As the Bears eased to another loss on Sunday night thoughts of the future were almost inevitable. This team isn’t really any good, not really. If expectations were low heading into the season following a tepid at best preseason, the first two games of the season probably lowered them ever further. So not much was expected of the Bears on the road at the Cowboys. Just string together some good football. Demonstrate improvements in all facets of the game. Show some signs of what Ryan Pace and John Fox have supposedly been building.
And this game was the perfect opportunity to do so. After a humiliating defeat to the Eagles on Monday Night Football, facing a good Dallas Cowboys team at home the hope for the Bears was that they simply show up. Show you can bounce back. Furthermore, with Jay Cutler, Eddie Goldman, Danny Trevathan, Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan out for this game, and with at least Goldman and Trevathan out for multiple weeks, demonstrate some of the roster depth that has been built. The goal should always be to win, but in the absence of victory the Bears had the perfect opportunity to show that this rebuilding project is bearing some fruit. So how did they do?
Below the Bears preseason performance is broken down into 3 categories: The Good, The Bad and the What the @&#!? I think these categories are fairly self-explanatory.
- With 8 receptions and 2 touchdowns on 9 targets Zach Miller was finally a part of the offense. He showed he was still a threat over the middle as he was last season. If Miller can stay healthy he gives the Bears a legitimate weapon in the passing game.
- Kevin White finally showed progress. The Bears continue to try to get White involved in the offense, as demonstrated by his 14 targets, and against the Cowboys you could see some signs of why the Bears made him a top-10 pick in 2015. He is still extremely raw and still hasn’t shown the explosiveness promised but 6 receptions and 62 yards is a step forward. White also got behind coverage a few times and Hoyer looked to him deep, what should be a staple of the Bears offense going forward.
- The Bears offense was really lop-sided with only 15 rushing attempts to 49 passes, but Jordan Howard got his chance with Ka’Deem Carey out and Jeremy Langford injured in the second half. And Howard delivered with 9 carries for 45 yards and 4 receptions for 47 yards. Those who prognosticated Howard grabbing the starting RB job by midseason may have been correct.
- For maybe the first time all season the Bears showed some actual sustained capability on offense. The offense still isn’t good but the progress is encouraging, especially with Cutler out.
- An effective defense needs to be able to generate a pass rush, stop the run and cover in the secondary. Not all of these all the time; not a dominating defense. And maybe not even all of these things. A good pass rush can make up for weaknesses in coverage. The ability to stop the run can make an opponent single-faceted and enhance other parts of the defense. The Bears do none of these well, almost ever.
- The Cowboys had 199 yards rushing, at 4.9 yards per rush.
- Dak Prescott, while not spectacular, had a very efficient game and consistently moved the ball against the Bears defense. He had a 123.6 passer rating.
- One reason for Prescott’s performance is that the Bears continue to demonstrate they cannot cover anybody. And Jacoby Glenn is brutal. He allowed Cole Beasley his first 21+ yard reception in his career. Beasley has been in the NFL for 6 seasons.
- The Bears defense did force and recover a fumble but had no other turnovers. They also had no sacks and only 1 QB hit.
What the @&#!?:
- The Bears looked like an actual NFL team at times, but they were never in the game. Three weeks, no possibility of victory. Outside of the first half against the Texans the Bears have never looked competitive. After the first game you could maybe say the team had to warm up after doing nothing in the preseason. The second game you could say the Bears just weren’t ready to play, for whatever reason. This was the third game. The Bears just aren’t any good.
The Bears are 0-3. They are 1 of only 3 winless teams (Jaguars and Browns are the others) in the NFL (the Saints play tonight). Year 2 of the John Fox regime is supposed to be when the turnaround starts. There are no signs of improvement. If anything the team has regressed since last season. The 2015-16 Bears won only 6 games but were competitive and could have won more than that. If the current form continues can the Bears get to 6 wins again? 5? Maybe 4?
However, what is more depressing than the record is the lack of hope. The Jaguars and Browns are in totally different positions. The Jaguars have talent, they just can’t translate talent into wins. The Browns are actively trying to be bad. Even considering the 1-win teams, they have hope. The Cardinals, Panthers and Bengals are playoff-caliber teams with every expectation to turn it around. The Jets, Bills, Colts and Lions have talent and while may not be playoff teams should be expected to compete for wild card spots, or at least .500. The Buccaneers, Redskins and Titans all expect they have found their QB-of-the-future. These teams also have more talent than the Bears. That leaves the Dolphins, the 49ers and the Chargers. The Chargers are a middling team but do have some talent on defense and with Philip Rivers at QB will have a representative offense. The 49ers and Dolphins are rebuilding. Year 1. But have looked much more competitive than the Bears, even though their expectations were probably lower.
The Bears can’t score and they can’t stop other teams from scoring. They are 0-3 with no signs of competitiveness. Where’s the hope?
Some other Bears takes from the game:
- Chicago Sun-Times
- Chicago Tribune
- ESPN Chicago
- CSN Chicago
- NBC Chicago
- Pro Football Weekly
- Windy City Gridiron
- Bears Wire