Chicago Bears Midseason Report Card: An Uneasy Eight Weeks
The Chicago Bears have reached the halfway point in their schedule. How do they grade out for their first-half performance?
The Chicago Bears have finally reached the midway point of the 2020 season. Through eight games, they sport a 5-3 record and sit half a game behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.
|Green Bay Packers||5||2||0||.714||–|
As for the Bears’ position in the NFC playoff picture, it’s not great at the moment. Losing their last two contests against conference opponents hurts their standing.
How Did They Get Here?
- Week 1 at Detroit: W, 27-23
- Week 2 vs. New York (Giants): W, 17-13
- Week 3 at Atlanta: W, 30-26
- Week 4 vs. Indianapolis: L, 11-19
- Week 5 vs. Tampa Bay: W, 20-19
- Week 6: at Carolina: W, 23-19
- Week 7 at Los Angeles (Rams): L, 10-24
- Week 8 vs. New Orleans: L, 23-26
Every game up to this point has been ugly for the Bears — some more than others. However, of the Bears’ five wins, not a single one has been easy.
In three of their five victories, the Bears had to rally from behind late in the game. They also trailed by multiple scores in three of those wins. Each margin of victory has been by seven points for fewer, and in total, they have outscored their opponent by exactly +20.
While the Bears are still two games over .500, that doesn’t excuse the team from criticism, especially considering how they’ve played so far in 2020. Taking everything into the consideration, it’s time to assign midseason grades to each aspect of the team.
The offense has been an absolute mess so far. Whether it’s the gameplan, scheme, play-calling, or execution, they’re no getting the job done. It can’t be stressed enough how much of the blame falls on Matt Nagy. His play-calling has been hit-or-miss, but it falls on the ‘miss’ side much more often. Nagy’s handling of the quarterback situation made some sense but ultimately backfired. The Bears pulled the plug on Mitchell Trubisky in the third quarter of their third game while his team was 2-0.
Excluding the Falcons game, Trubisky sported a 5:2 TD to INT ratio and a 92.7 Quarterback Rating. Since Nick Foles took over as starting QB, the Bears have gone 2-3 and Foles touts a 5:6 TD to INT ratio in addition to a robust QB Rating of 78.3.
In terms of offensive efficiency, FootballOutsiders.com ranks the Bears 27th overall — 25th in passing and 30th in rushing.
How can anyone blame the defense for any of the Bears’ woes when the offense is struggling so badly? While the defense isn’t up to par with its 2018 performance, it’s hard to repeat that kind of play. Missing Eddie Goldman in addition to Danny Trevathan’s slow start has undoubtedly hurt the run defense. Chuck Pagano also shoulders some of that blame. He hasn’t been dialing up blitzes as many expected him to do when he was hired. Even worse, Pagano has the propensity to play soft defense at unusual times.
Talent has not been a problem for the Bears’ defense. That side of the ball is stacked with capable playmakers. FootballOutsiders.com ranks the defense sixth overall in the NFL — fifth in pass defense and 11th in run defense.
|Total Yards Allowed||2,788||20th|
|Passing Yards Allowed||1,828||21st|
|Passing Yds Allowed/Game||228.5||13th|
|Rushing Yards Allowed||960||20th|
|Rushing Yds Allowed/Game||120||16th|
The worry coming out of training camp surrounded the kicking game and Eddy Pineiro’s health. Cairo Santos has eradicated those worries. Santos is 14 of 16 (87.5%) on field goals and 15/15 on extra points.
He’s also been perfect inside 40 yards (9/9). Between 40-49 yards, Santos is 3/4. From 50 and beyond, he’s 2/3.
At the punter position, Pat O’Donnell has been alright. He hasn’t been outstanding but he also hasn’t been a cause for worry. The less you hear about your punter the better.
Cordarrelle Patterson has been something returning kickoffs. Whether he’s at the goal line or nine yards deep, he isn’t afraid to take it out. Sometimes it leaves fans scratching their heads, but he does possess that big-play ability. On 25 kickoff returns, Patterson has logged 641 yards. That’s an average of 25.6 per return, good for sixth-best in the NFL.
