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Bears stuck in the slime zone
Even a kid friendly telecast couldn't hide what a mess this team is
This has to be it, right? In a perfectly fitting end to a woefully unsuccessful four year run as Bears quarterback, Mitch Trubisky threw a meaningless garbage time touchdown to a receiver he wasn’t intending the pass for. Jimmy Graham’s leaping (did you know he played basketball?) one handed catch came on the final play of the season on a pass intended for Bears’ punt returner DeAndre Carter. The touchdown was so insignificant that Graham didn’t even wait around before running to the locker room and the referees didn’t need to call for an extra point because the outcome didn’t depend on it. Though some gamblers really needed the Bears to kick it.
The list of people that the McCaskeys should be shitcanning today is much longer than what will actually happen. Ryan Pace, the architect of this testament to mediocrity should be fired, but he likely won’t. Matt Nagy, the offensive “genius” whose offense somehow gets worse and worse should be fired, but he almost certainly won’t. Chuck Pagano, the defensive coordinator who can’t get Khalil Mack within three car lengths of a quarterback, and whose team refuses to tackle will get canned however. Hey, as Emmitt Smith says, somebody’s got to be the “escape goat.”
When Nagy and Pace have their annual uncomfortable press conference this week neither will close the door on Mitch, but neither guy wants him back.
Pace tied his future to Trubisky when he incomprehensibly evaluated that Mitch was better than two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in the same draft, but somehow, he’s going to get a second chance to find a franchise quarterback. It makes no sense because he’s already proven he’s overwhelmed by the task.
Nagy doesn’t want Mitch back, and didn’t even want to play him this year. If there had been a preseason he’d have declared Nick Foles the winner of the competition, without one he started Mitch with the itch to yank him at the first opportunity and he did. Foles’ ineptness exposed the Bears offensive coaches as the complete frauds we always suspected they were. Their “offense” didn’t work with Trubisky and it didn’t work with Foles.
If Trubisky is brought back for the 2021 season it puts Pace and Nagy on a clock they don’t want to be on. If they draft a quarterback then they buy themselves at least a couple more years. Deep down that’s all they really care about.
When Pace is finally fired he’ll never be hired as a GM again, though he’ll easily get player personnel jobs—the problem with those is that they don’t pay as well and he’ll actually have to work and be held accountable for results. Nagy will probably get a second chance as a head coach. Hell, Dave Wannstedt (we’ll get to this ignoramus in a few paragraphs) kept getting hired after he proved he was overmatched with the Bears, and Dick Jauron got another job, and Marc Trestman got to revisit past Canadian glories. But, Nagy will inevitably fail at his next stop and likely serve out his final professional years as a quarterback coach.
That’s why it makes no sense not to just clean house. None of these dimwits is up to their current jobs, and the Bears know it. They just don’t want to admit it yet, for some inconceivable reason.
On the NBC Sports Chicago postgame, Wannstedt was asked if the Bears could ever win with Mitch. His answer was pure Wannstedt—as in completely nonsensical.
He said that the Bears could bring Mitch back and with a great defense (which they don’t have) and a great running game (which not only do they not have, but they show no motivation to even try to find) Mitch could win a playoff game, but “he could never outduel Aaron Rodgers or somebody like that.”
So, in other words, if the Bears are content with never winning another Super Bowl, Mitch is their guy and Wanny seemed to think that was a helluva idea. What are we even doing here? And why does anybody, especially in Chicago, care what Dave Fucking Wannstedt thinks about anything?
If the myth that Mitch had really improved after his return from benching and injury hadn’t been fully dubunked with his mediocre at best (even for him) performance against the Packers last week, he proved it beyond all doubt in front of God, Tony Romo and SpongeBob yesterday.
Mitch finished 19 of 29 passing for 199 yards, but before the final drive of the game, one in which the Saints didn’t care what happened, he was 10 of 19 for 107 yards. The Bears rushed 19 times for 48 yards (2.5 yard per carry) and had more penalty yards (50) than they ran for.
They barely avoided setting an NFL record for fewest first downs in a playoff game (six) with their final drive and the 11 they did have (five of them came on the final drive) were only one more than the franchise record low.
