I wanted to write this on Monday but I am glad I didn’t. It would have been too emotionally charged. The Bears magical season came to a crashing halt on Sunday in Soldier field. The season didn’t go out with a bang it didn’t go out with a whimper it went out with….a doink and another doink and a thud. The 43 yard field goal which would have won the game hit the left upright (doink) and then the cross bar (doink) and then the ground (thud). The Eagles Broadcast in Spanish captured the moment quite well https://twitter.com/OttBunks/status/1082126486683807745 Staley the Bears mascot was the perfect symbol of the team as that moment as he stood under the goal posts watching the kick and falling to the ground as it missed. https://twitter.com/jeffpearlman/status/1082078273654476801 The stadium was silent, in shock and dismay. Al Michaels also in shock saying “it’s impossible” This one hurts. Cody Parkey missed 11 kicks all in all on the year. Cody Parkey was talked about all week on local sports radio and Bears Barroom as the one element of the team that there was lack of confidence in. Parkey lined up and made the first kick but the Eagles called a time out to ice Parkey. Never before has there been a kicker that was so easily iced. To Parkey’s credit he was at his locker to answer questions and took the full blame. The team said the right things and rallied around their teammate. In the end Parkey made 3 field goals to put them in position to possibly win the game, but has one job and is highly paid to make these kicks in high-pressure situations. Parkey failed in this game and failed throughout the year. A great analysis of the kick and Parkey by John Santucci was done for Bears Barroom https://bearsbarroom.com/killed-by-the-sword-of-damocles/ The playoffs have a way of exposing a teams weaknesses and this was no different. Later video came out showing that the kick was slightly tipped by a Eagle defender. In my opinion it still misses but officially it was changed to a blocked kick https://twitter.com/StaceyDales/status/1082116217849200640 https://twitter.com/theMMQB/status/1082373501049360385 Kicking, special teams and 4thquarter defense have been this teams weaknesses all year and those all played a factor in the loss. The Bears lost by one point. They lost 4 games this season by a combined 14 points and many of those had failures of Parkey and special teams as the culprit. There were many chances to win the game including having a 5-point lead and the defense giving up the game-winning touchdown. The Bears were favored even going up against the defending champs who were riding a wave with Foles back at QB. In the end the Bears couldn’t get it done.
Here are the reasons, besides Parkey, that the Bears didn’t win in my opinion.
- Injuries- Eddie Jackson dressed but for some reason didn’t play. Foles threw many balls that I believe would have been intercepted had Pro Bowler and All Pro Eddie Jackson played. Trey Burton missed the game to a mysterious groin injury, which popped up on Saturday leading to him being a late scratch. Burton is a big part of the offense in the passing game and blocking as well. His absence was felt in many ways. Health, which had been very good all year, failed the team in the biggest game of the year.
- Poor offensive production in the first half- the offense couldn’t get anything going and turned 2 Eagle interceptions into only 3 points. The Eagles pass rush was frustrating Trubisky and they kept a linebacker to spy on him limiting his running ability. Trubisky also came up slightly lame and seemed a bit more tentative even after he returned.
- Alshon Jeffrey and killed the Bears. 6 catches for 82 yards and Kyle Fuller couldn’t cover him for most of the game. He relished beating his former team waving goodbye and trolling the fans. https://twitter.com/JClarkNBCS/status/1082099019097227271
- The Bears pass rush failed to get home. Foles was able to get the ball out quickly and was only sacked once. Mack had some pressures and one tackle for loss but Lane Johnson and Jason Peters largely kept him in check.
- Pat O’Donnell’s punt in the 4th The Bears got the ball back up by 5 with 7:02 left on the clock. They failed to get a first down and O’Donnell who had punted well all game was only able to get off a 36-yard punt setting up the Eagles with a drive starting at the 40 yard line.
