The Chicago Bears lost their season opener, but didn’t have the look of a team marching to another 13-loss season. Well, for the most part.
An offense that lacks game-changers was mostly dormant, while a defense that promised to “dominate” and “destroy” opponents gave up one too many big plays to Austin Hooper (more on that in a moment) and couldn’t force a turnover when it needed one. Three years into the John Fox era and these refrains are all still familiar.
Silver linings are there if you want to see them, though.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains broke out the wildcat formation and used Tarik Cohen (did you put a waiver claim on him yet?) in a variety of formations and routes that could turn him into an impact offensive player. Defensively, the Bears limited a balanced rushing attack to 2.8 yards per carry, pressured quarterback Matt Ryan on a third of his drop-backs, and didn’t allow Julio Jones to torch them over-the-top despite being without their most accomplished starting cornerback.
It might be worth it to re-configure our expectations for 2017, which wouldn’t be a bad thing. There should be nothing wrong with wanting more from a team that came oh-so-close to a win that would’ve turned a preseason narrative on its head.
- Not only would we be looking at the Bears with a different perspective if Josh Bellamy or Jordan Howard hauled in a game-winning touchdown, but things would feel quite different for the Atlanta Falcons too. To come off the toughest loss in Super Bowl history and open up with a loss against a Mike Glennon-led Bears team would have been quite the blow for a team looking to shake the past and embrace the future. SI.com’s Andy Benoit writes about the problematic Falcons offense that helped keep the Bears in the game. But also, credit Vic Fangio’s unit for holding its own in a tough matchup.
- It’s fair to ask if the Bears could have won if Mitch Trubisky was under center instead of Mike Glennon though. Adam Hoge of WGN Radio notes that Glennon wasn’t the reason the Bears lost (even though his play in the first three quarters didn’t do much to help them win), but Trubisky’s athleticism and mobility could have been big factors. We’ll probably be left wondering what the rookie could’ve done until Glennon gets injured or proves to be a detriment to the offense and the team. But if Glennon can use his fourth quarter success as a springboard, then we’ll be stuck playing the waiting game.
- If the Bears are going to force us to change the way we think of them, they’ll need to clean it up on the defensive side of the ball late in games. Austin Hooper’s 88-yard touchdown on third down was a back-breaker for a defense that kept the Falcons out of the end zone on five of their first six possessions. When the bend-don’t-break defense snapped, it wasn’t pretty. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune has details of the miscommunication, chaos, and disorganization that occurred on the biggest play of the day.
- Good luck getting this vision out of your head any time soon:
Someone forgot to cover #81 here. pic.twitter.com/RbX56pnYqw
— The Ten-Yard Line (@TheTenYardLine) September 10, 2017
- Not only did Quintin Demps get caught out of position while trying to keep tabs on Julio Jones, he also was embarrassed later in his tackling attempt down the field. Demps was brought in to start at safety, in part because of his sure-handed tackling abilities. It’s a shame they didn’t show up on the most important play of the day.
- Over at CSN Chicago, JJ Stankevitz hands out grades in the wake of Sunday’s defeat … and you can understand where pessimism regarding the offense is rooted. The worst grades went to the wide receivers (D-), offensive line (C-), and quarterback (C+) and that trio needs to be better together if the Bears’ offense is going to put up some semblance of a fight during the next 15 games.
- The Bears received some surprisingly competent play from their cornerbacks, specifically Bryce Callahan. We’ve noted his stellar play out of the slot, and his arrow continued to point up on Sunday allowing just two catches and 10 receiving yards. He was targeted five times and allowed an opposing passer rating of 47.9. Pro Football Focus gave Callahan a 74.7 grade in his 31 total snaps, which included 21 in coverage.
- Kevin White left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, and the Bears reportedly fear it’s a season-ending collarbone injury. The Athletic’s Dan Durkin highlights a handful of familiar names on the free agent market including some ex-Bears (Victor Cruz, Eddie Royal, Marquess Wilson) and a former Pro Bowler (Vincent Jackson). All in all, it’s a pretty thin list.
- Falcons head coach Dan Quinn seemed impressed with the Bears’ efforts, specifically Tarik Cohen. “I have to tell you, I was impressed by the back being able to break some tackles and miss them. I’m talking about 29 [Tarik Cohen] specifically, one of the third downs. That part for sure was a factor,” Quinn said in his postgame press conference. “A couple times we thought we had the play stopped and defended, and we didn’t.”
- Right tackle Bobby Massie turned in a surprisingly high 85.0 grade from PFF’s analysis team after the game, which is tough to figure after watching this over and over again:
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 10, 2017