Bears Suffer a Painful Loss in Week Two

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10: Mike Glennon
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 10: Mike Glennon /

After a close loss in week one, the week two loss was painful for fans to watch and players to endure.  A look at both the positives and negatives after week two.

The pain was both literal and figurative as the Chicago Bears continue to suffer an inordinate amount of injuries and under-perform in several key statistical areas.  Two weeks of the season does not define a team.  The “first quarter” is a time frame that is typically more predictive of how a team will perform through the course of a season so starting 0-2 typically means mediocrity at best.

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Most NFL teams are similar in talent with a few really good teams and a few really bad teams.  Think of it as a bell-shaped statistical curve.  Most games are won and lost in the fourth quarter which made game one particularly disappointing; no let’s call it troubling.

Last year’s defense wasn’t a bad defense in overall ranking, but couldn’t make the big play, key stop or key turnover when it mattered.  The offense was inept at best in the passing game and could not compliment a strong running game.  Again, the 2016 Bears could not make the big play when it needed to and was absolutely plagued by dropped passes in key moments.

Advance the clock forward to the last 30 seconds of the fourth quarter of game one.  Four dropbacks, 1 sack,, three incomplete passes.  Two were drops and one was a marginal pass where a player couldn’t make a play on it.  Then, on fourth down, Glennon is sacked…game over.

Many Bear fans, including me, felt about as good as one can after a loss.  We saw an offense move the ball.  An electric performance from a rookie running back, Tarik Cohen.  The defense applied pressure through the game and held and explosive offense in check.  Game 2 left a lump in the throat of many Bear fans.  The good news, and yes there is good news; it is only game two so there are 14 more to go.

Reasons for Pessimism

The offense is still anemic.  The Bears receivers are not good.  It’s not that they are slow as a group or that they are poor route runners, the Bears’ receivers, as a whole, have poor hands.  Josh Bellamy and Kendall Wright do not consistently catch with their hands.  They often let the ball  hit their pads and when they do use their hands, they tend to bobble and drop too many passes.  Last year was similar. Poor hands at key points in the game killed the Bears.

TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Mike Glennon
TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Mike Glennon /

Quarterback play is uninspiring and Glennon’s performance against the Bucs was Cutler-esque with the two really ugly interceptions and the sack-fumble.  The short passing game and ball control approach can work with a combination of a high third down efficiency and a low turnover rate.  Unfortunately, the opposite condition marked this game.  In balls that are contested, the Bears do not have a receiver that dominates in those situations.

Defensively, the Bears did not produce turnovers.  Sunday’s game was a disappointing effort by our pass rushers.  There were very few hurried throws, no disruption and zero batted balls.  When the opportunity for an interception appeared, the defense did not make good on it.  Last year was eerily similar.

Big scoring plays on offense are missing and the defense is giving up big scoring plays with troubling predictability.  Turnover ratio is perhaps the most consistent predictor of wins and losses that exists in the NFL.  After two games, the Bears are not taking the ball away more than their opponent.

Injuries are absolutely throttling this team.  At what point, from a strength and conditioning perspective, does a team have a problem?  There is no clear answer but this I will hypothesize; if a team is applying the pressure and the opponent is on their heels, injuries are more likely to occur to the team under pressure.

Reasons for Optimism

As stated earlier, it is game 2 so there is plenty of time to make course corrections.  The number of Injuries are troubling though Kyle Long and Markus Wheaton are on the cusp of returning.  The injury report for week three is days away so we will have to wait and hope that Nick Kwaitkoski’s injury isn’t severe and both Josh Sitton and Tom Compton’s injuries are of the minor variety.

Expect more Tarik Cohen and Tanner Gentry as we wait for a Mitch Trubisky appearance.  Despite the frustrating seasons during the John Fox era, the Bears have managed to put together some better drafts then Bear fans are used to.  Now we need complimentary coaching, free agency management and health.

The Bears do have a pretty solid offensive line and the front seven on defense are stout and capable of being dominant at times.  The Buccaneers were 99% healthy and likely a very good team playing at home.  Jameis Winston had a flawless game and the way the game unfolded, he just did not have to take any risks.

TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Jameis Winston
TAMPA, FL – SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Jameis Winston /

Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson both look like they belong in the NFL.  We will need to see them produce turnovers to cement their place as starters on this team.  Jackson’s talent is evident and Fuller has rebounded nicely as he extracted himself out of Vic Fangio’s dog house.

The special teams play has been solid with flashes.  The team is deep in returners and the kicking team looks good.  Expect the special teams to continue to be solid and produce some game changing plays.

Expectations looking forward

Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears /

Chicago Bears

Injuries will force young players such as Cohen, Gentry and maybe Adam Shaheen into the lineup sooner than later.  Expect the defense to be solid, but not spectacular.  Glennon is not a threat to throw the ball downfield consistently and the receivers have not demonstrated the ability to make game changing plays at key moments.  The Bears will likely run a very conservative, ball-control offense and the defense will likely determine how many games the Bears are competing for a victory.

Glennon will likely remain the starter for the time being.  The injuries are piling up again though the coaching staff will not get a pass should the team play poorly in more games than not.  It is not terribly uncommon for a team, even a pretty good one, to have an off game.  I do believe this game was one of those games.  I also believe the Bears are not built nor are they being coached to “win” games.  Winning and losing is contagious and while I am a John Fox fan, the weight of this season’s outcome is squarely on shoulders.