In this week’s edition of ‘Take 2,’ the Chicago Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley and Pro Football Weekly’s Kevin Fishbain for reasons for optimism within the 1-5 Bears:
Fishbain: We may have had this discussion last season, Patrick, but what do Bears fans have to be hopeful about after such a bad loss to a lowly Jaguars team? This team is 1-5 and destined to be 1-7 at the bye. The quarterback of the future isn’t on the team. Chicago’s past three first-round picks are injured. You and I can always be counted on to look at the bright side, Patrick, so I’ll start with the O-line. It started poorly vs. Jacksonville but got better as the game went along and protected Brian Hoyer well. It’s the best unit on the team right now. What’s your ray of sunshine?
Finley: I’ve got three: The Packers stink right now, the Bears have actually won two of their past three games at Lambeau Field, and the Bears will wear all navy as part of the NFL’s “Color Rush” scam. Maybe the Packers won’t recognize them, or scout the Texans instead. Or Cal. Or Syracuse. That silliness aside, here’s the most legit reason: Aaron Rodgers was last among qualifying quarterbacks in completion percentage before posting a whopping 73.8 percent mark in a loss to the Cowboys. We all know completion percentage can be an overrated stat – hi, Brian Hoyer! – but Rodgers just hasn’t been sharp this season. ¿Por que? (That means: Why?)
Fishbain: Is it bad that I like how “boring” the Bears’ jerseys will be Thursday, especially compared to some of the ugly ones we’ve seen this season? They are certainly getting the Packers at a time of tumult for Rodgers, McCarthy and Co. Receivers aren’t getting open, folks are criticizing the play-calling and Rodgers isn’t making the magical throws we’ve been accustomed to seeing. A short week may not be enough time for Rodgers and the offense to suddenly figure it out, and Vic Fangio did a number on Rodgers last year. Hey, there’s another positive! Can the defense keep getting better?
Finley: Here are two reasons the defense can improve: Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee. If either, or both, plays Thursday, the Bears have two pass-rush weapons. Even if they’re used sparingly, they’re more electric than the Sam Acho-Christian Jones duo that accompanied Willie Young on Sunday. Young’s been fantastic this season; think how good he’d be if the opposite pass rusher was halfway decent. If we know anything about Thursday night games, Kev, it’s that they’re screwy. Two underdogs have not only covered in five games thus far, but they’ve won them outright. Maybe the Bears won’t need much help uglying up the game.
Fishbain: The pass rush seems to have the highest ceiling because of Floyd and McPhee, and it also is one area of the defense that needs more consistency. The Packers have a good O-line and Rodgers is mobile and gets rid of the ball quickly. Thursday night games are wonky, as you said, and no one should know that better than the Bears, who shocked the Pack last Thanksgiving night. So, Patrick, man of optimism, you’re saying there’s a chance?
Finley: Sure – albeit not a good one. History says it’ll be interesting, at least. Throw out the dreadful 2014 season – in which the Bears lost 38-17 and 55-14 to their rivals – and the last five games have been settled by eight points or less. If that happens again, the Bears cover the spread. Will they win? They’re 3-12 in their past 15 games against their rivals. The best part about Thursday is the old saw, Kev: when rivals play, you can throw out their records. In fact, that’s the only way the Bears can get the stink of 1-5 off them