- The 4th qtr defense. The defense had a chance to win the game with the lead. Foles cut them up completing passes to Agholor, Goedert, Ertz and huge 3rddown to Alshon, which took them to first and goal at the 2-yard line. The defense made 3 stops but then gave up a TD to Bears killer Golden Tate.
- Where were Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard? Howard got 10 carries for 35 yds and Tarik Cohen only got one carry as a running back. Howard should have had a huge run but tripped after the line opened up and there was nothing in front of him but green. Cohen had 3 catches for 27 yards but was mostly a non-factor. How a major weapon like that doesn’t more usage is very questionable to me.
- The offensive line. They mostly had a bad game. They missed Trey Burton but Kyle Long who I love didn’t have a good game. Leno failed to hold his block on the 2-point conversion after the Bears lone touchdown. They allowed too much pressure on the Mitch and couldn’t get the run game going. https://twitter.com/FulphilO/status/1082369339578302471
Mitch Trubisky had a mostly good game after the rough first half. https://twitter.com/BearsBarroom/status/1082063684468441088He led the team on what should have been a heroic comeback drive. Mitch made huge throws to get them in position to win the game with a field goal. https://twitter.com/DanDeYoung80/status/1082445404610932736 Allen Robinson also had a huge game cementing himself as this teams #1 Wideout. The final Bears drive was set up by a great kickoff return by Tarik Cohen who was mostly a non-factor in the game. It was his first kickoff return of the game. For some reason prior to that Bellamy was returning kickoffs with Cohen relegated to punt return duty. Many missed opportunities and too many field goals and not enough touchdowns were to blame as the defense held the opponent to 16 points. That's a game that the Bears should win all things being equal.
Kris Amstrong put together a great recap of the game for Bears Barroom https://bearsbarroom.com/of-course-this-is-what-happens/
A rainy depressed Monday was spent wondering what could have been. Reminiscing on the great 12-4 season that ended so abruptly. The air has been taken out of the city and the fan base. There is nothing like Chicago in the summer and there is nothing like Chicago when the Bears are good. Now all that is done for this year. Sport shows that would have been buzzing with Bears talk are now left talking about the inept Bulls, the struggling Blackhawks & hoping the hot stove will make the Cubs and White Sox will baseball a story this winter. Bars and restaurants that would be full on some more Sundays will now be quiet and empty as they normally as the winter settles in until early May.
The Bears now face many questions as well. Vic Fangio has just been named the Broncos Head Coach https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/1083046454657191936Who will replace him? Many have speculated that Todd Bowles who has ties to Nagy would be a top candidate. Bowles has also been linked to the Tampa DC job rejoining Bruce Arians who was recently hired as head coach in Tampa.
The Bears also have upcoming free agents in Adrian Amos (Safety) Bryce Callahan (corner), Bobby Massie (right tackle) and Pat O’Donnell (Punter) The also have to decide what to do with Cody Parkey who will cost the team over $5 million against the salary cap if he were to be cut. In my opinion there is no way Parkey should return. They can’t have that narrative infect training camp and next season. It’s best for Parkey and the team if they part ways.
The pain of this loss was also felt by the Bears Barroom. For me listening to Bears on Tap https://twitter.com/aarontor/status/1083051698648743936 and Bears Hour Live wiht former Bear Thomas Jones https://twitter.com/GBraggsJr/status/1082674209967480832were very important in moving on past the pain of the loss. Also Bears 100 Proof with special guest former Bear Earl Bennett had a season recap that just came out today. https://twitter.com/BearsBarroom/status/1082966605578022912
Hope is still there for next season. This Bears team is young, very talented and the arrow is pointed up. A tougher schedule looms ahead but I believe the Bears will remain the best team in the NFC North.
So as we put this season to bed I look back on the good times. The great wins. The fun characters & Club Dub, the end-zone celebration and the exciting offense and defense.
Training camp is 7months away and just like Mitch Trubisky and this team, I can’t wait to get back at it.
Next up the Senior Bowl and the draft.
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