Two road games, two blowout losses for the 2017 Bears. Green Bay won the first quarter 14-0 after a great opening drive, followed by a 3-yard touchdown after Mike Glennon turned it over on Chicago’s first offensive snap. Things stayed quiet until the end of the first quarter, when a 47 minute lightning delay led to what felt like the start of another game.
Of course, the Bears still had Mike Glennon in at quarterback, so nothing changed. He turned the ball over 3 more times and shut down the entire offense with his incompetence before racking up just enough garbage time stats to make his performance somewhat defensible if you squint (stop me if you’ve heard that before).
We’re starting here tonight, beginning with the continued ineptitude making appropriate personnel decisions late in a blowout. With all the practice the Bears’ coaches have gotten in these situations in the last few years, you’d think they would be great at it by now, but they’re not. Down 28 points in the 4th quarter, the Bears rode Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, their two best offensive players, to a meaningless late touchdown. Zach Miller, their best tight end who has made a career out of going to IR, played while rookie Adam Shaheen sat on the bench. Why? This is literally a fireable offense if the team’s management cares about their personnel at all.
I always like the Chicago Bears. But let me tell you…
The Glennon Saga in 17 Steps
Let’s walk through how this entire Glennon thing happened, step-by-step. Some of this is common knowledge. Some of this is information I’ve acquired. The acquired information is asterisked.
Step 1. Bears decide to move on from Jay Cutler. I’d put this down as happening sometime around November 2016.
Step 2. Bears make Brian Hoyer an offer to return. That offer is low, far lower than Hoyer’s camp hoped, and the journeyman essential tells the Bears to go rub jalapenos in their eyes.*
Step 3. Bears have serious interest in Tyrod Taylor*, hoping the new Bills coaching staff would want to move on to their own guy. (Today the Bills know they miscalculated*. After dumping half their roster and punted on 2017, the know they should have listened to the Tyrod suitors floating around.)
Step 4. Who is left? Mike Glennon. Bears throw a ton of cash at Glennon in what is essentially a lucrative one-year deal that many in the national media scoff at. They are “pumped”. Rumors surface Pace pursued Glennon last offseason. Glennon is the guy.
Step 5. Bears ask Glennon to join fans for their first round draft party.
Step 6. Bears move up to get Mitch Trubisky in one of the most exciting moments in Bears draft history.
Step 7. Glennon ain’t pleased.
Step 8. Bears reiterate ad nauseum, and for no other than reason than to appease Glennon, that the formed Bucs backup is still the starting QB and they’ll bring Trubisky along slowly.
Step 9. Glennon is awful in the spring. This isn’t widely reported because nobody gives a shit what happens in the spring.
Step 10. Glennon is awful in the summer. This is more widely reported but seemingly ignored because Trubisky dropped a couple snaps. Many report that Mark Sanchez is actually the most consistent quarterback in Bourbonnais.
COMEDY BREAK OVER!
Step 11. The first preseason game. Glennon is abysmal. Trubisky is great. The fan base gets excited. Trubisky is suddenly on the covers of newspapers. The 2017 Bears are a source of excitement in Chicago?
Step 12. Nothing changes at practice.
Step 13. The second preseason game. Glennon is abysmal. The Bears decide to use Trubisky less, keeping him off the field until he’s joined almost exclusively by third-stringers.
Leaving Bruno Mars w/ one question for #Bears. Why did you want to see let less Trubisky instead of more Trubisky???
Step 14. The following Wednesday, the Bears ANNOUNCE Trubisky is practicing with the first team. This excites many of us, seeing it as a sign the team is recognizing what is taking place in front of them. What comes from it?
Step 15. The third preseason game. Glennon mounts one good drive. Trubisky struggles in his two drives with the first team, thrives when re-partnered with the guys he’s practiced with for months. John Fox insanely calls Glennon’s performance “superb” and anoints him starter.
This was a win for the maligned, the individuals who have suffered the slings and arrows of fans/media for weeks and in some cases years. Rapid fire recap of a massive, impressive road victory for the Chicago Bears.
Maligned #1: Mel Tucker. Called his best game as Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and utilized the team’s 5-6-7 options at linebacker expertly. Darryl Sharpton jumped off the screen but the main reason was Tucker putting him in positions to make plays all afternoon long.
Maligned #2: Joe DeCamillis. While the Twitter terrorists killed Joe D for a blocked extra point (one of the dumbest reactions in many a year) it was Joe D’s punt coverage units brilliantly handling the greatest kick returner that’s ever lived that impressed me. Pat O’Donnell is a weapon.
Maligned #3: Jared Allen. That was a four-quarter performance from a player who’d been showing up in spurts. Getting into the sack column should be the springboard for the remainder of his 2014 campaign.
