It will be important for fans not to trust their lying eyes when the Chicago Bears take on the division-rival Detroit Lions. Perhaps put a better way, be very cautious about what you glean from this matchup. It’s against an opponent they have had much success over in the past few years. This is the stretch run of a very disappointing season. It’s natural to cling to any positives especially if it’s a result like a final score.
The Bears are out of the playoffs right now but are very much still in the chase. Whether or not they should “try” to go for it likely depends on who you ask. Some fans will never want anything other than for their team to win. Others, while not necessarily rooting for losses, would rather see a result that brings sweeping changes. That and a better draft position. A game like this one can provide both. Drawing the proper conclusion will be key in shaping this franchise’s future.
Believe the Chicago Bears or Your Lying Eyes
A Friendly Foe
There is a good chance the Bears walk away victorious Sunday. The Lions just fired their general manager and head coach meaning Darrell Bevell will be taking the reigns. Detroit also placed starting cornerback Desmond Trufant and nose tackle Danny Shelton on the IR. We also still don’t know what the status of stud wide receiver Kenny Golladay will be. That’s plenty of significant blows to a team that has already struggled to beat the Bears even with Mitchell Trubisky under center.
Detroit, in fact, has been one of the friendlier matchups for the Bears failed first-rounder. He obviously played them more than most opponents being a division rival, but his 14 passing touchdowns are by far his most against any team and twice as many as he’s thrown against the second-most against, the Green Bay Packers. He has only thrown four interceptions against them too, or as many as he had in two games against either the Los Angeles Rams or New York Giants.
Trubisky hasn’t lost to Detroit since he was a rookie and they have had better teams in the time since then than they do now. So when Trubisky completes a higher number of his passes or perhaps even finds the endzone a couple of times with the game still in the balance remember this is what he does against this team. It’s a (very) lightweight version of what Aaron Rodgers has done to the Bears over his career. What it’s not is a good barometer of the team itself.
Mitch Trubisky vs. the Lions since 2018:
69.3% completion rate
8.7 yards per attempt
124.4 passer rating
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) December 2, 2020
Good Things End
We are all familiar with the saying “all good things must come to an end”. That may prove to be true with the Bears run against the Lions. Chicago has already seen its winning streak against the Minnesota Vikings a few weeks ago. If Trubisky is as lose with the football as he was against the Packers when he threw into double and triple coverage Matthew Stafford will be more than happy to oblige in his giving the game away for the Bears.
Chicago is the only division rival that Stafford has a winning record against despite not beating them since 2017. They’re also the division foe he has the highest completion percentage against and the most touchdown passes against with 29; one more than he has against the Vikings. A fast start (the Lions have scored 16 of their 28 touchdowns in the first half) could be disastrous for a Bears team likely trying to minimize the risk for their impotent offense.
Perhaps even more important than not reading too much into Trubisky’s performance is what a loss would mean for Matt Nagy. The veneer from his Coach of the Year season in 2018 and we have been left searching for what he does well; what separates him from other coaches. A loss to the Lions would cast a larger shadow over whatever some might offer up as a response. Especially after the coach publicly challenged his team to “wake up and realize where we’re at”.
Average record of the top 10 offenses by DVOA: 7.4-3.8.
Average record of the top 10 defenses by DVOA: 6.4-4.5.
Only two teams w/top-10 offenses are currently below .500 (MIN & CAR). Four teams w/top-10 defenses are below .500 (Bears, WAS, SF, DEN).
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) December 1, 2020
We Already Know
It was understandable when fans would bristle at the defamation of their team and its record as being fraudulent. After losing five games in a row that outcry has died out. There are still pockets that will look for the “fight” in this group or signs they have “given up” on Nagy. They were already charged with the latter by Tony Dungy following their self-admittedly embarrassing loss to the Packers in primetime.
That stuff has value. But Trubisky, and this group as a whole, have just about written their stories as Chicago Bears. And it isn’t just going to affect players. Ryan Pace, having proven inept at picking the right players, ceded more control in that regard to Nagy. That’s how Nick Foles ended up in Chicago over more talented options. Nagy has proven to not be much better than Pace at this, if at all.
In case it isn’t abundantly clear, certain things can and should be taken and filed away for future reference. How the interior of the offensive line (namely Sam Mustipher at center) is important for obvious reasons. And making note of effort is useful is for the veteran players who might be candidates for trade or the chopping block after this season. But there isn’t much to evaluate on this roster. There aren’t enough young pieces that inspire confidence they are just scratching the surface as opposed to over-achieving.
Your Eyes Aren’t Lying About the Bears
You can still root for your favorite team and even celebrate an ill-advised win. But don’t let their potential successes (that may never come to fruition) blur your vision. Your eyes were not lying to you when these Bears were 5-1 and they won’t be lying to you whether they come out of Week 13 5-7 or 6-6. This is a bad, poorly built team constructed and led by people who don’t have it figured out like we thought they did. It’s time to move on.
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