

    just watched the game again. Jordan Reed caught 9 passes and was targeted 9 times. Also, Amos looks to be a young talent but he got fucking schooled. Schooled. Reed was the teacher and McClellin was the guy copying off of Amos’ homework.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Not Amos’ fault. You can’t ask a safety to cover a TE and expect anything else.

      Scheme. Fangio. He allowed their only play-maker (Jackson is a liability) to catch all of his targets unchallenged. Lack of adjustment. Fangio.

  • BillW

    Regarding a JWood post on the precious thread – that we seem to be a coin flip vs good and bad and mediocre teams.

    It seemed like JWood’s point went over a lot of people’s heads.

    Usually there is a negative correlation between the level of opponent and result. That is, you do better against bad teams and worse against good ones. Small sample size, but there appears to be no such correlation with the Bears, and that’s an NFL anomaly that is worth pondering.

    So JWood pondered and came up with a very interesting hypothesis. Well done!

    • willbest

      If you operate under the assumption that Elway isn’t a raving madman that is roughly the same reason Fox got fired in Denver.
      Here is the thing though. Do you see any appreciable difference in the way they play the good teams or the bad teams?

      • BillW

        That one is above my pay grade. Great question though. I think JWoods hypothesis would imply “yes” but I don’t know how to judge that

        • willbest

          To me it looks like the Bears are very consistent week to week in there play calling/execution. There defense isn’t confusing but its stout. Everybody is forced to take what it gives you (or maybe its just designed to trick you into the easy read for shorter gain) and even good offenses find it hard to sustain 12-14 play drives.

          There offense isn’t explosive, but it isn’t all that predictable (save for the bubble screen audible). Which means it moves the ball until the field shortens. Then the playbook shrinks and makes them predictable. At which point they don’t have the playmakers due to injury to overcome the defenses.

          • Irish Sweetness

            The Chargers and the Saints are the only teams that allow more yards per carry.

            Is that stout defense?

            We’re mid-table in points allowed, and yards per pass allowed. Is mid-table everything else with a terrible run defense a stout defense?

            We are a benign, toothless defence, and that is NOT all on the players. It’s by design.

            The Jets allow 3.6 YPC and have allowed two rushing TDs. This should be our aim.

          • Anonymous

            Think perspective and comparison to our recent past.

            Look at Cutler. He is 16th in the league in both PR and QBR but yet he looks miles better than his recent past. Same with the D. They’re certainly not Lovie/Lach quality but they are a ton better than last year.

          • willbest

            Cutler has even had a couple bad games, he used to be 9th in QBR

          • willbest

            We are a top 12 defense in terms of total yards allowed per game and we are among the least penalized defenses as well. Our issue is giving up 3rd down conversions. Also our points allowed would be better if we fielded an offense for 2 of our 13 games this season, and hadn’t allowed 5-6 offensive and ST touchdowns.

      • Irish Sweetness

        Good question. We seem to always match the level of opponent. If they are bad, we are bad, and get beaten on experience .. .then we play good teams and win games we’re not supposed to. Inconsistency has to be on the players.

        Did we get rid of Brandon (12 TDs) to foster this kind of environment?
        Give me the noisy locker-room instead. This one isn’t so good. I want ballers – and if they’re crazy, then fuck it. The Raiders and Bears won superbowls with locker rooms full of crazy. Football is violent, crazy is good.

  • Trac

    It is what it is gents. Yes it’s a rebuilding year but this team has shown the ability to stand toe to toe with every team but 2 this year. That’s a huge improvement over last year. All we can do is wait and see how it pans out. Pace needs to hit home runs in the draft and free agency to have a shot at the playoffs next year. If not, hello Chicago Browns for another year.

    I think Fox and Pace will do what’s needed to compete for the division next year.

  • Sactowns#1

    To everyone still lauding our coaching staff please let this sink in, we have the same record as the 49ers. The niners, a team who is coached by a bunch of amateurs, beat us and our highly lauded and experienced coaching staff. Just let marinade in that for a moment.

    • willbest

      They still have playmakers on defense.

      • Anonymous

        Do they? I thought most of them retired or left. And Bowman looks a shell of himself.

        • willbest

          Well their TOP is 5 minutes less per game than the Bears and they have only allowed 1 more point this season, they are clearly doing something right on defense. Also they are 4-9 we are 5-8

      • Irish Sweetness

        I thought they looked okay, and then the Browns tore them apart. I mean tore them a new one.

    • Trac

      Sac, this is silly. We have practice squad players starting on this team. Coaches coach, players play. The most important position on the team is the QB. Cutler is finally playing like the QB we hoped he could be and I give the coaching staff credit for that. C’mon man.

      • Irish Sweetness

        I don’t get your point, Trac. A player is not a practice squad player if they are on the roster. Arian Foster went undrafted – so Houston shouldn’t play him – what’s your point?

