The Chicago Bears’ bye week came at a perfect time as the team was reeling following four straight losses and injuries at key positions. A week off would surely help this team fix some key issues and give them the boost they need to make a run at the playoffs right?
In a nationally televised game against the Green Bay Packers, the Bears defense got carved up more than a Thanksgiving turkey, thanks to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The future Hall of Fame quarterback tossed three touchdowns and only threw eight incompletions as the Packers rolled the Bears 41-25.
The Packers had this one in the bag early, leading by as much as 24 points. The Bears defense had no answers for Rodgers and the Green Bay offense and despite a promising start on the other side of the ball, the Bears offense and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky quickly fell into disarray.
This was a statement loss for a team that prides itself on never giving up and could be the breaking point for a coaching staff that was already under the microscope. No matter how you look at it, this game was flat out embarrassing on all levels. Here are my takeaways from yet another loss to the Packers.
It's time to clean house
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
This is probably a popular take amongst Bears fans and experts after this loss, but it's something I've avoided saying for a long time. Despite their shortcomings, I've defended general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy for a variety of reasons. Both have had success at times and appeared to be building a team that could be a consistent winner. But after this loss, coming off a bye week with a playoff berth still very much in reach, it's clear as day this team will not come close to the success they achieved in 2018. It's not fun calling for people to be relieved of their duties, but this needs to be blown up and built from scratch for the second (or third) time this decade. Normally, the Bears do not make in-season changes when it comes to firing front office personnel or the coaching staff. But when 97 year old Virginia McCaskey is in attendance during a global pandemic and the team comes out looking as flat as they did, nobody should be safe.
For the first time under Matt Nagy, this defense gave up
AP Photo/Morry Gash
One of the saving graces of Nagy's teams are that they never give up and always play hard for him. That distinction may have finally run its course as many players, particularly on defense, displayed poor effort play after play. Packers running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams broke dozens of tackles and the team ran for over 180 yards on a defense, who despite missing defensive end Akiem Hicks due to an injury, still boasts plenty of talent. It was one of the worst efforts a Bears defense has had in recent memory, and easily the worst under Nagy. It finally seems like the good vibes and positive attitudes have run their course and players simply gave up and let the Packers have their way with them. You can pull any stat from this game and it will emphasize just how bad this defensive performance was.
Akiem Hicks is the MVP of this defense and it's not close
AP Photo/Wade Payne
Many Bears fans knew how important Hicks is to this defense, both as a player and a leader. But his absence was on full display Sunday evening when the Bears were gashed every which way and their pass rush was virtually invisible. On a defense with All-Pro players such as edge rusher Khalil Mack, linebacker Roquan Smith, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson, Hicks is the defensive MVP and stands above all of them for what he means to this team. Without No. 96 on the field, the Packers took it to the Bears up the middle with their running game for huge gains and Rodgers had all the time in the world to find his receivers for easy first downs. He also wasn't sacked or hit once. We can talk about Mack's ability to sack the quarterback or Jackson's ball-hawking abilities. But without Hicks there to do the dirty work, none of it matters. The Bears will likely be faced with a decision on whether or not they can afford to keep Hicks next season. Whoever is making those decisions needs to see how vital he is to this defense's success.
David Montgomery deserved more than 11 carries
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Possibly the only bright spot from Sunday's loss was the performance of running back David Montgomery. The second-year pro got off to a fast start, taking the second snap of the game for the Bears for 57 yards to set them up in scoring position inside the Green Bay 10-yard line. After that, Montgomery only had 10 carries the rest of the way. It's a common theme for the Bears offense. No matter who is calling plays, there aren't enough run calls in the playbook, apparently. Granted, this game was already slipping away as the Packers scored on every single possession in the first half, including a scoop and score on a fumble by Trubisky. But the Packers were vulnerable to the run, evidenced by their loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week, and the Bears didn't even give Montgomery a chance after his early success. He did have 103 rushing yards, his second time eclipsing the century mark in his career, but it could have been so much more. In turn, additional carries may have possibly helped cut down on Trubisky's turnovers as the Bears passed the ball 46 times compared to 13 designed runs. It's yet another reason why this offense is broken.
Mitchell Trubisky actually regressed in this game
AP Photo/Matt Ludtke
The long awaited return for Trubisky went about as well as most expected. Some good things happened, he was able to move the pocket to extend plays, but a lot of head-scratching moments took place as well. Because of that, I actually think Trubisky regressed based on his performance earlier in the season. When Trubisky started the first two games, you could see progress had been made since 2019. He was was going through his reads before tucking and running with the ball and keeping his eyes downfield. Sure, there were ugly moments, such as the interception against the Atlanta Falcons that got him benched. But he still did improve in a few areas. All of that went out the window on Sunday. Trubisky made awful decisions, throwing deep into double and triple coverage that resulted in interceptions. He still struggles to throw the ball away when being chased, losing yards in the process. And he flat out missed passes due to accuracy issues. With three turnovers on the day and two touchdowns in garbage time, things aren't any better and in some cases, they seem worse. We all see the fire he has, the passion for his teammates, and how he wants to win so badly. It makes it difficult to see him fail because of that, but he simply hasn't taken any steps towards being a better quarterback. Is the offense better with him than with Nick Foles at the helm? slightly, but not by much. Let him finish the year as the starter, but know it won't matter in the end because Mitchell Trubisky's career in a Chicago Bears uniform is coming to a close.
The dark days of 2014 have returned
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
My final takeaway essentially sums up the previous five while drawing parallels to another flawed Bears team coached by an "offensive genius." It may not shock anyone to hear this, but the 2014 Chicago Bears brought me to my lowest point as a fan, particularly after they were walloped by the Packers 55-14 on Sunday Night Football in Green Bay, following their bye week. Head coach Marc Trestman's honeymoon phase was long gone and cracks became chasms both on the field and in the locker room. I didn't think we'd get to a point like that season again, and yet here we are. For weeks, I've always maintained the 2020 Bears still had a competent head coach who the players believed in, plus a better nucleus than the 2014 group. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore as players visibly gave up during the game. A promising team just two seasons ago now needs to be overhauled from the top down. There is no direction at this point and you cannot trust the people in charge to get things right when they have failed to do so time and time again. I had these same thoughts six years ago and believed the Bears would at least make the necessary moves to finally tear things down to build a better team that would be a threat to make noise in the playoffs every year for the foreseeable future. After two coaching changes and one fluky postseason berth, things haven't changed and we're right back to where we started. You're probably like me and are in a much different (and hopefully better) place than you were in 2014. We're older and wiser now than we were. But our favorite football team is still the same underperforming organization with no end in sight. Whether it's Phil Emery and Marc Trestman, or Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, it's the same old story and I, for one, have had enough. I never wanted to experience another moment like the Bears-Packers game in 2014, certainly not six years later. I'm tired of the dark days and I'm sick of this team being an afterthought for NFL fans. Change starts at the top and it's time for the Chicago Bears to move in a new direction.