Bears Grades: O-line gets by with a little help from fans


Bears Grades: O-line gets by with a little help from fans

After bottoming out in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears’ offensive line could use a friend. Or friends. And they got them in Tampa. Lots of them.

Enough Bears fans turned out at Raymond James Stadium Sunday to have an effect on the game. Because of crowd noise, the offensive line typically needs to rely on a silent snap count, with guard Matt Slauson tapping the leg of center Hroniss Grasu to signal that Jay Cutler is ready for the snap. That means Slauson sitting in his stance but turning around to look at Cutler for the quarterback to lift his leg, the “ready” indicator.

But when the Bears had the football on Sunday, the massive Chicago contingent quieted down enough that Slauson and Grasu’s job got easier.

“Actually we had a couple drives where we took the silent cadence out of it,” Slauson said, smiling. “I loved that.”

The line had multiple changes in one day and handled them and a very good Tampa Bay front effectively. The Bucccaneers finished with just one sack of Cutler, only one other QB hit, and the Bears rushing for 174 yards total and an average of 4.5 per carry.

The 26 points were the Bears’ third-highest this season, the most since 37 against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 15.

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“I think if you’ve got a great quarterback who’s protected and an O-line that does a good job at the point of attack in the running game, you see an offense that’s going to have success,” said right tackle Kyle Long. “Unfortunately we haven’t been consistent; I haven’t been consistent.”

The offense lost center Grasu for a time to a leg injury late in the third quarter, forcing Slauson to move from left guard to center. Patrick Omameh, bumped from the starting lineup, stepped in at left guard. Vladimir Ducasse, who started the first six games of the season at right guard before losing the job to Omameh, had the job back on Sunday after the dismal overall showing of the line in Minnesota.

Ducasse combined with right tackle Kyle Long to get some push on the right side in double teams, including on Ka’Deem Carey’s second-quarter touchdown.

A false start by Long with the Bears inside the Tampa Bay 5 in a goal-to-go situation was costly. The Bears netted a field goal but were in position to go up by 10 points with a touchdown just before halftime. Ducasse was ticketed for holding in the fourth quarter, nullifying a third-down conversion.

“They’re a very talented front,” Slauson said. “McCoy’s a beast and their linebackers are fast. Lavonte [David, linebacker] just flies around everywhere making plays.

“But we’re confident in our ability to line up against anybody in the league and pound the rock.”

Moon's Grade: A

Former GM says Matt Nagy will lose his job if Bears don't trade for QB

Former GM says Matt Nagy will lose his job if Bears don't trade for QB

There have been some strong takes on Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky over the last 24 hours, but none have been stronger than former NFL general manager Mike Lombardi's.

Lombardi, who now contributes to The Athletic, has always been a harsh critic of Trubisky. He's never believed in the former North Carolina product's ability to become a franchise quarterback and has taken often taken shots at the Bears' signal-caller.

And while Lombardi's never-ending lamenting of Trubisky sometimes comes across as agenda-driven, it's hard to dismiss his negativity at this point. Trubisky hasn't given Bears fans much ammunition to defend him. Now, with the offense hitting rock bottom against the Saints in Week 7, Lombardi is at it again.

This time, he has coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace in his crosshairs.

"If the Bears don’t make a trade for a quarterback, Nagy will lose his job within a year, and the team will never reach its full potential," Lombardi wrote on Monday. "That is not a mere guess, but a statement that has been backed up by NFL history and the experience of being in the NFL for so long.

"Making a trade might be hard internally because General Manager Ryan Pace has put his career on the line by making the move to bring Trubisky to Chicago. He traded assets to move up one spot in the draft, and it will be hard for him to admit that Trubisky cannot play. But he cannot let his ego get in the way of doing what is right. Teams cannot solve a problem if they don’t admit they have one, and Pace needs to stop lying to himself and others about his evaluation of Trubisky. The time has come." 

Suggesting that the Bears should make a trade for a quarterback before the deadline isn't the worst idea, especially because Chicago's defense is good enough to lead the team to the playoffs if there's a halfway competent quarterback under center. But it's a massive and ridiculous leap to suggest Nagy and Pace's jobs will be lost if they don't make a trade this season. Remember: Nagy was the NFL's Coach of the Year in 2018; he isn't on the hot seat. And while Pace certainly will have egg on his face for missing on Trubisky if the third-year quarterback doesn't develop (quickly), there's no reason to assume he won't get another offseason or two to get it right.

The more likely scenario, if Trubisky does, in fact, bottom out, is that Pace and the Bears will sign one of the veteran free-agent quarterbacks who will hit the open market next offseason. Players like Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota, while not world-beaters, would represent an upgrade at the position. Nagy just needs a guy who can be his Alex Smith; a game-manager who can score enough points to assist the defense. Any one of those three fit that description.

Perhaps the Bears missed on Trubisky. Maybe he'll turn it around. But to suggest Nagy and Pace won't get another swing at the position, together, is nothing more than a fiery hot take.

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With running game, Nagy makes plea for patience: "I know we need to run the ball more. I’m not an idiot"

With running game, Nagy makes plea for patience: "I know we need to run the ball more. I’m not an idiot"

Matt Nagy brought a whoooole bunch of positive energy to his Monday morning press conference at Halas Hall. 

"First of all, you will never pull me down," he said. "That's number one. Never. You won't do it. Second of all, you'll never pull our team down. It doesn't matter what we're going through. It'll never happen. Not under my watch. That's just not how we roll."

The coach's trademark brand of endless, enthusiastic optimism took a hit after Sunday's humiliating loss to New Orleans. The Bears were outclassed by a short-handed team, at home, coming off the bye week. They set the record for fewest run attempts in Bears' history. After the game Nagy said they were going to "sit in it" that night, and from the sound of his answers on Monday morning, that hadn't ended yet. 

"I know we need to run the ball more. I’m not an idiot," he said. "I realize that. Seven rushes and the minimum amount of times, I totally understand that."

"You need to do it. I never go into a game saying I want to throw the ball 54 times. I would love to go into a game and say I want to run the ball 54 times. But that hasn’t happened. This is what I have to answer to.”

You've read it all already; things are bleak. They're the 30th ranked team in every rushing category except for the ones they're ranked 29th in. Against the Saints, the Bears handed the ball off to wide recievers the same amount of times (2) they gave it to David Montgomery. No one got more rushes than Tarik Cohen (3), who said after the game that he doesn't really even consider himself a running back – and is often scouted as a reciever by opposing coaches, according to Nagy. 

"... nine catches for 19 yards, you know, that’s not where we want to be," he said. "And it’s unacceptable for all of us. We’re definitely searching right now. There’s no doubt about it. But as I said, so last night you deal with the emotions, you watch the tape last night, you see where you’re at and now for us we can’t hang on to what just happened.  We’ve got to fix it and we’ve got to understand and be aware that offensively we’ve had some bad performances now." 

Nagy knows he and the Bears are out of excuses, and having to say the same thing every Monday morning for the last month is clearly eating at him. And while there may be some more reliance on Trubisky or Mike Davis' legs (from the sounds of it, mainly the former), there's probably still an element of patience involved. (I know, I'm sorry. Please lower your voice.) 

"Right now we’re not having productive plays in the run game any way you look at it," Nagy said. "But I want positive plays. I want plays — and part of the patience is that as well. There’s no doubt about it, there’s gotta be more patience.

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