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You gotta feel for Cre'Von LeBlanc. Apparently, even management did.
Coming off a big game against Detroit, the young player found himself on the ass end of another magical friggin' Aaron Rodgers dart; a 60-yard pass to Jordy Nelson on 3rd-and-11 that set up a field goal in the 11th hour, 59th minute and 59th second of last Sunday's game which damned the Bears to another loss.
Despite a valiant, 17-point fourth-quarter comeback, Chicago fell 30-27, and at first glance the blame fell squarely to LeBlanc, who was left alone in quarters coverage against Green Bay's number one receiver.
Upon further review, one could argue that the defender should have received some safety help over the top.
One might also ask, why in the seven hells did Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio put LeBlanc in a position to fail? Furthermore, why dial up a defense that clashed so starkly with the flow of the game?
Chicago had just tied it up on a field goal moments earlier after failing to punch it in on third down.
Fine. We're going for the tie and taking it to OT with momentum.
I know some of you wanted to see John Fox whip out some giant balls on fourth-and goal, because there's nothing left to lose this season, so to hell with it, screw the Packers.
But many a Bear fan was comfortable with the reserved strategy, or at least understood that Fox didn't want to have to spend the next day-plus defending a roll of the dice that could have easily came up snake eyes.
How-ev-rrrrrr, the Bears forgot one of the tenets of football and life in general: Always do things whole-assed.
If you're gonna make the conservative, smart money play to avoid losing, the coaching staff as a whole needs to exercise some consistency.
Bust a prevent defense out there in that situation.
If all 200 pounds of Ty Montgomery can find it in him to smash through the line for another 50 yards, you've gotta live with that.
To review, "that situation" found the Packers well out of field goal range, facing 3rd-and-11 in a tie game against an inferior opponent with 30 seconds left in regulation.
But that clearly wasn't the approach in play and when you give this A-Aron another bite at the "inexperienced corner matched with Jordy Nelson" apple, he don't mess up.
No point in dwelling on another rough loss. There will plenty of time next week for retrospectives.
Fox 'n' Friends
A few weeks ago, we took a closer look at the performance of Bears GM Ryan Pace. This week, I'd like to examine John Fox and his coaching regime.
I went into my evaluation of Pace with an opinion formed and was lucky enough to find some evidence to substantiate my thoughts.
To be honest, I've had to whiteboard my feelings about Chicago's coaching staff a bit more to reach a concrete conclusion.
With two games left and 11 losses already in the books, it's safe to label 2016 (chugs shot of blue Kool-Aid, chugs shot of orange Kool-Aid) . . . a disappointment.
Many of us, including myself, thought that the Bears overall play was ready for a marginal uptick from 2015 and the team would become a legit part of the wild card picture this season, albeit buoyed in large part by a weak schedule.
Well that didn't fucking happen!
I would argue that despite the step back, there are real positives to consider when evaluating this coaching staff.
Despite the vast number of injuries that befell the team, the coaches were able to effectively plug back-up players into the starting lineup who usually were passable or above average at their job, with a couple of exceptions; Logan Paulsen and John Timu come to mind.
In several cases, the players that replaced an injured teammate exceeded their predecessor's performance:
- Jordan Howard outperformed Jeremy Langford.
- Cody Whitehair was better than the injured Hroniss Grasu was last year.
- Cameron Meredith has arguably been the Bears' best receiver in 2016.
- Bryan Hoyer and Matt Barkley were both upgrades over 2016 Jay Cutler.
It speaks well of the coaching staff's ability to prepare the team as a whole and also a willingness to build toward next year by giving young players ample opportunity, which is an area this organization has struggled with for years.
I'd also like to point out some prospective positives. Keep in mind these thoughts come loaded with terms like "if" and "to this point."
These terms are often best avoided, for instance when you are telling your wife how long you will be at the bar on a given Wednesday evening.
"Honey, if I drink fewer than 10 beers, then I will most likely come home with fewer arrests for public urination than I have in 2016 to this point."
