Inspired by the fact that George R.R. Martin blogs about the Giants and Jets on a regular basis, I’m gonna try to post some regular thoughts on the Bears week to week.
Our beloved Chicago Bears had more hype than normal going into this season—the hiring of an aggressive young coach in Matt Nagy, a slew of free agent signings, a decent new draft class—and then they went for broke and traded for Khalil Mack, one of the premiere defensive players in the league. Against my better judgment I found myself impossibly hyped for this past Sunday’s prime time opener against our archrivals the Packers.
Deep down I was still just praying for a close game—I knew the Bears were probably too inexperienced across the board to win such a tough opener on the road—but when we led 17-0 at halftime and Aaron Rodgers had sustained what looked like a season-ending injury I was ready to believe anything: we’d scored a touchdown on our opening drive, there were more offensive playmakers on the field wearing Bears uniforms than I can ever remember seeing and Nagy’s creative play-calling had me literally laughing out loud in delight at times. Most incredibly, Khalil Mack looked like he was worth twice the steep price we’d paid for him.
And then, as everyone knows, the bottom fell out. Rodgers came back in the most dramatic fashion possible (literally playing on one leg) and the Packers won the game 24-23. It was excruciating to witness but there were so many missed opportunities to close out this game that I do feel like it just wasn’t meant to be. The innovative play-calling disappeared and we got way too conservative on offense. The Packers adjusted to our pass rush. Trubisky thought he was a running back instead of a quarterback. Our defense couldn’t tackle any receiver after a catch, or catch any ball thrown directly at them.
But ultimately it’s okay. We were closer than anyone thought we’d be in our first game of the year. We’re in such a tough division that even making the playoffs will be tough, so what matters this year is that the team gets better every week. Yes, it stings extra that the way we lost only adds to the Packers’ and Rodgers’ legacy. Yes, I’m worried about the depth of Nagy’s playbook and the lack of experience overall. Yes, the jury’s still out on Trubisky as a franchise quarterback. But there were also enough encouraging moments to think the potential is real. Let’s see what happens next week against the Seahawks.