Payton Presser: Where do the Bears go from here?
With Halloween right around the corner, there are many scary stories out there. The Bears have become one of those stories after losing their third straight game. After their first loss against the Raiders, we all made some excuses: the travel, time change, etc. Whatever made us feel better. Then, the second loss against the Saints. Well, they are a good team and the defense was bound to have a letdown at some point. What we were all were waiting for was the Bears to take off their masks and show us who they really are this week against the Chargers. Unfortunately, there is nothing to take off and what we saw Sunday is who they are: An offense that is way too inconsistent, still searching for their identity. A defense that, when they are on their game, is one of the best in the NFL. And a team with issues at kicker, still. Even with all the mistakes, the biggest issue coming from Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Chargers is that the Bears should have won that game. Instead, they suffered their third loss in a row and now sit 3-4 on the season. Let’s jump into some of my takeaways from the contest.
The Running Game was Strong
If any of you follow me on Twitter, then you saw my bold prediction before the game. If not, you should. I predicted that David Montgomery would get 25 touches on the afternoon. He had 27, so I was close. Matt Nagy finally showcased Montgomery’s skills and the rookie had the breakout performance I’ve been waiting for. Montgomery finished the game with 135 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD on the afternoon. Kudos to Nagy for mixing up the type of run plays that fit Montgomery best. His 55-yard run at the end of the second quarter was just a glimpse of what he can do once he gets to the second level. If the Bears want to finish off this season on a high note, their best bet is to hand it off to Montgomery and let him do his work.
The Trubisky Report
Another week and another hot and cold performance from Trubisky. It’s kind of strange how he can be so nonexistent in the first half of games, but late in games he turns it on and makes a play. Remember the Broncos game when he stepped up in the pocket and hit Robinson to set up the game-winning field goal? His ability to scramble and get 11 yards to set up the potential game-winning field goal on Sunday was amazing. The question is, why can’t we have that number 10 all the time? With all that being said, we saw the same Trubisky we’ve seen since he’s donned a Bears uniform. Trubisky completed 23 of 35 passes for 253 yards, no TDs, one interception and one fumble. To give Trubisky credit, he did have some nice passing plays on Sunday. We also got a chance to see him attempt to go deep, an interception he wishes he could have back, and a fumble. It was a mixed bag performance, but that’s what we have grown accustomed to. Trubisky knows he has to play better and he also knows that the fate of the Bears offense depends on how well he can play.
Spotlight is on Nagy
Matt Nagy’s under a microscope here in Chicago, mostly because the Bears offense should be much further along in year two under Nagy. So far we have seen no evidence of improvement. From the stats and the film study, Nagy’s offense has actually regressed. His offense ran 12 plays in the first half inside the Chargers 10 yard line without scoring a touchdown. That is unacceptable. The offense was effective running the ball between the 20’s but had all sorts of problems doing it in the red zone. My biggest issue with Sunday’s loss was Nagy’s decision to kick the 41-yard field goal when the Bears had 43 seconds left on the clock and a timeout. With that much time, he could have dialed up two more plays that could have made the kick a little bit more manageable for Eddy Pineiro. Listen, I understand Nagy’s thought process that he detailed after the game in the post-game presser. I came away with his lack of confidence in his offensive line, running back and QB. In those moments you can’t be passive with the play calling. Put the game on their backs and let them earn it and bring it home. That’s how you build confidence within your unit.
The Defense Bounced Back
We saw something in the Raiders and Saints games that was very uncommon. Chuck Pagano’s defense gave up back-to-back 100-yard games to Josh Jacobs of the Raiders and Latavius Murray of the Saints. This week, the Chargers RB’s didn’t have much luck. The Bears defense held the Chargers to just 36 yards on 12 attempts and 231 total yards. The toughest part to swallow is they held the Chargers to just 17 points. You can’t ask for much more if you are the offense. Still, one thing that has been missing is the pass rush. The defense has given up a few explosive plays over the last few weeks and they gave up one on Sunday. It was a 43-yard Philip Rivers pass to Mike Williams in the second quarter. My biggest takeaway with the defense is they did enough to win the game on Sunday. They will have to keep it up as they head to a hostile environment this weekend against the Eagles.
This season seems to be over for most Bears fans already. I get it, It’s not what you hoped for after last season. I want to see the fight that this team has left in them with 9 games to go. I want to see how Matt Nagy rallies the troops. The issues with this team are not going to be fixed overnight, but we will learn a lot about this group over the next few weeks. The next test will be this week as they head out to Philly to take on Jordan Howard and the Eagles. Now, with reality sinking in that this is truly not last season’s team, all I want moving forward is improvement in all 3 phases of the game. That’s all I can ask for right now. We will reconvene after the Philly, trip Bears fans. #BearDown.