Earlier today, we discussed Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy’s highly controversial decision to call a timeout that ultimately sparked a New York Giants rally. Between the decision, the timing, and Nagy’s reflection on the situation, we figured it merited deeper discussion.
But as we pointed out in the post, it wasn’t the reason the Bears lost. Several factors went into Sunday’s 30-27 overtime defeat at the hands of the Giants, the timeout being just one of them. And because we don’t want to beat you over the head with post after post of coulda-woulda-shouldas, they’re all right here for you in one convenient spot.
How nice of us!
Where Was Jordan Howard in the Second Half?
The Situation: Everything was pointing toward Jordan Howard having a big game on Sunday. The Bears were trotting out QB2 to start for the second time, the conditions were messy, and the Giants rush defense had coughed up some pretty big games to backs in recent weeks and throughout the year. Certainly, this was the time for Howard’s breakout, right? Well, it looked like we were getting it, when the Bears entered the half with a 14-10 lead as Howard rushed for 68 yards on 13 carries …
And Then What Happened? Howard carried three more times for eight yards. Not quite what we envisioned for the second half.
Analysis: By the time the Bears touched the ball again after intermission, they were facing a three-point deficit. Howard lost three yards on the first play of the Bears’ first second-half possession and gained four yards on the first play of the team’s next possession, but didn’t get a carry until the offense’s first play in overtime.
It would have been hard to establish Howard while facing a 10-point deficit with approximately 19 minutes left in the game. In fact, it was Daniel’s passing that brought the Bears back to even. Daniel was 16 of 24 for 211 yards after the Bears faced a 24-14 deficit. With time not on their side and the offense moving well behind a quarterback with a passer rating of 118.8, running with Howard just wasn’t in the cards.
Should the Bears Have Gone For Two Points and the Win?
The Situation: It. Happened. The Bears successfully picked up an onside kick, marched down the field, and broke out the Oompa Loompa to pull the team within 1 point with no time remaining. Perfect time to call for the two-point conversion, right?
And Then What Happened? Nagy called for the extra point to send the game into over time and Cody Parkey successfully drilled it. The Bears were in a position to win the game.
Analysis: The Bears were the better team entering Sunday’s game. And the longer that game went, the more likely that it was going to prove to be true. More often than not, the cream rises to the top. It wasn’t crazy to believe that the Bears, with *this defense*, could take that game into overtime, force a three-and-out, score points, and escape New York with a victory. They had done so many other improbable things by that point, why couldn’t they pull this off?
Here are the Giants possessions after taking a 24-14 lead: Punt, Punt, FG.
Two of those drives combined to lose 14 yards, while the third was a 12-play, 54-yard drive that chewed up 6:59 of clock time, but still resulted in a punt. In theory, a Bears defense that ranks in the top-10 in scoring and yardage should have stopped a Giants offense led by a struggling Eli Manning well before their game-winning field goal.
Everything that could go wrong for the Bears went terribly wrong. But if one of those things goes right, we’re not even talking about this.
Should Mitch Trubisky Have Started Ahead of Chase Daniel?
The Situation: Maybe we’re not talking about any of this if QB1 would have been healthy. Of course, “healthy” is the key term here. During FOX’s pregame coverage on Sunday, NFL insider Jay Glazer dropped this nugget:
NFL insider Jay Glazer says on FOX NFL Sunday #DaBears are being overly cautious with Mitch Trubisky. Says Trubisky isn't at full strength, but would be healthy enough to go IF it was playoff time.
They want to make sure he is 100% for the stretch run. @BN_Bears
— Luis M. (@lcm1986) December 2, 2018
And Then What Happened: Trubisky didn’t play. The Bears lost.
Analysis: If you needed a qualifier to explain Trubisky’s health status, is he really that healthy? I hate trying to answer questions with questions, so let’s dig into this.
What we do know about Trubisky is that he was limited in practices on Wednesday and Thursday, but notably wasn’t medically cleared to throw until Friday’s practice where he let ‘er rip for the first time since suffering the shoulder injury 12 days prior. He would also go on to throw some balls in a brief pre-game warm-up stint in New York.
What we don’t know is anything about how Trubisky was feeling after the throwing sessions. Trubisky can throw all he wants. Is he throwing without pain? Is his shoulder physically where it needs to be? There’s throwing, then there’s throwing a football, and then there’s throwing a football with meaning when giant Giants are rushing you. Trubisky’s health status is still uncertain, so the Bears continued to play it cautiously with their franchise quarterback.
While thinking about Trubisky, I simply couldn’t help but think about Kris Bryant’s shoulder injury that derailed the Cubs’ 2018 season. Different player and sport aside, Cubs fans who happen to be Bears fans should know how tricky shoulder injuries can be and what it looks like when a player is in the lineup despite being less than 100 percent while dealing with a shoulder injury. The impact of Bryant’s injury negatively impacted his production, and with the power numbers down, the middle of the Cubs lineup struggled to find consistency. Frankly, the last thing my heart needs is to see two seasons come off the hinges because of shoulder injuries.
Maybe Trubisky would have played if Sunday’s game was a playoff game. But Sunday’s game wasn’t a playoff game. And even if it was, none of us are sure how ready he would have been.
Moving forward, the Bears still have four games to play and Trubisky could be ready as early as Sunday’s game against the Rams (perhaps better than he would have been without sitting out on Sunday). We’ll know more as soon as Wednesday, when Nagy meets the media to discuss the injury report and more.