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Across The Middle — Week 6

| October 12th, 2016

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Well, now what?

The loss to the Colts may have been the most disappointing of the season to me because it ended any chance the Bears had of becoming relevant this season.

I didn’t think they’d make the playoffs but I expected the Bears to be relevant. I expected them to a be a team nobody wanted to play and I expected to see serious signs of growth. A win over Indianapolis would’ve put them at 2-3 with a  chance to go 3-3 next week before they played the Packers in a Thursday night game. At that point, anything would’ve been possible.

But they lost to the Colts, a bad team. Making the loss worse, they Colts are a bad team that was coming off of a trip to another country, while the Bears were coming off of their first win. It was a game the Bears had to win and didn’t.

There are still bright spots this season and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think the Bears have a very good GM and a lot of excellent young talent. They actually have a better record through Pace’s first 21 games than the Packers did with Ted Thompson. But that doesn’t make me feel better today.

There’s always next year, for most of us anyway. Depending on how the rest of this season goes, that could bring some very difficult questions.

The biggest question is the coach and there is no easy answer.

John Fox has to start wining games soon if he’s going to be back next year. At the very least, they have to stop losing them the way they’ve been losing them, making the same stupid mistakes every week.

Say Pace fires Fox, who does he bring in?

Jim Harbaugh? He’ll wants Pace’s job too and we have no idea if he can handle that.

Kyle Shanahan? Is he a grown up yet?

Josh McDaniels? Oh boy…

The Bears are in a tough spot.

There’s also the question about the quarterback. We’ll spend the rest of this season debating who should start right now while Pace seems to be getting more aggressive in trying to find his guy, scouting the Clemson QB (I won’t memorize his name until after the season) in person last week.

I have confidence in Ryan Pace. But I hate that I’m already talking about the offseason. I want the team to start winning. Sunday was a prime opportunity. They screwed the pooch.

Cutler=Win?

Like most people, I believe Jay Cutler would’ve thrown the game-winning touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery on Sunday. Unlike most people, I’m not sure Cutler playing means the Bears would’ve won.

As DBB readers are well aware, I’m a big fan of Cutler. I’m also a strong believer that defense is what wins games. I have no confidence the Bears could’ve stopped the Colts from scoring even if the Bears got the go-ahead touchdown pass. When the Colts needed points, they didn’t even have to work for them.

But, my questions are more about the quarterback play. It’s easy to say the Bears would’ve scored more points with Cutler, but is there any real evidence that that is the case? It’s all speculation.

Maybe Cutler makes the throw to Jeffery late, but does he make the throw to Howard for the go-ahead touchdown earlier in the game? I doubt it.

It’s also easy to blame Hoyer for the fact that they didn’t score more points, but I think that’s unwarranted. On their first drive, they went from a first-and-10 at the 35 to a first-and-25. They still picked up the first down. Later in that same drive, they should’ve had a first-and-goal inside the one, but a face mask penalty pushed them back to a second-and-17.

Later in the game, Hoyer threw what should’ve been a first down pass inside the 15-yard line to Eddie Royal, but Royal fumbled. On third-and-two, Hoyer and Royal connected for a first down again, but Kyle Long was called for holding.

I don’t care who the quarterback is, when the players around them keep messing up like that it’s so hard to score points.

Maybe the Bears would’ve scored a lot more points with Cutler. Maybe. But they need to stop making stupid mistakes around the QB position.

What The &#$%?

• Why is Mitch Unrein rushing the passer as part of a three-man rush on second and third down with more than 10 yards to go?

• Why are they rushing three — and never more than four — in long-distance situations against a team that can’t protect their quarterback?

• Why is Chris Prosinski playing over Deon Bush?

• Why is Deonte Thompson still returning kicks?

• Why is Logan Paulsen so useless?

• Why don’t they try game-planning during the week so they can get stops early in the game?

• Why can’t Bryce Callahan just stay healthy?

• Connor Barth.

From The Chart

• I had Hoyer with 11 inaccurate passes on Sunday, certainly more than you’d like to see given the near-perfect protection he had. One of those passes was a throw away and a couple appeared to be miscommunications. The big one came on the last play. I can forgive him for not seeing Alshon wide open, but at least make a good pass. He did a lot to keep them in the game, but he didn’t give them a shot to win it on that play.

• Jordan Howard was credited with 10 broken tackles on my chart. Part of that was the fact they were playing a terrible defense (five other players were credited with at least one broken tackle), but it’s clear Howard has the goods.

• I had the Bears’ offensive line down for just three quarterback disruptions. That’s incredible. It would be hard for a QB not to play well with that kind of protection. I also had them down for 4.5 bad runs, but they were dominant on quite a few plays too.

• In addition to his three sacks, I had WIllie Young with three hurries, giving him six disruptions in the game. This is the kind of game Young needed to have against a bad opponent. All of the best pass rushers rack up sacks against subpar tackles.

Bring on The Jags

There could not have been a team more ripe for a loss than the Colts were last week, so I’m having a difficult time being optimistic about the Bears chances against the team that beat the Colts in London.

The Jags are disappointing to those idiots who picked them to be good this year — which pretty much guaranteed they’d be bad. Blake Bortles makes about five really bad throws a game and they don’t run the ball well, but they have good receivers and we’ve seen what good receivers can do to the Bears.

If the Bears are remotely healthy in the secondary (in other words if Jacoby Glenn and Chris Prosinski aren’t playing) I think they can match-up well. The Bears have struggled with speed receivers and neither of Jacksonville’s studs fit that description.

If they are playing Glenn and relying on Sam Acho and Mitch Unrein to give them pass-rush, it really doesn’t matter who the Bears are playing against because it won’t go well.

I expect another efficient performance from Brian Hoyer in which they move the ball reasonably well, but I don’t know if that’s enough.

Of course, it would help if they could kick a frickin’ field goal.

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