Although the Chicago Bears made the playoffs with help from the LA Rams, they looked competitive against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers for three quarters. It looked like they were even going to take the lead. Heading into the fourth quarter, Chicago was on the move, completing a couple of fourth downs along the way. However, their 4th down magic ran out, they turned the ball over on downs, and Green Bay never looked back en route to a 35-16 victory. Here are my Chicago Bears Week 17 takeaways.
The Bears Defense Needs to Get Healthy
Starting CBs Jaylon Johnson (shoulder) and Buster Skrine (concussion) have been out for awhile now, and the Bears desperately need them back. Their replacements, rookie CB Kindle Vildor, and 2nd year CB Duke Shelley have done an admirable job, but they aren’t the same caliber players. Aaron Rodgers was targeting them a lot in the game, and rightfully so. Vildor and Shelley aren’t as experienced. Johnson is a rookie as well, but his play has been like a veteran. Chicago will need a healthy and ready secondary to face Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.
To make matters worse, Bears star LB Roquan Smith (elbow) went down early in the first quarter against Green Bay. Smith was snubbed of a Pro Bowl, but his numbers speak for themselves: 139 tackles, four sacks, and two interceptions. Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious and he’ll be able to suit up in the Wild Card game. If Johnson, Skrine, and Smith can return, then the Bears defense may be able to put up a fight.
Believe It or Not, the Bears Offense Has Gotten Better
Yes, the Bears offense only put up 16 points yesterday after scoring 30+ in four straight games. Additionally, they had to settle for three field goals, but they were moving the ball down the field, taking time off the clock, and wearing down the Packers defense. Chicago had more first downs (21 to 17), more offensive plays (74 to 44), more total yards (356 to 316), and had the advantage on time of possession by 11 minutes. Mitchell Trubisky (33-42, 252 yards) was effective. He made one mistake, and that was a pick late in the fourth quarter. He was trying to make something out of nothing trailing by 12 points late in the fourth. The best play from Trubisky was a 53-yard pass to Darnell Mooney (11 catches for 93 yards). Chicago needs more splash plays if they want to compete with the better offenses in the league.
Another huge reason the offense has gotten better is David Montgomery and the O-Line. Montgomery finished with 1070 rushing yards (fifth in the NFL) after a late season surge. He’s a workhorse for this offense and his ability to break tackles and turn plays from nothing into something has been able to elevate Chicago’s offensive game plan. The Bears will need a heavy dose of Montgomery against New Orleans.
Nagy’s Job is Most Likely Safe
With a second playoff berth in three seasons as Head Coach, Matt Nagy’s job is most likely safe. There was speculation he would be cut loose if the Bears failed to turn things around. However, the 8-8 Chicago Bears are a playoff team. It’s been a tough season for Nagy who decided to turn to Nick Foles during Week 3. However, after a losing streak and injury to Foles, he decided to turn back to Trubisky. The offense was horrendous for a long stretch during the season, so much so that Nagy gave up play-calling to Offensive Coordinator Bill Lazor.
Over his tenure as Head Coach for the Bears, Nagy started off with a bang, winning Coach of the Year in 2018 after leading the 12-4 Bears back to the playoffs. Since then, it’s been an up and down ride. Nagy was often criticized for how he handled games and called games. Even so, it looks like his job is safe for the 2021 season. Nagy is 28-20 overall during his three seasons with the Bears.
The Bears Are In and They Have a Chance
Anything can happen in the NFL playoffs. It can get crazy. Every team is 0-0. The Bears are an interesting playoff team. They got an above average defense (when fully healthy) and an improving offense. The Saints are a great team. They defeated Chicago 26-23 in OT during the regular season with a Taysom Hill vs. Nick Foles battle. A lots changed since then. This matchup will be interesting. Sunday at 3:40 CT, it’s Trubisky vs. Brees. Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints. Get ready.
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