One year ago, the Bears headed to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on a 3-8 Giants team mired in mediocrity. The Bears, meanwhile, were riding a five-game win streak.
My, how things can change in a year.
The Giants still are wandering in no-man’s land. The Bears, on the other hand, have fallen from good grace and are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in with a 4-6 record.
The Bears have reached a point in their season where the fanbase has fractured at the seams.
In one group you have the deserters, those bitter and angry about how the season has played out. Perhaps they feel let down and betrayed by a ball club predicted by many to make a Super Bowl run.
In the other group reside the eternal optimists, those not willing to throw in the towel until the team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Perhaps they find good in any situation and are ready to rabidly cheer as if each game meant something important.
What do you need to see from the Bears to feel good?
So, to which group do you belong? Will you be sitting front and center on your couch, jersey on while screaming at the television? Or, will you be channel surfing, maybe checking out NFL RedZone to see what the “real teams” are doing around the league?
If you’re in the former group, you’re probably easier to please than those in the latter. Maybe all you need to see is a victory to feel good about our Bears. Maybe a turnover-free game where Mitch Trubisky throws for two scores is enough to leave you satisfied.
But if you’re in the latter, there might be nothing the Bears can do to appease you. Maybe nothing short of a career game from Trubisky, resulting in multiple touchdowns, his first 300-yard game of the season, and a passer rating north of 125, would assuage your Bears angst.
Is there anything the Bears can do to keep your Bears fan card in your wallet for another week?
What I need to see from the Bears to feel good
As the ever-optimist that I am, it won’t take much to leave me with a good feeling after Sunday.
First and foremost, I want to see a victory.
I don’t care how they get the job done. I just want to see the Bears finish the game with more points than the Giants score. To me, there is no such thing as an “ugly victory.” It’s difficult to win in the National Football League and winning builds motivation and momentum.
Next, I’d like to see progress from Trubisky.
The Bears face a Giants team that ranks third-worst in the NFL with 28.9 points per game allowed. The last time the Bears faced such a defense was Week 3 against the Redskins. Trubisky and the offense had their best output of the season. Trubisky threw three touchdown passes en route to a 31-15 victory.
An inspired defensive effort against All-World running back Saquon Barkley is the third thing I’d like to see on Sunday to feel good. The Bears’ struggles against the run are well documented since Oakland’s Josh Jacobs lit them up earlier this season. Last Sunday against the Rams was a tale of two halves. Rams running Todd Gurley ate them up in the first half but was stifled in the second.
Against the Giants this week, I’d like to see a little more second half run defense.
Finally, I would feel good about cleanliness of play.
Do Trubisky’s receivers run the correct routes and not drop any passes? Are defenders filling their lanes and dropping the ball carriers quickly? Do the Bears win the turnover and penalty battles? Can Khalil Mack make an impact on this game?
Bears don’t have to be great; just fundamentally sound
I think we know by now that this Bears team is not great. While I’m an optimist, I’m also a realist.
I’m not expecting a blowout. I don’t need to see a repeat of last year’s Tampa Bay game to feel good about the Bears.
But I would like to see progress and sound execution. If the Bears can manage to do that, the scoreboard will reflect it at the end of the game.