SportsMonday: Glorious Fall Goes Dark

The Bears will bounce back. The little Bears are done, i.e., the Cubs are no longer a serious contender to win a playoff series, let alone a pennant.

The North Siders might still squeak into the postseason but who could possibly be optimistic about their chances in even a wild card game against a Nationals team that will be able to choose between three aces (Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin) who are all better than the Cubs' best?

And the Cubs in a series of any length against the scorching Atlanta Braves or the way-out-in-front Dodgers or even the Cardinals? I don't think so. There are the final seven regular season games against St. Louis for the team to give the end of the season a little bit of a positive spin. But it's not bloody likely.

The primary happenstance that we all knew would do in the Cubs this year if it happened, is happening - their old pitchers are getting too old in a hurry.

Jon Lester and Cole Hamels have been lousy for a while now and it sure doesn't feel like slumps. It feels like their runs as well-above-average starting pitchers are coming to an end. And the team has developed no one to take their places. Oh, and their hitting and their bullpen aren't good enough either.

So let's move on to the gridiron, eh? First of all, let's dispense with the one positive to come out of the Bears' season-opening debacle - it was only one game. The Bears lost their opener at home last year and went on to finish 12-4. That must be taken into account. And yes, the fact that last year's loss was all about Aaron Rodgers' brilliance as opposed to the Bears' offensive ineptitude hurts, but still.

Whoops, wait a minute, there is one other post-game positive: An honest evaluation of Mitch Trubisky has finally commenced.

It couldn't have been clearer in the season opener that Trubisky is still a long way from championship quarterback material. Multiple local sports scribes have finally stopped drinking Bears Kool-Aid long enough to point out that, wow, trading up to get Trubisky instead of just staying put and drafting Pat Mahomes (or Deshaun Watson) in the first round in 2017 sure was stupid.

And when the defense shows it lacks depth at some point this season, hopefully it will be pointed out that Pace's trading up in draft after draft (throwing away five draft picks in the last three years alone to acquire players - Trubisky, Anthony Miller and David Montgomery - who have shown few signs of justifying those trades) is not a sound strategy in general or in the specifics. And at the very least it must always be acknowledged that it is a strategy that no one else in the NFL deploys.

We have been trying to point this out since the day of that draft but let's go ahead and do it again: This awesome Bears defense could be paired up with the reigning MVP! And yes, you didn't know that Mahomes would be MVP in 2018 right after the '17 draft, but there were plenty of reasons to believe he would be much better than Trubisky - in the short term and the long.

But what the scribes say doesn't matter (okay, it matters a little, I mean, what am I doing here if not? Don't answer that). What matters is that Matt Nagy was paying attention and will adjust his way of doing things - particularly his game-planning game plans - accordingly.

The imbalance between the running game and the passing game last Thursday evening was so severe it qualifies as ridiculous (and again, we do not use that term loosely at Beachwood Sports). Nagy called 53 through-the-air plays to 12 on the ground. There were a few run-pass options that might have changed the numbers a bit if Trubisky had made different choices, but not enough to matter.

If the Bears had been chasing a multi-score deficit, a fan might be able to justify that imbalance at least a little bit, but the home team never trailed by more than a touchdown.

Nagy doesn't just need more balance - he needs an attitude adjustment. The most important thing going forward with this offense will be to do everything you can to not allow it to blow games all by itself. We're not saying become a ball-control, run-dominant squad - that won't work either. It is clear the Bears can still use the pass to set up the run more than vice versa and yet still dish out plenty of handoffs.

Next up is the Broncos, who will have far less recovery time this week after playing the late Monday game. Hey Bears, let's go for good ridiculous this time! You can do it!


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

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