Friends, Romans, Countrymen… Lend me your ears.
The Chicago Bears, like most years, might legitimately be trying to kill me this year. The ups and downs of this season have been such highs and such lows, it’s been one of the more painful seasons to go through. In years past, we were bad (yes, I sad we. I say we/our/us because that’s how invested I am). Horrible even. We knew what we were, which made it easier to take and accept. But last year’s regular season was nothing short of remarkable. A dream. I expected 7-9 or 8-8 going into it, but I was at Soldier Field on December 16 to watch them clinch the division against “that other team,” one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. And then, yeah. The playoff game was top 3 heartbreak, but 2018 proved we had a squad to make some serious noise in 2019. Hungry, Super Bowl aspirations and expectations…
Let’s just recap this season game by game, since this is my first post. Even before week one, going into the season, my confidence level was at a 10/10. Sure I knew there might be some growing pains with the offense and a new but experienced defensive coordinator. But we were promised greatness on the offense. Drafting David Montgomery to replace Jordan Howard. And on defense. Keeping Kyle Fuller. Taking Ha Ha from Green Bay. This division just looked so winnable. And this team was so hungry, so mad even after that playoff loss. And then news breaks we were chosen to kick off the NFL’s 100th season, in OUR 100th season, on a Thursday night. At home. Against.. “them.” Bears by a million, right? I certainly thought. Super Bowl or Bust.
Game 1: Devastation right off the bat. We couldn’t find the end zone against Green Bay after multiple opportunities. The offense looked dead. The defense was right there, but this offense I was promised went MIA. Confidence level: Still at an 8/10, but it was Green Bay, man… the Packers. I’m demoralized.
Game 2: The Mile High Miracle. Eddie Dinero Pinero. For the win. A game that probably deserved to be a loss, but a last minute drive and kick to saves it. The awareness to call the timeout by Mitch, the kick from Eddie that not only the city of Chicago needed, but deserved. After this one, it felt like we learned a lot, and we we’re about to go on a tear. Confidence level: back to 9/10.
Game 3: Monday night at Washington. 3 Mitchy T to Turbo TDs, the offense we were promised had arrived. The confidence was on the team sky rocketed. The defense felt elite again. Oh my God, this could be the year… but, cool the jets. This was only the Redskins. Confidence level: 9/10.
Game 4: Debuting our throwback unis, it felt like we broke the Minnesota Vikings. They had absolutely no answer for the defense. Which I’m thankful for, because down went Mitch on the third or fourth play of the game, and oh did it look bad. Initially, the thought was months, not weeks. But Chase Daniel came in and RAN THE OFFENSE. Questions arose: is Chase the answer? Is Mitch done? Confidence: 7/10. My QB was gone for who knew how long. Questions of who should be the long term answer flooded daytime radio. What are we going to do? At least we get the Raiders in London next week, am I right?…….
Game 5: Raiders in London. Khalil Mack revenge game. Chase Daniel at QB. Rolling, right?… No. Bad. The Bears seemed to forget this was a business trip. It was sloppy. The Raiders are not this good and the Bears are not this bad… are we? Was it getting into London on Thursday? Was it no Mitch? How was it only a 3 point game? Confidence: 6/10.
BYE WEEK: Could not have come at a better time. An injury to Mitch and an ugly loss to the Raiders had my life in question, in limbo. I kept looking at the schedule searching for wins. 3-2 entering week 7. Saints, Chargers, Eagles coming up. 2 home games. We have to go at least 2-1 to give us a 5-3 record into a stretch of winnable games. Come on now Bears, we’re right in this thing. Confidence: 8/10.
Game 6: The Saints might be the class of the NFC, and we didn’t even put up a fight until 3 minutes to go. The first double digit loss of the Matt Nagy era, and it showed. This was a blowout. We’re not there. We’re not even close. Where is this offense I was promised. What the heck is Matt Nagy doing. Why is there no run game. Where is the defense I saw throw grown men down at will. What is happening…. 3-3. We should not be 3-3. Confidence: 5/10.
Game 7: I returned to Timothy O’Toole’s in downtown Chicago for the first time since January 6, 2019, the scene of the second most heartbreaking loss of my life (2011 NFC Championship Game. Skipped school for a week. True story). Something happened on that day that will haunt me for the remainder of my life, and I was ready to bury the hatchet… This game will not haunt me for my life, but it sure ended about the same… What do you know, a missed field goal to secure the loss. I’m in disbelief. I’m in agony. I don’t understand. How can this team do this to me year after year, and I keep coming back for more. If we can’t beat the Chargers at home, we can’t beat the Eagles next week. We can’t beat the Rams. We can’t beat the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, Vikings in arguably the most brutal final month of scheduling in the league. We’re toast. It’s over…. right?
… But if we beat the Eagles next week, We’re 4-4, with two Lions and a Giants matchup looming…
Ugh. Yeah right. Confidence: 3/10.
Game 8: I don’t know. Can’t convert on third down. Can’t run the ball. 42 plays, 164 total yards. Nagy…. what are you doing. I refuse to throw Mitch under the bus. If you don’t run the ball, he can’t create space to pass the ball. Stop being cute. Run the freaking ball. But what’s the point at this point. We’re a lost cause if I keep being told one thing and seeing another. Matt Nagy is catfishing me. The Bears are done. Confidence: 1/10.
