The NFL season comes and goes in what feels like the blink of an eye. After eight weeks, we are at the halfway point in the NFL season. So far we’ve seen many surprises from teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Buffalo Bills, and the San Francisco 49ers. We’ve also seen teams like the New England Patriots, and New Orleans Saints perform up to expectations. However, for every surprise comes a letdown. Last week we mentioned the Pittsburgh Steelers as one of the most disappointing teams. But in this piece, we will examine the most disappointing team in the NFL at the halfway mark, the 3-4 Chicago Bears.
The Most Disappointing Team In The NFL At Midseason: Chicago Bears
Expectations This Year
To begin, we have a team that had Super Bowl aspirations coming into the year and rightfully so. Under rookie head coach Matt Nagy, the Bears took the league by storm in 2018. With a suffocating defense that led the league in turnovers with 36, along with bringing back nine starters, Chicago figured to be a force. The only reason the Bears lost as early in the postseason as they did last year was the infamous missed field goal by Cody Parkey. During the offseason, finding a kicker was the main job of the coaching staff. They conducted multiple tryouts and signed Eddy Pineiro. After solving the kicker situation, Chicago figured to be primed for redemption in year two under Nagy.
2018 Defense > 2019 Defense
The defense has not been able to repeat the same level of success as last year. Through eight games the Bears are tied for 13th in takeaways with 11. Despite this, Chicago still has a top ten defenses in the NFL. The team has stopped the run effectively, led by Khalil Mack who PFF has graded as the second-best edge rusher in the league only behind T.J. Watt. Although stalwart Akiem Hicks was put on IR in week seven, this unit has remained in good health. Situationally, Chicago has been able to get stops to give their offense opportunities to win. So while the defense isn’t the issue, the problem has been the offense.
Lack Of Confidence And Trust Between Coach And Quarterback
When Nagy was hired, it was because of his confidence and offensive creativity with the Kansas City Chiefs. Those traits are nonexistent this year, Through eight weeks, Chicago is the sixth lowest-scoring team in the NFL. A combination of the blame goes to Nagy and third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Nagy lacks confidence in Trubisky, and for proof look no further than this stat. Trubisky averages only 3 air yards per pass attempt. But if you need more proof, against the Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago lost the game on a missed 41-yard field goal. The field goal could have been closer, but instead, Nagy had Trubisky kneel the ball with 43 seconds and a timeout left on first down. Even if Nagy doesn’t trust Trubisky, he should trust his running game which he has underutilized up to this point.
Underutilized and Underperforming Ground Game
Since Nagy lacks trust in Trubisky, he should be leaning on his ground attack right? That hasn’t been the case. The Bears rank 26th in rushing yards per game (83.1). This is despite possessing swiss army knife Tarik Cohen and third-round pick David Montgomery. They only run the ball on 37.30% of plays and possess a mediocre 3.6 YPC. Nagy can’t shoulder all of the blame for refusing to run the ball. This is because the offensive line has been horrid. The line hasn’t been able to open lanes for Cohen or Montgomery. Last year, the Bears thrived off the run-pass option and play-action, so if the running game is nonexistent, so is the RPO and play-action. Because of the underutilized run game, the Bears red zone offense has suffered as a result. Although not a bad unit, the Bears are simply a middle of the road red zone offense.
Final Thoughts On This Disappointing Team
Of course, being the most disappointing team in the NFL is a label that could go to a multitude of teams. The Chargers are certainly in the running as well as the Cleveland Browns. But going into the year, the Bears were ready to join the NFL’s elite. The roster is mostly the same as last year’s 12-4 powerhouse that won the NFC South. But the defense hasn’t been able to repeat the same turnover success. The coach lacks confidence in his signal-caller. The run game has been poor due to bad offensive line play. The next three games are against the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Los Angeles Rams. All three teams are playoff hopefuls. In a division with two Super Bowl contenders and a loaded conference, the Bears should spend the rest of the year evaluating Trubisky and looking ahead to the draft to determine their future at quarterback.
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