It’s hard to find any one single word that wholly describes the Bears’ mood after Monday night’s loss. An eternal optimist, Matt Nagy carefully settled on ‘frustrating.’ A quiet Roquan Smith spoke about ‘adversity.’ Charles Leno, always the straight shooter, explained how he was ‘pissed off.’ Eddie Jackson said he was ‘tired of it.’
The Bears can dance around it all they want, but the proof is as plain as their offensive gameplan: they’re unraveling, and quickly. Monday night’s 19-13 loss, their fourth straight, was also – perhaps inarguably – their most disastrous. Nick Foles only threw for 106 yards before being carted off with a lower body injury. Dalvin Cook rushed for 57 of his 96 yards after Akiem Hicks left the game with a hamstring injury. Jackson said he saw frustration in his teammates’ eyes after the game; everyone else saw it when Allen Robinson hurled his helmet at the bench mid-game.
“I mean, it’s tough,” Jackson added. “But we go out there every week knowing we’re going to accept this challenge to put this thing on our back. We got guys like Akiem, Mack, Danny, Me, Roquan, Kyle Fuller, you know a lot of guys that really sit up here and hold each other accountable and we accept the challenge. Like, we don’t care what the offense do; we don’t care if they put no points on the board.”
It seems like, at 5-5, now would be a good time for the offense to stop calling Jackson's bluff. They averaged 3.0 yards a play and rushed for 41. Robinson, who had 43 yards on six catches, was their leading receiver. Given how things played out, all the offense needed to do was score *one* touchdown to win the game. They couldn’t, and for the 6th time in 10 games, Nagy’s unit finished with less than 21 points. Or is it Bill Lazor’s unit now?
“I thought we had a couple good drives in the first half that we didn't capitalize into touchdowns,” Nagy said. “But what I felt today on the sideline, I felt that we struggled on second down. I felt that second down was not good to us, where we might get four or five yards in the run game – which has been a lot better than what we have been doing in the run game – and it put us in, at times, second and four, and second and four was turning into third and five. Third and six. Third and four. And we weren't capitalizing on those down and distances.”
Even with Cody Whitehair back, the offensive line was porous. Minnesota didn’t even bother hiding the vast majority of their third down blitzes, and though they only technically sacked Foles twice, they hit him another 11 times. Leno couldn’t put a finger on why those late down rushes, long a staple of Mike Zimmer’s defense, gave the Bears such fits.
“I’m just saying execution wise, we weren’t there,” he said. “Whether it was doing too much, or not doing your job. So that’s where it stands out. I don’t know what we were for third downs, but I know it wasn’t really good.”
The Bears uniformly agreed that their bye week has arrived at just the right time, and at this point you surely won’t hear their fans disagree. The team has 13 days to, as Smith put it, ‘look themselves in the mirror’ and figure out what they want from the rest of the season.
“We can’t hang our heads,” he said. “It is what it is. Nothing we can do to go back and change anything that has happened this season. You just have to ride the highs and when you’re in a low, you just have to keep fighting until you come back on top.”