One way to survive the maddening 2019 Bears is to have low expectations. If you go into a game not counting on much from them, you won’t be disappointed.
Another survival tool is skepticism. When the Bears win a game against a poor team and start talking about it as a possible momentum-changer in a depressing season, the enlightened among us know to trust the party line the way we would a downed power line.
The Bears walked into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday as six-point underdogs to the Rams. That was a pretty good sign for informed Bears observers to keep expectations at ankle level. So was the sorry play of the offense this season.
The Bears walked away 17-7 losers, dropping their record to 4-6 and all but ending their playoff hopes. That should have induced shrugs among the faithful, who have gotten used to their share of nothing this season.
After throwing three touchdown passes last week against the Lions, Mitch Trubisky was back to being himself against the Rams, finishing with a touchdown pass, an interception and a 65.0 passer rating. When Chase Daniel replaced him late in the fourth quarter, eyebrows were raised to the heavens. Was coach Matt Nagy finally admitting the obvious? Was this the beginning of the end of Trubisky’s career with the Bears?
No, the team said. Trubisky was taken out because of a tight right hip, not his mediocre play. Hmmmmm, the skeptics said.
Trubisky led one scoring drive. It came early in the third quarter. That was about it in terms of positives. But we’re told he’s a much, much better quarterback than Colin Kaepernick is.
If you say so.
And the strangest thing is, Trubisky might not even be the Bears’ biggest problem today.
They seem to be back to square one with their kicking situation. Eddy Pineiro missed two field-goal attempts against the Rams. In between those first-quarter failures, Nagy chose to go for it on fourth-and-nine from the Rams’ 31 rather than have Pineiro try a field goal. Choosing the star-crossed Trubisky over a 48-yard attempt in what was a scoreless game at the time isn’t something any kicker wants on his résumé.
‘‘We want to see field goals made,’’ Nagy said.
Touchdowns also aren’t a bad option.
Given the Bears’ struggles this season, no one should have been surprised by (or distraught over) how this game played out.
They forced two turnovers in the first quarter — a fumble and an interception — and managed zero points out of them. They also picked up a first down from an offside penalty on a punt. They couldn’t take advantage of that, either. It’s why they found themselves down 10-0 to a Rams team that’s almost as flawed as they are.
‘‘I know that we have the pieces’’ on offense, Nagy said. ‘‘We haven’t had that one game where it’s just been four quarters of just fireworks.’’
There have been a lot of wet fuses. It’s the version of the Bears that has been on display too often this season.
I regret to inform you they still have six games left.
There was one bright spot offensively. The Bears went 80 yards on their first drive of the second half to get themselves in the game. It ended with Trubisky’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Tarik Cohen to cut the Rams’ lead to 10-7. Was it a tease? A trap?
You should have known it was a trap, based on how the season had gone for the Bears to that point. It was a trap because it presupposed some things about them, the most important of which was the notion they were good. A victory against the damaged Lions the week before had provided a shaft of sunshine that some people had wielded like a light saber.
Nagy got too cute on third-and-one from the Bears’ 29 late in the third quarter Sunday, with Trubisky pitching the ball to running back David Montgomery out of the pistol formation. The Rams dropped Montgomery for a three-yard loss. Sometimes you just shake your head.
Trubisky was 12-for-24 for 101 yards and an interception in the first half. You’ve seen that before. And with the Bears down 10-0 heading into the second half, it was a good bet Nagy was going to be pass-happy. And he was. Trubisky finished 24-for-43 for 190 yards. That’s a lot of passes for seven points.
Trubisky said the tight hip stopped him from putting his legs into throws.
‘‘It prevented me from playing my game,’’ he said.
Both teams were fighting for the right to dream about the playoffs, even if it was a faint dream. The Rams entered the game 5-4. Each team won its division last season. Here was a chance to salvage something — or at least the possibility of something. One team did. The other limped away.