Payton Presser: Robbie Gould 15, Bears 14
The Bears came into week 13 needing a win to stop the bleeding of the last 4 weeks. With the 1-10 49ers in town and the Bears being favored, a win should have been a given, right? Not the case for John Fox teams over his 3 1/2 years. The Bears were 0-6 versus the spread as a favorite under Fox and now are 0-7 after the Bears 15-14 loss to the 49ers. If you were writing a script for a movie, this had all the makings of a good one. Arlington Heights kid comes home to play his favorite team growing up. Along with that, a kicker who made his name in Chicago and was released in 2016 returns back to his old stomping grounds and goes 5-for-5, scoring all of his team’s points, including the game-winning field goal. It was the ultimate story of redemption. When you think things with this team couldn’t get any worse, they do. Last week, I said there needs to be change and this week I’m preaching the same thing. How can you as a Bears fan sit and watch what’s going on and even believe that things are headed in the right direction? You can’t. The trust that was building right before the midway point of the season is out the window now. The Bears defense struggled to get off the field on 3rd down and the offense couldn’t convert 3rd downs to keep drives alive.
Like most of the season, the Bears offense couldn’t get anything going. For a team that is reliant on the run game, it was nonexistent. The Bears rushed the ball 19 times for a paltry 62 yards. Jordan Howard had 13 of those carries for 38 yards. We all know that the Bears offense is limited with a lack of playmakers. But to not put a game like this on the shoulders of your featured back is inexcusable. The passing offense wasn’t much better either. Mitchell Trubisky went 12 of 15 for 102 yards and one touchdown. There were two things I took away from Trubisky’s performance on Sunday. After last week’s talk about his footwork, I felt he was more poised in the pocket this week. The other thing is the rookie took care of the football and didn’t turn the ball over. I’ll take those two things as we track his development this season. One thing that frustrates me is watching the Bears offense go missing on the score sheet in late quarters. After Trubisky’s first quarter 8-yard touchdown pass to Dontrelle Inman, the Bears offense went scoreless for the next 3 quarters. The Bears had just 8 first downs on the afternoon compared to the 49ers’ 23. The Bears offense ended the day with 147 yards of total offense against a below-average 49ers defense. You can’t win like that. As the great Mike Singletary said when he was the 49ers coach, “Can’t do it.”
The Human Joystick, Tarik Cohen, was a bright spot from Sunday’s contest. Cohen made the play of the day when he took a punt return 61 yards to the house. Cohen fielded the ball at the 42 yard line, made his way to the right sideline, then reversed field where he was lead the rest of the way by a Bears convoy. Cohen becomes the first Bear since Gale Sayers in 1965 with a rush TD, receiving TD, punt return TD and passing TD in a season. The rookie is a highlight waiting to happen. Right now, Cohen is the Bears best home run option. But just imagine when Ryan Pace puts more playmakers on the roster. I think then we will see even more big time plays from the young rookie.
The Bears entered Sunday’s game with a banged-up secondary. Safeties Adrian Amos, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson and nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan were all inactive. The Bears had to make due with what they had, but it was all good because Kyle Fuller came to play. Fuller was back playing with edge this week. Fuller played like a guy that’s looking to get paid. He dominated the first half. He recorded his first interception in two seasons. Fuller has a thing for playing big against the 49ers. In his rookie season in 2014, Fuller snagged two interceptions. As a whole, the defense gave up a bunch of yards but played good enough to win on Sunday. Vic Fangio’s unit gave up a 388 total yard to Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense – 278 of those yards were through the air – but they didn’t give up a touchdown. What more can you ask for out of your defense? Garoppolo wasn’t perfect on Sunday, but when it counted, he made it happen. On the final drive, the 49ers got the ball with 5:27 left in the game on their 8-yard-line. He engineered a 14-play drive which ended with Gould’s game-winning field goal. With all of the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, I give them credit for how hard they played. Vic Fangio has made something out of not a lot.
As I was looking through Twitter, I saw Chris Kamka from NBC Sports Chicago tweet, “This 15-14 loss is the first time in #Bears history that they scored at least 2 TDs, their opponent scored no TD, and they still lost.” After seeing that tweet, it made me even more frustrated about this team and this season. Right before the halfway point of the season, I was drinking the Kool-Aid. It was hard not to be a Bears fan. There hasn’t been much to get excited about over the past few seasons. After this loss to the 49ers, I’m thinking that we might not see another win before the season is over.
Fox is taking most of the blame for this miserable season, but I have to go one step higher then him. Fox has to get his team ready each week and over the last five weeks they haven’t looked prepared. Ryan Pace isn’t without fault in all of this either. He’s the guy shopping for all the groceries that Fox has been cooking with since they both arrived in Chicago. The fact is, you are judged by your record in this business and Pace and Fox together have won just 12 games over the past 3 1/2 seasons. I’m not calling for anyone to be relieved of their duties, but there comes a time when someone needs to take ownership of the product we are seeing on the field.
The vibe has changed around Halas Hall since the start of the season. I know that losing doesn’t help much, but it’s deeper than that. I believe the players want to win. I just don’t feel like collectively they are on the same page on and off the field. The incident last week in the hallway is a prime example. Their focus seems lost. Do I believe this team is trying their best? Yes. Do I think most of the guys in the locker room like Fox? Yes. Do I feel he’s lost this team? No. Do I think he’s the voice that this rebuilding team needs? No.
To give Fox some credit, before he took over the state of the roster and culture in the locker room weren’t good. He has created something that this organization can build on. But I think he has done all that he can with what he was given. Fox said last week that record-wise this has been the hardest job of his career. He knew it was going to be a big job getting this organization back to respectability. But I’m not sure his heart was in it for a full-out rebuild. See you guys next week. #BearDown