Well, that was ugly.
Before we go too deep, though, let’s get a couple of things out of the way.
The world didn’t end for the Bears or their fans Thursday night with their 10-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. If you recall, the Bears lost their opener to the Packers last year and things still turned out just fine.
As incredible as the defense was a year ago at Lambeau, it was even better this year, and if it plays that way all year the Bears are going to win more than they lose.
So much for worrying whether Chuck Pagano can replace Vic Fangio.
Next up, the Bears offense can’t be as bad as it was in this incredibly disappointing opener.
I don’t know what the gameplan was but Bears head coach Matt Nagy had a terrible night calling plays and Mitch Trubisky, I think, played his worst game as a pro.
Let me be clear about this play-calling thing because I get nuts when us amateurs start second-guessing the pros about specific calls in specific situations.
Nagy is the reigning NFL Coach of the Year, and I’m pretty sure he has a better chance of getting it right than I do when those situations arise.
But the Bears finished the evening throwing the ball 45 times and running it just 15 in a game which was either tied, they led or never trailed by more than one score all night long.
It was actually even worse than that when you dig into the play by play because the Bears came out running 7 times on their first 11 plays, leading to their lone score of the game and suggesting they were going to try and establish the run.
It wasn’t awe inspiring but it was working the way it’s supposed to, and then with that 3-0 lead they went on to run the ball just eight more times all night on their remaining 53 plays.
That is one of the best ways I know to get beat 10-3.
Let’s forget, just for the moment, how bad Mitch was throwing the ball a good part of the evening. He never should have been asked to throw it that many times.
But, as to what it may signal for the rest of season, the offense was barely worse than it was in that ’18 opener. Last year the Bears offense put up just 294 yards and averaged 4.5 yards a play, compared to 254 yards and 3.9 per play Thursday night. The big difference was last year it managed 16 points – you’ve probably forgotten Cody Parkey went 3-for-3 on field goals – and this year it never really came close to scoring.
Things did get better fairly quickly last year after the opener and a Week 3 stinker in Arizona the defense won for them.
The other thing that killed the Bears this time around was that it’s really hard to commit 10 penalties for 107 yards and win games at any level but particularly in the NFL.
James Daniels, Kyle Long and Charles Leno all had holding penalties, Leno threw in an illegal hands to the face and Taylor Gabriel picked up an offensive pass interference call to make up for half the problem and all of them were drive killers.
After the game, one after another from Mitch Trubisky to Allen Robinson to David Montgomery, the Bears all talked about feeling that they were just out of rhythm all night long, and all agreed it should be easy to fix or “clean up” as the expression goes.
But when you only get to play 16 games, you can’t give any away, and that begs the question, why were they out of rhythm?
Could it be because none of them had played a real or even a practice, or should we call them exhibition game since last January?
Clearly this is going to be litigated until Matt Nagy changes his approach to the preseason or his Bears stop losing openers, and I’m not suggesting in any way it is why the Bears lost to Green Bay Thursday night.
But isn’t it almost certain that even a little bit of practice at actual game speed would have given Trubisky and company a little better rhythm for opening night?
Lastly, there is the most important question to come out of this disappointment.
Is it possible what we saw against the Packers Thursday night was the real Mitch Trubisky?
I absolutely do not believe it was, but he also now has 27 starts under his belt and has given us a lot less evidence than we’d like that it wasn’t.
We aren’t going to get a definitive answer next week, either; it’s going to take at least the first half of this season, maybe all season long to really say with conviction we now know who Trubisky is.
But his play in this one is something to worry about.