I don’t suppose it would appease the more bloodthirsty out there to point out that the Colts have a hellacious defense and that it would have taken a miracle Sunday for Nick Foles to overcome it. I didn’t think so.
But that doesn’t make it any less true. Whatever we wanted to know about the Bears’ new starting quarterback wasn’t going to be answered on an autumn afternoon at Soldier Field. The Colts’ defense did whatever it wanted to in a 19-11 Indianapolis victory. Mostly what it wanted to do was make the Bears’ offense look bad.
If you thought Foles would come in and immediately light it up, you were dealing more in adult-beverage hope than sober reality. He was facing perhaps the best defense in the NFL, he was still trying to knock off the rust from being Mitch Trubisky’s backup the previous month and, oh, yeah, he was Nick Foles, a quarterback who had struggled more than succeeded in his career.
It’s true that he was coming off a three-touchdown fourth quarter against the Falcons the previous week, but that was like a false-positive test. Blowing fourth-quarter leads is what the hapless Falcons do.
What do the Bears have in Foles? They can’t be sure yet. They couldn’t be sure after his excellent performance against Atlanta, and they couldn’t be sure after his difficulties against a nasty Colts defense. He finished 26-for-42 for 249 yards and a very Mitch-like 5.9 yards per attempt. His passer rating was 76.4, which is what happens when you throw a touchdown pass and an interception.
“The Indianapolis Colts are a great team, but I didn’t execute well enough, and we didn’t execute well enough,’’ he said.
Trubisky’s supporters want to know what Foles showed against the Colts that would induce confidence in the nine-year veteran, but let’s not play that game. The decision has been made. Foles is the quarterback, and whether the Bears fail or succeed this season rests on his shoulders. Which way will it go? Who knows? But we have a pretty good idea how it went with Trubisky leading the offense the last three-plus seasons: pretty not good.
Foles wasn’t gifted the best field position, but that wasn’t the story of the game. The Bears’ best first-half drive started at their 7-yard line. The story of the game was that, after completions of 33, 27 and 17 yards on that drive, Foles and the offense stalled at the Colts’ 9-yard line. The Bears settled for a field goal.
They had no running game to speak of, or at least not one to speak of out loud. It was, in a word, brutal. David Montgomery had no room to run and finished with 27 yards on 10 carries. The Bears miss Tarik Cohen, who was lost for the season last week with a knee injury. They miss him not for his running but for the threat he was before each snap. Defenses had to account for him. Now they don’t. But that’s not why the Bears lost, either.
You can point a finger at anybody on the offense for the struggles and not be wrong. You can point a finger at coach Matt Nagy’s play-calling and not be wrong. But was there anyone on the offensive side of the ball who looked physically more talented than anyone on the Colts’ defense? No, there wasn’t. Feel free to point a finger at general manager Ryan Pace, the man who built the roster. The Bears aren’t very talented offensively, and that includes Trubisky. It very well could include Foles. That’s why the Bears lost to the Colts.
“We just could not get in rhythm on offense,’’ Nagy said.
This game was about one he-man defense against another. The Colts lead the league in several defensive categories, and the Bears lead the league in guys named “Khalil Mack’’ and “Akiem Hicks.’’
So don’t place too much importance on Foles’ bland game. The coming weeks are going to tell us how good he is. Facing the Colts in his first start was a no-win situation. And that’s what he did.
The Bears play Tampa Bay and Tom Brady on Thursday. The good news? The Buccaneers’ defense isn’t the Colts’ defense. It gave up 31 points to the Chargers.
The Bears are 3-1. The loss means that the dream is over, if your dream was an undefeated season. And if it was, somebody needs to take away your car keys and call you a cab.