CHICAGO — Win or lose, John Fox rarely has answers, but at least he brought some honesty to the table after his team’s ninth loss in 12 home games under the head coach.
“We just don’t play well enough right now,” he said.
That’s the John Foxian way of saying the Bears are not a good football team, which, of course, isn’t ground breaking news.
PODCAST — Intentional Grounding, Episode 57: Bears-Jaguars Postgame Show
And yet, even the most pessimistic of Bears fans probably didn’t expect the Bears to be 1-5 this season, which they are after blowing a 13-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at Soldier Field.
“There are spurts where we play well enough to win,” right guard Kyle Long said after the game. “And there are spurts where it looks like we don’t know what the hell we’re doing.”
The positive spurts usually come between the 20-yard-lines. It’s the red zone where it looks like the Bears don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
“We need to get better (in the red zone),” Fox said. “Our margin for error is very, very minimal right now and I think our record is kind of an indicator of that.”
For the second straight week, the Bears lost primarily because they couldn’t turn yards into points. Brian Hoyer moved the ball effectively for the fourth straight week — it was his fourth straight 300-yard passing game — but the Bears only scored a touchdown in one of their four red zone trips.
“Gotta score touchdowns,” Long said. “Touchdowns win.”
Alshon Jeffery was a little more blunt: “We gotta score fuc**** touchdowns. That’s it. Touchdowns win games. Sh**. You see what three points gets us.”
Hey, at least Connor Barth made all three of his field goal attempts.
So why can’t the Bears convert more in the red zone? Because defenses know what Brian Hoyer can and cannot do. He can’t make the tough throws into tight windows, so defenses are able to sit back and force everything underneath. The only time that hurt the Jaguars Sunday was when Cam Meredith was able to slip a tackle on an underneath route and get down to the one-yard-line where Jordan Howard punched it in for a touchdown. Otherwise, the Bears never got inside the 5-yard-line and they couldn’t come up with a play call that worked in such tight space.
One would assume the Bears realize a lot of that falls on their quarterback. Last week, before the Bears kicked off in Indianapolis, multiple national reports indicated that Hoyer was playing to win the starting job, even after Cutler comes back. Well, assuming the Bears’ coaches and talent evaluators saw what I saw from Sunday’s hot dog-less press box, the last two weeks have been very good for Jay Cutler’s job security.
Here’s the sad reality: The Bears now have 911 total yards in their last two games, but just 39 points. So while “efficiency” continues to be the buzz word in regards to Hoyer, the reality is that the Bears’ ratio of yards-to-points has been anything but efficient.
What’s particularly amazing is that Bears beat the Jaguars Sunday in total yards, third-down conversions, time of possession and turnovers (+2) and still lost the game. A big reason? They committed 10 penalties for the second straight week, a stat that is always a reflection of the coaching staff.
Look, the Bears never had enough talent to make the playoffs this year. And injuries have severely handicapped the limited roster the coaching staff was given. But 1-5 is not a sign of progress. The Bears are consistently losing the fourth quarter and failing to close teams out at home — a reality that goes back to last season.
Mental errors keep piling up and the offensive game plans continue to be questionable as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains does his best Marc Trestman impression by abandoning the run as soon as something goes wrong. The Bears threw the ball 49 times against the Jaguars and ran it just 26 times and, this time, Loggains can’t blame it on not having a lead.
It’s hard to find many positives or signs of progress with this team, other than maybe another strong performance by wide receiver Cameron Meredith (11 catches, 113 yards) and a banged up defense keeping a bad team scoreless for three quarters.
Amazingly, the 1-5 Bears will now play back-to-back primetime games for the second time this season as they head to Green Bay Thursday night. And my question is this: if the Cubs are playing Game 5 of the NLCS Thursday, who’s going to watch the Bears?