PHILADELPHIA — The Bears would’ve been better off punting on first down on their first five possessions, which combined to lose 10 yards on 15 plays, in their 22-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Welcome to the 2019 Chicago Bears offense: Disjointed, sloppy, ineffective, unwatchable.
This group found a spark in the second half, yes, when Mitch Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel on a 53-yard deep ball. But, as Gabriel put it: “At the end of the day, we lost. So it doesn’t mean anything.”
The reality is that “spark” the Bears found resulted in them scoring 14 points. That’s it. They’ve failed to eclipse 20 points in six of their eight games this year (the Bears scored 25 against the New Orleans Saints; seven came on Cordarrelle Patterson’s kickoff return).
This is an offense that’s been broken for two months and hasn’t found a consistent fix. Six of the Bears’ 13 offensive touchdowns in 2019 have come in two quarters: The second quarter of Week 3 at Washington and the third quarter of Week 5 against Oakland.
Every week seems to produce something different.
Against the Chargers? It was a dozen goal-to-go plays in the first half not producing a touchdown. Against the Eagles, it was the worst first half by a Bears team in 40 years and then a too little, too late comeback effort stalled by the usually sure-handed David Montgomery dropping a screen with a lot of green grass in front of him.
“I dropped it,” Montgomery said, not willing to make an excuse for himself.
Still, on a larger scale, Montgomery and the Bears’ wide receivers (mostly Allen Robinson and Gabriel) have not been the problem in 2019. The scheme is not working, the quarterback is not working, the tight ends are non-factors and the offensive line is inconsistent.
When Nagy says it’s not just the quarterback’s fault, he’s right.
And it’d be a lot easier if it were just the quarterback’s fault.
“It’s not playing up to what we know we’re capable of,” Trubisky said. “It’s making simple mistakes. It’s getting out-executed, getting out-played when we know we’re capable of much more, when we know we have more inside of us, when we know we’re talented but we’re still coming up short. There’s a lot of the really simple things that we did last year, that we do in practice, that on gameday we’re coming up short and that’s why you have this crappy feeling.”
Trubisky talked about simplifying the offense and “keeping things easy,” but if the Bears can’t even do the easy things right, what’s the solution?
The most obvious fix is changing quarterbacks, even if this indeed is not all Trubisky’s fault. A good quarterback elevates the play of an entire offense, even if things otherwise are not perfect from a scheme and/or execution standpoint. But the Bears shouldn’t bother with a quarterback change in 2019 — if this season is indeed lost, they need to have complete conviction in moving on from Trubisky in 2020, and that means evaluating him over their final eight games.
But Nagy needs to take a long, difficult look at his scheme and playcalling. If Trey Burton has been invisible this year in the Bears’ offense, Adam Shaheen has been nonexistent. Tarik Cohen’s alarming decline in explosiveness is not just on Trubisky and Nagy. The offensive line’s inconsistency — especially in picking up stunts — is not the fault of quarterback and head coach.
So the problem with the Bears’ offense is that it bleeds everywhere, and it’s hard to know where one subset of failure begins and another one ends. It leaves the Bears at a loss for words, the kind of silence that comes with a 3-5 record and a microscopic chance of fixing things in 2019.
“You go out there and give it your all and you grind throughout the week with your brothers,” Gabriel said. “And to lose a game like that, it’s heartbreaking.
“And to sit up here and explain why we lost, it’s…,” he continued, trailing off. “Yeah.”