Payton Presser: Where’s the Bears’ offense?
It’s 1:37 am Friday, September 6th, and tired eyes are fixated on the Bears score sitting above the stats on your favorite sports website. This is not how I pictured the Bears kicking off their centennial season. The question that keeps popping up in my head is: How can you hold Aaron Rodgers to 10 points and not come away with a win?
With all the hype and expectations heading into the 2019 season, Matt Nagy’s squad answered some of the questions that I had entering their Week One matchup. They also magnified a few other concerns that have carried over from last season. Now, let me be clear, I’m not on the ledge after one game. But I will be concerned if the Bears can’t fix some of these issues. The fairy tale season we all are hoping for could be in jeopardy. Let’s jump into some of my takeaways from the 10-3 loss in the opener to that team from Wisconsin.
No offense, no chance
Let’s just call a spade a spade. The Bears offense wasn’t good. After the game, Nagy accepted the blame for the offense’s poor performance and said, “I’m in zero panic mode. I’m in frustration mode, I know we’re better than that.” Coaches taking the blame is standard in the code of conduct handbook for head coaches, but this one doesn’t rest all on his shoulders. Nagy was out coached by Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, but his offense has to take some of the blame as well. The Bears couldn’t sustain drives and shot themselves in the foot with penalties.
Mitchell Trubisky looked rusty in his debut. Trubisky was 26 of 45 for 228 yards with an interception. Trubisky was lucky he didn’t toss a couple more interceptions as he threw the ball into coverage throughout the contest.
Heading into the season, we heard that Trubisky graduated to 102 of Nagy’s offense. But Trubisky looked as if he should have been held back a year.
After the game, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said, “We wanted to make Mitch play quarterback. We knew they had a lot of weapons. We knew they were dangerous. We knew all of those things. But we knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback, that we’d have a chance.” If the Bears are going to have any dream of getting to the postseason, Trubisky will have to prove to the league that he can be more efficient and consistent.
If you have running backs, why not use them?
Once the Bears shipped Jordan Howard to Philly, drafted David Montgomery and brought in Mike Davis from Seattle, I thought we would see more from the running game in the season opener. What I saw was a team that still refused to commit to the run. Trubisky handed the ball off only 12 times. That’s just not enough going up against a QB like Rodgers. When you can effectively run the football, you keep the other team’s offense on the sideline. The Bears O-Line was having their fair share of issues as well. Best way to get them back on track is by letting them fly off the ball in the run game. Nagy knows he needs more balance in his system. The best way to protect Trubisky: Establish the run game.
The Bears defense is still really good
I know there were plenty of people questioning how things would be with Chuck Pagano running the Bears defense. Since he was hired, I have never doubted him or the men on his defense. They are a special group from top to bottom. Thursday night, they came out and set the tone against Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. The combination of strength and speed on the defense is the perfect recipe for success. The Bears would end the game with 5 sacks on Rodgers. The fact that the defense held one of the best QB’s of all time to 10 points and didn’t get the win makes me want to pull out hair that I don’t have.
Guys that balled out
Allen Robinson was the only real bright spot on the Bears offense. He finished the game with 7 catches for 102 yards. Trubisky and Robinson have really created a nice bond on the football field. Robinson’s ability to run clean routes and a catch ratio when it comes to jump balls has 1,000-yard season written all over it. Roy Robertson-Harris showed he could be a factor on the Bears defense by shining under the bright lights at Soldier Field. Leonard Floyd showed all the work he put in during the summer. Both Floyd and Robertson-Harris were a big part of the 5 sacks on Rodgers Thursday night.
Of course, there will be a lot of people pointing to Nagy sitting his starters during the preseason as the reason the Bears lost. That may be the only way to make sense of what you watched on Thursday night. To be honest, a few more plays in the preseason wouldn’t have changed much with the offense’s production against the Packers, although I don’t think it would have hurt if number 10 took a few more snaps during the preseason. That’s not knocking him by any means. With lack of starts in his young career, he needs as many live game reps as possible. The offense needs more balance and that starts with Nagy committing to the running backs which would take a load off of Trubisky’s shoulders. Pagano and his defense continued to show us all what they can do. The defense is legit and will be one of the best in the NFL in 2019, I have no doubt about that. I hoped the gap between the offense and defense would get a little bit closer this season. We didn’t see that in Game 1, but I’m willing to give it a couple weeks. I’m not on the ledge yet, but I expect to see the Bears offense Nagy has been talking about all summer soon. Until next week Bears fans. Beardown