With four wins in their first five games, the Chicago Bears did more than tread water over this initial stretch. They put themselves in good position to make a playoff run. And while beating bad teams typically doesn’t mean much, last Thursday’s win over Tampa Bay was a good sign that these Bears might not just be the best of the bad teams. They might actually be good.
The next five weeks will tell the tale.
The offense has to be better. On Friday, Matt Nagy hammered home a point about how they needed to be more detailed, but it’s unclear if he realized that he was really telling the world his offense is poorly coached. The details of a specific offense, after all, have to be taught. They’re not innately known. The good news is that the Bears had some more time to figure it out and they’ll need it with this upcoming stretch of games.
The defense gets a pass, but shouldn’t. Playing offense is more difficult when the defense gives up early scores and puts the team in a double-digit hole before halftime. While they rank in the top ten in many statistical categories, the truth is, they should be much higher considering who they played and the injuries they’ve encountered. In every game, there has been a stretch of three or four possessions where the opposing offensive coordinator runs circles around Chuck Pagano. (Perhaps the biggest difference between Pagano and Vic Fangio is that Fangio would figure out the problem after one possession.)
The offense and defense have BOTH shown signs of being really good. They’ve both also shown signs of being bad or downright horrendous. In the next month, we’ll find out what they actually are.
While the schedule makers were kind to the Bears at the start of the season, they were awfully cruel the next five weeks.
- Carolina is interesting because it has one of the best play-callers in the league with a top-15 defense. Don’t forget about Teddy Bridgewater killing the Bears pretty much every time he sees them.
- The Bears then play at Los Angeles on a Monday night before flying home to play New Orleans. Both games will be crucial as both teams will be battling for a playoff spot.
- After that, the Bears play the currently undefeated Tennessee Titans before hosting Minnesota before the bye.
The Bears need to come out of this stretch with at least three wins if anybody should will them seriously. With games against Detroit, Houston, Minnesota and Jacksonville down the stretch, three wins in this difficult stretch might actually allow them to contend for the division title.
Then again, this is easily a stretch that could send the Bears back to mediocrity.
Nagy talked about details. Is that something that can be taught or learned five games into a season? Is the light just going to come on? It seems unlikely, but that’s exactly what he’s asking. If ever there was a season where an offense is just going to click, isn’t this it? Especially considering the starting quarterback is getting his first reps with the starters a month into the season.
After a slow start, the Bears team that played the final 32 minutes last Thursday was a good squad. If that is the version of the team that shows up the rest of the season, the possibilities are endless.
We’ll know soon enough.