Mitchell Trubisky
© Bill Streicher | 2019 Nov 3
Mitchell Trubisky © Bill Streicher | 2019 Nov 3

PHILADELPHIA — The initial play of the Bears’ most inept first half on offense in 40 years was a handoff from an offset I formation to David Montgomery up the middle for four yards.

It took 16 additional plays spanning another five drives before the Bears would eclipse that first gain, and it wasn’t until the 17th offensive play during their 22-14 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field — with 57 seconds remaining in the first half — that they gained a first down.

The longest of Mitch Trubisky’s six first-half completions was a six-yarder to Allen Robinson, or one yard less than the quarterback's scramble forcing the chain gang to advance the sticks a full 10-yard interval for the lone time prior to intermission.

"Just really, really sloppy. Extremely sloppy,” Matt Nagy said afterward of the first half of a must-win game. Nagy's post-game news conference was too solemn to be as combative as the ones in any of the now-3-5 Bears’ previous three consecutive defeats.

Just how sloppy? The Bears were penalized eight times for 56 yards — including four neutral zone infractions on ‘D,’ two alone by Aaron Lynch. Tarik Cohen committed two drops. Allen Robinson couldn’t get his feet in bounds on a potential long sideline catch. And Trubisky, well, Trubisky misfired to Robinson on his first attempt, what should have been a chain-mover on the opening series, en route to compiling a minus-21 completion percentage over expectation, the worst by any qualifying quarterback this season, via Next Gen Stats.

The Bears were so sloppy overall that Nagy didn’t even contemplate benching Trubisky.

“We knew that where we were, we could collectively be better,” Nagy said.

The Bears amazingly only trailed 12-0 at the break, thanks to a pair of goal-line stands from the defense that led to short field goals and a missed extra point following the Eagles’ lone touchdown, a 25-yard Carson Wentz-to-Zach Ertz hookup that certainly appeared to be offensive pass interference.

“He basically stated that it was a tough call but whatever he saw, I guess it was enough for him to pick it up,” said Kyle Fuller, who was beat in coverage but not before Ertz jolted the cornerback with a hand to the face as he was separating. “It definitely frustrates you but you have to move past it.”

To their credit, the Bears moved past a first half during which they were out-possessed by 11-and-a-half minutes and totaled nine net yards of offense.

Following the 84-yard scoring drive by the Eagles immediately out of the break, capped by former Bear Jordan Howard, untouched, sauntering 13-yards through a monstrous hole, Montgomery began with a positive run, same as in the first half, setting up Trubisky to Taylor Gabriel for 53 yards on an over route for the Bears’ longest passing play of the season. Montgomery plowed in after a Trubisky scramble down to the 1 and the Bears were on the board.

Two possessions later, the Bears overcame a drop by Robinson on an underthrow that likely would have been a 42-yard touchdown, to pull within five points following another Montgomery scoring leap.

“I will say this — it’s no consolation prize — but the guys fought to the end,” Nagy said. “Being down like we were, 19-0, they never gave [up] and I appreciate that part. But it doesn’t mean anything [in] the win-loss.”

The Bears even caught a break following Montgomery’s second touchdown, when Alshon Jeffery dropped a perfect third-and-11 throw, getting his former team the ball back at their 30 with 10-plus minutes remaining with a chance to take their first lead.

But after Montgomery returned the favor, dropping the ball on second-and-9 on what appeared to be a well-blocked screen play — “there was some green grass there,” Nagy said — the Eagles were able to consume more than eight minutes on their game-sealing FG drive, including four third-down conversions — or twice as many as the Bears had all afternoon.

"I feel like that is how it has been the entire year, with us not getting off the field, we have to correct that," said Prince Amukamara.

Big picture, at 3-5, the Bears likely are out of time to make meaningful corrections. A season that began with Super Bowl aspirations, perhaps fittingly, for all intents and purposes, was ended by the Eagles. Even on a day when the rest of the division all lost, other playoff hopefuls Seattle and Carolina won.

So why weren’t the Bears better prepared when their sense of urgency should’ve been at an all-time high? And how much longer will the team continue to fight in what’s turned into a lost season with eight games remaining?

“I’m learning right now that our team is very strong. They are built tough, and we’re being challenged right now. It’s not easy. We hate it and it sucks, but it is what it is,” Nagy said. “We have to rally those guys around each other and support one another. It’s not where we want to be, and there [are] different parts to it everywhere. Again, we’re being tested [more than] we ever wanted to be, but we’ll see how respond to it.”