I can't say for sure exactly how imbued with confidence Mrs. The Author is when sentences like that come out of my mouth, but in the sober(ish) light of day I'm willing to venture a guess that it's . . . hmmmmm . . . a medium level of imbuement.
In this case, I'm willing to include some speculation in my argument because this is the penultimate column of the year and I really won't have time for this shit next week.
- IF (capital "I", capital "F") the Bears win out, they'll have won exactly one game fewer than in 2015. Not so much of a "positive," but a "as horrific as things seem, they might not be as bad as they feel" kinda statement.
- IF (again, all caps) the Bears beat Washington on Sunday, they will have a .500 record at home in 2016. The Bears have already tripled their home win total from 2015.
- Aside from Week 3's game against Dallas, the 2016 Bears have been competitive in every game for at least one half of football, having lost by one score or less seven times. That's right, even the duds against the Eagles and Bucs were one-score affairs at the start of the third quarter.
The argument against bringing this group back has much to do with the offense, but not all.
Despite the discovery of a stud running back, the close nature of most games and constant upheaval at the quarterback position, the Bears have confusingly shied away from rushing the ball in numerous situations that call for it.
Outside of questionable strateeg-ery, the biggest indictment of the offensive scheme has been the team's ability to move the ball effectively between the 20s while simultaneously possessing one of the worst-scoring (29th) offenses in the league.
Missed field goals and red zone turnovers have contributed to that ranking, but when your team scores only slightly more than the president of the high school chess club, you have to question the game plan.
The defense hasn't been lily white in this affair.
Though it's the clear strength of this team (the front seven have been great overall), one of the reasons that the Bears are where they are is that the D-Unit has been terrible at creating turnovers.
Sure, the offense hasn't given the "D" much margin for error, but they need to do a better job giving the O-fense more O-pportunities.
I'd also like to point out that even though it was a bit of an anomaly, we can't ignore the horrific tackling that allowed a converted wide receiver to go off for an unthinkable 162 yards rushing last Sunday.
The oft-overlooked third and special phase has had some good moments on kick coverage and some bad moments in regards to missed field goals. For the most part, special teams feels a little down under John Fox because of the excellence this franchise has exhibited in this area over past years.
I think I speak for most Bear fans when I say that, in regards to special teams, the circumstances leading up to and the early performance of one Mr. Connor "Sure, I'll Kick The Ball Or Something" Barth has left the biggest impression on us.
In reality, judging this phase as "middle of the pack" seems about right, which is not a knock on current special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, but a "meh" unit with a few standouts (Josh Bellamy is pretty darn good in this role . . . dude's a real dual threat when you factor in his work in both kickoff coverage and the early days of Def Comedy Jam) is especially hard to watch after being spoiled by the outstanding coaching of Dave Toub.
While I'm not totally disappointed in any of the three phases, the amalgam has produced a football team that loses almost four times as often as it wins.
It's kind of like if instead of robot lions, Voltron was made up of five android toucans and usually got its ass beat by the minions of Emperor Zeppo. I mean, I guess I'll pay to see that, but it's a tough watch five episodes in.
If the Bears lose out, they'll be 9-23 under John Fox.
While succeeding nine out of 32 times constitutes a nice batting average (and possibly better than any stretch of hitting Jason Heyward put together last season), it's a failure by any win-loss standard unless you're the contemporary Browns or '80s Buccaneers.
There are no moral victories. Not in football, a civil lawsuit, heart surgery, or really ever.
Let's face it. For professional football fans like ourselves, we care more about the performance of the Chicago Bears than the condition of our aortas (takes massive bite of chili cheese dog, drag from cigarette, thinks about the '80s Buccaneers and considers doing cocaine because the '80s).
So if you're judging these last two years by wins and losses (I won't think any less of you if you are), these two years have been an abject failure.
Before I at long last present my conclusion, I'd like to point out one more thing.
Wholesale coaching changes on a regular basis rarely lead to success. Continuity doesn't stand for much if your favorite team is only consistent at losing, but without any kind of framework in place, a professional team is unlikely to win.
