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What are we to make of this team, this Bears team that is? It is oftentimes better to sketch out an assessment a few days after a given game, after the worrisome tide of dozens of little outrages has receded just a bit and we can take a bit better look at the bigger picture.
First and foremost overall is still the fact that the great quarterback hope has crashed and burned. And that fact in and of itself should make it far more likely than not that the general manager will be fired at the end of the year. You can't continue to employ a guy who has no effing clue who has a chance to be a great quarterback and who will be a bust.
The substitute signal-caller, the guy we were told would be the best one possible to run the Matt Nagy offense, was lousy on Sunday in the Bears' 19-11 loss to the Colts. And so were way too many of Nagy's play calls. In general, celebrated Colts' defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus's game plan dominated that of the Bears' offensive-minded head coach.
It was just one game, blah blah blah. The Bears are still 3-1, better through the first quarter of the season than I had expected but still thankful for luck more than great playing performances in any phase of the game or of the coaches' schemes. They so easily could be 1-3 if not 0-4.
The next test comes charging in in a couple days. The Bears have very little time to correct their many flaws before facing the Tom Brady Buccaneers on Thursday.
The offense still sucks, sure. Fears that the success that side of the ball had for portions of the first three games was mostly due to the quality and healthiness of the competition seem well-founded at this point. That received the majority of the attention Monday and rightly so.
Then again, it felt like the defense took a significant step forward Sunday. So let's put the spotlight on that, shall we?
The best thing that happened on that side of the ball against the Colts, and that happened the week before against Atlanta for that matter, was that the Bears were able to generate early pressure on a stand-up veteran quarterback. Both Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers are capable of throwing inaccurate passes at times even when they haven't been pressured or aren't facing pressure on a given play. But they are far more likely to do so if they aren't confident about their protection, like just about any other quarterbacks.
When Pro Bowl quarterbacks aren't as accurate as usual two games in a row, one does start to believe that the defense deserves more credit than generic quarterback failings.
Of course, there need to be more big plays i.e., turnovers. But those tend to come in clusters. Two games ago, Eddie Jackson had what was essentially a game-clinching interception and awesome touchdown return called back due to a questionable pass interference call, a call Jackson said later that a referee apologized for. And on Sunday, Khalil Mack had what seemed like a sure pick drop softly into his hands. He needed only to catch it and then make a move or two to turn it into a touchdown. Instead, he dropped it. Plays like that are a little more likely to go the Bears' way in the next game.
The best development against the Colts was the rise of Roquan Smith. The linebacker who is Ryan Pace's last chance at having made a good first-round draft selection in any of his drafts despite picking in the top 10 time after time, seemed like a different player in the second half than he had been in three-and-a-half games prior.
Did defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano figure something out schematically or did Smith just step up? We should be able to figure that out in the second quarter of the season.
Bring on Thursday night!
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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