Not that I needed to re-watch the Bears’ Week 1 loss to the Rams to confirm what I was feeling, but doing so really drove home a point to me. This mess started long before week 1 and we need to talk about.
So let’s start in the trenches, where everything that has happened since drafting Teven Jenkins has been a mess.
While moving Jenkins from the right side (where he was successful in college) to the left (where he has minimal experience) was a questionable decision in its own right, the issue was further complicated once the Bears cut Charles Leno Jr. in a move that ultimately left the team without a capable backup (they’re now set to be on their fourth different projected starter at the position since Leno’s release). By no means is Leno the second coming of Orlando Pace. But seeing the Bears go four deep on the depth chart after Leno started 93 consecutive games there puts it all in perspective. As did Leno’s preseason quip.
No wonder they were pushing for Morgan Moses. And, indeed, knowing what we know now (and what we knew then), they should’ve been pushing harder.
If cutting a starting left tackle wasn’t enough, the decision to part ways with Kyle Fuller – and the secondary’s performance on Sunday – really underscored how important he was to the Bears’ defensive success in recent years. Matthew Stafford (wisely) did not attack Jaylon Johnson often. Instead, Stafford found himself picking on Kindle Vildor and Marqui Christian for a chunk of the night en route to winning NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. After all, targeting a pair of defenders with a grand total of 2 professional starts to their name is a logical plan. And because there isn’t much the Bears can do at this point to right that wrong, Stafford won’t be the only one with that map.
Much like the offensive line situation was complicated by a pile of questionable decisions, fixing up the cornerbacks room has been followed by more problematic moves. For example, the signing of Desmond Trufant in March — who didn’t even make it onto the Week 1 roster. The team would later kick the tires on Steven Nelson and Bashaud Breeland, but both signed elsewhere.
Even after offseason moves to add to the line and secondary, there was a belief that camp competitions would reveal the most worthwhile starting candidates. But at quarterback, the Bears committing – without any flexibility, apparently – to Andy Dalton is maddening. No, Chicago couldn’t have known with any amount of certainty that it would land Justin Fields in a trade-up. But the handling of this position has been a bug-a-boo forever, and this specific manifestation of the problem is on another level. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a rough look for the Bears to make assurances to Dalton, then pull the plug on him. As if opposing GMs needed more ammunition for agents when discussing Ryan Pace. But it’s also rough to watch the Bears, knowing that their QB1-of-the-future isn’t getting a full load of reps that could aid in his development.
Every year has importance. And for the Bears, the ones coming in the future are of higher importance than this particular campaign. So needlessly restructuring contracts long-term to open up short-term cap space (and costing themselves even more with Eddie Jackson, who is looking like a guy worth cutting with his recent play) throws another wrench into future plans. Nothing like chewing into future cap space that could be used for building around Fields to pay for players who won’t be around on that next great Bears team.
Sunday’s loss to the Rams perfectly highlighted the Bears’ offseason mistakes. But more than that, Sunday’s loss could be a sign of what’s to come. And that is especially bothersome on so many levels.