Sigh. Aaron Rodgers happened. A lot here to talk about. Let’s start with the positives:
1. Khalil Mack was worth every penny.
Mack looked like every bit the destroyer of worlds we saw in Oakland when he put on a navy and orange jersey. He began the game on the bench, then came in and made an immediate impact. He pressured Rodgers, forcing him into errant throws. He embarrassed offensive tackle Brian Bulaga with dip and rip moves, inside-out moves, and a dominant bull rush. The tangible production came against backup DeShone Kizer, against whom he produced a “gimme that” strip sack in the red zone and a thundering pick-six to end the first half.
He was silenced in the second half, however, and that’s because…
2. Green Bay made adjustments. The Bears failed to do the same.
Chicago has a dominant pass rush and Aaron Rodgers is hobbled? Get the ball out quickly. That’s what they did all second half and the Bears were powerless to stop it. Green Bay refused to let Khalil Mack beat them any more than he already had and put the game on the shoulders of the Bears’ secondary, who collapsed in crunch time.
This is eerily reminiscent of the last game Nagy coached before Sunday night, Kansas City’s playoff game against the Titans. After the first two possessions for Chicago, in which Mitch Trubisky played fantastically, all the creativity completely went away.
Instead, he relied on predictable screen passes, some excellent play from Jordan Howard, and refused to throw the ball down the field. He coached like he was scared, and like he doesn’t know how to attack a defense (which, as he showed in the first quarter, he absolutely does).
Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, who ate Green Bay alive all night, did not get the ball nearly enough. Howard and Cohen each should have touched the ball five to ten more times than they did and if that happened, the Bears are 1-0 right now.
3. Yes, Trubisky was terrible in the second half. But Nagy did not help.
I hate to say this, but there is no other way to put it. First and foremost, he tended to tuck it and run as soon as his first read was not open. This led him to not see open targets with relative frequency, like when Tarik Cohen was open in the back of the end zone on the Bears’ second to last offensive drive. In the end, he was nothing short of erratic.
He panicked under pressure. He sailed throws over the heads of open receivers. Though the Bears had the ball at midfield with plenty of time and timeouts left to get in field goal range, nobody in the right mind thought that they would pull it out because of the way the quarterback was playing.
However, Nagy shares much of the blame for how his signal caller performed. Trubisky started the game 7-7 with 104 yards and a touchdown run, in a great rhythm, and cruising to a double-digit lead.
Then all the creativity, the misdirection, the downfield passing – gone. In the red zone, the boot/slide touchdown to Trey Burton against Denver in the preseason was a more creative play call than anything I saw tonight. By constantly trying to dink and dunk with screen passes that fooled nobody, Nagy completely took Trubisky out of his rhythm and was in part responsible for the Bears’ demise.
4. This is not the end of the world.
As humiliating as the collapse was, this is still the team that punched Green Bay in the mouth and jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead. The Packers are a talented team with the best quarterback to ever play the game at the wheel and they will do things like this from time to time.
As tempting as it is to say “Same old Bears,” these are not the same old Bears. They have Khalil Mack and a defense that allowed nothing through two and a half quarters. They have a quarterback who while he finished poorly showed that he has the talent to take this team a long way. This is a much more talented team than the Bears have seen in this decade and they were one Kyle Fuller dropped interception away from escaping Green Bay with a victory.
I fully expect them to destroy Seattle next week. They have a far inferior roster and a great but not nearly as transcendent quarterback. If the offense protects the ball and Nagy finally learns from his mistakes, they will win on Monday night. And anything less than 3-1 heading into the bye week would be disappointing given their schedule and them anything less than 2-2 would be inexcusable.
It is a long way away from Bears vs. Seahawks and the team will have a while to think about what they’ve just done. This is a young group that needs to learn how to win and I think that should happen in the coming weeks.
Follow Jack on Twitter–Featured Photo Credit: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune