I am a huge believer that it is always better to win than it is to lose. That the Bears managed to secure a 21-19 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, with Mitch Trubisky making the critical play on fourth-and-9 on the game-winning drive, finding rookie Riley Ridley behind the Vikings secondary and dropping a dime in while on the move to set up the game-winning 22 yard field goal from Eddy Pineiro — who was 4-for-4 on the day — are silver linings worth hanging on to.
So was a 23-113-1 rushing day from David Montgomery that seemed to cement the Bears do have a No. 1 running back heading into 2020.
However, it would be a huge mistake to make too much of anything the Bears got done in Minneapolis Sunday with what’s left of their first teams taking on the second and third teams of the Vikings, and a much bigger mistake to not make a ton out of what they couldn’t get done in the red zone and on third down on offense.
Sunday marked the 11th time this season the Bears offense failed to score a touchdown in the first half, frustrating enough on its own but let’s say it again, this time against guys who normally aren’t good enough to be on the field.
Matt Nagy appeared to figure it out at halftime and came out to start the second half with a drive that featured eight runs, six of them by David Montgomery for 57 yards, the first two NFL carries of Ryan Nall’s career for 8 yards and just one 10-yard pass to Riley Ridley, setting up Montgomery’s final rush of the drive, a 14-yard jaunt to the end zone he finished with half the Vikings defense on his back.
It was the kind of physical, smash-mouth football Bears fans have longed for.
The defense responded with a three-and-out, so of course the offense bounced back with more of the same ... right?
After Montgomery added seven more yards on the ground to start the drive, the Bears threw the ball five times in a row before eventually stalling at their own 43 on a failed fourth-and-1 QB sneak from Trubisky.
The Vikings answered with an eight-play, 43-yard drive to close the score to 18-13, and the Bears came back with a three-and-out on three more passes.
That whole sequence – which led to the Bears blowing an 18-6 lead — was a microcosm of so much that disappointed in the 2019 season.
One of Nagy’s favorite expressions is to identify an issue and then say, “now we have to figure out the whys.”
We started the season wondering why the Bears couldn’t find any rhythm or consistency in their offense.
Now the season’s ended with the exact same “why” being asked with — to our knowledge — not a single change made to try and fix the problem.
Why, after 16 weeks following a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2018, did Mitch Trubisky appear to have no more pocket presence than he displayed the day he arrived in Chicago?
Stuck in the pocket Sunday, he made a few great throws, missed badly on a few others, never appeared to feel pressure or know when to quit on or extend a play.
His one great play of the day was of course throwing on the run, scrambling to his right and dropping that beauty on Ridley to set up the win.
As near as I can recall before I get to the tape, he was schemed out of the pocket three times all day.
Heading into the offseason, before we start getting answers to so many questions that need them, I would have liked to have seen a lot more Sunday of Ridley, Nall, Alex Bars, Jesper Horsted, Kevin Toliver, Duke Shelley and Michael Joseph, to name a few, to know whether they are or can be some of those answers, but that didn’t happen either.
We are left to ponder why Nagy and Ryan Pace — with a 20-13 record after their first two seasons together — don’t appear much closer to paydirt than the 14-34 John Fox group they inherited?
That’s a why we sure hope they can answer this offseason.