Payton Presser: Bears Show Signs of Improvement in Opening Loss
Football is back, Bears fans, but it didn’t start off the way we wanted. The hope was that Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears would travel to Green Bay and play spoiler for the opening of the Packer’s 100th season of football. That hope was shattered by Superman donning a green number 12 jersey. After being carted off to the locker room with a knee injury in the in the second quarter, Aaron Rodgers came back in the 2nd half and orchestrated a comeback win for the ages. The Packers trailed 20-0 in the third quarter and Rodgers cooked up three touchdown drives to give the team from Green Bay the 24-23 victory over the Bears. This Bears and Packers game was the tale of two halves. But Matt Nagy’s team did show flashes of why they could be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC North for years to come. Time to break it down for you guys with my takeaways from Sunday night.
Most eyes were on Trubisky and the Bears new-look offense and rightfully so. Not seeing a lot of the Bears offensive starters during the preseason had fans worried about how they would come out in Week 1. Trubisky started his first game in Green Bay on fire. He was a perfect 7 for 7. Trubisky finished his night going 23 of 35, for 171 YDS and 1 running TD. The 2nd year QB showed his command of Matt Nagy’s offense in the 1st half. But as Mike Pettine’s defense tightened up in the 2nd half, he showed signs that he is still young. One thing’s for sure: The Bears are not lacking in the playmaker department. Trubisky has a wide assortment of talent at his disposal. We finally got a chance to see how Nagy is going to use Tarik Cohen’s versatility. Allen Robinson is a baller and Jordan Howard demonstrated that his hard work in the offseason to become an every-down back is paying off. This Bears offense will only get better over time. The one thing I want to see next week against the Seahawks is if they can piece together two halves of football like we saw in the 1st half on Sunday night. This offense will work out the kinks. But as other teams get film on what Nagy and his staff are trying to do, can they switch things up while staying true to their offensive philosophy? Only time will tell, but I know the offense is in a better place than it was last season.
When it comes to the loss, the head coach must take some of the criticism. From the moment that Nagy was introduced as the next head coach at Halas Hall, he told us that he was going to be aggressive with his play calling. After watching the game, it was hard to forget about last season when he was calling plays for the Chiefs in the playoffs and they gave up a 21-3 halftime lead against the Titans. I’m all about being aggressive, and Nagy was conservative in the second half. We all make mistakes, but I question some of his decisions in the 2nd half. I have a hard time wondering why the Bears never tried to take any real shots downfield or why he decided to pass on two critical 3rd downs late in the game when Howard was gashing the Green Bay defense. Just as I explained about Trubisky being young, we can’t forget that Nagy is still developing as a head coach and a play caller. Just like his players, Nagy will learn from this game as well and hopefully learn from his successes and bad decisions.
Last week, Akiem Hicks said, without a doubt, he knew the Bears have a playoff-caliber defense. After watching Sunday’s game I see how things could form over the season, and I have to agree with him. Last year, the Bears had a top-10 defense and now, with the additions of Roquan Smith and Khalil Mack, this defense is going to be a problem for opposing offenses this season. In the first half, Vic Fangio’s unit made Rodgers life a living hell. Mack changes the dynamics of the Bears’ defense. Mack rocked up a strip sack and a pick-6 off Packer backup DeShone Kizer. I can’t wait ’till he gets into game shape. Mack isn’t the only one making plays either. Smith came into the game and on his first play recorded his first NFL sack. With those two, along with Hicks, Goldman, Robertson-Harris and Trevathan, the Bears’ defense has a great chance of being very special.
Sunday night’s game was tough to stomach, but even with the loss, I saw serious improvement on both sides of the ball. Most Bears fans I’ve talked to this morning keep bringing up Kyle Fuller’s missed interception with under 3 minutes to play. I get it, but there were more plays before and after that one that impacted the outcome of the game as well. What makes it hard is we were so close to starting the season off 1-0. As hard as it was to watch at the end of the game, my feeling is the Bears are in a much better place than they were last season. For me, the goal this season wasn’t playoffs, but to see improvement in all the phases of the game. Everyone talks about Trubisky taking the next step in his career. But my sights are on the franchise taking the next step together. Sunday night I saw that. The Bears have a way to go before we can crown them the leaders of the NFC North. But getting where you want in life is never easy. It takes time and it takes hard work. I believe the Bears will watch the film and see that they can play with any team they face. That right there is something I couldn’t say about this franchise a few years ago. Bears fans, we will be alright. Just sit back and enjoy the process. We have a lot to build on this season. Have a great week and we will reconnect next Tuesday. #Beardown