A yard short but a mile off – Bears fall to Patriots

So near and yet so far. The Bears were half a yard away from forcing overtime (or perhaps even winning on a 2pt conversion) against Tom Brady and the mighty Patriots, but it never really felt like they should have been that close. Dave Usher reports…

The Bears were in it right until the final play, but the Patriots were better in all three phases with the biggest gulf coming on special teams. You can’t give up two special teams TDs against New England and still hope to win. Not gonna happen.

That’s what stings most about the loss really. If Tom Brady does Tom Brady things and beats you, fair enough. Losing because of a kick off return and a blocked punt that was ran in for a score feels cheap.

The Bears basically handed this game to New England. That’s why the near miracle Hail Mary at the end doesn’t really feel as disappointing as it might. This wasn’t a hard luck story, the Bears didn’t deserve to win the game.

I don’t know what’s going on with the defense at the moment. Last week’s lacklustre showing in Miami could have been down to the searing heat (although the Detroit Lions seemed didn’t have too much difficulty with it this week), but what’s the excuse this time? I know it’s Brady, but it’s not as though the Golden Boy had to do anything special. It was just too easy at times.

I think the most demoralising aspect of the defensive showing was when they needed a stop to get the ball back to give Mitch Trubisky some time, and instead they allowed the Patriots to keep running it up the gut for first downs. At least make Brady beat you, don’t be allowing a little running back to pound it up the middle.

They eventually forced a punt but by that point Matt Nagy had used all three time outs and there were less than 30 seconds on the clock. Mitch had no chance, yet somehow almost pulled off a miracle when Kevin White came down with the Hail Mary only to be stopped half a yard short of the end zone.

The defense did force two turnovers (and special teams added another) but they missed tackles and the pass rush was nowhere to be seen again. For some reason Vic Fangio keeps dropping Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd back into coverage instead of having them rush the passer. Fangio is one of the great defensive minds in the league, but he’s been outcoached two weeks in a row now. Is he trying to be too clever?

And yet for many, the blame seems to be on Trubisky. It’s strange how little leeway he’s getting from many Bears fans. He’s young, he’s still learning, but he’s doing ok. I feel as though there should be more excitement than negativity, yet for many it’s the opposite.

The opening weeks of the season had me concerned. Mitch wasn’t really showing anything and it was understandable that people were doubting him. He’s taken some big strides forward in the last three games though. Even in this one when he didn’t play well, there are still some things to take as a positive.

For one thing, some of his best throws came in the 4th quarter. That shows that he’s a gamer, he’ll keep going even when things aren’t going for him. Last week in Miami he was bad in the first half but came out for the second and was lights out.

Some QB’s go into their shell when things aren’t going their way. Mitch’s demeanour doesn’t change whether he’s playing great or horrible. This isn’t a Jay Cutler scenario when you can tell if Good Jay or Bad Jay has shown up. Good Mitch and Bad Mitch can both me there at the same time.

When he wasn’t making plays with his arm he made them with his legs. He found a way to put points on the board and that counts for a lot. He’s got balls and his team-mates seem to love him. He needs to get better, sure, but at least we’re seeing flashes now of what he maybe can be in the future.

The Bears have had so many terrible QBs over the years but Trubisky isn’t one of them. I don’t know how good he’ll go on to be or if he’ll ever justify the Bears using the 2nd pick of the draft on him, but he’s not going to be a complete bust as the kid can definitely play.

Consistency seems to be his biggest problem right now. He’s overthrown so many receivers this season (he missed three would be TD’s in this game) but he’s also thrown some dimes. We can see the talent is there and his mentality is great, so there’s cause for optimism and I’m puzzled at the amount of “Mitch sucks” takes I’m seeing.

It would be understandable if he was at a franchise with a tradition of great QB play, but this is the Bears. It’s a low bar. How come people are expecting him to be Aaron Rodgers? He’s got to stop with the daft red zone throws that risk being picked off though.

The two INT’s he threw in this game were somewhat unfortunate and were more about the cornerbacks making incredible plays. Yet he also had two that he got away with when Patriot defenders dropped balls that were right between their numbers. He’s young though and this is all part of the process. As long as he learns then there’s no real issue.

The Bears are 3-3 and are most likely to end up finishing somewhere around 8-8 or maybe (hopefully) a little better. Progress is being made but the last couple of weeks have shown there’s still a way to go. The surprising thing is it’s now the defense that’s letting the offense down and not the other way around. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Next up it’s the Jets. The Bears should win but that means nothing if they don’t fix the issues they currently have. We saw against the Bucs what can happen when the offense and defense are both on at the same time. The offense has continued to put up points so it’s time for the so called strength of the team to get back to what they were doing in the first four games.

Final thought, Kevin White made some plays in this game so how about trying to use him a bit more, particularly downfield where he clearly has the ability to go up and get it?

A gameball for…

Tarik Cohen – He’s dynamite, I love him. He catches everything that comes his way and still makes plays even when the opposing defense are specifically trying to take him away, as the Patriots were.

Dave Usher

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David Usher
Site Editor / Bears, Bulls & NFL Correspondant
Day job is writing about footy for 'the Liverpool Way' and ESPN FC. Love the Bears and Bulls too though, which is why I'm here.
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