The closest they came to scoring a touchdown when the game was still in doubt was when they ran a really nice looking trick play where Mitch lined up as a wide receiver, took a pitch from David Montgomery and threw to a wide open Javon Wims who did this:
Remember the last time the Bears played the Saints (earlier this year) and Javon Wims got tossed for throwing a punch at irritating (and bad) Saints cornerback CJ Gardner-Johnson? Nagy said after the game the spent 15 “valuable minutes” last week (only NFL coaches think 15 minutes on anything is a big goddamned deal) going over tape of Gardner-Johnson goading players into personal fouls. And then Anthony Miller got thrown out of yesterday’s game for doing the same thing.
It’s proof that Miller is an idiot and one who has probably played his last game for them. It’s always something with him, so it might as well always be something with him for some other team now. It’s also proof that for all of his hollow talk of how “together” and “committed” his players are, that they don’t really give a shit what Nagy says about anything. They’re either not listening, are too dumb to understand what he’s saying or they just do’t care. None of those three things reflect well on a coach who doesn’t really seem to do anything well.
The game was simulcast on Nickelodeon and if watching the Bears muddle around for three and a half hours didn’t scare that generation of potential football fans off, nothing will. That broadcast featured Ian Eagle’s son Noah (who is already better than most of the clowns doing games on Sundays and should immediately be brought in to de-Joniak the Bears radio team), two stars of Nickelodeon shows (I guess) and Nate Burleson. The only memorable parts of the broadcast were the rebranding of the red zone as the “Slime Zone” and an animation that showed cannons shooting slime all over the end zone when a team scored. The Bears spent the first 59 minutes of game time avoiding the Slime Zone at all costs. The other memorable thing that happened is they announced a fan vote for NVP (which for some reason stood for Nickelodeon Valuable Player), and Mitch won it. Well, of course he did. The kids at home wanted to give a participation trophy to the sadsack focus of the broadcast for the losing team.
The Bears were so thin at linebacker they started dead girlfriend fabulist Manti Te’o, who had never played for them before. The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg joked about how that broadcast team would explain Manti’s story on Nickelodeon, but honestly, a group of kids seem like the perfect audience to give sympathy to someone with an imaginary friend.
The game was never really in doubt. The Saints assuredly never felt really threatened. It was a nice soft landing for the returns of Michael Thomas (who won me a fair amount of money by scoring the game’s first touchdown—the only touchdown he’s scored in any game so far this season) and Alvin Kamara. Drew Brees looked like somebody who has absolutely zero chance of completing a pass more than five yards in the air at Lambeau in two weeks, so the only things that really stand in the Packers way of going to a wholly undeserved Super Bowl are a beat up Rams team next week and then the hope that the Bucs can beat the Saints, though New Orleans has already handled them pretty easily twice this season.
The Saints didn’t play a particularly impressive game and they completely dominated the Bears. The Bears defense didn’t get lit up by them, but seemed more like a speed bump than a road block.
That should really bother the McCaskeys when they evaluate everybody, but I can’t imagine it will.
The Bears only made the playoffs because of a complete Cardinals collapse and a soft four game schedule from weeks 13-16 (even if they only won three of them). When they played good teams the final two games of the season they managed only two touchdowns and one was basically a gift. Nagy and Pace’s team is now 4-17 in the last 21 games they have played against winning teams.
Mitch claims he thinks the Bears are close to being a really good team, but we know from watching him play that he has no idea what he’s looking at, ever. Nagy needs to pretend he thinks they’re close, too, but I also doubt he has any ability to accurately evaluate anything.
The Bears are a team with an offensive line they only recently upgraded to mediocre, an aging defense that has seen terrible regressions from their best players (Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson) and runs a nonsense scheme. The offense lacks impact players. The closest things they have are wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney. Robinson is almost certainly leaving via free agency and Mooney is too small to ever be more than a second option in a decent offense.
There’s really not much to build on, and leaving Pace and Nagy on won’t make that better. Their self-interest is to pretend a couple new players can fix it, and that’s just not the case.
Now us a time for bold decisions from that inept ownership, not resigned acquiescence to an overmatched personnel and coaching staff. Which do you think we’ll get?