The Bears are 2-0. And that’s what matters most, right?
Not that this team had to swat away last-second, potentially game-winning passes in the end zone in consecutive weeks. Not that this offense played three good quarters and five bad ones. Not that a pair of narrow four-point wins came against the Detroit Lions and New York Giants, two teams that look like they’ll be among the worst in the NFL in 2020.
“2-0 is delicious,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “I’ll eat that every day of the week and twice on Sundays.”
There’s a lot of truth behind Hicks’ more restrained version of Jameis Winston’s infamous “eat a W!” quote.
Winning is hard in the NFL no matter the opponent. The Atlanta Falcons – who the Bears play next week – learned that lesson the hard way Sunday. While the Bears nearly squandered a 17-point halftime lead, the Falcons self-destructed into blowing a 19-point halftime advantage against the Dallas Cowboys.
(At least it wasn’t the worst blown lead in Falcons history.)
Weird stuff happens in September ever year. It’d make sense if even weirder stuff happened in this pandemic-altered season, with a shortened training camp and no preseason games for teams to prepare.
So the Bears walking to – but not over – the edge of the cliff that is losing at home to the New York Giants feels, generously, like one of those strange early-season happenings.
“I would say we’re just OK right now,” coach Matt Nagy said. “I think we expect a little better. But I’m not criticizing our players and our coaches. That’s a part of being in the second week with no preseason. So – we have high expectations. And we want to be better.”
The optimistic view of the Bears’ first two games starts with them being 2-0. Are there problems? Absolutely. Allowing the Saquon-Barkley-and-Sterling-Shepard-less Giants, with a hapless offensive line, to drive 95 yards for a touchdown in the second half was a bad look. Mitch Trubisky throwing two interceptions – even if complete blame does not fall with the quarterback for both – with a 17-point lead was worse.
The Bears did almost everything they could to lose in the second half at home against a bad team with a terrible offensive line that was also missing some of its best players. And yet, they managed a win. Nagy, for the first time with the Bears, is 2-0 to begin a season.
And it’s a lot better to try to fix things when you’re 2-0 than if you’re 1-1 or 0-2 – both records the Bears are oh-so-close to owning right now.
“When you play really well in the first half and put up 17 points and then don’t put up any points in the second half, I think that’s a little frustrating,” Trubisky said. “So there’s just – we have a little higher expectation for what we’re trying to do on offense this year. But you have to be happy with the win.”
But the pessimistic view of the Bears begs a one big question: Are these actually fixable?
More specifically: Can the offense really put together a clean, efficient, four-quarter game? Is this defense really among the NFL’s best if, to win, it’s needed a D’Andre Swift drop and an offensive pass interference flag?
Can this team, as a whole, keep its foot on the gas with a three-score lead instead of letting its opponent back into a game? The next time this happens, the Bears might not be facing an offense missing its best player, after all.
We’ll find out when the schedule gets tougher. But for now, the Bears will – and should – celebrate a 2-0 record. The Falcons wish they had a win. So do the Minnesota Vikings. And the Philadelphia Eagles.
And, yes, that’s what matters most right now.
“Anytime that you’re 2-0, it’s a positive thing, and you’ve got to remember that and you’ve got to be grateful and thankful to be in that position because it’s so hard to be in this position,” Hicks said. “What I will say is this: We will be careful, we will be careful not to get ahead of ourselves, we will be careful to remember to check ourselves and check the things that need to be improved and be better at.
“But you’ve got to live, you’ve got to enjoy the moments because they don’t come all the way. So 2-0 is a great thing.”