Here I am, on my day off, with my honey-do list on the fridge, and I couldn’t keep myself from watching the Bears against the Titans. With all the injuries and suspensions that this Bears team has endured, I’m still fixated on the development of this squad. With so many guys out, it really gave me a good look at some of the backups that could be future contributors. The one thing I wanted to see was how would this Bears team respond with all of the issues that have crossed their path in a rocky 2016 season. With everything this team has been through, they have not lost the fight and that says something to me. The fact of the matter is the Bears could and should have won that game Sunday. But as this season has gone, it makes you want to throw your hands up in frustration. Now they sit at 2 and 9 on the season. Let’s take a look at some of my takeaways from yesterday’s game.
Matt Barkley Under Center
Remember when Matt Barkley decided to stay at USC for his senior season when he could have been a potential top-10 selection in 2012? Oh how time has passed and changed. Barkley would be drafted in 2013 in the 4th round by Philly, then see time with Arizona before getting a shot here in Chicago. Yesterday was Barkley’s first start in the NFL and let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t perfect by any means. But after seeing him versus the Packers, I thought this would be a rough one for him. Barkley threw his 1st NFL touchdown pass in the first quarter to give the Bears a 7-0 lead. He would go on to throw two interceptions, but he never stopped airing the ball out. He finished the day going 28-54, 316 YDS, 3 TD, 2 INT. Barkley would have had more yardage if the Bears skilled position players would have snagged balls thrown their way. There were too many drops in the game on well-thrown balls by Barkley. To be honest, I’ve never seen anything like it. 10 drops! Barkley should keep his head up because not too many people thought he would be serviceable. He not only showed that, but he can put you in a position to win a game as well.
Jordan Howard Still Has Work to Do
Figuring you have come across one of my pressers before, you know how I feel about RB Jordan Howard. This kid is a star in the making, but he’s nowhere near a finished product. He’s a natural running the ball. With his ability to find the hole and explode through it, he has shown us he’s ahead of the curve. He has a knack of getting north and south, but it’s how he is always falling forward after contact which amazes me. Howard had 18 carries for 84 yards. The part of his game he has to get better at is being a receiver out of the backfield. For the rest of the season, Howard has to make looking the ball into his hands a point of emphasis. I see him as a 3 down back that shouldn’t come off the field unless he needs a breather. Right now the Bears offensive staff is taking him out of the game on 3rd downs because he is a liability in the passing game. Howard has to change that narrative quick because the Bears offense runs through him…literally.
You Can Build on the Defense
The defense is the bright spot of this Bears team. I understand when you look at the score it’s hard to grasp that. The thing about them is even with the injuries and suspensions, you can see that there’s something to build on. The defense is the heart of this team. So moving forward, I think Ryan Pace needs to focus on beefing up this Bears defense. Let the defense be the calling card of this team. I mean it’s often, if not always, been the foundation of this organization, right? I go back to the two best Bears teams since I’ve been on this earth. The 1985 and 2006 Bears were built on one thing and that was defense — defenses that created turnovers and offenses that could run the football. Let’s not deviate from the blueprint, but look back at our history if we would like to get this organization back to national prominence. Names like McPhee, Young, Trevathan, Freeman, Floyd and Goldman are key pieces on the front end. The next part of the equation is developing and adding pieces to the back end in the secondary. I want to to get back to being the Monsters of the Midway.
I had the Bears winning 8 to 10 games this season. Looking back and seeing everything that has gone wrong this season, I can understand why this team only has 2 wins. Injuries are the biggest issue, but depth on the roster is another glaring problem. I’m hoping that the young players that have been thrust into new roles are gaining the experience they need to be contributors next season. This season could be a blessing in disguise when you look at adding depth at key positions. In reality, you can go out and draft players and pick up guys in free agency, but there is only so much money you can dish out when you are dealing with a cap. If it was up to me I would do whatever I could to beef up the defensive side of the ball to make it elite. The Bears have a running game that will get better over time. The problem on offense will be finding a QB for the future and more playmakers. Playmakers win you games in this league. John Fox has shown me something this season, even with being on the hot seat by some of the media and many Bears fans: His team plays hard for him. This Bears team is playing for pride and their jobs and you would think they were in the hunt for a wildcard spot. No matter their record, I will watch and support this team until the season is over. Losing is never easy to watch, but the hope is we can be on other side pretty soon. It’s a process. #BearDown