Angry Bears groping for answers to bigger questions after loss to Eagles

Angry Bears groping for answers to bigger questions after loss to Eagles

Something is seriously missing from the 2016 Bears, and something is seriously wrong when the most emotional member of the Bears was even not in uniform Sunday night during the Bears’ 29-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Linebacker Pernell McPhee, voted by teammates as one of the defensive co-captains despite being on the physically unable to perform list due to offseason knee surgery, went over to and bumped Jay Cutler after the latter had thrown a devastating third-quarter interception, a sloppy throw off his back foot that was turned into a Philadelphia Eagles touchdown. McPhee, the emotional leader of the defense last year even when he was slowed with his worsening knee, appeared incensed with Cutler as the game slipped away from the Bears.

“He’s a passionate guy,” Cutler said. “Everyone’s got a lot invested into this and he does as well. No one likes to lose in that type of fashion. He’s upset, I’m upset and everyone in that locker room is upset.”

Passion in the locker room actually isn’t the problem right now. There’s plenty of that.

“We got a lot of passionate guys,” said linebacker Jerrell Freeman. “I walk in the locker room and I can just feel it.”

Feeling it or seeing it on the field is something else altogether, as the Bears dissolved into a defeat that is their sixth in the last seven under coach John Fox extending back to early last December. This was beyond simply a defeat that ran their home record to 1-8 under Fox.

That record of non-performance at home was talked about internally by the Bears last week. But talk is also not a problem.

“It’s tough,” Fox conceded. “We have a lot of improving to do.”

[Bears Talk Podcast: Looking back at Week 2 loss to Eagles]

Which was not supposed to be the case for a team that brought in free agents accustomed to winning. Indeed, this kind of repeat performance is concerning on a franchise level.

The fact is that for all of the “building for the future” talk, the importance of the draft picks and whatever else, the Bears do not see themselves on a three-year or x-years plan. The Bears were building to win now, not in two or three years, something that was evident way back when they signed a veteran backup quarterback – Hoyer – rather than draft a young arm and put him in the pipeline. They signed a 30-year-old Pro Bowl guard – Josh Sitton – rather than go with a youth movement, even when center Hroniss Grasu went down for the year. They signed veteran linebackers and a lineman for the core of their defense and extended the contract of a veteran edge pass rusher (Willie Young).

Those additions were for now, not three years from now.

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The Bears (0-2) were outplayed in every phase by a middling Eagles team led by a rookie quarterback (Carson Wentz). The Bears were led by a quarterback of their own (Cutler) whose future becomes increasingly cloudy for a team that has not shown indications under three head coaches that it can win with him. Cutler was hampered by a thumb injury that was banged up early and eventually forced him out of the game in favor of Brian Hoyer.

Assessing effort is never an exact science but the Bears never appeared to be playing with any fire, evidenced by another poor performance in the run game and by poor tackling against the Eagles – two elements of the game that begin with want-to, which the Bears suddenly don’t.

Turning the football over on three of their first four possessions of the second half – a strip-sack fumble by Cutler, the interception and a fumble by running back Jeremy Langford – bespoke a sloppiness that is typically emblematic of a losing team, which the Bears played like for the second straight week.

The Eagles for their part appeared to have less than zero regard for the Bears as the game went on. With the Bears’ tackling degenerating into lackadaisical, Wentz and the Eagles opted to try a fourth-and-goal conversion from the Chicago 2 when a field goal was a comfortable option for a three-score lead. The Bears initially made a stop but were offside, and the Eagles easily converted the second chance.

Adding to the misery of the night, the Bears were riddled with injuries, lowlighted by Jay leaving with a hand injury suffered on a tackle attempt following an interception. Cutler lost the final six games of a promising 2011 season to a broken thumb while trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception to the San Diego Chargers.

More serious initially appeared to be a knee injury to linebacker Lamarr Houston in the second quarter. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman was carted off the field with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Running back Ka’Deem Carey went out with a hamstring strain, and defensive backs Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan suffered concussions.

Fox has successfully turned around the fortunes of teams in Carolina and Denver. His message after Monday, in a year looking like anything but a turnaround:

“’Stay together,’” recounted tight end Zach Miller. “We understand that when you start 0-2 and put that product on the football field, we understand what’s going to be said, what’s going to come of it.”

What’s going to come of this defeat may not be so easy to understand.

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

A boatload of Madden ratings dropped on Monday, and with it, more content than you could shake a stick at. 

The Bears, predictably, got a fair bit of love on the defensive side of the ball and were largely ignored on offense. 

No Fangio, No Problem

For a wide variety of reasons, it's trendy to point out that the Bears' defense is headed for some regression this season. Madden disagrees, though, rating the Bears defense (88) as the best in football. They did also give the Houston Texans' defense an 88 as well, but never let the details get in the way of a good story. Here's what they said: 

For Chicago, the unit is fronted by 99 Club member, LOLB Khalil Mack. FS Eddie Jackson (91 OVR) is a Superstar X-Factor like his teammate, Mack. That’s a scary combination for any opposing quarterback. Toss in CB Kyle Fuller (89 OVR) and you can see why this Bears unit should roar out of the gate in Madden 20. 

Year 2 Mitch Doesn't Get Any Love 

Trubisky was rated as the 24th best QB, which is already being debated passionately, regardless of how debatable it actually is. What's lowkey worse is that Chase Daniel, the 9-year NFL vet, got the same rating as Dax Raymond, the undrafted free agent. 

May We Remind You That Khalil Mack Is A Terrific Football Player 

Earlier in the month, Mack was revealed as one of the 4 players who received the infamous 99 rating. That means he's also the top-ranked LOLB, two points ahead of Denver's Von Miller and 16 points ahead of any NFC North LOLB. Enjoy those draft picks, Oakland! 

Akiem Hicks Gets Snubbed And Frankly We've Just About Had It 

Hicks was ranked as the 19th-best defensive lineman, which is just objectively untrue. In some alternate universe, there may be 18 better defensive linemen than Akiem Hicks, but that is just simply inaccurate in this one. He was heated about his rating, and we cannot blame him. 

The Lowest Ranked Bears Player Was ... 

Patrick Scales. Sorry Patrick Scales.

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

Akiem Hicks not happy with Madden 20 ratings: ‘Tell them to come see me’

EA Sports released the full Madden 20 player ratings for every team in the NFL, and not everyone was happy with the numbers they received.

The Bears shared a video of backup quarterback Chase Daniel revealing ratings to his teammates, and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks seemed the most upset of the group.

“Bring some of the scouts out here doing the madden ratings,” Hicks said. “Tell them to come see me.”

Hicks received an overall rating of 87, tied for fourth-highest on the team and 10th-highest among defensive ends.

He has the same rating as Green Bay Packers DE Mike Daniels and Detroit Lions DE Trey Flowers.

In the video, running back Tarik Cohen was disappointed with his 92 speed, which is tied for third-fastest on the team behind wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Emanuel Hall.

Cohen does lead the Bears with 97 agility and 92 elusiveness, but he thought his throwing power stat should be higher than 51 after his two career passing touchdowns.