CHICAGO (670 The Score) – The Bears lost again Monday, dropping their fourth straight in a 19-13 setback to the Vikings at Soldier Field.
Chicago’s playoff hopes are spiraling away quickly, and one can only wonder how far the team will fall. Here are the observations from Soldier Field.
Back on Sept. 27, Bears coach Matt Nagy made a change that seemed inevitable when he pulled Mitchell Trubisky and inserted Nick Foles as the team's quarterback in a come-from-behind win against the Falcons. Nagy believed his team’s struggling offense would be better off with Foles under center.
Since then, it’s clear the Bears are worse off without Trubisky.
It’s not necessarily the fault of Foles, who has a Super Bowl MVP to his name. The Bears' porous offensive line offers him little chance to execute the scheme. Regardless of whether it’s Nagy or offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling the plays, Foles hasn’t had a fair chance to execute.
Trubisky steered the Bears to an 8-8 mark in 2019. Even if Foles is healthy enough to play when Chicago visits Green Bay on Nov. 29 after its bye week, it should be Trubisky leading the Bears forward in whatever remains of this season.
Assuming he has recovered from the right shoulder injury that he suffered on Nov. 1 on his lone snap since being benched, Trubisky can navigate this sinking ship better than Foles. Trubisky has the mobility to help mitigate the problems behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. The Bears' offense needs a complete overhaul, but that can't be done midseason. Trubisky will have to do for now.
It’s not clear whether Trubisky will be healthy enough to return. He avoided surgery to his throwing shoulder but needs time for the injury to heal. It’s “possible” that Trubisky is ready to return on Nov. 29, Nagy said. If Trubisky and Foles are both injured, the Bears would be forced to turn their offense over to third-string quarterback Tyler Bray.
The return of Trubisky could add some finality to this season. He could either elevate the Bears back into the playoff picture or fade away with the organization as he plays out the last season of his contract.
So, so broken
Last Friday, Nagy revealed that Lazor would assume the Bears’ offensive play-calling duties.
Nagy seemed relieved when he offered up this information to reporters, saying he believed in Lazor and was looking forward to overseeing the Bears as a whole. But he had to know nothing would drastically change.
Even for an eternal optimist like Nagy, these Bears' reality is clear and cruel. Their offense is one of the worst in the NFL. It's a unit so fundamentally broken that there’s not one or two fixes to clean it up. The Bears aren’t just one play-caller or quarterback or running back or tackle away from having a productive offense. They've suffered from a collective failure.
The Bears had 149 total yards of offense Monday, the lowest mark in Nagy’s 42-game tenure in Chicago. Had it not been for an 18-yard completion on the Bears’ final drive, it would’ve marked their fewest yards since Oct. 3, 2010 – when they suffered a 17-3 loss to the Giants in which Jay Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half before leaving with a concussion.
The Bears have seen many futile offenses in their history and especially in the last decade. This one could stack up with any of them. Chicago has no solution at quarterback, lacks competence at running back, features an abysmal offensive line and is wasting top receiver Allen Robinson’s latest strong season.
Meanwhile, the Bears’ defense continues to stifle opponents, and it’s all for nothing.
There's no one on the Bears’ roster playing better than linebacker Roquan Smith.
Smith is becoming the kind of player the Bears envisioned when they drafted him at No. 8 overall in 2018 -- an All-Pro-level presence at the center of a dominant unit. He had another stellar effort Monday, recording 14 tackles, three tackles for a loss and a sack.
Smith is tied for first in the NFL with 96 tackles and is first with 15 tackles for a loss. He has been the beating heart of the defense and is having a special season.
Early in the fourth quarter, Bears star defensive lineman Akiem Hicks pulled up lame while pursuing Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Hicks called to the Bears’ sidelines to have himself removed from the game, then tossed aside his helmet and gloves in frustration. He didn't return due to what the Bears called a hamstring injury.
Hicks means so much to the defense and would be missed if he can't play when the Bears return from their bye by visiting the Packers on Nov. 29.
-- After mustering just 3.0 per play on offense Monday, the Bears are averaging 4.67 yards per play this season. Just one team in the NFL is worse in that category.
The 0-9 Jets.
-- The Bears’ first two offensive plays set the tone for the debacle. On their first play from scrimmage, Foles threw a screen pass to receiver Darnell Mooney that gained no yards because receiver Anthony Miller whiffed on his block. On the next play, Foles fired a poor pass to Miller, who couldn’t corral the football and let it bounce into the hands of Vikings safety Harrison Smith.
-- Where would the Bears be without kicker Cairo Santos?
-- The Bears recorded a score in the third quarter for only the second time this season -- but it didn't come from their offense. It came on Cordarrelle Patterson’s 104-yard kickoff return touchdown. After that, the Bears managed minus-2 yards of offense in the quarter.
-- Sky Cam was made for Patterson kickoff returns.
-- From Score teammate Les Grobstein, on the Bears' offense: "(Ryan) Nall and void."
-- It’s perplexing why the Bears continue to start Rashaad Coward on their offensive line.
-- Rookie tight end Cole Kmet had one reception, and it was on a pass that was targeted to Robinson. The Bears still haven’t committed to involving Kmet in the offense.
-- Bray entered the NFL in 2013 and had played in just one career game before Monday, throwing one incomplete pass. While he had waited years for the opportunity to lead a team to victory late, did he really want to stand behind that offensive line?
-- At the conclusion of this game, Robinson's agent Brandon Parker tweeted: "Bears fans deserve better than this."
-- Could you imagine the boos this Bears team would’ve received if Soldier Field was full of fans?
-- The Bears don’t deserve their .500 record.
-- Finally, a bye week.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.