As I watched the game last week against the Giants, I was struck by color commentator Jay Feely’s comment that he thought Giants head coach Joe Judge was failing because he struggled to hire a staff after spending his entire professional coaching career in New England. As a result, Judge, who I am sure is a fine coach, had limited opportunities to work with and evaluate coaches around the league. Basically he was inbred and, when it came to finding good people to assemble a staff, he had a hard time picking people outside the family. Judge has already fired his offensive coordinator and there may well be a lot of turnover in the offseason if he survives to 2022-2023.
The reason this stuck me is because, to a limited extent, Matt Nagy has had the same problem with the Bears. Nagy spent his entire coaching career with Andy Reid. He also has had limited exposure to coaches around the league. He didn’t struggle as badly as Judge in that area because he already had a defensive staff under Vic Fangio assembled for him when he was hired by the Bears. The minute Fangio left and took his coaches with him, Nagy was in trouble.
As I watched these last two seemingly interminable games, it occurred to me to hope sincerely that when the Bears finally put Nagy out of his misery and let him go after the season, that they take the opportunity to find a head coach with more diverse experiences around the league. This will allow him to not only be able to choose a better staff through his connections but such a coach will be more likely to be able to provide solutions to problems that his players encounter. This is something that Nagy continually struggled to do.
- The Bears very evidently wanted to run against the Vikings this game and I’d say they did so with reasonable success. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why they kept doing it out of the shotgun, especially early on. If you really want to run a downhill running games, getting the QB under center is far and away the best way to do it. Perhaps running back David Montgomery or quarterback Andy Dalton expressed a preference for the shotgun. But it makes me uncomfortable thinking about the Beras trying to run a spread offense.
- Once again, I thought the Bears were feeding Darnell Mooney the ball too much this game. It wasn’t quite as bad as last week but Allen Robinson still seems to be an afterthought.
- As I watched Damien Williams score a touchdown on a throw out of the back field at the end of the first half, I wondered where that has been all year. Didn’t they draft Montgomery in part because he was so good at catching the ball? Why did it take so long for them to pull it out and why not with Montgomery?
- The Bears offensive line was flat out poor protecting Dalton at critical times during this game, giving up 7 sacks. Admittedly some of them were coverage sacks. Nevertheless, most of the offseason focus is moving towards addressing the wide receiver and corner back positions and rightfully so. But this line still isn’t good enough to compete with the better teams in the league.
- The Bears were crowding the line of scrimmage at the first hint of anything resembling a run formation. Whatever happened, they didn’t want Viking running back Dalvin Cook beating them.
- The Bears got good pressure on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Occasionally it was the result of the games that they were running up front. But the truth is that the Viking offensive line just isn’t good. Its a chronic problem for them that head coach Mike Zimmer and the Viking front office have never solved.
- The Vikings offensive game plan puzzled me. For whatever reason, they didn’t start doing the obvious thing and attack the Bears weak defensive backs until very late in the first half. I know that they consider themselves to be a running team but you have to be flexible and take advantage of the match ups, too. I thought they were exceptionally stubborn in this case.
- Even considering the fact that the talent isn’t there, I thought the Bears defensive backs played exceptionally poorly. The broken coverages were frequent and inexcusable.
- Aqib Talib might be the worst color commentator I’ve ever heard. I learned nothing today.
- OK. I’m sticking my neck out on this one. But with both of these head coaches very possibly losing their jobs tomorrow, am I the only one thinking that Mike Zimmer might make a pretty good Bears head coach?
As I reflect upon this miserable season as it finally comes to an end, there is one single good thing about it that I will never forget. And that is Robert Quinn.
For most of last year, the entire offseason and for about the first 4 games of this year, I could not stop ragging Quinn as the worst free agent signing in Bears history. After singing a $70 million contract in the 2020 offseason, Quinn had a grand total of 2 sacks. He looked to be a disaster.
And then, low and behold, he showed up in 2021. And without Khalil Mack on the other side to draw attention away from him for most of the year he not only produces a good season, he produces a Bears record breaking 18 sacks in 16 games to replace Richard Dent as the Bears single season sack leader.
This is truly the most remarkable turnaround I’ve ever seen a football player make. It is a lesson in what hard work and perseverance can do.
Robert Quinn, you are a bright star as night falls on a dismal 2021 season. I salute you, sir.
- The Giants game plan was a simple one. Run the ball. And run they did. 40 if their total of 55 plays were rushing attempts. And at 4 yards per carry, considering that the whole stadium knew they were going to throw it, they didn’t do it too badly. It just didn’t get them many points.
- There were two reasons the Giants had to run the ball. First, they probably watched the tape from last week where the Bears couldn’t stop the run with their nickel defense on the field. Eventually they went to the “big nickel” where they made safety Eddie Jackson the nickel back to plug the run. The second reason is that the Giants team as a whole and their offensive line in particular is decimated by injuries. They flat out couldn’t protect the quarterback. As little as they passed the ball, the Giants still gave up 4 sacks including Quinn’s record breaker. Running was their only option.
- Unfortunately for the Giants, if you are going to run the football to win, you have to play mistake free football. This they did not do. Three points and a long flight home was the result.
- Speaking of injuries, something is wrong with Saquon Barkley. It could be his ankle. It could be a knee that still hasn’t completely recovered from surgery after a torn ACL last year. But something isn’t right. Here’s hoping he has a more healthy 2022.
- Mike Glennon as unimpressive in his return to Chicago. In fairness, see my comment about the Giants offensive line above. The Giants were 4 of 11 for -10 yards passing and were 1 for 2 for -16 yards at half time. This was a really dismal game.
- The Beras never did a thing to adjust to the Giants running the ball. They remained in their nickel defense and, other than creeping extra guys up towards the line of scrimmage a bit more, they just waited for the Giants to shoot themselves in the foot. It worked like a charm.
- The Bears had the right idea for most of this game. Eventually in the middle of the second quarter, they started running the ball. they had enough success with is to set themselves up to pass and when they moved the ball, the two intermeshed well. They were so successful that the Giants eventually just gave in and started putting 8 men in the box to try to stop it, something that rarely happens in the NFL anymore.
- I was a bit surprise dot see Jason Peters get the start at left tackle over Teven Jenkins. I dn’t have a big problem with it, myself. I want to see young players develop in a successful offense and Jenkins just isn’t ready. He finally came in and got some playing time midway through the fourth quarter.
- The Bears seemed to me to be targeting Darnell Mooney too much and they seemed to forget that Allen Robinson was out there for much of this game. I understand that their wide receivers aren’t good but they aren’t even effectively using what they have. They need to spread the ball around more.
- David Montgomery continues to impress. The yards after contact were amazing this game. He’s been a pleasure to watch.
- As is so often the case, the turnovers told the story of this game more than anything else. Trevis Gipson had the game of his life with two strip sacks. Interceptions by Deon Bush and Tashaun Gipson rounded it out. The first two turnovers setting the Bears up deep in Giants territory resulted in 14 points and the game was on its way to being over halfway through the first quarter.
- My New Year’s wish for 2022? Please lose the Bear Raid Siren. It annoys those of us who have to hear it every other week far more than the opponent.