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Bears Are Wasting A Super Bowl Quality Defense, Now That’s Ridiculous

The Chicago Bears have tried everything now. Mitch Trubisky at quarterback? No. Nick Foles? No. Head coach Matt Nagy’s offensive genius play-calling? No. And on Monday Night Football, Nagy let offensive coordinator Bill Lazor call plays against the Minnesota Vikings’ lowly defense.

Nope. The offense didn’t score a touchdown. It’s all just lipstick on a pig now. There is nothing more for the Bears, no other way to dress this up. The Bears lost 19-13 and did something no one has done before: They made Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins a winner on a Monday.

Every week, I say that the Bears need to blow this whole thing up and start over. General manager Ryan Pace has to go, as do Nagy, his offensive staff and nearly every player on offense. I suggested Jim Harbaugh as the coach. Yes, Michigan is terrible this year, but nobody wins at Michigan. Harbaugh has developed quarterbacks in the NFL, taken his team to multiple NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl and is a former Bears quarterback.

And then last week, I heard Hub Arkush, executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, Chicago columnist, radio guy and all-around highly regarded longtime Bears analyst, say that some people want to blow this whole thing up. He said that’s ridiculous.

Do you want to know what’s ridiculous? In The Game of the season for the Bears, which happened Monday night, the offense went 32 yards on six possessions in the second half. On average, the Vikings defense gives up more than 400 yards a game, and the Bears couldn’t get to 200.  They were a three-and-out machine. This won’t be fixed by tinkering.

What’s sad for the Bears isn’t just that they’ve wasted a Super Bowl quality defense in a year when the Super Bowl was there for the taking, but also that they are now sabotaging this defense for the future.

In Chicago, they’ll be talking about Foles’ injury at the end of the game. It appears to be a major leg injury. When they strap you to a board and carry you off, with players from both teams gathering around you somberly, it’s not for a pulled muscle.

But the most telling injury came late in the third quarter when stud defensive tackle Akiem Hicks chased Cousins and then stopped and grabbed his hamstring.

No one had hit him. That’s a wear-and-tear injury. You can now start looking for more and more injuries on the defense. There are only so many plays that a player has in a night, a year, a career.

Former Bears quarterback Jim Miller said on the postgame show on local FOX TV that the Bears defense had been on the field for roughly 70 plays Monday night and the offense for just 50. That’s a pretty common margin for this team, Miller said. So he figured, at 20 additional plays per game, the Bears defense plays an additional game — 60 plays — for every three games on the schedule.

The Bears started the season 5-1 and are now 5-5. That means the Bears have played 10 games, but the defense has played more than 13. And there are still six games left, or eight for the defense, I guess. That’s a 21-game season for the defense with nothing to show for it.

Ironically, while the Bears’ offense plays like a dog, the defense ages like one.

This is the nightmare season for Bears fans. Every year, they live through a bad offense and good defense. But it’s more pronounced this year as you look around the NFC: The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, but aren’t tough enough on either line. The Cardinals and Seahawks don’t play defense. The entire East is a joke. The Saints’ Drew Brees is seriously hurt. And the Bears already humiliated Tom Brady and the Bucs. Remember? Brady was so battered that by the end of the game he forgot what down it was. The players all ran off while he held up four fingers, basically saying, “Hey, where is everyone going? It’s fourth down.’’

The Bears needed only a competent offense to go with this defense and reach the Super Bowl. But after six years as general manager, Pace hasn’t even assembled an offensive line and is still paying for taking Trubisky as the second pick in the draft.

Nagy was brought in for his offensive genius because the Bears never have any offensive genius around. And he was supposed to develop Trubisky. Instead, they gave up on Trubisky, overpaid to bring in Foles and now Nagy isn’t even calling plays anymore.

Pace has got to go. Nagy has got to go. It’s actually emergency time now, as the defense can still be great next year if the players’ bodies don’t have to incur two years of damage this year.

To me, the only goal for the rest of the year is just not to harm the defense so much that it starts affecting next year. 

I’d call for Nagy to be fired right now, but there is so much to do that there’s no point to blowing this up midseason.

I wouldn’t want to be ridiculous.

Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.

10 Comments

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  1. Spot on, bring in Harbaugh, let him choose his own QB either via FA or the draft. This is a very stout QB class coming out this spring. The numbers being put up by Tua and Herbert prove you don’t need 2 years to groom your QB. Let Harbaugh find his next Kaepernick (the good version) and let Harbaugh do his thing.

  2. Nagy is a big part of the problem. He was advertised as an offensive genius, so where is it? They were unable to muster even 200 yards of offense last night. That alone should get a coach fired. As mentioned, if they had a competent offense they would have a chance against anyone in the NFC. Instead, the coach who is supposed to be a difference maker on the offensive side of the ball has the worst offense in the league.

  3. I know Harbaugh is still a bit of a legend in Chicago (because he was a semi-competent QB, I guess?), but it was clear he had worn out his welcome in San Francisco, and he’s never even gotten off the ground at Michigan. It looks like to me he just doesn’t understand the modern player and the game too has passed him by. He might be a great coordinator somewhere, but until he learns a little more about how to handle these modern players, I think he’s doomed to fail wherever he ends up as a head coach.

    • Greg had a great column a week or so ago about Harbaugh’s “shelf life”, he’s good for about 5 or 6 years before he starts to get old. His first 5 years at Michigan averaged over 9 wins per year, compared to Brady Hoke and that chump from WVU that is very good. Harbaugh was also outstanding in San Fran for 5ish years.

      No one believes Harbaugh will be the next Belichick in Chicago, but he could have a very good 5 year run there.

  4. Another guy that is really going to waste is RB David Montgomery. He’s a talented back on a team that can’t block for him. They could complement that defense with a good running game and keep their QB’s from getting obliterated. But instead it’s all going downhill.

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