So to me, the question isn't so much, "Is this Fox's fault?" The team sucks, but is injured as all get-up and is still developing young talent at numerous positions.
The question is whether the Bears will get closer to real contention by keeping this administration intact.
My conclusion is that while the letdown that is 2016 is in part the fault of coaching (particularly on offense), I don't think Fox and his staff should be fired.
Quite an endorsement, right? You should not not have a job.
This opinion even extends to the oft/rightly offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains.
You'll notice that list of players that outperformed the guy they replaced were all on offense. I'm hardly Loggains' biggest fan, but he deserves credit there.
I'm willing to give Loggains one more chance to iron out the kinks.
But seriously, bro.
Run. The. Ball.
So keep this group for another year and allow them to build on their framework with additional young talent and almost certainly better health.
If we're having the same conversation in the final weeks of 2017, then it's Hasta la bye bye" for the whole gang as far as I'm concerned.
Eye On The Opposition: This Is Still A Thing, Huh?
Those of you who have read the BAOKAR have likely come to realize that I'm hardly a politically correct fellow*, but I have spent a few sentences on the name of the Washington, D.C. franchise in the past.
I won't spend time rehashing all my thoughts on the topic, but here we are again, the Bears playing Washington D.C., so I gotta ask: How are we still using the name "Redskins" for a professional sports team?
We've got the Cleveland Indians, which is a bit of a stretch at best, and the Toronto Argonauts aren't making Vietnam vets real happy (hey comrade, keep your spacemen on your side of Alaska!), but if the NFL still thinks that "Redskin" is anything but a derogatory term, they've really gone off the reservation.
Since if the league is unwilling to let them change their names to Washington Pences (now that's a scary nickname!), maybe we can go with "brown people who invited a bunch of Dutch ex-pats to dinner one time" until Washington officially moves away from a name that's an actual racial slur whose level of offensiveness sits somewhere between the word "kike" and term "negro league."
Kool-Aid (1 of 5 Punch Glasses Of Eggnog)
For those of you who celebrate Christmas, congratulations - according to all marketing, you are correct.
While you're reveling in your excellent choice in heritage, enjoy a dairy-based rum drink or two!
No? Just one?
Yeah, a whole mug really does go a long way.
Washington's record isn't imposing.
At 7-6-1, they are barely better than average. They haven't run the ball particularly well for about a month, but that has more to do with amount of talent they have at the running back position than anything.
This team presents a number of match-up problems for the Bears.
The Redskins' have an effective passing game that spreads the ball around thanks to an outstanding offensive line, which has kept quarterback "James T." Kirk Cousins' jersey exceptionally clean this season.
DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Jamison Crowder are all on pace for 1,000-yard seasons, which is to say that a guy who thinks he's whiskey, a dude with a fake letter in his last name and (despite any supporting historical documentation to support the following claim) a direct decedent of the seventh president of the United States have one thing in common - well, besides the fact that Dan Snyder signs all of their checks.
Any one of them would all be the best receiver on the 2017 Bears.
Beyond the trio of top receivers, tight end Jordan Reed commands the middle of the field like few other men at his position - that is when he's not getting tossed out of games for nearly throwing out his rotator cuff in an attempt to put his fist through his opponent's helmet-clad faces.
As well as Washington's O-line can play, the Bears defense should consider employing a strategy that consists of taking the Washington QB out for a nice dinner and making very specific compliments about his outfit if they plan to put Cousins on his back.
It's never hopeless, any given Sunday and all, but this one just feels like a game where the Bears look worse than they actually are.
Washington 33, Bears 20
About The Author
The Author hopes that your tamales are warm and your beer is cold this holiday season.
And if the thought of home and hearth doesn't do anything for you, the Author suggests you go to the gun range or something. Beats the hell out of sewing or doing your taxes.
* I'll write the word "cunt" right here, just to make the point.
Carl Mohrbacher is our Kool-Aid correspondent. He tolerates your comments.