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“Doink" ... and this memorable 2018 Chicago Bears season was over.
I guess it’s apropos that the Bears season would end with a field goal attempt by PK Cody Parkey bouncing off an upright, as this has happened more often — six times! — than I can ever remember from an individual kicker.
The Eagles claim to have tipped the ball; I have watched the replay at least 10 times in slow motion and I can’t honestly say it was or wasn’t tipped. That’s how close it was.
Be that as it may, the kick was the final play, but there are other reasons why the Bears lost their fifth game of the season. Reason No. 1: they got outplayed by the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Yes, the Bears had their opportunities to win, but they didn’t come through in the clutch when they needed to on both offense and defense.
The blame doesn’t all go on the players. I felt the game plan was too conservative early. My feeling is that Matt Nagy felt the Eagles pass rush was going to be too strong and didn’t call his usual aggressive game until the second half. While the Eagles pass rush was strong early, Mitch Trubisky for the most part had plenty of time to make throws.
I also felt the Bears didn’t run enough. The Eagles were 0-6 in the regular season when their opponent had at least 20 carries, but the Bears had only 18 rushing attempts.
Some will mention Matt Nagy’s use of timeouts on Philly’s final drive. Had Nagy called a timeout after Philly got a first down at the two, the Bears might well have had an extra 25-30 seconds in which to work on their final drive.
Regardless, this team came a long way in Matt Nagy’s first year. Reality is they’re probably a year ahead of schedule, and with another year to learn and grasp Nagy’s offense, the sky is the limit for the Bears.
Mitch Trubisky was not the reason the Bears lost, nor would he have been the reason they won. Mitch played winning football. In the second half he made some outstanding throws. The throw to Allen Robinson on the Bears' final drive between two defenders might have been one of his better throws of the season.
Yes, there were some throws that Trubisky would have liked to have back. He should have been intercepted at least twice, but his great throws far outnumbered the few poor ones.
Trubisky is well on his way to becoming one of the better quarterbacks in the league, and he is good enough to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl.
Statistically, the running backs did not have a very good game. Jordan Howard had only 10 carries for 35 yards. Tarik Cohen only had one carry, and Taylor Gabriel picked up 20 yards on two carries, with all the yardage coming on one run.
Howard ran hard and if he didn’t get tripped up late on a five-yarder, it could have gone for 20-plus. The problem with the Bears' run game was that they didn’t use it enough. 18 carries just isn’t good enough for a team to win in the playoffs. Going into the game, the Eagles were giving up 4.7 yards per carry. Nagy needed to attack more with the ground game.
Cohen was not a big part of the passing game either as he was only targeted five times, catching three for 27 yards.
Not having Trey Burton was huge, as he is usually a favorite receiver for Trubisky. Ben Braunecker took his place as the “move” tight end, and while he had two receptions, he can’t do what Burton can do.
When Adam Shaheen came back from his injury, I thought that he would be a bigger part of the offense. He hasn’t been and he was only targeted four times in the game, catching three for just 13 yards. Blocking by Braunecker and Shaheen was adequate.
Allen Robinson was signed to come up big in big games. He played his best game of the season Sunday with 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. As he learns more about this offense, he will become more of legitimate No. 1 threat.
Taylor Gabriel had four catches for 37 yards, including a very difficult catch in traffic. Anthony Miller played despite dislocating his shoulder last week, coming up with big on two of his three catches. Too bad he couldn't hang on to that late first-half deep ball, as it might have led to seven instead of just three points. Josh Bellamy made a nice catch of a deep ball but should have been able to keep his feet after the catch.
For two-thirds of the game, the offense was conservative and didn’t attack a vulnerable Eagles secondary. They did late — and we saw what happened. Too little too late, but that isn’t on the receivers.
As a whole, the line played well but there were some individual breakdowns that hurt some plays. Kyle Long got beat twice in the run game, resulting in a loss and a no gain. Massie was also beaten wide on a run play that ended up as a loss. For the most part, the pass protection was good. The Bears gave up two sacks — one was on the line, the other on Trubisky. As a group, the line played well enough to win — and the Bears should have won.
Akiem Hicks showed why he was voted into the Pro Bowl. He couldn’t be blocked n one-on-one situations. He consistently got penetration and was very disruptive in the run game. Ditto for nose tackle Eddie Goldman. No other Bears defensive lineman was credited with a tackle, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t play well. On run downs, the line consistently got penetration, and on passing downs there was a consistent push but no sacks.
This group played an excellent game. Roquan Smith just keeps getting better, and it showed with his interception and seven total tackles. Danny Trevathan's six tackles trailed only Smith, and he also did a great job in coverage. There isn't an ILB duo in the NFL that plays as well as this one. They aren't the biggest guys, but their speed, quickness and instincts consistently stand out.
Leonard Floyd recorded the Bears only sack, early in the game. Khalil Mack was constantly double-teamed in pass-rush situations that prevented him from recording sacks, but he was able to get pressures. Mack played very well vs. the run, as did Floyd. Isaiah Irving logged some snaps in place of Aaron Lynch but was a non-factor.
It wasn’t the best game for the corners, but it certainly wasn’t their worst either. Early on, Alshon Jeffery was able to make some plays and slot receiver Golden Tate came up big late with some key catches. Sherrick McManis made some plays but was beat on a seam route by Tate for 29 yards and also on a quick out by Tate for the game-winning TD. The pass interference call on Prince Amukamara, setting up Philly's first touchdown, was iffy.
Eddie Jackson was surely missed. While he isn’t as physical in the run game as Deon Bush, he has game-changing instincts. Not having him available was huge. For most of the year, Adrian Amos has been very reliable — and he had a key interception in the first half — but on an early third-quarter drive his poor play was costly. He drew a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver while leading with his head that could have been avoided. Just a few plays later, he was beat on a slant route for the Eagles first touchdown, when the Bears had only 10 defenders on the field. The penalty was the most costly error, coming on third down after it appeared the defense would get off the field.
What can I say? Placekickers are signed to make kicks in key situations. Cody Parkey has come up short too often this season. In today’s NFL, a 75 percent kicker is not acceptable. I doubt he will be on the roster next year.
Pat O’Donnell was good for most of the day, but when the Bears needed a big punt in the fourth quarter he kicked a 35-yarder off the side of his foot. That put a lot of pressure on the Bears defense.
The kick coverage was good, and obviously the blocking on Tarik Cohen's big return set up a short field for the potential game-winning field goal.