        Specifically, how have Gase and Fangio impressed you and what results are we talking about?

        • Trac

          We have too many small fish Irish. Not enough big ones. I also think it’s fruitless to go after a coaching staff in their 1st year during a serious rebuild undertaking when they have the Bears competing week in and week out. It’s a process my friend. Patience please.

          • Irish Sweetness

            See? Nobody can tell me!

            Oh I have patience, Trac. Been waiting 30 years. Maybe Fangio will change his scheme with different players. Don’t like this one though.

          • Trac

            How many coaches go from worst to 1st in their division their 1st year Irish? The Bears are getting better as a team Irish, we just need better players. When year 2 comes around, it’ll be a different team. New coaches normally take 3 years to turn a franchise into a winning team, that’s just how it is.

    • willbest

      I mentioned it below, but the Bears are 5-8. 9ers are 4-9.

      • Scharfinator

        SUCK IT NINERS

    • Irish Sweetness

      You and I are in a small boat, Sac. I’m not impressed with the OCs.

      Fox is a known quantity – a tad conservative, but he’s been there and knows what it takes.

      Gase seems to running off scripts until we need to score at the end of the game. Then he hands it over to Cutler, and we march like a band up and down the field. What’s up with that? We ran the ball 42 times against the Niners. 42. The answer to life the universe and everything is not 42.

      Does Gase not know what tendencies are? Why does he toy with them then? He’s predictable.
      Who didn’t call Forte’s TD yesterday before it happened. Cutty in the shotgun? You knew that was a run up the middle. We scored, but that’s not the point.

      Does Fangio know that only the Pats blitz less than we do? Why does he allow opposing QBs to stand in there and do their job? He wants to get his rush on with 3 or 4? Guess what? Not working. So we allow fewer completions and yards through the air than most? So fucking what?
      We don’t take the ball away. We don’t hurry and harry opposing QBs. Blitzes work against runs too. Bottom of the league in rush defense – can’t all be on the players. Run fits, alignments – that’s Fangio’s job, and if it’s Shea’s … then he needs to sit down.

      Buffone, Butkus, Singletary, Urlacher …. Shamus?

      • willbest

        You like to hound on the blitz thing, but what is the Bear’s success rate. Every time I notice them rush 5, not a lot happens.

        • Irish Sweetness

          So rush 7.

          And the Bears have no success rate, that’s my point. Everyone’s blowing Fangio, and I want to know WHY? Nobody can tell me. Somebody will call me an idiot, but they won’t ever address the question.

          NY Jets blitz the shit out of people and things happen.

          • BillW

            I think (hope) it’s simply the lack of talent. Blitzing unsuccessfully invites a big play. And they happen even with the scheme Fangio has. Sure, blitzing can cover up a poor secondary but not if it’s easy to pick up

            I get the frustration but we aren’t seeing his best because of talent

            Gase, on the other hand…

          • Johnnywad

            Blitzing requires lots of savvy and playmaking in the backfield once the blitzer leaves it to get to the quarterback. We don’t have much of that around. Nor do we have particularly successful blitzers. Blitzing likely just gets us burned. The Bears pass D is not the problem.

    • beninnorcal

      Niners still have more talent than our Bears. Especially on D.

  • wreckinball

    Weird year
    What was a strength FG kicking is now a weakness
    Fox is overly conservative and it drives me nuts but kudos overall for fielding a competitive team
    It’s not the shit show that was predicted

    • Irish Sweetness

      Yeah, it was like going from Devin Hester on returns … to WR Devin.

      Don’t get all the Giants love – Miami should have this.

      (Cue Giants fumble recovery)

  • Irish Sweetness

    Robbie looks like an Irish horse trainer in that photo. Cut him. Now.

  • Shady

    Love pylon cam.

    • Shady

      I’m not saying it’s an easy job, but these refs come on!

    • AlbertInTucson

      It just won me my FF game this week!

    • AlbertInTucson

      The NFL should have Pylon Cam on EVERY game. Lord knows, they can afford it!

  • AlbertInTucson

    Once again. If they call that Beckham catch a TD, it is AUTOMATICALLY reviewed.
    By calling it incomplete, the Giants have to challenge. That’s is total BS.

  • BillW

    Another losing season (likely) and frustration/pessimism starts to take over.

    I could see that with Trestman as coach. I was there a year early. But now?

    It’s not built in a day. If this time next year we are not 7-6 or better then maybe it’s time to wonder.

  • Huge Bear’s Penis

    wow, i can now unpucker. I was up 32 in fantasy going into tonight’s game and the opponent had Odell Beckham Jr. onto the next round of the playoffs.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Drafted the shit out of him this year. Even Eli mostly can’t fuck it up – you just put it in the general area with OBJ.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how one of these ESPN post-game guys has to tell us every week about some observation Ray Lewis made off camera. It’s like, “we know he’s going to suck when the camera is on, but please believe us, he occasionally says something intelligible when you’re not around.”

