The Chicago Bears are tied for the second worst offense in the NFL with the New York Jets after two weeks and lead only the pathetic Miami Dolphins.
Almost everyone is focused on the lack of continued improvement from Mitch Trubisky and how Matt Nagy, reigning NFL Coach of the Year, is calling plays.
We’ve talked about the Bears being slow starters two years in a row now because Nagy prefers not to let his starters practice in practice games.
Nagy continues to point out that Trubisky isn’t getting all the help he needs from his head coach or skill guys and that has to improve.
But why aren’t the Bears able to get open, make big plays, call the right ones and make life easier on their QB?
Could it be that the Bears are no longer an unknown to the rest of the league?
Sure, Green Bay defensive coordinator Mike Pettine got to play Nagy’s Bears twice last season and Vic Fangio lived with them all year.
The problem, however, is much bigger than that.
Nagy spent all of last season rolling out his offense, and defenses were seeing something new every weekend.
Just when opposing coaches thought they’d seen it all, Nagy would hit ‘em with Santa’s Sleigh, Willy Wonka, Oompah Loompa, Lollipop, his Bears version of the ‘Philly Special,’ Ass Kickin’ Chicken, etc.
Defenses were constantly on their heels.
On top of that, Nagy is a master at designing routes and mixing and matching calls from diverse player groupings, allowing him to have something new almost every week last season.
This season, not only has he faced arguably the two defensive coaches most likely to have a handle on a lot of what he wants to do, all 31 of his NFL opponents have had nine full months to study all 17 of Nagy’s game tapes from last season.
The Bears surprised everyone last year, but they are surprising no one this year.
Much like playing in Denver in September, that makes things a ton harder on the offense, quarterback and the coach.
Nagy tried to explain it to everyone again before his club practiced Thursday saying, “It’s everybody."
“It’s not one person. It’s letting this offense do what it does," he said. “It’s the head coach, it’s the quarterback, it’s the wide receivers, it’s the line. If I can hammer that through to everybody here: It’s not one person. Please trust me on that.”
It is certainly possible that Trubisky just isn’t good at quarterback, the Bears don’t have the horses at tight end and the wideouts and offensive line aren’t as good as we thought/hoped they would be.
But what is more likely at the moment is they are all struggling because much like they had the element of surprise on their side last year, this year they’re getting looks and challenges across from them based on what defenses have now seen – looks that they aren’t prepared for.
Green Bay fielded eight new starters on defense and the Broncos were playing just their second game under Fangio.
“I mean, last week they were definitely trying to keep everything in front of them," Trubisky said Thursday. “Coach Fangio is known for that, they were kind of letting us run a little bit and not letting anything go over their heads.”
How do you respond to that?
One option is to get players like Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson on the edges or in space and let them make people miss.
The one time we saw it with Patterson, he cut loose for 46 yards, but we only saw it once.
Again, it is possible the Bears just don’t have the horses on offense.
But if ever there was a time for patience, at least for the next three weeks leading to the bye, it is now.
What we see before the Bears get to the season-making or season-breaking part of their schedule will tell us whether the problem is the players, the system, both, or just the natural ebb and flow of life in the NFL.
Nagy and Trubisky insist it’s the latter. It is possible they’re right, and we should give them a few more weeks to prove it.
If they’re wrong there will be plenty of time for the consequences.