Running Out of Pejoratives for Ryan Pace and the Chicago Bears

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As the Chicago Bears head into their bye week, we have run out of pejoratives for them. This team started the season 5-1, scraping by the skin of their teeth. They sit 5-5 following their 19-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Licking their wounds, they plenty of time to contemplate. We’ll see if they have any bright ideas, because their latest, having offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling plays, failed spectacularly. That isn’t the only thing that is clear.

Bears Used Up All of the Pejoratives

Lazor Focus

This is an easy one to jump on. Lazor taking over play-calling duties was all the buzz in the Chicago news this week as everyone waited to see how different the offense would look with Matt Nagy not being “creative”. They managed to score a whopping six points against the 27th ranked scoring defense. Chicago at one point late in the second half they had 14 total yards. They finished with 149 yards of total offense. That’s their lowest output in the Nagy era. Cordarrelle Patterson scored the Bears only touchdown on a 104-yard kick return.

You can’t lay the blame on Lazor for this mess, though. He’s been thrust into a position he’s shown in the past he isn’t right for with a team that wasn’t built for success. This is on his bosses and his bosses’ bosses. But, if there is one glimmer of hope, it’s that Lazor noted he wouldn’t be adjusting much before the bye. With Foles now out for an extended period of time, they will have to turn back to Mitchell Trubisky, assuming he’s healthy. Tyler Bray did not look good.

Wasted Assets

This has to be the mantra of this organization for, well, over 30 years. But these last five years under Ryan Pace have been something else. 2020’s greatest hits will end up being Foles, Robert Quinn, and Cole Kmet. The offensive line has been an issue all along so we’ll lament that over the bye. He has hit on just one first-round pick in four tries. He’s gotten credit for finding guys on the scrap heap or for signing most free agents to short, easily escapable contacts. But his whiffs have been major.

Quinn and Foles combined for $51 million in guaranteed money this offseason with Pace also sending draft capital for Foles who was almost certain to be a cap casualty. He also overpaid for Jimmy Graham but at least he’s been semi-productive. Pernell McPhee and Kevin White trail only trading for Trubisky as warts on Pace’s resume. But this offseason might come in right behind those. It’s hard to make trading for one of the game’s greatest pass rushers in Khalil Mack look like a bad move.

Say Something Nice

This defense…deserves better. Akiem Hicks will get some much-needed rest for his balky hamstring that forced him out of the game. Dalvin Cook had 39 yards on 19 carries when Hicks exited the game. Cook finished with 96 yards on the ground. Roquan Smith has also rebounded after a rough start to the season as his name was called several times. We also saw a faster start and better blocking to begin from the offense but it all fizzled and failed quickly. Still, this defense is remarkable.

Ok, there really isn’t enough good to keep going. Danny Trevathan is still a far cry from what he once was and probably what Nick Kwiatkoski would be. Jaylon Johnson should thank Buster Skrine for overshadowing how bad his game was and allowing two touchdowns after tweeting this a week ago. The first score to Adam Thielen (who caught two on Skrine) looked identical to the one A.J. Brown caught a week ago. We also need to have a tough conversation on Eddie Jackson being a liability as a tackler.

 

Where Do You Go?

Ok, so let’s assume Trubisky is healthy enough to return to the starting lineup. What then? Is there really anything left that needs to be said? The Bears have tried every avenue to secure a capable quarterback. They’ve tried free agency, drafting, and trading only to come up empty every time. Their cap situation is also unpretty until 2023. And while we always speak of this group with Nagy’s timeline, Pace preceded him by three years.

Coming into Monday Night Football, teams were 67-9 when allowing 19 or fewer points in 2020. The Bears will join the Giants as the only teams to have two of the losses. The Bears 3-1 themselves this season and 19-4 under Nagy when allowing 19 or fewer points. Their four-game win streak and Nagy’s undefeated streak against the Vikings also came to an end. They still have another meeting with this team and two against the Green Bay Packers with the Detroit Lions there for some salt in the wound action late in the season (that’s how this year has gone).

Pejoratives for These Bears, Anyone?

This bye week is both the best and worst thing for the Bears right now. It’s good because they can get healthier and Lazor can implement some different things. But they’ve left a bad taste in the base’s mouth and a whole lot of time to talk about it. The discussion over whether the plug should be pulled is already being had on the outside and it’s lively. Hopefully, for Pace and Nagy there are far fewer pejoratives being hurled inside the walls at Halas Hall. But this feels like it goes even above them. And that’s an issue that will take longer to correct. The image and face of Foles, beaten and broken, riding the cart into the tunnel as his season possibly ends is so fitting for the Bears as they slink off into the break.

 

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