    • willbest

      Well they sign a 3 year contract, and they gotta make the most of it.

  • That Guy

    I’m not sure what’s more irritating. On the one hand, there are three teams tied for first in the NFC East, none of them has made .500. On the other hand, if the Bears were in the division, we’d be in fourth place.

    • Anonymous

      Chances are no potential WC team will be burned that badly by the automatic bid for the NFCE division winner. Right now, TB and ATL have the best complaints but they’re only 6-7 themselves.

      What is more problematic are the division winners automatically hosting a playoff game. Rules committee, or whatever they call it, should look into seeding all teams by best record.

      • That Guy

        Meh, I’m just being surly. I actually agree with the current system. Jeff has tweeted about this recently – without common opponents, a 1 or 2 game swing doesn’t always give the whole picture about a team. And historically WC teams are not automatic locks to advance.

        Its more just frustrating that we’re out of the playoffs in this division, but we’d still be in contention in the East. And then its frustrating to know that we’d be in contention, but still behind the pack.

    • Irish Sweetness

      If the Bears were in that division we wouldn’t have to play the Lions, Queens and Fudgers twice a season.

  • Scharfinator

    I really don’t understand this whole “if only we had won these squeakers, we’d be in the playoffs!” talk. So what? We manage to squeak into the playoffs and then lose the 1st (2nd if we’re LUCKY) round.

    We aren’t ready for the big stage yet, so why be upset we didn’t make the tournament? It hurts to watch us lose, but this year is about making a transition and becoming better. Higher picks, even if it is marginal, help this.

    • Johnnywad

      Because it’d be fun to watch the Bears in a playoff game?

      • Scharfinator

        It would certainly be fun, I wouldn’t be against it if that was where we are at. But we aren’t, so why all the navel gazing and lamenting about “coulda, woulda, shoulda”?”

        I wouldn’t say every season is measured by the Super Bowl, but it *is* the ultimate goal, isn’t it?

        • Johnnywad

          It is. I’m over could, shoulda and woulda. The Bears are frustrating but fun again. Getting blown out last year ruined the season. This year I look forward to Sundays again. It would have been nice to have another Sunday or two to look forward and have the Bears in the tournament.

          Is what it is as they say.

        • That Guy

          So only one in thirty-two teams has a successful season?

          • Scharfinator

            Ultimately, yes. Every player says the goal is to win a super bowl. If they fail in their goal, how could it be successful?

  • Scharfinator

    Pretty insane gif. Why isn’t pylon cam in every game?

    http://screengrabber.deadspin.com/all-hail-pylon-cam-1748052024

  • BillW

    Sometimes it takes a day or two to realize something you didn’t realize. And that not realizing it is in fact significant.

    I watched an entire game at Soldier Field without it ever once entering my mind that Jay might throw an interception. I was as confident in his ability to move the team as I probably ever was. And in saying that, more confident in his moving the team than any other Bears QB since McMahon.

    The play calling on the other hand…

    Once again, the question is pertinent: Is Gase making Jay look good, or is Jay making Gase look good?

    New corollary question: Is Gase even looking good anymore?

  • Thompson Way

    I agree with Schar, that this year is still a building year and a nice draft should make the difference, from one and done in the playoffs, to belong there and bringing the Trophy home.

  • MB30SD
    • DaBearsBlog

      They’re not a sleeper. They are wide awake.

      • MB30SD

        Hahahaha… such a hometown homer. ; )

  • willbest

    Cutler makes a “pretty decent” plan B? Cutler would be plan A on half the teams in the league. Even if you subscribed to JD’s level of hate, you can rank him no worse than the best plan B in the league.

    • I saw that article and laughed. There is maybe a 1% chance right now that Cutler isn’t Chicago’s starting QB in 2016.

      I’m sure they’ll try very hard to bring in the guy of the future, but that’s going to be somebody to groom behind Cutler for a year or two (or three).

      • BillW

        What article was that (so I know not to read it)?

        • ESPN Chicago 5 things to watch for with Bears rest of season

      • Johnnywad

        He’d have to get hit by a bus to not be the QB in Chicago next year.

        I’ve not heard much positive info regarding this year’s crop of QB’s. Is the next guy to groom out there?

  • Next year we will have more playmakers. what concerns me is Fox has not figured out this late in the season that our defense is barely adequate and yet he keeps asking them to win games instead of going for it on offense.

  • SC Dave

    Was reading a story and followed a thread of why Aldridge joined the Spurs

    #Bestfranchiseinprofessionalsportsplanetwide

© Da' Bears Blog