Take 2: Can Bears’ defense carry the team, or build for future?
In this week’s ‘Take 2,’ Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times and Kevin Fishbain of Pro Football Weekly give their thoughts on what’s worth watching in the remaining 14 games of this Bears season that appeared to unravel on Monday night in a loss to the Eagles.
Fishbain: Patrick, we all know the statistics about 0-2 teams and making the playoffs. We don’t need to go there, because who predicted this team to make the postseason anyway? But there is a long way to go this season and with several starters injured, Bears fans are already starting their countdown clocks to next year’s NFL Draft. This is a young team, though, with players worth getting excited about, right? Maybe a defense whose revamped front seven has been the main bright spot through two games?
Finley: It’s been brighter than the rest of the Bears’ dim performance, which ain’t saying much. With Danny Trevathan lost to thumb surgery, the Bears just lost their big-money offseason free agent. But there are reasons to get excited, sure: Leonard Floyd started for the second time, and only figures to play more with the loss of Lamarr Houston. That will help his development. Deiondre’ Hall looked capable at cornerback, and Jonathan Bullard will only get better.
Here’s one thing I like about the defense, Kevin: Floyd, Goldman, Bullard and safety Adrian Amos have a chance to be on the next really good Bears team – whenever that is. Should the Bears embrace that youth already? Or just worry about results?
Fishbain: I’ve been trying to figure out how exactly the Bears continue to ’embrace that youth.’ Should Bullard play more snaps than Mitch Unrein? Should we see Hall on the field even when Kyle Fuller returns? Floyd is already getting a ton of snaps, so it’s hard to find where John Fox can get younger. You’re not going to replace second-year safeties with a rookie like Deon Bush. Should Nick Kwiatkoski replace Trevathan instead of Jonathan Anderson?
They seem to be embracing the youth, but it’s a veteran coaching staff. Are you going to tell John Fox and Vic Fangio to worry less about the results and more about 2017?
Finley: In a weird way, Kevin, Jay Cutler’s thumb injury – and general ineptitude of the offense through the first two games – might push the Bears in the opposite direction. Entering Sunday night’s game in Dallas, and certainly the next week’s home contest against the Lions, the Bears should acknowledge that the best path to victory is to ugly up the game. That means running on offense and leaning on their veterans on defense. Does that seem like the right idea to you?
Fishbain: Well, a game plan focused on running the football allows the Bears to feature Jeremy Langford and Jordan Howard, while also developing Cody Whitehair. Trying to win on defense is still going to have to rely on youngsters like Floyd and Amos and Jones-Quartey, so I think the Bears will still know a lot more about the future. My concern is how a backup at quarterback could stunt the development of any of the younger players on either side of the ball. Then what would fans have as reasons for hope?
Finley: Brian Hoyer could impact Kevin White’s development, for sure. And fans have been waiting for him to flash the athleticism that caused the Bears to draft him seventh in the 2015 draft. But the facts are the facts, and White wasn’t connecting with Cutler in their first two games, totaling six catches for 51 yards before the quarterback was hurt. I’m being both optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, Kevin: it can’t be much worse.