Do the Bears have any hope of stopping Julio Jones? The answer is unequivocally no. The Falcons line up Jones everywhere and run him on as creative an array of routes as you’ll see designed for a premier wide receiver. He’ll run a go from one side, a slant from the other and a shallow cross from the slot on three consecutive plays. Will the Bears deploy Kyle Fuller on Jones for the entirety of the game? Doubtful. Jones is too good to isolate in man over the full sixty minutes. I’m having a hard time not envisioning a 10-catch, 140 yard performance.
I’ve thought about this paragraph for a day or so. On the heels of Tim Jennings referring to the defensive approach against Carolina as “vanilla” this is the Sunday for Marc Trestman and Mel Tucker to go Rocky Road…or Rum Raisin…or pick the ice cream flavor of your choice since they are all infinitely less boring than vanilla. How do I mean?
Julio Jones leads the league in catches (40), targets (T-1, 57), yards (552), first downs (28) and plays of 20+ yards (12). This is not a good wide receiver the Bears are facing Sunday. This is, as of this moment, with Calvin Johnson ailing, far and away the best wide receiver in the league.
Can you stop him? Probably not. Can you make his life miserable for sixty minutes and force Matt Ryan to look elsewhere? Absolutely. Remember, I am not an X’s and O’s football writer. There are plenty of people out there to read if that’s what you’re looking for. My belief continues to be football is a sport where coaches put players in positions to make plays and the ones who make them are the ones who are successful. I continue to argue scheme/play-calling is the most overrated aspect of the NFL.
Let me show you, in crude drawings, how I might approach Jones Sunday.
There are a lot of reasons not to like the Chicago Bears after their disastrous fourth quarter in North Carolina. There are a lot of reasons to think the media/fan negativity is entirely warranted. This team may continue struggling to mount drives. They may continue to make horrible special teams errors. They may continue giving up yardage in huge chunks. So with that…
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
IN ELEVEN QUESTIONS…
(1) Having seen the success the Panthers had late, will Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan continue his attempts to compensate for his ineffective front four by utilizing extra personnel to pressure Cutler? Against the Giants, this left gaping holes in the middle of the field and Eli Manning dissected the Falcons. Expect Matt Forte to settle underneath the Falcons secondary and provide check downs for Cutler all afternoon.
(2) Can Desmond Trufant recover from his dismal performance against the Giants with the wide receiver talent increasing Sunday? Trufant is constantly left on an island with receivers, specifically in the red zone. If I am Jay Cutler this is a week to unleash the vertical passing game and allow Marshall and Jeffery to make plays even when they seem to be covered.
(3) Do the Bears have any hope of stopping Julio Jones? The answer is unequivocally no. The Falcons line up Jones everywhere and run him on as creative an array of routes as you’ll see designed for a premier wide receiver. He’ll run a go from one side, a slant from the other and a shallow cross from the slot on three consecutive plays. Will the Bears deploy Kyle Fuller on Jones for the entirety of the game? Doubtful. Jones is too good to isolate in man over the full sixty minutes. I’m having a hard time not envisioning a 10-catch, 140 yard performance.
Administrative Note: I will be recording a podcast with Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times this afternoon to take the pulse of the Bears locker room. The pod will post either evening or tomorrow morning. Felt like the right week to do it.
ATLANTA A ‘MUST WIN’?
The Bears needed 2-2 over this four game stretch. If they’re going to achieve that mark without HAVING to win in New England, Sunday’s game is pivotal. I had penciled in a loss at Atlanta at the start of the season but a win in Carolina. If the Bears leave Georgia victorious the debacle in North Carolina will be a fading memory.
What I like about the game Sunday is Atlanta will score points and most likely plenty of them. The offense, currently under warranted fire, will need to deliver a big performance.
The Bears play three of their next four games on the road: at the Martz-had-no-use-for Greg Olsen in Carolina, at the Lovie-found-no-use-for Devin Hester in Atlanta and at Tom Brady and the now prematurely-buried Patriots. Sandwich in a home game against the Miami Dolphins and you have a four-game stretch that will set this season’s tone. Some teams battle for division titles. Some teams chase the top of the table all year long. How the Bears perform over these four games will position them in one of those two categories.
This is not a long-winded column. This opinion does not require a ton of explanation. When the Bears emerge from their bye week in November they play five of the their final eight games at home, including the warm weather, dome-based Saints and Cowboys in Soldier Field on cold evenings where both have been unmitigated disasters in the past. The other three games are at their division rivals. Those eight games will define the 2014 Bears.
Four out of four means the Bears are title contenders. Three out of four means they’re a serious playoff team. Two out of four means they’ll have a meaningful final two months of the season. Anything less is a crap shoot. Anything less than .500 over these next four games will be a serious cause for concern and more than likely leave the Bears with a second wild card ceiling.
To paraphrase Al Davis, “Just win…half of em…baby.”