Not every week in the NFL is a referendum on a given team’s season, but the Bears' 36-25 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday sure felt like one.
The Bears will point to being 3-3 a year ago before ripping off nine wins in their last 10 games. But it would be foolish to think 2019 is going the way of 2018’s magical run to the NFC North. The best word to describe the vibe around Soldier Field on Sunday?
Matt Nagy touted the solutions he and his coaching staff had unearthed during the Bears’ off week. Mitch Trubisky, the second overall pick in 2017, returned. There was hope around Halas Hall that this thing could be fixed in time to save the season.
After Sunday’s game: What, exactly, is there to hope about anymore?
Trubisky has regressed. The league looks like it’s figured out Nagy’s scheme, especially its nonexistent ability to run the ball. The only productive player on offense all season has been Allen Robinson.
Don't let 15 garbage time points on Sunday fool you. Trubisky averaged 3.4 yards per pass attempt before the Saints backed off with four and a half minutes to go, allowing him to pad his stats with some empty calories.
Those offseason comparisons to the Jacksonville Jaguars, at it turns out, were fair.
The Bears’ defense is good, not elite, as it was in 2018. It’s hard to be elite as a defense two years in a row. That unit has taken a small step back — not having Akiem Hicks certainly plays a factor — and without any discernible improvements from the offense, this team cannot hope to reach the playoffs again.
Sunday represented the first time in the Nagy era the Bears have lost by more than one possession. Just as concerning as an atrocious offense and special teams gaffes was the lack of a competitive edge from this team on Sunday. The Saints punched, and kept punching without any counters from the Bears.
The Saints, remember, didn’t have their Hall of Fame quarterback (Drew Brees) or All Pro offensive weapon (Alvin Kamara) on Sunday. It didn’t matter. Nagy was thoroughly out-coached by Sean Patyon, only adding to the Bears’ miserable afternoon. The Saints play complementary football; the Bears’ defense showed it cannot continue to prop up an atrocious offense.
The overwhelming takeaway from Sunday’s game, then, is this: What, exactly have the Bears done in 2019 to prove they’re any better than a mediocre football team?
After six games, we’re still waiting on an answer to that question besides “nothing.”