There’s football smart and football dumb, and Bears sure weren’t smart Sunday

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MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 14: Albert Wilson #15 of the Miami Dolphins carries a pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears of the game at Hard Rock Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775192647

We now know the Bears are not a ‘‘Debbie Downer organization.’’

Thank you, coach Matt Nagy, for clearing that up.

In other words, this is no Eeyore team. This is a SpongeBob SquarePants team!

That’s helpful info after the Bears’ confounding here-it-is, there-it-goes loss to the Dolphins on Sunday in Miami.

How easy it would be for the Bears to hate themselves after giving up a game that was in the bag, then leaped out of the bag because of a fumble, an interception in the end zone, a missed field goal and — this is key — lots of little things that zoomed by too quickly or obscurely for us to follow.

Here’s an example.

With 3:17 left, the Bears scored a touchdown on a 29-yard pass from quarterback Mitch Trubisky to receiver Anthony Miller. The pass went straight down the middle, Miller scored untouched and the Dolphins clearly had blown their coverage.

Whatever, the Bears were ahead 28-21. That’s not a huge lead, but it’s a nice one. You should win with such a lead and not much time left on the clock.

The Bears kicked off, and the Dolphins got the ball at their own 25, presumably ready to start a methodical drive.

Oops. The drive lasted 16 seconds.

On the first play from scrimmage, Dolphins receiver Albert Wilson — in the left slot — waited for the Bears’ defenders to back into coverage. They did, and quarterback Brock Osweiler threw him a short pass. It should have been a 10-yard gain, tops.

The Bears had three defenders — linebackers Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith and cornerback Bryce Callahan — in a cup in front of Wilson. From the right sideline, safety Eddie Jackson was leaving his man and closing in. That’s four potential tacklers.


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If you freeze the moment on video, you’d swear there was no way Wilson was getting out of it. But he did, and he scored a 75-yard touchdown.

How did it happen? Jackson missed the tackle that could have stopped everything, so the quick thought might be to blame him. But Wilson wasn’t Jackson’s man to cover; he was helping somebody else out.

Whom was he helping? This was subtle and barely noticeable, but Trevathan closed in fiercely from the left and overpursued his target.

Overpursuing means you go too far. It’s instinctive for aggressive players to do, but it’s a flaw — and a bad one. It allows runners to cut back, to make moves, to juke everybody else because a player is out of position. Players get sent packing because of overpursuing. Offenses count on such lack of discipline for big gains.

What happened is that Trevathan made the cup a broken cup. He got in the way of Smith and Callahan, serving almost as a blocker against them. I doubt many people noticed this, but the film sure as hell shows it.

It’s a little thing, but little things become huge things in football. It’s why somebody with modest talent but ‘‘football smarts’’ often plays in front of somebody more athletic but ‘‘football dumb.’’

Many of these little things went wrong for the Bears. Terrible tackling form. Late-game weakness from the heat and humidity. (The Bears didn’t know that it would be a scorching jungle under the sun at midday near the Everglades?

Or that the Dolphins would make sure the Bears’ bench wasn’t in the shade?)

There were little coaching stupidities, too. Why call five consecutive running plays in overtime to set up a possible 53-yard field goal for a kicker whose career best is 54 yards? Even five more yards could have made all the difference for kicker Cody Parkey.

I’m focusing on little things here because it seems the Bears are good enough to be really good, provided they do the little things right.

First, of course, they must realize how important those little things are. Call it football wisdom.

You just hope they get wise before they get old and hurt. Same goes for all of us.

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