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The best way to react to the Bears' 30-27 overtime loss to the Giants on Sunday? Mine is gratitude - gratitude for what is now 13 weeks of awesome football entertainment (this team was even entertaining during the bye week, baby!).
Yes, the Bears lost to a team they should beat four times out of five, even with a backup quarterback. And yes, we now begin to suspect that general manager Ryan Pace blew another quarterback evaluation when he signed Chase Daniel as Mitch Trubisky's backup for 2018. At least throw a frickin' spiral, man! (Although the one pass Daniel can make with consistency is the lofted wobbler to the amazing Tarik Cohen down the sideline. Then again I think the quarterback just fumbled again.)
Part of the gratitude is the fact that the 8-4 Bears still lead the division comfortably over a Viking (6-5-1) team that lost to the Patriots on Sunday night. And then there is the fact that the Bears aren't the Packers, who have blown another season with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. This one is so embarrassing that the Cheeseheads just panicked and fired their 13-year head coach during the season, something they hadn't done since 1953.
But I am most thankful that watching this Bears team is seriously fun. Matt Nagy's inventive play-calling (and special teams coach Chris Tabor's first potentially game-changing success!) almost enabled his team to come back and snatch a seriously unlikely victory back from the jaws of defeat Sunday afternoon.
The guy is aggressive and fearless. The call for Cohen to throw a pass on the final play of the game (barring a defensive penalty) was the ultimate microcosm of how he will make any call at any time if he believes it will work. Nice catch, Anthony Miller!
Special teams came through in a game-changing way for the first time all season when Tabor's onside kick team worked it perfectly in the final two minutes. Daniel Brown made the recovery of Cody Parkey's perfect grubber and the Bears were in business. And thank you to Odell Beckham for his brutally weak effort on the play.
Defensively, coordinator Vic Fangio is still struggling to adjust. Despite the presence of Saquon Barkley in the Giant backfield, Fangio didn't respect his foes' rushing game. You know that because this defense almost never deploys a third linebacker - they start in the nickel formation and stay in it until they switch to the dime (with yet another DB).
And that worked in the first half until the last 20 seconds. In the second half, when the Giants started to wear the Bears down, it sure looked like the local team needed another linebacker out there. It didn't happen and the Giants were able to take a 10-point lead into the final minute. And after the Bears miraculously forced overtime, the by-far biggest play of the extra session was a huge run by Barkley on a basic sweep that met almost no resistance from the Bears until Barkley was about 20 yards down the field. Get a third linebacker in there sometimes, Vic!
And finally this idea that the Bears got selfish at the end of the first half and paid a terrible price might be the stupidest thing I've ever heard - and Chicago's professional sports commentariat produces crushing stupidity on a weekly basis.
The Bears called a timeout with less than 20 seconds left in the first half hoping to force the Giants to punt. Teams do that because there is always a chance to wreak havoc on opposing punts - especially in wet conditions. And the Giants were ready to oblige, calling a give-up, conservative running play on a third down and forever.
They were then ludicrously lucky to watch Barkley weave and bob his way into Bears territory and a fourth-and-short. An out play for a first down with one second left enabled the Giants to try an unlikely 57-yard field goal.
Field goals are only worth three points, people. The Bears still led by four at the break. I will take Nagy trying to make an aggressive call in that situation every day. And the people who say he did something wrong are suffering from severe outcome bias. The percentage play was to force the Giants to make a few plays against what was a rampaging Bears defense at that point.
And now we turn our attention to next Sunday's prime time showdown with the Rams. Something tells me that game will be slightly fun as well.
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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Posted on May 22, 2019