A round of applause, please, for the thousands of Bears fans who decided not to show up for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. The reason for their non-attendance could have been winter-related, but more likely it was Bears-related, anger-related and I-can’t-take-any-more-of-this-related. They spoke with their absence: Why support something that doesn’t deserve support?
As for the fans who did make an appearance, maybe they were nostalgic for Mike Glennon’s four starts for the Bears in 2017.
He and the Giants showed up for the apparent purpose of making the home team feel better about itself. The result was a 29-3 Bears’ victory and a game that had the nutritional value of a Pop Tart. There was some meaning to it, though. Its conclusion meant that this nightmare of a season has only one game left.
Coach Matt Nagy would like you to know that his team has fought and cared to the very end, which probably means something somewhere, but not in the standings. The Bears are 6-10, the Giants are 4-12 and thank goodness Sunday is over.
The only way for fans to let Bears ownership know of their displeasure is with empty seats. Sunday’s paid attendance was 59,594 (capacity is 61,500), but the team doesn’t announce no-shows. Make no mistake, though: The McCaskeys surely saw all the gaps and winced.
Unfortunately, the question isn’t whether the family will fire Nagy — Sunday likely was his last game at Soldier Field as Bears head coach. No, the question is whom the McCaskeys will misidentify this time as head coaching material.
While you fans bum out over the historical basis for that truth, remember that the man responsible for hiring Nagy very well could be back for more stellar decision-making in 2022. It’s the same man who brought quarterbacks Glennon and Mitch Trubisky to Chicago in 2017. That’s general manager Ryan Pace. Happy New Year, everybody!
Glennon didn’t complete a pass until the final play of the first quarter Sunday, the Giants’ offensive line being a threat to his life and to his limbs. He completed 4 of 11 passes for 24 yards. He threw two interceptions, lost two fumbles and had a passer rating of 5.3, which sounds more like a bad feels-like temperature.
On the first play from scrimmage, Bears defensive lineman Trevis Gipson violently stripped Glennon of the ball. Teammate Bilal Nichols recovered, ran the ball 12 yards to the New York 2-yard line and the game was over. You think that’s overstatement? Listen, the Giants are so bad that the first whiff of failure was going to do them in. That whiff came 18 seconds into the game.
That’s not how Nagy saw Sunday. He saw the victory as his players caring until it hurt.
“These guys, they deserve to be credited for their ability to fight through some tough times and care,’’ he said. “To come out and play with this effort like they have been doing, this isn’t something that’s just kicked on the last couple weeks; they’ve been playing with this effort all year.’’
Allow me to belabor the bejabbers out of this point: The standings reflect wins, losses and ties. Effort and attitude are not factored into winning percentage.
Lest you think the Bears’ offense suddenly found itself Sunday, just know that Andy Dalton (another Pace signing) had a passer rating of 63.1, which only looks good when compared to Glennon’s. Know that the majority of the Bears’ 29 points were set up by the Bears’ defense. Know that Robert Quinn set the franchise’s single-season record with a sack Sunday. It gave him 18, half a sack more than Richard Dent had in 1984. And know that the Giants allowed a kickoff to stop at their own 2-yard line in the second quarter because returner Pharoh Cooper thought the ball was going into the end zone for a touchback. Um, wrong. That mistake eventually led to a Bears safety.
“It was a big win for us,’’ Dalton said.
From the perspective of a team that had lost eight of nine games during one stretch this season, maybe it was a big win. But that’s as damning as anything.
Even CBS knew what it had on its hands. Throughout the game, the announcers chose to sell the viewing audience on the historical bonds between the two teams. The quality of the football would have been an impossible sell. So how about those 1985 Bears? Did you know they beat the Giants in the playoffs that season?
This season will be put out of your misery next week in Minnesota. It can’t come soon enough. Change is on the way but so is uncertainty, with a distinct chance of dread in the forecast. A new coaching staff likely will need to be hired, rookie quarterback Justin Fields probably will have to learn a new system and Pace possibly could be back.
Likely, probably and possibly are not your friends, Bears fans.