Angel92: Bears should win most important game of John Fox era — but don't count on it
Bears should win most important game of John Fox era — but don't count on it
Not since Dec. 22, 2008, have the Bears been favored against the Packers.
Kyle Orton started at quarterback. Alex [url=www.cmslamp.com/robert-golden-jersey-c-2_19.html]http://www.cmslamp.com/robert-golden-jersey-c-2_19.html[/url] Brown, who now analyzes games for NBC Sports Chicago, saved that one with a blocked field goal at the end of regulation. The Bears won 20-17 in overtime. Somewhere in Mentor, Ohio, 14-year-old Mitchell Trubisky probably stayed up past bedtime to catch Robbie Gould’s game-winning 38-yard field goal on “Monday Night Football.”
“I’m starting to figure out it’s a pretty big deal,’’ Trubisky said of the Bears-Packers rivalry.
Nine years after the Packers last played the role of underdogs in this historic series, Trubisky will lead the Bears in the biggest regular-season game of the John Fox era Sunday at Soldier Field — though regular-season game is redundant for a team that last played in the postseason in 2010. The 3-5 Bears, in fact, have occupied the NFC North basement since December 2015, long enough to tempt Cook County commissioners to tax them for so much cellar-dwelling.
A tremendous opportunity to escape comes against the struggling 4-4 Packers, who arrive for the first time in 26 years without a quarterback headed to Canton. Brett Hundley is to Aaron Rodgers what karaoke is to opera, giving the Bears with their fierce defense and forceful running game a real chance to restore relevance to November football in Chicago, a rarity this decade.
But keep in mind that is all it is: A chance. A loose bunch of Bears sounded like they know enough to ignore Las Vegas and maintain focus but, outside Halas Hall, a torrent of overconfidence threatens to make the Des Plaines River crest.
Assume nothing about these Bears, free advice necessitated after years of watching this team execute and hours of listening to local fans and media exaggerate this week. Look at the standings again everyone; the Bears are 3-5, not 5-3. They still are coming off a loss to the Saints and averaging only 16.8 points per game. They have scored one touchdown in their last 27 offensive possessions. Take another peek at the offensive depth chart; when the biggest compliment about Bears wide receivers involves their downfield blocking, it says everything about the state of the Bears passing game. That’s like complimenting a singer on his wardrobe.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains acknowledged Wednesday defenses have used nine-man fronts, a schematic slap in the face to every Bears wide receiver, whoever they are. In the Bears locker room after Loggains spoke, two of those wide receivers, Dontrelle Inman and Markus Wheaton, were surrounded by reporters who either were looking for good quotes or name tags. Inman and Wheaton have three combined catches in 2017. This will be the Bears’ first game without their most proven playmaker in the passing game, tight end Zach Miller, the injured leader who will be missed.
So to say that Trubisky and his 47.5 percent [url=www.steelersprosale.com/larry-foote-jerseys-c-1_99.html]http://www.steelersprosale.com/larry-foote-jerseys-c-1_99.html[/url] completion percentage automatically give the Bears offense an edge over Hundley and the Packers’ requires an Olympian-like leap of faith.
Still, so many traditional factors favor the Bears. They return home after enjoying a week off, as opposed to a Packers team traveling after a practice week shortened by “Monday Night Football.’’ They will have the strongest unit on the field against the Packers, unusual but undeniable given Rodgers’ absence and the defense’s dominance. They will welcome a Packers offense that lost starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga to a torn ACL and a defense that has lost its edge. They have a head coach in Fox who dared to utter the P word — playoffs — to motivate a team in what has become the NFC’s easiest division to win.
If the Bears can’t defeat the Packers with everything on their side, then you can’t trust them to meet any redefined expectations. If the Bears blow a game they should win, then an encouraging first half goes down as little more than a big tease. Beat the Packers and every goal will appear more within reach for the Bears. Lose and the uncertainty surrounding Fox’s job status will increase. Sorry, cliche kings, this isn’t just one game. This is four quarters that will serve as a referendum on the direction of the Bears under Fox.
“It’s clearly a better offense today than the one we saw going into the first game,’’ Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “They’re taking care of the football and they’re playing old school, hard John Fox football."
The only schools older than Fox’s used one room, but that approach works for a team starting a rookie quarterback. Trubisky seemed antsy about opening up the offense but, until he demonstrates more consistent command, the Bears can accomplish more asking him to do less.
“Before you win, you have to find ways not to lose,’’ Loggains said, finally sounding wise.
Nobody denies developing Trubisky represents the No. 1 priority this season — but people often overstate that as the Bears’ only priority. It isn’t. Along the way, a Top 10 defense and running game established the Bears’ identity and made them competitive. Now, the coaching staff needs to strike the proper balance between helping Trubisky grow and winning winnable games.
Nothing says the Bears can’t do both, beginning Sunday.