Sunday’s loss to the Eagles is going to be discussed for a long time and Cody Parkey will remain the centerpiece of that conversation. But here are five (I think) unique observations from inside the building.
Aaron Rodgers has dominated the Chicago Bears. This is a fact that does not require statistical, analytical or anecdotal support. It’s as common knowledge a statement as Nazis are bad people, Roy Scheider was criminally underrated in the 1970s and a Saturday night on the Guinness makes my apartment smell decidedly worse Sunday morning.
I am not going to Google “Aaron Rodgers Record Chicago Bears”. I don’t want to molest my current football euphoria with a bunch of grabby statistics. Rodgers has dominated the Bears because since 2010, or for the bulk of Rodgers’ prime, he’s been one of the two best quarterbacks in the league and the Bears have been shit. Rodgers’ dominance is a fact. It’s just not particularly impressive.
Sunday, Rodgers will be a five or six-point underdog at Soldier Field. He brings in a mediocre team with mediocre players. But after beating a terrible Falcons team last week and watching every other sixth-seed contender in the conference lose, the Packers are still clinging to hope of playing in January and the laundry list of what they need to occur is not particularly outlandish.
First and foremost, they have to beat the Bears at Soldier Field. Something that has not been an issue in the past.
The 2017 Chicago Bears were 3-5 at home, winning only one game in their building after October 22nd. The 2016 Bears were 3-5 at home, winning (again) only one game at Soldier Field in November and December combined. The 2015 Bears? Glad you asked. 1-7 at home. That win came on October 4th.
The home of the Chicago Bears has been a wonderful place to play football. If you’re not the Chicago Bears. Not any longer.
Sunday night the Bears won their sixth game on the lakefront in 2018. It is the first time they’ve registered six home wins since their Super Bowl-losing campaign of 2006. And they did it as underdogs. They did it against the team with the best record in the league. They did it against one of the sport’s best offenses, and the game’s most lauded offensive mind. An offensive mind so fertile it can memorize TEN names.
But it wasn’t just what happened that resonated. It was how it happened. There were four primary components to Sunday night’s victory.
The Soldier Field faithful knew this was a massive game and acted like it. Their raucousness was bursting through my television set in Queens, NY.
As predicted here, the boys from Los Angeles were desperate to trade-in Navy for Santa Monica Pier as quickly as possible.
They held the Rams to 214 total yards and an average of 3.5 yards per play. They sacked Jared Goff three times and intercepted him four times. They were, in a word, dominant.
The much-maligned rushing attack finally had their breakout performance, setting the tone and keeping the opposition on their cold, cold sideline.
There was also a fifth component.
In many ways, this vintage of the Chicago Bears has restored some of the most endearing qualities of the franchise’s history.
Celebrating every interception with an elaborate dance? This is an organization that once did a music video in the middle of the regular season to announce their coming Super Bowl title.
Handing off to fat guys at the goal line. Hell, the Bears did this in a Super Bowl.
But faking the hand off to a fat guy and throwing a touchdown pass to another fat guy? That’s next level. That’s the Nagy Element. That’s the kind of fun-loving, fuck-it-why-not shit that has permeated every single aspect of the franchise. You can see it on the sideline. You can hear it on the 400 level. You can see it in the “Club Dub” videos across Bears social media.
The head coach of the Bears is constantly telling his players to “have fun out there”. They are. And so are we.
Sometimes fans and football media (bloggers too, for that matter) get so wrapped up in the particulars of NFL action they lose touch with the bigger picture. Snap counts. A-gaps. Running into run looks. Drama between GM and coach. It’s all the stuff that allows us to fill space – whether that’s a newspaper column or blog post or Twitter feed. And with only 60 minutes of game action a week, it’s not that easy to six days of space. Hell, there’s a reason the Chicago Tribune has about nine people covering the Bears.
But this whole sports thing is supposed to be entertaining. This is supposed to be something we do for enjoyment. Yes, for the media it’s a job but these guys aren’t covering Afghanistan or sex abuse scandals or gun violence in Chicago. This is all supposed to be fun. And the 2017 Chicago Bears are not entertaining. They are not enjoyable. They are not fun.
They are a massive fucking bore. And that alone should be enough to get people fired.
The empty seats at Soldier Field Sunday – against the team’s oldest rival, with actual things on the line – were just the beginning. The Lions are coming to town in the thick of a playoff hunt with a fan base that loves traveling south to Chicago and annoying the shit out of me in Rossi’s. What is that building on the lakefront going to sound like when half the seats are silver and blue?
The Bears have the awful Niners at Soldier Field in December. Who is going to that game?
They have the worst organization in the history of pro sports, the Cleveland Browns, coming to Soldier Field on Christmas Eve!! Who is going to THAT game? Oh that’s right, I am! You’ll see me on television. I’ll be the guy in the stands.
Another coin flip game, another coin flip loss. No reason to dissect every element so here are a few thoughts from inside the ballpark you might find interesting.
There are some great people working over at the Chicago Sun-Times, most notably friend of the blog and Bears beat man Adam Jahns. But it is impossible to ignore the fact that many of the newsrooms around this country are populated by daft, insignificant morons.
Kate Grossman is one of those. Hell, she might even be two of them. The Sun-Times editor was on some dopey chat show, sliding off her chair at the very thought of a George Lucas museum on the lakefront. The museum would, of course, be the nail in the tailgating coffin for Chicago Bears fans at Soldier Field.
I’ve pulled the quotes from a blog over at ChicagoNow and thank emailer Laura for the notification:
While the national media wanted to turn Sunday night’s debacle into a Jay Cutler debate (they failed), those of us who’ve watched every snap of this Chicago Bears season know better. The Bears as currently constructed and currently performing can’t beat an opponent they trail by 14-21 points. Why? Because two things have to happen for a team to eradicate a deficit that wide: they have to stop the run and they have to create turnovers. But the Bears are so bad at stopping the run the opponent never needs to throw the ball and thus the opportunity for turnovers does not present itself.
So with a defense so incapable of stopping the run…and the pass, for that matter…
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
Note: It is very difficult to write a game preview for Monday night’s game with the Dallas Cowboys without knowing the outcome of the Detroit-Philadelphia game Sunday. Why? Because I think that result will greatly impact the energy in the Bears locker room and the enthusiasm of the faithful on a frigid night at Soldier Field. If Philly beats Detroit, the Bears will have an opportunity to win a single game and put a ton of pressure on the Lions down the stretch. Will they end up winning the division? More than likely not. But I don’t think it’ll be because Detroit wins out.
Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.