I’m going to try to avoid casting a negative light on the Bears’ unfortunate overtime loss Sunday, negativity being the scourge of the modern world, according to coach Matt Nagy.
So here goes:
— Those were two beautiful right hooks that an enraged Javon Wims threw at New Orleans’ Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in the third quarter. Textbook stuff from the wide receiver/heavyweight.
— It’s great seeing black-and-white photos of Sid Luckman whenever TV broadcasters discuss the dearth of good Bears quarterbacks over the decades. Luckman was really good, medieval historians tell us.
— The Bears’ defense continues to show tremendous restraint by not dropping the Bears’ offense into a vat of boiling oil.
— Losing a close game ugly is better than losing a blowout game ugly.
How’s that? Satisfying? Fulfilling?
I didn’t think so.
The Bears are 5-3 after a 26-23 overtime loss to the Saints on Sunday, meaning it shouldn’t be long before we hear from Nagy that people aren’t appreciating just how hard it is to be 5-3 in the NFL.
That would be a tough sell, especially after Nagy was singing the praises of his team following a homely victory over Carolina two weeks ago and a homelier loss to the Rams last week. And now this.
There were good things that happened for the Bears on Sunday, things that made me briefly ponder getting on board with the offense. Nick Foles had a 50-yard completion to rookie Darnell Mooney in the second quarter, followed by a 24-yard touchdown pass to a diving Allen Robinson on the same drive. And what was this? A 38-yard run by running back David Montgomery in the same quarter? We thought there were laws against a Bears running game.
So things were going well at that point, which is why the discerning Bears fan might have been saying to himself or herself, “Uh-oh.’’
But the reality that followed the uh-oh was so ridiculous that it was almost beyond belief.
It started with Wims’ meltdown. He appeared to be upset about something that had happened on the previous play, but whatever the Saints did to set him off did not warrant the nuclear option. He “disqualified himself’’ from the game, according to the referee, which is a wonderful euphemism for “what an idiot.’’
No one should be surprised if Wims disqualifies himself from the Bears’ roster Monday.
That play was followed by a bad Foles interception. And that was followed by a Saints field goal and a 16-13 lead. Everything that came after the sad chain of events for the Bears is filler — the good plays, the comeback after New Orleans scored 20 straight points and the chance to win in overtime.
The Bears don’t have a good offense, and it can’t seem to rebound from something as silly as Wims’ behavior. And, ultimately, that kind of behavior, paired with the bad penalties and miscues the Bears had Sunday, is the coach’s responsibility. At one point, the headset in Foles’ helmet went out, meaning he couldn’t hear the plays being called in. The wristband on his arm contained the Bears’ plays. It’s there as a backup in case the technology fails. But from the look on Foles’ face, you would have thought he had become untethered during a space walk.
After the game, Nagy sounded like a man who had had enough of the lack of discipline.
“There (are) issues there,’’ he said. “That’s what bothers me, and that’s what pisses me off is that there is that issue still going on. Excuse my French.
“… When you have somebody throwing punches, when you have the things going on right now with us and the offense and just trying to get things going … then you have that happen, it takes away everything that you work hard to get to.’’
The Bears’ defense isn’t playing as well as it can, possibly because it knows it has to win games by itself. The Saints were without their three top receivers due to injuries, but they still had quarterback Drew Brees. He might not be his younger self, but he is still capable of inflicting damage. If you want to make the argument that 23 points from the Bears’ offense should be enough to win, you’re setting an awfully low bar for this team.
The truth is that the offense can’t be anything else than what it is, a unit that is lacking talent. Foles had some decent numbers Sunday (272 yards, a 92.7 passer rating), but he took some very bad sacks. Nagy called some decent plays and more than a few duds.
“There were good things out there,’’ Foles said.
After a victory over Carolina that wasn’t pleasing to the eye, Foles famously said he’d rather win ugly than lose pretty. On Sunday, he said that, although it’s never good to lose, the Bears could build off what they did in the Saints game.
He is nothing if not adaptable. But you can’t blame him. He’s fighting to stay positive. It doesn’t have to involve punches.