Bears

Bears play the waiting game as Packers-Vikings winds down

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Bears play the waiting game as Packers-Vikings winds down

DETROIT Now all the Bears can do is wait.

They took care of business, more or less, beating the Detroit Lions 26-24 despite repeated failures on offense, a few costly breakdowns on defense and little help on special teams. The win pushed their record to 10-6 and into position for hoping that the Green Bay Packers can dispatch the Minnesota Vikings.

It appeared to have removed some but not all doubt that Lovie Smith will return as coach in 2013. Teams typically do not fire coaches after 10-6 seasons, and usually not ones who are 18 games over .500 as Smith is for his tenure.

GM Phil Emery was complimentary of Smith during an appearance on the WBBM pre-game programming and was seen chatting casually with Smith prior to the game at Ford Field.

Emery said that evaluations are based on a coachs or players whole body of work, not one game. Smith is 18 games over .500 for his career and has had only one of nine seasons with fewer than seven wins.

But the goal of the organization is to win championships, which begins with making the playoffs. Missing the playoffs for five of the six years since the 2006 Super Bowl appearance will work against Smith getting at least the final year of his contract.

A Green Bay win at Minnesota would place the Bears in the No. 6 slot in the NFC playoffs and send them to either San Francisco or Seattle depending upon the outcomes of late games, Arizona at the 49ers and St. Louis visiting the Seahawks.

Players pulled up chairs amphitheater-style in the locker room to watch the early stages of the Green Bay game. They were pleased with their handling of Detroit (4-12) but that was not the full day.

Ill feel happy, center Roberto Garza said in the minutes after the Bears win, in about three hours.

Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

The Chicago Bears offense was uninspiring once again Sunday night in the team's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. While they could've had another six points had kicker Eddy Pineiro connected on two early-game field goals, it still wouldn't have been enough to win the most important game of the season.

After 11 weeks (10 games), the Bears rank 28th in points per game with 16.9. To put their brutal season in perspective, the New York Jets, who've been atrocious this year, are averaging 16.4 points per game.

Essentially, Matt Nagy has coached Chicago's offense as effectively as Adam Gase has coached the Jets'. 

Still, it's worth acknowledging strong individual performances in the midst of an overall letdown, and in Week 11's loss to the Rams, it was running back Tarik Cohen who stood tallest among his Bears' offensive teammates.

Cohen posted Chicago's highest Pro Football Focus grade on offense with a 74.3. He logged 45 snaps, 10 more than David Montgomery, and was effective when he touched the ball. He totaled 74 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches en route to being the Bears' most effective running back against a tough Rams defensive front. Montgomery managed just 31 yards on 14 carries.

Cohen hasn't had the kind of season that was expected from his role as a do-it-all offensive weapon; he's way behind his normal pace of production as both a runner and receiver. Cohen had 99 carries for 444 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 71 catches for 725 yards and five scores in 2018. He's on pace for just 186 rushing yards and 402 receiving yards this season.

Still, Sunday night's effort was a step in the right direction for him and a sign that he may continue to get more touches as the season comes to a close.

Nagy took hard look at his duties as Bears offensive play-caller, opts to retain that role

Nagy took hard look at his duties as Bears offensive play-caller, opts to retain that role

During the Bears’ 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, quarterback Mitch Trubisky suffered a hip pointer, an injury that involved monitoring by the coaching and medical staffs from halftime on. Kicker Eddy Pineiro was missing field goals to the point of appearing to affect his coach’s decision-making. The offense was sputtering – again – and the defense, after some early takeaway success, appeared to be sagging emotionally. There were issues at tight end. Aaron Donald had to be accounted for and blocked.

All of which and more was on the head of Matt Nagy, now all of 27 games into being an NFL head coach, and who late in the game needed to stop and have a heart-to-heart, heads-together talk with his quarterback about how he was feeling.

The “and more” on Nagy’s head continues to include calling the individual plays for his bad-and-getting-worse offense.

So Nagy spent a chunk of his morning taking a hard look at whether defenses are on to him, presumably personally as well as schematically. And some of that hard look was whether he indeed should continue being the play-caller in the wake of the offense running 74 plays, netting 7 points and failing to gain 300 total yards for the ninth time in 10 games.

For now, after that look in the mirror, Nagy will remain in control of the play sheet.

“What I would say is this,” he said, acknowledging that if he felt he was the problem, “I’ll be the first to tell you, then we need to be better or if there’s a rhythm to something.

“I have zero ego and I have zero care of giving play-call duties to somebody else. I really do not care about that, and if that’s what we feel like from going through it that that’s what we need to do, then I would do that, I really would.

“But when you go through the tape and you look at things and you know schematically where we’re at and what we’re calling and when we’re calling it…. There’s without a doubt a few plays in that game that I would go back and say, ‘You know what, that’s our fault. We didn’t scheme it right,’ and that starts with me. And I need to be able to accept that and know how do I fix that. But we’ll do everything we can … we’re turning over every stone to get this thing right.”

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