Sometimes when something in the house is dusty and messy, you take it outside and shake it to get all or most of the crud out of it. So it is with a Bears writer in the wake of a four-game collapse in bulk by a team that was fancied as part of the Super Bowl discussion.
The devil is in the doubt
Coach Matt Nagy’s real challenges now extend far wider than simply scheming for the next opponent. Players are far harder on themselves than any member of the media or general public ever are, but Nagy’s Bears have been given game plans four straight weeks and undergone degrees of being crushed running those plans. They lost the only game this season in which the offense has totaled more than 300 yards (Chargers), and they were beaten physically in the other three by teams that trampled them for rushing totals of 169 (Oakland), 151 (New Orleans) and 146 yards (Philadelphia).
At some point players stop putting all the blame on themselves and begin to question what they’re being told to do. Doubt will be a far more sinister opponent for Nagy than Matt Patricia and the Lions, Sean McVay and the Rams or any other team will be for a Bears bunch on emotional life support.
And axiomatic to any team’s success is believing in its quarterback. Mitch Trubisky, once nicknamed “Pretty Boy Assassin” by an impressed defense, has done little since then to nothing to earn that belief, and his head coach doesn’t so much defend Trubisky as spread blame around the entire offense.
“[The belief in Trubisky] is there,” Nagy insisted. “Here’s how we do it: We look at it as a whole unit. You go back and look at yesterday’s game, offensively, there’s a lot more than just one person, just to keep it really, really simple.
“That’s the part that’s frustrating, [that] Mitch knows and I know and we all know that it goes to him. He gets it. But there’s a lot of people involved here that we really believe in that it didn’t happen yesterday. That’s the part that’s really frustrating.”
GM Ryan Pace has been about the business of trying to surround his “franchise” quarterback with weapons almost literally from the day the Bears drafted Trubisky. Three problems:
One, thinking vice versa, top quarterbacks routinely turn otherwise middling players into weapons. Trubisky’s deteriorating play has done exactly the opposite.
Two, except for wideout Allan Robinson, why Pace and the Bears identified marginal starters as “weapons” when their previous teams didn’t particularly regard them as such remains a head-scratcher.
And three, about some of those "weapons":
Trey Burton – third-string Eagles TE has 14 receptions, tied for 35th among tight ends; zero TD’s, blocking liability.
Taylor Gabriel – situational player who never started more than four games for Cleveland or Atlanta has 17 catches, 3 TDs, all against 1-8 Washington.
Anthony Miller – ’18 second-round pick with one start in ’19, zero TDs.
Adam Shaheen – injury-prone TE was drafted the day and round after Trubisky, has never had more than four receptions in any of 27 games into this, his third season; hasn’t played 50 percent of Bears snaps in a game this season.
Trubisky has yet to turn someone into a weapon, but the ones he’s been given haven’t lived up to their expectations.
Vital experience lacking
One qualitative problem hanging over the travails of the Bears offense is that neither the head coach nor the quarterback has real experience pulling out of a death-spiral crisis.
Nagy’s time under Andy Reid gave him a foundation in the West Coast offense but not dealing with failure, certainly not repeating, i.e. four-time failure. The Chiefs started 1-5 in 2015, then won 10 straight plus one in the wild-card round. Nagy was the quarterbacks coach, but Reid was such an established, respected coach that belief in his plans was never really questioned.
Trubisky had exactly 13 college starts, all in one year at North Carolina, a season in which the Tarheels had three- and four-game win streaks and never lost more than two in a row, before the Bears drafted him.
QB or not QB?
Repeating a recent theme because Trubisky has played it back into the headlines...
Whether for Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, a draft pick, a free agent, all of the above, the Bears will be quarterback-shopping at the end of this season, something Ryan Pace has been derelict in doing since taking over as GM in 2015.
And while Pace has final roster control and Nagy over lineups, it is Nagy who needs to be the final decision-maker. After opting to stay with Jay Cutler two seasons, Pace’s has gone all in on Trubisky and Mike Glennon while passing on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Nagy was in on Kansas City’s pick of Mahomes.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.