Saints bring Bears to their knees in 36-25 demolition as Matt Nagy rants on negativity
It was total humiliation Sunday for a team that thought of itself as a Super Bowl contender. The Saints exposed the Bears as frauds.
Desperation is setting in for the Bears.
Or maybe despair.
Their Super Bowl aspirations have fizzled, and the conversation pivots to whether they can grind out enough victories merely to make the playoffs.
Even that seems like a reach after their absolute dud Sunday against the Saints. Coming off their bye week and facing an opponent missing its best two offensive players, the Bears fell flat in a 36-25 loss at Soldier Field.
The Saints led 36-10 until the final three minutes, when the Bears scored a touchdown, recovered an onside kick and scored another touchdown to make the final slightly less humiliating.
No one is fooled by that, and no one is fooled by the Bears anymore. This is the rock bottom of Matt Nagy’s time as their coach. Well, they hope it is, at least.
Nagy is relentlessly optimistic, but even he can’t put a silver lining on a season marked by sluggish losses and unimpressive victories. And he senses the negativity closing in.
In response to a question about the Bears’ feeble running game, he veered into a speech about the broader danger he fears.
‘‘As Negative Nelly as this will be at 3-3 for us right now, I get it,’’ he said in an unusual postgame news conference in which he ranged from flummoxed to irritated to upbeat. ‘‘I’m the one that’s gonna have to answer to y’all all the time about the negativity of what’s going on. Got it.
‘‘But we need to stay together. We’re not gonna let anybody around here pull us apart, I promise you that. We will come together with answers. And with every week that goes by, we do need to know that time is of the essence. But being 3-3, here’s what I’ll tell them. You ready? I’ll say: ‘Horse blinders and earmuffs.’ Don’t listen to anything outside because, right now, it’s not gonna be good, you know?
‘‘What happens is people from the outside pull you down, and the last thing that anybody’s gonna do — whether it’s you guys or anybody else outside — is you’re not pulling us down. We’re gonna be positive and we’re gonna fight through it because that’s what winning teams do and that’s what positive people do.’’
Keep in mind this speech is coming after six games. Things are this bad, this early.
Nagy might want to skip the rest of this because, both as a point of fact and a big-picture observation, this isn’t a winning team.
The sight of players swaggering into Bourbonnais and talking openly about the Super Bowl feels like another world after watching this meager offense stagger to three-and-outs.
Consider that the Bears would have to go 7-3 the rest of the way just to reach 10 victories. There’s no evidence they’re capable of that.
The best they’ve looked was in a 16-6 victory last month against the Vikings, the game in which quarterback Mitch Trubisky got hurt and the defense was overwhelming.
That defense has been leaky the last two games, as the Raiders and Saints put up the two highest-yardage totals in regulation of the last two seasons against the Bears.
The offense was worse. Two weeks of self-scouting, retooling and wearing out dry-erase boards in Halas Hall got Nagy nowhere. And it has hit a point where no one can claim getting Trubisky back on the field is helpful.
The offensive numbers were nauseating, and Trubisky was as bad as ever. Before the late frenzy, he was 20 of 35 for 119 yards and a 63.9 passer rating.
If that sounds bad, get a load of the running attack. Is ‘‘attack’’ the right word? The Bears ran for 17 yards.
‘‘You can’t run for 17 yards in the NFL and think you’re going to win a game, you know?’’ Nagy said. ‘‘You should get 17 yards on one run play.’’
Nagy lamented the Bears’ failure to ignite the running game early, but he calls the plays. They ran five times in the first half.
What possible excuse do the Bears have for being unable to run when they have a mobile quarterback, a well-paid offensive line and highly touted running backs? Nagy has to be able to explain this.
‘‘I would love to,’’ he said. ‘‘I would. I wish I — I would love to. You’re right. But I don’t know what to tell you.’’
There’s a lot the Bears don’t know right now. The only certainty is that this season already has gone wildly off-track.