The first thing that I heard after the Bears loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday was the thing I expected. That was because, if nothing else, it was the same thing I heard last year and the year before that.
“We could have won if not for two dropped passes,” one fan said. “We didn’t have Kyle Long.”
One media member said, “Had Bears right tackle Bobby Massie held his block against Falcons defensive end Brooks Reed instead of weakly opening the turnstile, perhaps quarterback Mike Glennon would have found a mismatch in man coverage to complete the game-winning pass.”
And, of course, Bears head coach John Fox got into the act. “I think right now we’re a pretty good football team.”
Let’s be honest, here. What we heard Sunday, what we’ve heard for a long time, the “What if…’s” and the “If only…’s”, can be characterized as one thing: the mating call of the loser.
These are the words that every losing organization says to itself. But they don’t change the fact. You lost.
The truth is that there isn’t that much difference in talent, top to bottom, in the NFL between teams. Yes, the Bears have a miserable wide receiver corp, the worst in the NFL – before injuries to Cam Meredith and Kevin White. But they also have budding star running backs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. Yes, they have a below average defensive backfield. But the front seven is pretty good and showed that yesterday.
No, though the Falcons were the more complete team, that wasn’t the difference yesterday. The difference was in the little things that went wrong at key moments during the game – little things that always bite bad teams.
You think the Bears are a “pretty good football team”? Good football teams don’t allow 88 yard touchdowns to mediocre tight ends like Austin Hooper.
After taking a day to digest that play, it seems evident now that the team completely blew the coverage. Linebacker Jerrell Freeman played zone when everyone else matched up. Danny Trevathan was spying quarterback Matt Ryan. Freeman didn’t carry Hooper up the seam. Free safety Quintin Demps, left the middle of the field to double Julio Jones. Hooper was left completely uncovered.
You think that the Bears win “if only Massie had held his block” on the last play? What about the two dropped touchdown passes, one by Jordan Howard and the other by Josh Bellamy, just two plays before? If it looked familiar, its because the Bears managed to drop passes in close home losses to the Titans and Packers last year. “If only” Bellamy had caught one of those, Matt Barkley would be a local hero.
Believe me, if it hadn’t been dropped passes and critical missed blocks, it would have been something else. That’s because these are plays that bad teams don’t make. They are plays that the Bears haven’t made for some years now. And that’s the difference between a “pretty good football team” and what they really are. A team that flat out doesn’t come through when it counts, that let’s injuries affect their play, that always makes just enough mistakes to lose.
“If only” the Bears could win the close ones “If only” had that little something, that intangible winning combination that allows them to do what it takes and make plays when the game is on the line. But they don’t. And people are going to have to be realistic and face that as we enter what could be another long year.