The Chicago Bears’ season, their entire identity and pretty much everything wrong with them, were all sitting there on their 18-yard line with 1:49 left in the first half. Six years building had led to just this moment.
How did they handle it? I’d say that they failed, but that would be generous. This was a defining moment for the Bears, who stood there with the bat on their shoulder.
The Bears were in the playoffs Sunday at New Orleans. They lost 21-9. The season is over, and we should find out quickly whether they’ll dump quarterback Mitch Trubisky, coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace, the three-headed Monsters of the Midway who all need to go. Or maybe they’ll just scapegoat Chuck Pagano, the defensive coordinator who doesn’t know what a blitz is, and receiver Javon Mims, who Sunday had the worst drop in NFL history. Mims couldn’t have looked worse if the Bears had buttered his hands and thrown him a greased pig.
Six years ago, the Bears hired Pace to modernize the offense. His play was to trade up to the second pick in the draft to build a team around Trubisky. He brought in coach John Fox, who quickly noticed a minor flaw in Trubisky: He can’t play quarterback.
So Pace fired Fox and hired modern offensive genius Matt Nagy as the coach to tutor Trubisky and tailor an offense to suit him.
You build for moments. And this was it for the Bears. They were sticking with the Saints, down just 7-3. First and 10, 18-yard line, 1:49 left in the half. And they were going to get the ball to start the second half. What did the modern Bears do with the moment?
First down: Hand off to David Montgomery. Second down: Plunge up the middle by Montgomery. Third down: Off-tackle by some guy named Ryan Nall. Fourth down: Punt, leaving 6 seconds on the clock.
That’s it? We’ve waited six years to see Ryan Nall put his head down and plunge nowhere? In a two-minute offense that’s supposed to gain momentum in the playoffs, the Bears went just 8 yards on three plays and burned the entire clock?
The Bears have told us that Trubisky is finally developing. He gets it now. Sure, the Bears told us all that last year, too, as a means for Pace and Nagy to keep their jobs. But if they really believed in Trubisky, then they would have told him to go out there in the moment and take control of the game.
That’s what you have to do against a superior team in the big moment: You have to go take it. The modern Bears plunged up the middle behind Ryan Nall, whoever that is. They didn’t even try. Even the Bears don’t believe Nagy can come up with a few plays or that Trubisky can execute them. And this was Pace’s vision.
What is happening here? How much longer is this going to be the Bears? Another year won’t change anything. The Bears finished five games behind Green Bay in the standings. Thank God it’s only a 16-game season. If it were 162 games, like in baseball, then the Bears would’ve been 50 games back.
Meanwhile, the NFL is trying to appeal to a younger crowd, build fans for the future, so they put this game on Nickelodeon. They put the horror of the Chicago Bears in front of our children?
The Nick people tried to calmly explain to America’s children, who apparently felt they were having a nightmare, all about Trubisky’s opportunity in the playoffs. They said his year has been a little up and down. It’s as if his teacher came up to him and said, “I know you had a C in the class, but I’m going to give you a chance for extra credit.’’
They called the endzone “the Slimezone” and put animated cannons in the four corners of the Slimezone to blow massive amounts of slime in celebration with every touchdown. Ironically, the Bears didn’t score a touchdown until the final play of the game. So the celebration seemed to be that the game, and the season, were over. For sure, Spongebob and Patrick were celebrating.
At one point during the game, the officials made the wrong call against the Bears. Nick announcer Noah Eagle said it was like having a great TikTok that gets a million likes only to have TikTok take it down so you have to start all over.
Exactly what I was thinking.
It wasn’t all on Trubisky, by the way. Mims dropped an easy touchdown pass. Another receiver got thrown out of the game for punching one of the Saints. The defense kept jumping offsides every time New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees tried to trick them into it.
But in the end, no extra credit for Trubisky. No extra time for him, Nagy and, worst of all, Pace. Don’t be scared, kids. There’s always another TikTok.