Game 9: No Matt Stafford saved our behinds from a 5 game losing streak. Really, that’s how close it was. Still can’t convert on 3rd down. Still won’t run the ball. But hey, 3 passing touchdowns. Momentum building..? 4-5 heading into a possible “loser leaves town” Sunday night matchup in LA…. are the Bears back? If we come home 5-5, I think the Bears are back. From the dead. Que the Undertaker buried alive gif. Confidence: 5/10.
Game 10: Sunday night football. The national stage. Defense turned the ball over twice in the first half of the first quarter…. and it was 10-0 Rams at halftime….. the first 3 drives go like this: missed field goal from Eddie not Dinero Pinero. Then Matt I Hate You Nagy goes for it on 4th and 9, in field goal range, telling Eddie he has no faith in him, but has more faith in the offense we all know he has no faith in. That goes well… not. Then after telling Eddie Pinero not Dinero Pinero anti Dinero he has no faith in him, trots him out to miss another FG from the same range…. DUDE. We’re a laughing stock. Nagy then brings in Chase Daniel, starting speculation Mitch is done and we’re moving on. It turned out to be a hip injury, or maybe not a hip injury. Who knows… At this point, I feel so lied to. I’m done with Nagy. I’m done hearing his plans. He’s a fraud. He’s stubborn. He’s going to pin this on the quarterback he is giving no chance to succeed, and he’s going to bring us back to square one. Mitch could be the guy if he was ever given the chance with a dominant ground game we were ALL promised. Thanks, Nagy. Season’s over. Confidence: 0/10. Go Hawks, Go Bulls, Go Green. When’s Opening Day.
Which brings us to Sunday’s game 11 vs the New York Football Giants. What a horrid, horrid football game to watch. Offense is flat out the gate. Luckily the Giants can’t kick worth a crap either. But here’s where I saw the most Chicago Bears thing if I ever did see one. 3rd quarter, MITCHELL “MY QUARTERBACK” TRUBISKY has had enough, drives the boys down the field, runs in a touchdown on his own. YES. THIS IS WHERE WE EXPLODE. THE SEASON IS SAVED. Bears line up for a 2 point conversion to make it a 14 point game….. then he calls a timeout. On a two point try… Bears. And then Allen Robinson is called for offensive PI…. Bears. Okay, let’s just get the one point and get out of there…. nope. Too many men on the field, back it up more. Bears. And then here comes Eddie No Money, wide left. No points. Bears. But we win (a miracle), we’re 5-6 (feels like 2-9). We’re headed to Detroit for turkey day (God help me).
So where is my confidence now? Well, let’s look at the facts. There’s still no run game with 2 running backs I think could and should be at the top of the league. Everyone in the front office and in this city (besides me, emphatically) does not believe in Mitch Trubisky. We have no solution to the kicking problem that has haunted our city since Robbie Gould. Matt Nagy has lied to and fooled us all with his offensive play calling. Ryan Pace is nowhere to be found to answer for any of this. We are wasting another year in the prime of Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, and many more on what should be an all-time defense. And our remaining schedule is @ Lions, Cowboys, @ Packers, Chiefs, @ Vikings…. the window that was wide open at the beginning of the year seems to have but just a crack in the opening.
And yet, here we are. 5-6. Who’s to say a fire hasn’t been lit under Mitch to go out and light it up, proving he is the future of this franchise and shutting everyone up. Who’s to say leadership steps up and takes responsibility for what has become of this season, and turns it around with new play calling, new attitudes, new desire. Who’s to say this defense can’t score more than once in a game and tell the offense, “hey, we got you.” Who’s to say a Thanksgiving win in Detroit doesn’t spark a Thursday Night win against the Cowboys at home. Who’s to say Khalil Mack then takes that momentum and can’t go into Green Bay and shove Aaron Rodgers so far into the ground he fakes (another) injury to save himself the criticism, and point it towards the rest of the Packers fraudulent team. Then who’s to say the Chiefs/Bears Sunday night showdown is not flexed out because it’s Maholmes vs Trubisky on a cold December night in Chicago. And who’s to say that finally sets up a winner-take-all wild card birth in Minnesota to end the regular season, catapulting what would be the hottest team in the NFL into the playoffs, ready for revenge and destiny.
I don’t know, man. Maybe I lean more towards being an optimist than a realist. Maybe I have my biased goggles on too tight, or I’m drinking way too much hometown Kool-Aid. I could be crazy, and I could be psychotic. But also, maybe this has been done before, and can be done again.
The days of despair make the days of triumph that much sweeter. As despairing as it has been at some points this season, really most of the season, why can’t it end in triumph?
How confident am I that we can do this? I don’t know if I can put a number on it. But how confident am I that I will be here to see it through, rooting my face off until the clock strikes 00:00 week 17 in Minneapolis, until the end of the Super Bowl, to infinity, and beyond? 11/10. Bet on it.
Thank you. May God Bless you. May God Bless America. And may God Bless the Chicago Bears.