Joniak's Journal: The Day After The Bears' Heartbreaking Loss

Jeff Joniak
September 10, 2018 - 6:04 pm

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) – Jeff Joniak offers his takeaways from Chicago’s painful loss to arch rival Green Bay on Sunday.

 

First Impression

I am still sick about the 24-23 loss by the Bears in Green Bay.  I am also encouraged by what I believe the Bears are capable of in 2018.  Head Coach Matt Nagy repeatedly says it “will take some time.”  I just hope the hangover for a young team isn’t a long one.  My gut reaction is they believe they can win games.  Now, they just have to learn how to win games and close them when the opportunity presents.  

“We got to really have finish mentality,” Nagy said Monday at a Halas Hall news conference. “Close isn’t good enough.”

Nagy feels he is on top of the situation after reviewing the tape of the loss, in depth. His most important quote of the day is the one he is messaging to his players:

“If you have the negative, pessimistic approach to it, then that’s all wrong. We’re not gonna have that. We’re not gonna have it as coaches. We’re not gonna have that as players. We’re gonna learn from it, and that’s my job as a head coach to make sure that they learn from it.  Trust me, I will be harder on myself more than anybody.”

He said he has a much clearer picture today than he did last night.

 

Second Thought

Nagy’s offense is a ball-control offense, and it worked that way for chunks of the game’s 10 offensive possessions.

“We had an eight-, a nine-, a ten-, a twelve-, and a 14-play drive,” Nagy said. “That’s the good part. The bad part: We struggled in the red zone so we’ve got to get that fixed.” 

However, four of the other five drives were three-and-outs. Those stops by the Packers led quarterback Aaron Rodgers to stay in rhythm in the second half and come up with three game-deciding touchdown throws in the fourth quarter for the first time in his career.

It is the fourth 20-point blown lead by the Bears since 1980. The last was in 2002 against New England 33-30, after leading by 21.

 

Third Degree

Green Bay’s Randall Cobb did it to the Bears again. Remember the 48-yard catch and run at Soldier Field on fourth-and-eight a few years back, taking advantage of a mental error by the safety? It replays in my mind repeatedly and I can describe it in every detail from memory. The same is true about Sunday night’s 75-yard game winner. Secondary coach Ed Donatell fingered the reason for the big play, and it has everything to do with staying deepest of the deep at safety.   Eddie Jackson did not stay on “top” of Cobb, and, to his credit, was inches from getting his hands on the pass, but Cobb caught the 11-yard throw and ran away for the other 65 yards for the touchdown.

“He’s got a ball-hawking mentality and he’s very effective for us and he’s got some real good ball ahead of him,” Donatell said.

“We tell him to stay top shoulder when things break out and plays get extended and that’s what he will do next time.”

These rip-your-heart-out kinds of losses always serve as a teaching tool for years to come. It will for the Bears secondary.  The same goes for cornerback Kyle Fuller, who dropped an interception thrown right to him by Rodgers late in the fourth quarter.

 

Fourth-and-short

From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. last week, new outside linebacker Khalil Mack diligently prepared for the Packers with a number of coaches and players, including his position coach Brandon Staley. 

“He’s so serious about his craft,” Staley said. “We didn’t want to skip any steps, and I think that’s something we did a good job of -- laying a foundation of how we want to play from a technique standpoint, then from a scheme standpoint, then from a situation standpoint.”

Mack is unique. The most important thing to him is winning.

“This guy has got a lot higher standard for himself than anybody else,” Staley said.

Mack is the first player since the advent of the sack in 1982 to have a sack-FF-FR-INT-TD in one half, which he did Sunday night in Green Bay.

 

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.