It’s probably safe to say we’re at the point when, if you were dating the Bears, your friends would start to wonder why they’re not showing up to things. It’s not necessarily a dealbreaker yet – they’re SO nice, just really busy! They beat the Bucs! – but the honeymoon’s over. The holiday season’s right around the corner, and it’s fair to wonder where things are going between you two. Suddenly, everything that gave you butterflies during September’s steamy romance doesn’t land like it used to. Screen passes to Cordarrelle Patterson are only so sexy for so long. Matt Nagy calling draws on 2nd-and-long isn’t really that cute anymore. (Was it ever?) Relationships never feel like 5-1 forever, and if you’re starting to have second thoughts, the Bears can’t really fault you; all they can do is blame themselves.
“Obviously a high level of frustration,” Nagy said after the Bears’ 24-17 loss. “Any time you lose three games in a row, you feel that way. We didn’t do enough offensively to get the job done. I thought our defense played really, really well. They’re doing everything that we’re asking them to do and trying to get that field position going. Special teams played well. And then, just, the recurring theme here on offense. That starts with me and we’ve gotta get it better.”
The Bears are, quite frankly, one of the least disciplined teams in football. They average almost eight penalties per game, and their lackadaisical approach caught up to them against the Titans on Sunday. It’s not just that they’re getting penalized – it’s how, and when. On the surface, the Bears’ five penalty performance was actually an improvement from prior weeks; under it, there’s an entirely different story. Back-to-back flags with under a minute left in the first half moved the Bears from 1st-and-10 on the Titans’ 48 to 1st-and-25 on their own 37. No points were scored.
Nine plays later, the offense had to abandon plans to go for it when another set of back-to-back flags took them from 4th-and-1 to 4th-and-10. No points were scored. It almost feels like the Bears are purposefully toying with your heart, but deep down, you know they really need to work on themselves for a bit.
“I have to sit back and watch the tape, but again, I thought today, we knocked ourselves out of field goal range with penalties, things like that,” Allen Robinson said. “I feel like that's something we've been addressing, it's just all things. Including myself – I look back at the game. Whatever I'm doing, it's clearly not enough, either. I've gotta figure out a way to do more.”
The Bears are talented, but not enough to get away with playing like this. At 5-4, with five divisional games to play, they’re still in a decent position and firmly in control of their future. But they’re not impressing anyone any more, and your parents are starting to wonder why you spend so much time with them. Their neighbor has a great coach who calls third down plays that actually go beyond the sticks, and they’ve been dying to introduce you two. Would it kill you to date a team with a reliable quarterback? If you’re going to spend another Sunday afternoon getting stood up, it’d be nice to at least get a reason. Right now, the Bears can’t even give you that.
“Once again, if I had that answer, we probably wouldn’t be here,” Nick Foles said. “The only thing I can say is that we have to continue to keep working.”
“I’ll never, ever, ever question my guys’ effort, never,” Nagy added. “I’ll never do that. None of it is because of effort. But whatever it is, it’s got to stop…”