Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune has 10 thoughts after the Bears loss to the Chiefs Sunday.
“The gap between the Bears and the upper echelon of the NFL remains as great as ever. The offense was dysfunctional Sunday and the defense was noncompetitive.
“The Arizona Cardinals opened the season as the favorite to “win” the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft. Guess what? They blew leads in narrow losses to the Washington Commanders and New York Giants and then stunned the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
“The Houston Texans were projected to be terrible. They blew out the Jaguars 37-17 on Sunday in Jacksonville. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has passed for 906 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions through three games.
“The Bears are 0-3 for the first time since 2016 — a 3-13 season — and there’s little to suggest they’re going to come out of this funk anytime soon. How are they viewed nationally? The Denver Broncos were demolished 70-20 by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, dropping Sean Payton’s new team to 0-3. The Broncos opened as 2 1/2-point favorites for the Week 4 game against the Bears at Soldier Field.”
Biggs has done a nice job of encapsulating something I’ve been thinking about for almost a year. The Bears last won a game on October 24 last year. Think about how hard that is to do in the NFL.
My expectations for the Bears going into this season were lower than anyone I know. And yet even I think that the performance of the team is very disappointing.
Even given that the Bears are going through a rebuild, they should be better than this.
The Cardinals front office is literally trying to tank that team. They aren’t even trying to hide it. And yet some how they are playing competitively despite that.
From the outside its hard to pin point the problem. But my guess, along with most of the rest of Chicago, is that there’s something that isn’t right with the coaching staff.
Head coach Matt Eberflus sort of has the right idea of what is needed in this situation. But I’m not buying his explanation for the slow start.
“‘This is a new football team. We’ve got 30-some new guys who are coming together that are playing the game together for the first time for these three games. So there’s a process to that.
“‘It’s certainly not where we want it to be. But to get there, we’re going to have to have focus. We’re going to have to have fight. We’re going to have to be resilient. We’re going to have to block out outside noise. We’re going to have to do all those things and then keep a positive, optimistic attitude about this as we’re working.
“‘If we do that, guess what? We keep doing that, it will crack. It will crack. So that’s the biggest thing. That was my message to them in there. And like I said, the opportunity may come right around the corner.’
A couple thoughts.
- I’m not buying the “It’s a new football team” explanation. In the NFL there are a thousand reasons for failure but not a single excuse.
The Green Bay Packers are the youngest team in the NFL. They certainly look ready to play to me.
The fact of the matter is that this team was unprepared to start the season and now they are desperately playing catch up. Its completely justified to ask the reason why.
- I’ll give Eberflus credit. If you go back and listen to his entire press conference, his enthusiasm came across loud and clear. Its evident that this is the type of attitude that he is trying to communicate to he team.
And its also evident that he’s telling the players to do the right things. When things are going wrong with a team, as they are now, the players have to revert to thinking about their fundamentals. They have to concentrate upon bettering their play as individuals because that’s what they can control. And no matter who you are and what your task is, if you concentrate on what you can control you’ll always feel better about yourself and your environment. If everyone does it, the things that you can’t control will come along with you.
All that is good. But you have to ask yourself two things:
- Are the players are getting the right kind of help when it comes to improving their fundamentals? Are they being told what needs to be done in a way that optimizes their ability to take it in and translate it onto the field. You can talk about concentrating on fundamentals. But you still need people to teach them correctly. I see very little evidence that there has been anything more than incremental progress. Certainly I’ve seen very little evidence that the team was properly prepared during training camp.
- Are the players being placed into the right mental state to optimize performance and win a football game?
Eberflus is very enthusiastic. But there has to be more than that.
As Biggs points out, the Broncos defense had 70 points hung on them last week but they are still favored to beat the Bears on the road. Why is that? Its because they have Payton.
You think Payton is out there clapping his hands, patting players on the butt and telling them to work harder and it will all be OK? We don’t know for a fact but given what I’ve seen of him in the past, I’d say there’s almost no chance of it. Some of his assistants might be doing that. But as the head coach, I’m positive that he’s sending a different message.
I guarantee you that there are a lot Broncos players that are in fear for their jobs. For some of the less established players, that will be in the short term. For the better players, it will be for the long term. But all of them are worried right now.
How many Bears players can say the same thing?
The Broncos are coming off of a terrible, debilitating loss. Does anyone doubt that Payton will have them out for blood in an effort to bounce back and show what they can do in what is probably the most promising get right game on their schedule? Do you think the Bears will approach the game with the same attitude? When was the last time that you saw a Bears team respond like that?
That’s why they’re 2.5 points dogs at home this Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I don’t think that the Bears problem is effort. But it is preparation and concentration and there’s a certain frame of mind that all players, that all people, need to be in if optimal performance must be achieved. Your head coach doesn’t need to be a dragon. But it can’t all be being a player’s coach and talking “the sun will come out tomorrow”-type rainbows and sunshine.
The Bears franchise is in the middle of a dark stretch. It might turn out to be the darkest in their history by the time this is done. Because even at the beginning of a young season, this team, specifically this coaching staff, has given Bears fans very little reason to believe that they can pull out of this.