The Chicago Bears sputtered out of the gate in Saturday’s loss against the Detroit Lions. And while facing a 6-0 second quarter deficit wasn’t the most daunting task the team has ever faced, it felt as if the team needed an extra push to get things going in the right direction.
Head Coach John Fox faced a crossroads when the Bears offense was faced with a 4th-and-1 situation in its own territory. At that point, the Lions’ offense had out-snapped the Bears 23-12 and owned a 3-minute, 38-second edge in time of possession. If there was any time to take a calculated risk and keep the offense on the field in an attempt to give your defense a fighting chance to close the first half strong, this was it.
Instead, Fox took the predictable, conservative way out and punted. And to make matters that much more frustrating, Fox said he didn’t even consider going for it in that situation.
"Yeah I mean, you do got something to lose, and it's call field position. We failed to have that much of the day, largely the sum of our inability to move the ball, and particularly in the first half. I think sure you can go for that. But it can bite you too"
— Matt Eurich (@MattEurich) December 17, 2017
The decision to play it close-to-the-vest stripped quarterback Mitch Trubisky of an opportunity to make a play. A chance at growth and development was taken away from the rookie without second thought. Chicago was eliminated from postseason contention weeks ago and was on its way to its third straight double-digit loss season, so what was there to lose? I mean, other than field position as Fox indicated.
There was more upside in giving Trubisky a chance to earn an extension of that drive than by putting the defense back on the field, albeit with advantageous field position.
Offensive Coordinator Dowell Loggains had options with a 4th-and-1 call. A Trubisky throw could have been a teaching point, as would a run with Jordan Howard or Tarik Cohen. A run fake with boot action could have been interesting. Perhaps a zone read or a run-pass option could have been in play, too.
Of all the options the Bears head coach could choose, he chose the one with the least upside. Go figure.