This is the end, my friend.
Try to imagine that in the thick, Chicago drawl of Bill Swerski’s Superfans rather than in the soothing tones of Jim Morrison. It’s funnier. And we needy funny today.
The Bears needed to win their final three games and get a little help from some other teams if they wanted to make the playoffs. Following their 21-13 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday, all the help in the world can’t save them now.
Before the game, I tweeted that the Bears needed to do three things to beat the Packers: win the time of possession, rush the passer, and contain the run.
The Packers’ run game has been solid this year and Aaron Rodgers is still … well, good. Time of possession, pass rush, run containment. There can be no path to success without these keys. #Bears #CHIvsGB
— BearsBeat.com (@bearsbeat) December 15, 2019
The Bears did, in fact, win the time of possession battle by a margin of 34:22 to 25:38. Unfortunately, that’s only because the failure in the other two areas allowed the Packers to score quickly.
Stats lie: Bears got punished by the run, and couldn’t stop Rodgers
If I told you the Bears would hold Aaron Rodgers to about 200 yards passing and a 78.2 passer rating, that the run defense would limit the explosive Aaron Jones to just 51 rushing yards, and that the Bears’ offense would actually outgain the Packers’ in total yards by a margin of 415-292, you would probably have one question for me.
By how much did the Bears end up winning?
But, as we know, stats do lie. After all, Mitch Trubisky’s 29 completions for 334 yards and a touchdown were overshadowed by his 54% completion percentage, two interceptions, and 64.5 passer rating.
Although the Packers punted 7 times — including on their final 5 possessions — and turned the ball over on downs twice, this game never seemed in doubt for them.
The Packers’ special teams were also a big asset for them, giving them advantageous field position when it mattered most.
Although Jones finished with just 51 rushing yards, he did score twice. Once on a nifty, 21-yard scamper (yeah, nearly half his yards on one rush), and the other on a powerful run at the goal line, in which Kevin Toliver refused to meet him in the hole and waited to “catch” him in the end zone instead.
Tolliver wanted no part of Aaron Jones on that goal line stand. Didn’t plug the hole. Just sat back and caught Jones, who ran him into the end zone. Just a lazy effort there. #CHIvsGB
— BearsBeat.com (@bearsbeat) December 15, 2019
End game: Bears could not take advantage of the run
After reviewing the box score, I couldn’t believe the disparity in rushing attempts to passing attempts.
The Bears finished with 27 rushing attempts — including four from Trubisky — while the quarterback tossed the ball 53 times. That’s about one-third rush, two-thirds pass ratio. You’d like it to be closer to 50-50, unless the passing is so successful that it eliminates the “need” for balance.
But, as I mentioned previously, stats lie.
Don’t allow the media to needle Matt Nagy about “forgetting the run.” Instead, criticize the Bears’ offensive line for failing to take advantage of what the Packers’ defense was so willing to give them.
The Packers had their pass defense personnel on the field for much of the game, basically opening the door for the Bears to run the ball. And the Bears just couldn’t do it well.
The Bears’ 27 rushing attempts, broken down by quarter, were as such: 6 in the first quarter, 9 in the second, 6 in the third, and 6 in the fourth. Thus, the Bears never “abandoned” the run despite trailing 21-3 with about 3:27 left to play in the third quarter.
The problem is that the Bears could not run block, thus it forced Nagy’s hand to pass more as a means to move the football.
NBC keeps Bears-Chiefs on Sunday Night Football
Bears fans, you have one more chance to bask in the glow of the stadium lights as NBC did not flex out the Bears from Sunday Night Football next week.
Patrick Mahomes and crew will invade Soldier Field to try to improve their playoff seed. There will be several things to watch in this one, most notably coach and quarterback.
Nagy will face his former team as the protégé will attempt to upset his mentor, Andy Reid. Meanwhile, Bears fans will get an up-close look at Mahomes, one of the two notable quarterbacks the Bears passed up on when selecting Trubisky second overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Bears have nothing left to play for now besides pride. I’m actually pleased that the game remains on national television because I think the players will be amped up for it. This will — hopefully — prevent any sort of national embarrassment and might even give you a reason to cheer.
At the end of the season, though, the Bears will have much to correct. And following this year’s disappointment, prime time games might be few and far between.