However, the punt return game has struggled since the loss of Tarik Cohen. The Ted Ginn Jr. experiment was a bust and he was cut from the team this morning. It’ll be interesting to see what newcomer Dwayne Harris provides in the second half of the season, as his first game in navy and orange wasn’t half bad.
This analysis may seem harsh, but the Bears’ coaches are letting the team down. The offense is far from the juggernaut Matt Nagy was brought in to implement. Under Pagano’s watch, the defense has slipped a little bit.
In terms of team efficiency, the Bears rank 18th overall and it shows. It all starts with the coaches. Despite making coaching changes to bring in new eyes and ears for Nagy, the offense is still dreadful. They made a QB change 2.5 weeks into the season and it’s still as bad as it was to start the year. Nagy’s play-calling has been horrendous more often than not and he isn’t making the necessary in-game adjustments to compensate.
Nick Foles and Matt Nagy got into a heated exchange on the sidelines during the Week 5 contest against Tampa Bay. Then Brian Griese made public what Foles told him about the disconnect with his head coach during the game. This team is a mess right now.
The biggest gripe is that Nagy is deficient when it comes to managing his personnel. Riley Ridley remains inactive. Cole Kmet getting legitimate playing time and targets is like pulling teeth. To top it off, Cordarrelle Patterson continues to see snaps at the running back position.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the team is undisciplined and the attention to detail is sorely lacking. The Bears are currently the most-penalized team in the NFL with 58 flags for 536 yards. The cherry on top was the Javon Wims incident. It was totally uncalled for and unacceptable. Hopefully Wims will remain inactive after serving his suspension.
Front Office/Ryan Pace
Ryan Pace deserves some props. The additions he made this offseason are making noise. He added Cairo Santos, who solidified the kicking game. Jimmy Graham is a red-zone threat and has four touchdowns. Tashaun Gipson has two interceptions and is complementing Eddie Jackson very well on the back end.
For the most part, Pace’s draft picks are contributing at their respective positions as well. Darnell Mooney has been a stud and easily the #2 WR behind Allen Robinson. Cole Kmet, when he sees the ball, is capable of making plays. Don’t forget about Jaylon Johnson either. The Utah product has undoubtedly experienced rookie moments, but otherwise, he plays lights-out opposite Kyle Fuller.
A move that was heavily scrutinized in the offseason, Germain Ifedi has been decent addition at right guard. Barkevious Mingo and Mario Edwards Jr. have been pleasant surprises as well.
However, it hasn’t been all good for the Bears’ general manager. The Robert Quinn addition hasn’t panned out yet, as the highly-touted pass rusher been very hit-or-miss through eight games. Perhaps some of the struggles can be attributed to Quinn dealing with an injury early on. The former Cowboy has shown flashes of his disruptive pass-rushing abilities, just not on a consistent basis.
Now, the Bears are dealing with another dilemma: the offensive line. Pace hasn’t done nearly done enough in this area nor did he address it at the trade deadline. Quinton Spain hit the open market and Pace didn’t bring him to Chicago. Now James Daniels is out for the year, Bobby Massie is sidelined for a while, Cody Whitehair is banged up, and Rashaad Coward… woof.
To make matters worse, COVID-19 has finally hit the Bears and of course, the positive test came from the offensive line. Backup right tackle Jason Spriggs has been ruled out and placed on the COVID-19 list, and Germain Ifedi also finds himself on that list due to close proximity and contact tracing. The Bears will be razor thin at that position at least for the next few weeks.
The Bears are what their record says — 5-3 with issues aplenty on the offensive side of the ball. The defense will continue to keep them in games and hope the offense can do just enough. This is how it’s been through eight weeks. This is how will be for the next eight weeks. It’s going to be ugly, sickening, and frustrating to the bitter end. Strap in, Bears fans, because we’re surely in for a wild ride down the home stretch of the season.
One last thing: the Bears better not bring this report card home to Mama Bear, Virginia McCaskey. She’s not going to be pleased.
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