What started off with a “BOOM,” ended with an absolute thud, as the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season came and went in less than subpar fashion, with the Chicago Bears falling to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 10-3.
The city was lit up, both physically and emotionally, but for a season opener against their number one rival, the Chicago Bears fell flat, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
The offense was supposed to be the group that improved and put this city over the top. It’s simply one game, but there is certainly much cause for concern, especially after how the team handled preseason.
After the opener, head coach Matt Nagy stated, “Chicago Bears fans should be upset … because that is not who we are,” before taking much of the blame.
After a performance like the Bears put up on national TV Thursday night, there is blame to go all-around. But, yes, much of it should go on Matt Nagy, the second-year coaching star that was clearly not even on his C-game Thursday night.
It sounds harsh, but unfortunately, it has to be.
Nagy called well over 40 pass plays (45 pass attempts for Trubisky, five sacks) when factoring a couple run-pass options ran with David Montgomery and Mike Davis, compared to an abysmal 12 run plays. 12.
And not even one to speedster Tarik Cohen, arguably the team’s best playmaker on offense.
In a low scoring game, when time is not an issue for three-and-a-half quarters, plus the off-season investment in Davis and the highly touted Montgomery out of Iowa State, that play-calling ratio is indefensible.
Nagy vehemently denied the correlation, but when an offensive-minded coach delivers a performance like that on the biggest stage, one has to wonder whether it’s related to the preseason.
Nagy not only rested his starters in preseason, which is now fairly commonplace, but he also gave up play-calling duties to OC Mark Helfrich and QBs Coach Dave Ragone throughout the exhibitions …which leads to an unbelievable yet fairly obvious question:
Did his arrogance or complacency really just lead the Bears to a loss in the NFL’s biggest opener in years?
At best, it begs the question, and at worst, it is a resounding yes, as the Packers did not show some offensive explosion either. They only scored one touchdown, thanks to a classic Aaron Rodgers deep ball on a free play that put them in striking distance.
Nagy did not show up, but he did take the blame, and is encouraged that the team can turn things around rather quickly.
In addition, Mitchell Trubisky had one of his worst performances as an NFL starting quarterback. Trubisky finished 26-of-45 for 228 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for an 18.5 QBR.
He was also sacked five times, which was certainly not all on him, but one could argue that on at least two of the sacks (second quarter and then to end the game), Trubisky held on to the ball too long without really knowing where to go or how to get out of the pocket.
He had a few highlights, like a deep ball down the far sideline to Taylor Gabriel where only he could catch it, but that was then ruled incomplete, and his connection with Allen Robinson, which was very nice to see.
But other than that, he truly struggled all night. He threw high at least three times, threw short, and made several bad decisions, none worse than an interception on the Bears’ best drive of the day.
Trubisky forced the ball into double coverage in the left corner of the end zone with just under 2:00 to play to Robinson, resulting in an interception by none other than former Bears’ strong safety Adrian Amos.
It is of course just week one, but after a solid second year and an impressive offseason, especially toward the end of training camp, Trubisky’s performance was hard to watch.
Finally, there were at least two positives for the Chicago Bears from Thursday night: the aforementioned Allen Robinson, and the vaunted Bears’ defense.
Robinson finished with 102 yards on seven catches, returning to Pro Bowl form and showing a solid connection with Trubisky.
But the defense was really the unit that the team can look to build on after the loss, as of course, the Bears allowed one touchdown, which is just about amazing against Aaron Rodgers or really any offense in the 2019 NFL, but the game likely would have been 3-3 late if not for the greatness of Rodgers, noticing that he had a free play and hitting the Packers’ Marquez Valdez-Scantling on a bomb to set up the only touchdown.
The Bears’ defense was on all night, and that showed from the jump, forcing a ridiculous three three-and-outs to start the game.
All-Pro Khalil Mack did not register a sack but had five tackles, including two for loss, and set up teammates like Leonard Floyd to get to the quarterback. Floyd finished with two sacks, and Roy Robertson-Harris may have been the biggest playmaker of all on the defense, with a sack and a tackle for loss in big spots for the Bears.
All-Pro Kyle Fuller also did a nice job, leading the team with six tackles and holding Davante Adams to just 36 yards receiving.
Per usual, the Chicago Bears’ defense did way more than they needed to in order to give the offense a chance to win the game, but the offense simply wasn’t there all night, as anyone could see when Tarik Cohen fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage for the offense.
I am not one to overreact to one game, and a regular-season game in the first week of the season no less, but this one is a bit different.
This game was chosen to ring in the 100th season, on national TV against the rival Green Bay Packers. This team is coming off a great season with Super Bowl aspirations, and laden with talent on all sides of the ball.
It’s still early, but to achieve any success at all this season, the Bears will need to do some heavy self-reflection after this contest, and that all starts at the top.