I tweeted shortly before the Bears’ 27-10 loss on Sunday Night Football that my one hope for the game was to avoid another prime time, nationally televised embarrassment to the Packers.
My one hope, of course, failed and thus I turned off the television the moment Allen Lazard caught a touchdown late in the second quarter to put the Packers up, 24-7. I had seen enough, and I wasn’t willing to waste the next hour and a half of my life.
So, my analysis in today’s post is really only for one half of football. And boy was it an ugly half of action.
When I logged onto Twitter this morning — after a beautiful night’s sleep — I was somewhat tickled to see that an apparent blown goal line call where Justin Fields was ruled short of the end zone had Bears fans and media in a tizzy.
Some were angry because they felt Fields crossed the goal line. Others were upset at the play call, which had Fields lined up in shotgun formation, when all the Bears needed was less than a yard.
But I’m upset that it was even one of the hot topics. After the debacle of the first half, that play seemed rather trivial.
Yeah, I know. If the Bears had gotten into the end zone, they would have been within a touchdown with the score at 24-17. But to what end? The Packers had taken their foot off the pedal at that point. Need proof? On the ensuing drive, the Packers drove 89 yards on 10 plays after being backed up at their own 1-yard-line and tacked on a field goal.
Like a light switch, they just turned it back on as if it were no big deal.
The fact remains: the Packers were in full control of the game and the outcome was never in doubt. That is the biggest, and only necessary takeaway from this game.
(For the record, as an aside, I also think it is foolish to line up in shotgun when all you need is a yard — or less. It ranks right up there on the “illogical scale” with running a sweep on third- or fourth-and-short. Just get north and south and create some push.)
This game was over by halftime, if not sooner. Yes, the Bears came out and surprised the Packers — and much of their own fan base — by taking an early lead. After the Packers kicked a field goal on the opening drive of the game, the Bears responded with a touchdown drive in which a fleaflicker and a heavy dose of David Montgomery caught the Packers defense snoozing.
The lead and the momentum was short-lived, though. The Packers answered that with a 9-play, 75-yard touchdown drive of their own, taking both the lead and the wind out of the Bears’ sails.
After those first three series, the Bears looked outclassed, overmatched and less than respectable for the rest of the first half.
How bad was it? Well, after their first possession, the Bears had three consecutive 3-and-outs for a grand total of 0 yards. Let that sink in.
However, I almost think it’s worse to list the individual drive performances than the sum total. So, to put it another way: the Bears had two consecutive drives of negative-2 yards. Oy vey.
Meanwhile, the Packers punted just once in the first half and had four successful scoring drives.
Justin Fields had a second consecutive less-than-stellar performance. A week after completing just 8 passes in a heavy rain, which we thought would have to be the lowest he’d record all season, he completed just 7 against the Packers.
Seven completions. As in one less than last week. As in only seven more than Joe Blow Bears fan screaming at the TV.
Understandably, the Bears did what they do best. They ran the football 27 times for 180 yards. David Montgomery had 15 of those carries for 122 yards — an eye-popping 8.1 average. But when you’re trailing, you aren’t going to catch up to a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback if your quarterback completes 7 passes.
The Bears’ leading receiver was — huh? Moon-who? Moon-E? Never heard of him.
No, their leading receiver was Equa- Eckwa- Egwa- … something called an Equanimeous St. Brown, who recorded 2 — count ‘em — 2 catches for 39 yards — 30 of which came from that fleaflicker.
This is like mid-90s to mid-2000s-level of bad Bears offense. And it’s an embarrassment and it’s getting worse before it gets better.
Now, I’m always going to ride with the franchise and support those in charge, as well as root for those donning the navy and burnt orange. So, Fields is my guy for better or worse. And I do believe better days are ahead for him.
But is he the guy? He has 15 more games to showcase that or else new general manager Ryan Poles will pull the plug on Ryan Pace’s experiment — of that, I have no doubt.
What’s next for the Bears? A date with a familiar face — sort of. An older, hairier Lovie Smith will return to Soldier Field next Sunday with a Texans squad that might not be very talented but has been competitive the first two weeks of the season, taking both the Colts and Broncos to the limit.
Make no mistake: if the Bears can’t find some semblance of an offense, they can be beaten by the Texans. And although I’m disappointed by the Bears’ loss to the Packers, it was expected. Losing to the Texans at home, however, will take on a whole other level of discouragement and shame.