Payton Presser: Bears progress overshadowed by their record
The Bears and Packers rivalry could be the most historic in all of NFL football. Coming into yesterday’s game, the record was 94-93-6 after 193 games. So how would the 194th meeting turn out? Let’s just say the series is tied up now. All week the talk was not about the match up, but about how cold it was going to be at kickoff. The temperature was 9 degrees making it the 5th coldest game at Soldier Field. We knew what we were getting with the weather yesterday. But the play from the Monsters of the Midway was still in question. In the first half, the Bears looked like they could throw a wrench in the playoff party of the Packers. In the second half, we got a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the Bears. With that being said, the Bears didn’t let that snow on their parade. The fight that I’ve been talking about over the last few weeks was on full display in the 4th quarter. The “never die easy” attitude is something you cannot teach a team. It’s either, “you got it or you don’t.” The Bears didn’t have enough down the stretch to get the win over the Pack as the Bears lost 30 to 27. Let’s jump into the takeaways from yesterday’s game.
Jordan Howard is Getting Better
Bears fans, remember when the Bears parted ways with Matt Forte? It seems like ages ago, and the funny thing is Jeremy Langford was seen at the time as the heir apparent. Oh, how times have changed. That seat is now occupied by a rookie 4th round pick that has the heart of a lion. Jordan Howard is special, you guys. He went from 4th string to 1,000 rushing yards in his rookie season. It’s just amazing to think about. One thing I love seeing is the progression he is taking to become an all-around back. Remember a few weeks ago, we were talking about the critical drops in the passing game? You can tell he has focused on getting better with catching the rock. He understands that getting better at every facet of his game will take him to new heights. I just wish we wouldn’t forget he’s in the backfield sometimes. Let him spin!
Barkley’s 4th Start
Each week that Matt Barkley gets a chance to start, he is auditioning for the chance to be in the mix for next season. Over the past few weeks he has shown me that he can be serviceable, he understands the offense and can spread the ball around, but he also has shown that he can turn the ball over as well. Barkley started the game hot, but got cold and had his worst stretch of the game in the 3rd quarter. He came alive in the 4th quarter. Down 27-10, Barkley lead his team back to tie the game up late in the 4th quarter. Barkley finished the day 30-43 for 362 YDS, 2 TD and 3 INT. The 1st INT came on a Hail Mary in the end zone to finish the 1st half. The next two are ones that the young QB would love to have back. There is something that is very evident with Barkley that I like. He has really brought the best out of the young wideouts on this Bears squad. Not sure what Barkley’s future is with this team, but I do know he has something about him that I like. Let’s not forget the 4 games he’s started this season. The Bears have been had chances to win in each of those games. I think Barkley has played his way into being in the mix in 2017.
The Alshon Effect
The Bears biggest home run threat was back in the lineup this week after serving his 4 game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect from Jeffery yesterday. One thing I wasn’t expecting was for him to not be targeted early and often yesterday. At the half, Jeffery had no targets. I was thinking maybe the Bears were ready to move on from number 17 in the 1st half. Now let me be clear, I don’t want Barkley to focus on Jeffery like Cutler has done over the years, but at least make sure defense know he’s there and a threat. Watching the game, Jeffery sees so many different defensive looks, but that shouldn’t be a reason for him to not be targeted. We see it with QB’s and other top flight wideouts around the NFL that see double coverage on a regular basis. Jeffrey would go off in the 2nd half, finishing with 6 catches for 89 yards and 1 touchdown. Jeffery makes the case he is still the best offensive player for the Bears when he is available. It’s going to be interesting to see what Ryan Pace does at the end of the season with their number one wideout.
Hey Santa, yesterday I tweeted that the only thing I wanted for Christmas was the Bears beating the Packers. But, to be honest, I have a laundry list for this team. I understand that you can’t fix everything this holiday season and I’m fine with that. All jokes aside people, I really like many things about this team. I know their record isn’t anything to smile about. But there are some playmakers on both sides of the ball that make me excited to see what we can add and turn things around. The crazy thing is that you can go from worst to first very quick in this league. Pace has his work cut out for him in free agency and draft ahead of us. I don’t have any doubt that he will add some playmakers. It’s funny, because I hear people all the time asking where is Pace at? To answer your question, he’s behind closed doors watching film on guys he will be targeting. Remember at The Source Awards back in 1995 when Suge Knight called out Puff Daddy? “Well, to all you NFL players out there, who don’t wanna be on a team where the general manager…all up in the press conferences, all on the TV, talkin’…then come Chicago!” Let Pace do his job, do what he does best, evaluate players. The Bears are headed in the right direction in my opinion. Build a tough-nosed defense and then add more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. The greatest part of all of this is there are pieces you can build on now. #Beardown