Chicago Bears Wild Card Takeaways: It’s Finally Over
Takeaways from the Bears’ disappointing season-ending loss to the Saints.
Well, it’s a wrap. The Chicago Bears’ 2020 campaign has finally come to an end. A highly disappointing season saw the Bears back their way into the playoffs thanks to a weak NFC and the expanded playoff format. The once 5-1 Bears saw their season spiral out of control with a six-game losing streak. Just as the team had hit rock bottom, they managed to salvage the season by winning three straight games before dropping the regular-season finale against Green Bay. With some luck and assistance from the Los Angeles Rams, the Bears clinched a playoff spot.
All of those events led to what happened on Sunday. A 21-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round finally sent the Bears packing for good.
Now is a time for reflection. There is going to be nothing but an abundance of time for it. The organization will have to reflect on the disappointing season and how far they’ve fallen from the hopeful days back in 2018. They’ll certainly at least consider making significant changes.
As far as the fans go, they’ll have from now until next August to stew over what went down in 2020. The bitter taste in their mouths won’t sit well. The team underperformed expectations coming into the season, but that’s a story for a different day. Right now, all we can do is reflect on the most recent instance.
So without further ado, for the final time for the 2020 season, here are the main takeaways from the Bears’ humiliating playoff loss to the Saints.
In keeping with tradition, the Bears offense failed to show up… again. This time in the biggest game they’ve played since the 2018 Wild Card Round against the Eagles. The offense could only muster 239 total yards, most of which came through the air as the passing attack accounted for 191 yards. Meanwhile, the remaining 49 yards came from the running game.
The Bears struggled to find offensive flow all afternoon and ultimately collected 99 yards in garbage time during the final drive of the game. The Saints held Chicago to a measly three points until the very last play of the game when Trubisky connected with Jimmy Graham for the Bears’ lone touchdown as the clock expired. It’s safe to say this may have been the most pathetic performance of the year given the circumstances.
In what may have been his last game as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears, Trubisky put together a less than ideal performance. He finished the game 19/29 with 199 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions, and a 96.8 QB Rating. However, his performance was mainly pedestrian until the final drive of the contest.
Beyond the aforementioned stat line, Trubisky added ten yards on three carries in the running game.
The wide receiver out of Georgia finally got a chance to step up in the absence of Darnell Mooney. While he did make a fantastic catch on the second drive of the game, it ended up being his only reception of the game.
On the very next play, the Bears tried a little razzle-dazzle, which worked to perfection until Wims let a sure touchdown pass drop right through his hands.
Of course, after that two-play sequence, Wims finished the game with only one reception for 28 yards.
Once again, the third-down struggles crippled the Bears’ offense. Trubisky and co. only converted on 10% of their third-down attempts (1/10). During the first half, the Bears went were 0/6 on such attempts.
The most frustrating part of it all was the fact that they didn’t convert on a third-down situation until the very end of the game.
Meanwhile, the Saints finished the game converting 11/17 third-downs (64.7%).
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson Strikes Again
As was the case in the first head-to-head meeting, the chirpy Saints cornerback got under the skin and in the heads of a few Bears receivers. Gardner-Johnson baited Anthony Miller into offsetting personal foul penalties that ultimately resulted in Miller’s disqualification from the game. This marked the third consecutive Bears vs. Saints game in which CJGJ lived rent-free in Miller’s and/or Wims’s head.
As soon as the game got underway, CJGJ was jawing at the Bears sideline.
During the Bears’ first offensive possession of the second half, he finally got to Anthony Miller.
Consequently, Anthony Miller’s ejection ended up being costly for the Bears.
Furthermore, the receivers were told all week to ignore Gardner-Johnson.
Gardner-Johnson is a known offender of baiting players, even teammates, into these kinds of shenanigans and the Bears receivers are known for taking said bait.
Referees: Too Many Zebras on the Field (For the Saints)
While officiating wasn’t the sole reason for the Bears’ struggles, it certainly did not help matters.
The Bears were frequently penalized throughout the game. Regardless of the referees being one-sided or not, nine penalties for 50 yards is unacceptable.
Bears’ players jumped offsides and handed away free first downs to the Saints on multiple occasions. The Bears were downright sloppy, which falls squarely on the shoulders of Matt Nagy and the rest of the coaching staff. The blatant lack of discipline was enough to drive former Bears’ linebacker Lance Briggs to chime in.
The Bears’ defense held the Saints to just 21 points, 14 of which came in the second half.
The defense assembled a valiant effort to keep the Bears in the game as long as they could, only to succumb to the ineptitude of the offense. That same storyline has been a staple of Bears football for most of the season.
Even so, the defense does have its faults. The tackling, for one, has been poor as missed tackles have become the recurring theme of 2020. Chuck Pagano, his defensive scheme, and a lack of adjustments are all themes that run parallel with the tackling narrative. Pagano’s defense has become fairly predictable, much like Nagy’s offense.
Bears fans should keep their eyes peeled because Pagano may be a casualty of sweeping changes at Halas Hall.
While Jimmy Graham hauled in only two catches for 28 yards, his final catch was spectacular and resulted in a meaningless touchdown as time expired. However, the score still counted and it brought his touchdown total to nine on the season.
Matt Nagy: Offensive Mind
All in all, it wasn’t a great showing by Nagy. It wasn’t just about this game, as the issues reflect his overall body of work. Sunday’s performance was just a microcosm of what Nagy really is. Suddenly, he felt the need to interject himself in play-calling and shy away from the running game. David Montgomery had been performing well up to this point but only had 12 carries for 31 yards. On a crucial third-and-two scenario, Nagy elected to get cute and call on Ryan Nall. The depth running back got stuffed for no gain.
It’s evident that Nagy’s scheme is flawed and probably not a good fit for the Chicago Bears. Entering the fourth quarter of a playoff game, the Bears had just cracked 100 yards passing.
Even so, the most egregious part of Matt Nagy’s day was the fact that the he essentially threw in the towel.
Go ahead and laugh — or cry — at the following figures. I’ll be joining you.
The Chicago Bears season is over. While they finished 8-8 and made it back to the playoffs, it all ended abruptly at the hands of the New Orleans Saints.
The Bears are what their record indicates — an average football team. An aging and regressing defense paired with a broken offense plus a head coach who is in over his head is not a recipe for success. Matt Nagy continues to lie to himself. His ego and stubbornness continue to get in his way of effectively managing a football game. Beyond the X’s and O’s, Nagy continues to pass blame rather than just owning his shortcomings. After three seasons in Chicago, he finds himself with a 28-20 record and two trips to the playoffs, both of which failed miserably. Along with that, he’s had three straight years of a bottom-of-the-barrel offense.
What’s On Tap Next?
Nothing. The season is over. The players and coaches will have their exit interviews starting Monday. It’s entirely possible the Bears announce significant changes this week or in the near future if they choose to go that route. Otherwise, Ryan Pace and the Bears will hold their end-of-season press conference at some point. Then it’s officially on to the offseason where the Bears will have some tough decisions to make.
Thanks to their late-season rally against subpar opponents, the Bears fell to the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft. Was it really worth it?
Hopefully, the offseason brings in some much-needed change because Bears fans deserve better than this.
As for the fans, what’s next? Everyone can just kick back and relax now. Take some time to de-stress. Chicago football fans deserve a mental and emotional break after what they witnessed during the 2020 season. It’s going to be a long eight months before Bears football is back for the start of the 2021 season.
The Bears On Tap crew offers their sincerest thanks to everyone who followed along this year!
Be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast for the final postgame reaction of the season and keep it locked in for updates, analysis, and discussion throughout the offseason.