Bernstein: Sloppy Bears Can't Take Advantage

October 21, 2018 - 4:00 pm
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(670 The Score) Though we allowed ourselves to anticipate the Patriots coming to Chicago on Sunday as something special and possibly definitive for the Bears, it turned out to be anything but that. Instead, it was an opportunity squandered amid various misses and mishaps, a 38-31 loss to New England, and a game better defined not by what it was but what it was not.

It wasn't one last yard, with Bears receiver Kevin White hauling in a desperation heave as time expired but not able to reach the goal line to force overtime, but too much had already happened to make it a meaningful focus.

It wasn't a particularly impressive performance by one of the top franchises in the history of pro sports, in part due to lacking star tight end Rob Gronkowski and losing running back Sony Michel to an early injury. These Patriots were far from a prime version of themselves, turning the ball over three times and taking defensive penalties that kept drives alive.

Hail Mary full of heartbreak for Bears

It wasn't a good day for Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky by any means, except for 81 entertaining rushing yards that were more a function of a failed passing game than any strategic exploitation. He was better with his feet than his arm, completing just 26 of 50 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He again took inexplicable risks with the ball in or near the end zone and reverted to various inaccuracies both on the move and in the pocket. Trubisky erred both high and low, long and short, in front of receivers and behind, not getting any rhythm until he trailed by 14 points late and the middle of the field opened up.

It wasn't a performance to remember for Bears special teams, surrendering a 95-yard score by Cordarrelle Patterson on a kickoff return and allowing a blocked punt that was scooped up by Kyle Van Noy and run back for a score.  

It wasn't seeing the best players in the best positions to succeed, with receiver Josh Bellamy logging enough action to lose a catchable deep ball in the sun and fail to fight Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson hard enough for possession on one of Trubisky's interceptions. Bears coach Matt Nagy also must like the work of tight end Ben Braunecker more than the rest of us, despite the fact that he's regularly in the picture when something is going wrong or nearly wrong. Nagy made a curious call at the end of the first half by eschewing a 58-yard field goal attempt so he could ... throw an underneath crosser to Tarik Cohen. It was all the more strange in hindsight, after White plucked one out of the air at the end.

Litmus test reveals Bears have a long way to go

It wasn't a healthy Khalil Mack, whose sprained ankle is limiting him. He was used more often than usual in coverage Sunday, which had to be a sign that his pass-rushing powers are compromised. Leonard Floyd is still not making a palpable impact, either.

It wasn't the improved tackling we were promised after the Bears grabbed the easy excuse of Miami's weather conditions causing them to struggle at getting opponents on the ground last week. On a crisp fall day at home, they continued to flail at ball-carriers in the open field, with safety Eddie Jackson victimized once again on a 55-yard ramble by Patriots receiver Josh Gordon.

It wasn't a whole lot of fun, it wasn't a very well-played game by either team overall and it wasn't any kind of next step for a Bears team hoping to prove ready for this kind of thing. The opportunity was there, but their response wasn't.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​​​​​​​