The Chicago Bears lose to the New Orleans Saints 21-9 to end their 2020 season. Now the work to rebuild this team begins.
The 2020 season for the Chicago Bears finally ended. Thankfully, the fans can start to heal from a crazy season. It started with defensive lineman Eddie Goldman deciding to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Then, despite a 5-1 start, the offensive line suffered from their bow bouts with the virus as well as injuries. At one point, Alex Bars started a game at center, a position he NEVER played in all his time involved with football.
That great start was the high point of the season, unfortunately. Chicago suffered through a six-game losing streak that left them at 5-7. They recovered enough, going 3-1 down the stretch to actually get into the playoffs. However, they didn’t have much left to challenge the New Orleans Saints, who were the second overall seed in the NFC. They fell to New Orleans 21-9.
The Bears held their own until they couldn’t
Many expected a Saints blowout from the beginning. The Bears surprised many, though. Up until the 4:18 point in the third quarter, the score was 7-3 Saints. The defense, which took some hits over their play recently, did its job of holding off the Saints. They pressured Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his backup, Taysom Hill. In fact, they forced Hill to lose a fumble.
The offense just couldn’t capitalize on their chances, however. What we saw was the same offense that struggled to move the ball during the losing streak. Before their last drive to end the game, the Bears had more punts (7) than first downs (6). It took until 1:53 in the game for them to convert on third down. They finished 1/10 on third downs for the game. Meanwhile, the Saints converted 11 of their 17 third downs.
This was the Bears’ second playoff appearance in three seasons under head coach Matt Nagy. In the first appearance, the game was forever known as the “Double doink” game after Cody Parkey hit the upright twice on his field goal attempt to win the game. This game should be known as the “Whiff” game.
With 3:42 left in the first quarter, the Bears ran the wildcat. David Montgomery got the snap and he handed off to Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson then pitched the ball to quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who threw a perfect pass 40 yards deep, into the end zone. The defender fell and Javon Wims was by himself. He didn’t make the catch, however, as the ball went through his hands. That would’ve tied the game and perhaps change the complexion of the game. Later on in the drive, the Bears went for it on fourth down but Trubisky ran out of bounds two yards short of the first down marker.
It only got worse from there.
What happens now?
Now the job of rebuilding this team begins. Yes, they got into the playoffs, but this is one very flawed team, especially on offense. This could be an entirely different offense next season. NFL Network analyst Ian Rapoport reported the morning before the game that the Chicago Bears likely move on from Trubisky barring a miraculous playoff run. That run didn’t happen and now we wait to see if that report is true.
The wide receivers room could experience some change as well. Allen Robins is now a free agent. He and the Bears didn’t come up with an agreement on a new contract, upsetting him. It now looks as if his future lies elsewhere.
Robinson owned a big chunk of the targets since he came to Chicago in 2018. They’ll have to find a replacement for a receiver who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. In addition, Anthony Miller, who was ejected from the game for punching a Saints player, likely played in his last game. After a promising start to his career, he underwhelmed the last two seasons. Getting ejected from the most important game of the season probably sealed his fate.
Let’s not forget the offensive line. Yes, the line did a great job down the stretch, but there are still questions about the two tackles, Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie. The Bears save a good chunk of salary space by cutting one of them ($9 million for cutting Leno and $8 million for Massie).
The McCaskeys have some decisions to make. The Bears cannot be on the fringe of playoff contention year after year. Also, they cannot continue to be a team that only makes six playoff appearances in 20 years as they’ve done. If Trubisky is truly gone, then general manager Ryan Pace needs to go as well. He staked his job on the Trubisky pick. He also has Mike Glennon and Nick Foles on his resume, so the team cannot trust his ability to choose quarterbacks to lead the offense.
While it looks as if Nagy is safe (barely), the fate of defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano isn’t as good. He inherited an elite defense but he hasn’t gotten it to play on the same level. The defense has dropped in the two seasons Pagano directed the unit. Opposing offensive coaches have outcoached him consistently. The defense has some elite talent and needs someone to get them back to playing elite.
The Bears need a football operations person to ultimately make the decisions. CEO and President Ted Phillips is a great money guy but he doesn’t know a lot about football operations. He lets the general managers make those decisions, and if they make good financial sense he’ll approve. The Bears need someone who works with the general manager to make the right decisions.
Now that the 2020 season is over, let’s see how busy the team is in improving this roster. It’s time that the Chicago Bears fans finally cheer on another great product this franchise has a history of putting on the field.