It’s week 8 of the 2020 NFL season and that means that the half-way mark is here. Around this time, fans, pundits, players and coaches start to know the type of team they have. Usually a good team will have solidified themselves in our three phases of the game. That means that a team will know if they have an offense that can be depended upon to score points, a defense that can be counted on to hold the opponents offense during crucial drives and a special teams that does its part to make sure that they give the offense and defense the best possible field position for the duration of the game.
The Chicago Bears are 5-2, second in the NFC North and still in a good position to earn themselves a playoff berth. The good news for them is that they have an identity on 2 phases of the ball. On Special teams, Cordarelle Patterson is first in the league in kick return stats and Cairo Santos ranks in the top 12 in FG % made with no extra points missed. The defensive side of the ball is equally as impressive; in DVOA, Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, the Chicago Bears rank sixth in the NFL and only allowing an impressive 222 passing yards from their opponent per game. The Bears have solidified who they are in those respects and the two sides of the ball have allowed the Bears to find them in the position that they are today; 2nd in the NFC North and boasting one of the NFL’s best records.
Which then brings us to the bad part of the Bears and that is the offense. There is no identity on offense and with impressive skill players like Allen Robinson, Jimmy Graham, and David Montgomery, the Bears rank 25th in the league in passing yards per game, dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game, and 23rd in the league in total yards. The stats do not lie: The Bears’ offense is underwhelming at best, and terrible at its worst. With the QB change from Mitchell Trubisky to Nick Foles the offense has in fact gotten worse, with David Montgomery averaging 60 rushing yards per game with Mitch under center and 40.5 yards since Nick Foles has taken over. In the four games that Nick Foles has started in, he’s thrown for 3 touchdown and 5 interceptions, in the 3 Trubisky had before? 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Now, this is not a call for Trubisky to return to the starting role of QB; his benching was a fair decision due to his inconsistent play but with his absence, NFL defenses have limited the Bears offense due to them understanding that Nick Foles does not and cannot run out of the pocket and knowing that limitation, they’ve put emphasis on the run game and have kept David Montgomery at bay. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen for the Bears if they do not find a way to adapt on offense and in a normal situation, a good coach can find ways to help that. With quicker passes on offense, you keep opposing defenses at bay, with diversified runs that look to stretch the field and utilize more than one running back, you allow the offense to force the defense to pick their poison, but with the Bears, Coach Matt Nagy has done none of the above.
That is the ugly of the Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy does not and has not adapted. His focus remains the same throughout the week: “Keep plugging away on offense” and “making sure that we’re having fun”. Those are great quotes to give to your team but the reality is that the Bears do not change and this 5-2 record can quickly turn to 5-5 if the Bears do not learn to leave their comfort zone and focus on improving the offense in its totality rather than simply placing a Band-Aid on bad portions of it. I can’t say that there is hope for the Bears in their matchup against the Saints; at 4-2, they boast a team efficiency rating that places them 6th in the NFL. Drew Brees has 11 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions this year and though his yards per attempt is among the worst in the NFL, he holds a 72% completion rating and he find the open man when his team needs him. Alvin Kamara’s yards per carry is over 5 and he continues to prove why he is the most valuable skill player on the team. The point is clear: if the Bears do not find a way to produce long and sustained drives against the Saints, then they will be embarrassed on their own field and with the lack of accountability from the coaching staff, all signs point to a bad loss – Joe.