The year may change, the coaches may change, the players may change. Yet some things stay the same, such as the Bears finding ways to lose from winning positions and making Aaron Rodgers look like Superman. Dave Usher reports on a tough opening loss for Chicago…
Look, Aaron Rodgers is great, we all know that. What he did in the second half of this game, on one leg, was remarkable. Yet it wasn’t surprising. In fact, as soon as he led the Packers on their first scoring drive this whole thing seemed inevitable. Bears fans have seen it all before, but that doesn’t lessen the hurt when it happens. In fact, it makes it worse.
“If they lose this it might set the Chicago Bears back 100 years” said NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth on the live broadcast. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s certainly going to sting for some time.
For all the hoopla surrounding Rodgers’ stunning comeback, let’s not forget that if Kyle Fuller had held onto the easiest INT he could ever have wished for, then the Bears would have won the game. It really is that simple. Other factors contributed and there is plenty of blame to go around, but the loss basically comes down to that one play. Just catch the ball, Fuller.
I’m sick of Bears players adding to Rodgers’ legacy by making bonehead plays that are enabling him. Again, he’s clearly the best in the business and I’m not denigrating his achievements. I just don’t care about them, I care about the Bears and I’m just sick of them choking like dogs whenever Rodgers is on the opposite sideline.
The second half collapse was pitiful. The coaches were out-coached, the offense stopped playing after the first quarter and the defense went from looking like monsters to not being able to get off the field.
What makes it harder to take is just how great the Bears looked when building up a 20-0 lead. All that did was make the subsequent heartbreak even more painful.
The optimists will have plenty to hang their hat on after this. The play of the defense in the first half was out of this world. Khalil Mack was everything we hoped he’d be and then some. He had a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an INT and a TD. All in the first half. It was incredible, just complete and total dominance. He wasn’t a factor in the second half, maybe he ran out of gas or maybe it was adjustments made by the Packers.
The pass rush stopped getting home in the second half. Rodgers was getting the ball out quickly and they went no huddle a lot, and the Bears just seemed to get tired. And when that happened, Rodgers then started throwing deep and exposing the secondary. Three touchdowns on his last three positions, to turn a 23-3 deficit into a 24-23 win.
None of this would have mattered if the offense hadn’t gone into its shell. We’ve seen this so many times over the years. When the Bears need to stay on the field they can’t. When they need to score, they come up short. It always seems to happen against the Packers too. The Bears know they need to keep Rodgers off the field and they just can’t do it. The pressure suffocates them every time.
The first quarter offense looked slick and completely un-Bears like. So THIS is what an offense looks like? I could get used to this. Yeah, well just like it was gone again. After that it was same old Bears. Loads of WR screens that picked up a yard, some puzzling play calling and a general lack of execution from everyone.
Jordan Howard was productive but of course when there’s a 3rd and 1 they went away from him and tried to get cute by throwing back across the field to the pointless Dion Sims, who hadn’t even broken the line of scrimmage with his route. And when it came to 4th and 1 why kick the field goal and make it a six point game? Everyone other than the Bears coaching staff knew that wasn’t going to be enough.
Make no mistake, Rodgers was marching down for a TD no matter what, so you may as well try and get the first down and keep him off the field a little longer and chew up some clock. Coaches always do this though and I’ll never understand it. Presumably analytics plays a big part, but all of that should go out of the window when a) it’s Aaron Rodgers and b) he’s up against the Bears.
It’s different if you’ve got a three point lead over Nate Peterman or Blaine Gabbert, but when its the best in the business and a man who has made a career out of embarrassing the Bears, different rules apply.
Like I say, everyone knew that Rodgers was putting seven on the board so kicking a field goal was a waste of everybody’s time.
Matt Nagy will argue that had Fuller caught the ball the decision would have been vindicated. He’s right, but Bears fans have seen this movie too many times before to not know how it ends. If it wasn’t Fuller dropping an INT, it would have been Eddie Jackson missing an open field tackle, or Prince Amukamara getting called for pass interference, or Akeem Hicks hitting Rodgers after the play was dead. It would have been SOMETHING. There’s always something.
The national narrative will be how the great Aaron Rodgers always finds a way to win. The story for me is that the Bears always find a way to lose, even when Rodgers is one one wheel and can’t move out of the pocket.
I see a lot of Bears fans and beat writers emphasising the positives and saying this isn’t the ‘same old Bears’. I hope they’re right. On paper they look great and have more talent than they’ve had since the Lovie Smith era. It means nothing until they start to put it together on the field though.
I’m not worried about the defense and I feel as though their second half troubles will be the exception rather than the norm. It’s the offense that has it all to prove. Nagy was brought in because of his offensive mind and his reputation for improving quarterbacks. Let’s hope he can work that magic quickly, because on this showing Mitch Trubisky and the rest of the offense still have an awfully long way to go.
Things can only get better though I guess. I mean it would take something special to top this when it comes to a stinging loss.