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Across The Middle – Week Three

| September 21st, 2016

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As I rewatched the Bears with my son in my arms, I looked down at him, he looked up at me and I knew he was thinking: “Why should I sign up for this?”

At this point, it’s a legitimate question: Why should anyone be optimistic about the Bears? And at this point, it’s hard to find an answer. I’d like to tell you it wasn’t as bad as it looked on Monday night, but that would be a lie. It was every bit that bad and probably a little worse.

This season has been a worst-case scenario for the Bears. Everything they hoped would work out in their favor hasn’t. And, now, some of the few players they could rely on are injured. We may not have seen the worst of the Bears yet. There’s a chance they’ll go flat out Trestman on us.

They stink in every facet of the game. Their injured linebacker is yelling at their injured quarterback. Their star offensive guard — I don’t know if good teams have “star” offensive guards — stormed out without speaking to the media. Their coach looks lost. Their last two first round draft picks look like athletes, not football players.

It’s that bad, but it’s early.

I’m not going to lose faith just yet. There are reasons to hold on; reasons to think this season could still turn into something useful. And, if it doesn’t, there are reasons to think there is a bright future in there somewhere.

The (Possible) Bright Side of Cutler’s Injury

Brian Hoyer is significantly worse than Jay Cutler, but he might be exactly what the offense needs right now.

I think back to the 2013 season. When Cutler went down, the coaches shifted responsibility of the offense to the skill position players, instead of relying on their quarterback to make plays. As a result, Josh McCown looked like Aaron Rodgers. Not because he was great, but because everyone around him was. They had to be.

The Bears don’t have Martellus Bennett, Matt Forte or Brandon Marshall, but they do have talent that is badly underperforming. With Hoyer under center, the Bears’ offense will have to go from one that relies on the quarterback to one that tries to hide the quarterback. The end result should be getting the ball into the hands of guys like Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Kevin White.

I’m most interested to see what happens with White. We saw White practice well in Cleveland in the final preseason game with Hoyer delivering the ball and Hoyer looked White’s way several times on Monday. My biggest critique of Cutler to this point in the season is that he has largely ignored White — Cutler missed him open several times Monday — but Hoyer is going to try to get him the ball.

Hoyer isn’t as bad as people like to think. He was horrendous in the playoffs last year, but he’s also a large part of the reason why the Texans got there. They replaced him with Brock Osweiler, but there’s no evidence that Osweiler is better.

There’s no question everyone on the team will need to play better. If they’re going to be competitive the rest of this season, they need everyone to step up like they did in 2013. They have talent, they just need to play up to it. I don’t know if they can, but Hoyer is at least good enough to find out.

Of course, if they don’t step up, Hoyer isn’t good enough to win games by himself. In that case, they’ll be picking very high in the draft again and I hope Ryan Pace leans on his good friend Sean Payton to help him evaluate quarterbacks.

Give Howard The Rock

I don’t put much stock in preseason so I hesitated to say Jordan Howard should compete with Jeremy Langford at that point, but I’m really starting to think Howard is their best back.

Howard was decisive, powerful, quick and faster than advertised in the preseason. But it was the preseason. We only saw glimpses of him last week, but we saw those same traits. Meanwhile, the fears I had with Langford after last season appear to be coming true. He just doesn’t seem like he can create offense by himself.

The problem with Langford is that he’s not the kind of back who is going to move the chains. He’ll get a few yards per carry, then break a long run. He can succeed on a good offense and would be lethal on a great offense. But the Bears need a back who can consistently pick up yards.

I don’t know if Howard is better than Langford. But I also don’t know that he isn’t. The Bears don’t either. It’s time to give the rookie the rock.

Maybe It Wasn’t That Bad…

OK. It was that bad. But, consider the fact that they were within two points at the end of the third quarter. It was anyone’s ball game before the Bears made mistake after mistake and their injured defense collapsed.

The nightmare was really limited it a few minutes in the third quarter and the start of the fourth. Those few minutes were just so so bad. They were just so… Trestman..I promise not to reference Trestman anymore.

At least the Packers looked like crap.

From The Chart

• I had Cutler with five inaccurate passes, pretty much all missed the same way. Looking back at the game knowing his thumb was injured, you can see how the injury impacted his velocity. The sack/fumble was 100 percent on Cutler too as he ran right into the sack. He played well overall and was incredibly accurate, just had two bad mistakes and we’ll never know how much the thumb injury impacted those.

• The line seemed worse during my first viewing of the game, partially because some of the problems weren’t on them. One sack was on Paulsen and one of the bad runs was on Lasike. In all, I had the Bears line credited/blamed for one sack, three hurries, two QB hits and two bad runs. The worst of the group was Bobby Massie, who I credited with one sack, one bad run and two hurries. While they weren’t flat out losing up front as often as it seemed, they also weren’t winning.

• I had Willie Young and Leonard Floyd combined with one sack and one hurry. They have to be better than that. In all, I had the Bears with five quarterback disruptions, not counting Sam Acho’s sack because that was a coverage sack.

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