Bears fans, don’t be discouraged by this year’s record because this Bears team has gotten better since week 1 of the season. We all know about the injuries and suspensions that have derailed John Fox’s team, but they haven’t used that as an excuse. Instead, they used it as motivation to build a foundation while most fans had thrown their hands up in disgust. What is very evident about this team is there is a lot of fight coming out of the Bears locker room. We might not see it in the win column, but we see it on the field and all we can hope for is that the fight lasts the remainder of the season and then carries over to next season. This team has to play smarter football though. Penalties and miscues were the reason why the Bears couldn’t come out with a win Sunday. When you have injuries and young guys playing, there is a small margin for error. Time now to jump into my takeaways from the 20-17 loss to the Lions.
Barkley’s 3rd Start
I think I’ve seen enough of Matt Barkley to say that he has the chance to be the starting QB once we kick off the season next year. Did I just say that? OK, let me explain myself before you bad mouth me. We think the Bears will draft a QB, but if he is not ready for next year, you have options. Either bring in a QB in free agency or you can go with what you have in Barkley or Hoyer. Both have shown a great understanding of the Bears offense, but Barkley has shown he can put numbers on the board, which Hoyer wasn’t able to do. Listen, either guy is not the long term answer, but could be the guy to mentor a rookie QB. One thing I like about Barkley is his poise when the game hits crunch time. Barkley finished the day 20 of 32 for 212 yards and 1 TD. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he is efficient and I think you can work with that as you add more talent to the offense. The way he is so comfortable in the 2 minute drill is fun to watch. I’m not sure why the Bears don’t use that tempo more if he is having success with it. The Bears offense has a different swag to it since Barkley has taken the reigns. In some ways they never feel like they are out of a game and that speaks volumes to the man under center for his 3rd NFL start.
I Need More Run Game
As we’ve talked about for the last few weeks, the Bears win games when Jordan Howard gets no less than 23 carries. I wasn’t counting the carries during the game and the Bears did have a few big chunk run plays, but I wasn’t hearing Howard’s name as much as I would have liked. So after the game I checked the box score and, lo and behold, Howard only carried the ball 13 times for 86 yards. The reason why the ground game is so important is because once it’s established, it keeps the other team’s offense off the field. The Lions won the time of possession battle as well. The left side of the line was working hard to open up holes on the stretch plays for Howard. He had holes big enough to drive a Mini Cooper through. I’m just baffled that your best offensive player on the field isn’t heavily involved in the game plan. I’m not sure what Dowell Loggains was thinking and I’m not going try to figure it out because it will trigger a migraine. Let Howard spin if you want to win!
Defense Played Well Enough to Win
With all that has happened this season on the defensive side of the ball, Vic Fangio should get a lot of credit and he should be proud of how his unit has played this year. Just sit back and think about where this team was defensively before Fangio arrived at Halas Hall. The biggest reason why we have seen such a jump in production as a whole is because of the front 7. Start with vets in the group like Pernell McPhee and Akiem Hicks, then sprinkle in the young bucks like Eddie Goldman, Leonard Floyd and Nick Kwiatkoski and you have a front that can cause some havoc. This week I was very pleased with the backend of the defense. They did something we haven’t seen often this year: get turnovers. The Bears D hasn’t had a takeaway in the last 3 games of the season and yesterday they left Detroit with two. Both Demontre Hurst and Cre’von LeBlanc came up with gifts sent by air mail from Matthew Stafford. I have no complaints when it comes to the defense. The only thing I know is Vic Fangio better not be going anywhere.
Penalties and Miscues Hurt
Just by looking at the Bears record we know that wins have been hard to come by. With so many key pieces missing on offense and defense, this team has to play close to perfect if they want to pull out a win. The one thing that coaches always say is “don’t beat yourself.” Down the stretch against the Lions, the Bears shot themselves in the foot with costly penalties that knocked them off track from winning or tying the game in the 4th quarter. The Bears had opportunities late, but two big holding penalties on Charles Leno Jr. and Ted Larsen set the Bears back in their own territory. The penalties were huge Sunday as the they had 11 yellow flag for 139 yards. That is just unacceptable and the sign of an undisciplined team. The fight in this team is something that I like, but this team has to work on playing smarter football.
Losing is never easy for a player or for fans, but there is something to say about a team that is competitive while they’re going through a rebuilding process. This Bears team has so far to go to be the team that we’re all wishing and hoping for, but the foundation is forming. With guys playing for jobs, we are getting the best out of guys. It might not be enough on the field, but it gives us the chance to see who has a chance to contribute next season and who will not be in a Bears uniform in Bourbonnais. There has been a lot of talk about Ryan Pace and the job he has done since taking over the GM position. I have to say I’m very pleased with the work he has done so far. He has hit on a few of these young players that have the potential to be true playmakers for this organization for years to come. The experience is happening now with these young players. But long term you just hope the lessons they have learned turn into a better and more competitive unit. I have said this over and over, but this season is a blessing in disguise. Trust me when I say we will look back at this time in 3 or 4 years and say “we have come a long way.” #Beardown