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Sunday's football game at Soldier Field was remarkable. Of course there were larger implications, like the Packers staying alive for the division title with their 30-27 victory, and the fact that the Bears lost again to their arch-rivals.
Just about everyone must have seen a note about this by now but just in case someone is coming in from the cold in more ways than one, the teams are now 94-94-6 against each other since 1921. That is 194 total games by the way. And both teams have won . . . I mean, wow.
Most importantly, by finding a way to lose, the Bears (3-11) protected their draft position. And they did so while still making it clear to every last viewer that they were desperately trying to win the game, rallying from a 27-10 deficit in the fourth quarter, until the last second. That's a win-win in my book.
There is every reason to believe that with just one more win, the Bears will fall out of sole possession of the fourth pick in next year's college talent disbursal. Both the Rams and the Jets are lurking at 4-10 ,and who thinks they will win any more games? If the Bears win one game the last two weeks and the Rams and Jets don't, the Bears fall into a three-way tie for the fourth spot.
Even if they then win (lose?) the tiebreaker and draft fourth in the first round, the pick would then rotate in later rounds, so the Jets would potentially draft fourth in the second and Rams would do so in the third . . . and we obviously don't want that. So just try, try some more in these last few games Bears, and then find a way to lose in the end.
As far as the actual game goes, John Fox took some heat by not going for it on fourth-and-goal from the four in the last minute but come on, the Bears offense was playing great and the Packers' wasn't. It made much more sense to play for overtime. Yes, Aaron Rodgers then threw an amazing bomb to Jordy Nelson to set up the game-winning field goal but I don't care how good he is, that play was a fluke (it was also a play on which Bears defensive back Cre'Von LeBlanc obviously should have had some deep safety help and didn't get it). And did I mention that in the end the Bears won by losing?
Did I also mention that the wind chill was often below zero at Soldier Field on Sunday? And the Bears and Packers still put on a glorious show of football featuring great offense, timely defense (how about Nick Kwiatkowski's tackle for loss blowing up that screen play on the Packers' last possession before the Bears tied it? That was awesome!) and gripping drama.
It was remarkable that either quarterback was able to display any sort of skill in those conditions.
Speaking of quarterbacks, after the game there was more chatter about Matt Barkley still not qualifying as a possibility at starting quarterback for the Bears going forward.
Are you kidding me? Which throw has the 26-year-old Barkley not made in these last four games? He has shown accuracy on throws to virtually every spot on the field - half the time in either pouring snow or bitter, bitter cold.
Yes, a few more interceptions were troublesome on Sunday but come on. Did I mention it was his fourth career start? And that he did all this in the last two games against playoff contending teams?
I am not saying Barkley is going to lead his team (hopefully it will be the Bears for at least one more season) to a championship. Neither will more than 90 percent of the quarterbacks in the NFL. But there is a great chance he will be the team's best option at the position next year. At the very least he deserves a legitimate shot at winning the job next training camp, along with a rookie drafted in the second or third round and this year's injured training camp sensation (Connor Shaw) or perhaps another veteran.
Some have also called for the firing of Fox. My unoriginal reaction to this is simple: If the Bears do it, they do indeed become the Cleveland Browns, clearing the decks every two years or so and never making progress.
That being said, if Fox tells general manager Ryan Pace after the season that he can no longer work with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, all bets are off. If I were Pace, I would be tempted to let Fox go in that situation, keep his coordinators (OC Dowell Loggains has drawn up game plans that have enabled three different quarterbacks to play good offensive football at times for the Bears this season - he deserves a second season on the job) and maybe hire former Bears special teams coach Dave Toub as his head coach in 2017.
For a season that essentially ended about four games ago, this one still has a whole lot of intrigue. I am actually looking forward to next Sunday.
Broncos fans on Twitter were roasting Fox yesterday because coaching decisions by Gary Kubiak were giving them deja vu.— Beachwood Reporter (@BeachwoodReport) December 19, 2016
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our Monday correspondent. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on Mar 16, 2018