The more I watch the Bears’ offense, the more I believe that the act of watching paint dry, the universal metaphor for borrrrrrrrrriiiiinnnnnng, has been horribly maligned.
At least when you watch paint dry, your mind can wander. You can dream. You can plan your week. You can think of all the things that make you great, including humility.
When you watch the Bears’ offense, there’s no escape. You’re stuck with a tedious attack, a thin talent pool and a mediocre quarterback with the mobility of a 100-year-old oak tree.
It’s unwatchable, and two late touchdowns in a bad loss don’t make it any less unwatchable.
There are all sorts of reasons that the Bears fell 24-17 to the Titans on Sunday. The most popular would seem to be that their decimated offensive line, which wasn’t good before the decimation began, was made up of anonymous, inexperienced players.
And there are all sorts of reasons that the Bears have lost three games in a row. Have you got a couple of hours?
“To be 5-4, it hurts,’’ coach Matt Nagy said.
If it makes Nagy feel any better, and it won’t, the 5-1 record the Bears owned after the first six games was goofy, for want of a better term. Three victories came against bad or below-average teams – the Lions, the Giants and the Falcons. The victory against the Buccaneers was a quality one, and the victory over Carolina came despite a Bears’ offense that averaged 5.1 yards per pass and 2.5 yards per run.
As it turned out, that lifeless attack has stuck around the past three weeks. Quite possibly because lifeless is exactly what the offense is.
For those of you who live and breathe with this franchise, the depressing part will be the lack of fixes that can make an appreciable difference. There is no new quarterback to look to for hope. Nick Foles already has replaced the similarly unremarkable Mitch Trubisky, who is injured at the moment anyway. The offensive line, as mentioned earlier, wasn’t good when it was healthy. Nagy’s play-calling has been mind-numbing – a screen pass to David Montgomery on third-and-13 at the Tennessee 30? – but if you handed Andy Reid a Bears’ headset, it’s hard to see him having a profound impact on this group.
You watch Montgomery lose a fumble on that third-down play, and you watch the Titans return it for a touchdown. You watch back-to-back false-start penalties when the Bears are going for it on fourth down. You watch Pat O’Donnell punt five times in the first half.
Suddenly, life as a military minesweeper starts to appeal to you.
“Our guys fought to the very end, and that’s kind of who the guys are that we have in this locker room,’’ Nagy said. They care. Their care factor is high. That’s why I’ll never, ever question their effort or their care.’’
He went on to say that the offense needs to score early. The Bears trailed 17-0 in the third quarter Sunday, which is to say, game over. Their defense, as talented as it is, seems to let up if the Bears’ offense doesn’t do its part. The problem, of course, is that the Bears’ offense rarely does its part.
I wonder if Nagy understands that he perfectly summed up the 2020 Bears to date: The offense isn’t good, and team culture (“care factor”), which the franchise values so highly, is overrated. Nobody cares if there’s no quit in an average team.
The Bears are an 8-8 group right now. The mistake was in believing that Foles could make a difference. He might be good if he had better players around him, but he can’t make his current teammates better.
He threw for 335 yards Sunday, but that came on 52 passes. It was the 84th 300-yard game in the Bears’ 101-year history. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers had his 63rd 300-yard game on Thursday. He has been an NFL starter for 12½ years. If you’re angry about the Bears’ loss Sunday, save some bile for the team’s historical problems at quarterback.
There’s seemingly no way out for the offense right now — unless you believe that love will find a way.
“The guys in the locker room after the game, their mindsets are about the team, about each other, about continuing to work for one another,’’ Foles said. “Even with the hard loss in three (games) in a row, we continue to stay positive. That is something you can continue to build on.’’
You know what’s better to build on? A lead.