We are about to find out if this Chicago Bears run is real. That’s exactly how it should be.
Ted Phillips and George McCaskey have spent their entire lives as football bosses trying to catch up to the Green Bay Packers. Trying to prove they belong on the same field. Trying to make it a rivalry game once again. They remember Week 17 in 2010, when a pitiful performance by the Bears allowed the Packers to get into the playoffs and start a Super Bowl run that included winning the NFC Championship Game on Soldier Field.
The biggest problem with the run the Bears are on is we don’t have a clue what it means. Blowing out the Texans and Jaguars is nice, but the loss to Detroit was ugly and playing close with Minnesota wasn’t great either. The Bears have established they are not a bad team. But are they a good one?
Their QB still makes too many mistakes. Sunday was the third time he has thrown an interception in the end zone in five games and was also the third time he has fumbled in Bears territory. (This time, he was lucky enough to recover it himself.) But most quarterbacks are flawed. You can live with the flaws as long as they come up big in the big moments. This is Mitch Trubisky’s chance to do just that.
A good performance by Trubisky in a win would seem to cement him as the team’s quarterback in 2021. His play during the current winning streak hasn’t been stellar, but it’s been good enough to suggest that he’s better than the other options for 2021.
The defense is leaky. They have the talent, but defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is stuck in his ways when it comes to coverage. The end result is open receivers regularly, especially on third down when stranded in man. Pagano got his butt thoroughly kicked last time he matched up with Matt LaFleur. He can’t let that happen again.
The Bears, as good as they’ve been in the last three weeks, are as flawed as their record suggests they should be. But a win on Sunday would make the season a success. A win on Sunday would give them something off of which to build long-term. A win on Sunday would validate what they’ve been trying to do. A win on Sunday would save a lot of jobs.
According to some media reports Matt Nagy’s job has already been saved. But it’s suspicious that nothing has been said about Ryan Pace.
Whether it’s the drafting of David Montgomery, Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet, the signing of Jimmy Graham or UDFA finds like Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars, Pace’s fingerprints are all over what is currently helping the Bears succeed. The defense will need to be rebuilt soon and he is as qualified as anyone to take on that task. At the very least, a playoff appearance would likely allow Pace to fulfill his contract.
It’s easy to say a win on Sunday shouldn’t change the Bears long-term plan, but how could it not? Beating the NFC’s No. 1 seed, and one of the three best teams in the league, in a must-win game for both teams, is significant and a sign that what they’re currently building isn’t a fluke.