Mike’s Mailbag – Are the Bears Good at Football?

Welcome to the quarter season check -in! Technically, we’re past the quarter point by one game, but who’s counting? After this weird and wild start to the season, the mailbag was bombarded with great questions, and I’ve taken a shot at answering 3 of the better ones. Want to have your own question answered? Just head to the “Mailbag” page and submit your knee scratcher for review.

Question 1: Noah from Chicago asks, “Are the Bears good at football?”

What a simple yet brilliant and perplexing question. The Bears are 4-1, and history tells us that you can describe teams like the Bears however you want (bad, good, lucky, inconsistent, fighters, finishers, never say die, etc) but the only things that matter are those 2 numbers separated by a dash. “Just win, baby!” is a quote that has to be reverberating through Halas Hall right now.

The analyst in me is in constant battle with that philosophy, though. In fact, I don’t even need to look at advanced analytics to question the legitimacy of this team. During the Colts game, for instance, I saw a dad wrestling around with his son as his phone was streaming the game from across the room. From the headlock position, he yelled, “dang it Leno!” I’m not sure what was more incredible – the blatantly obvious failures of the O-line, or the dad’s ability to multitask so effectively. That dad was me by the way.

It’s not just Leno with these moments, either. They’re taking turns in the doghouse – when one rotates out, another rotates in. Even Nagy seems publicly convinced that his offense sucks. He’s pissed, but he’s reserving that rage for the locker room and conveying a sense of calm disappointment to the media. So Noah, I have to say no – the Bears are not good at football right now. But who cares? I would rather be winning games as a flawed team than losing as a perfect one. Screw the analytics. Just win, baby!

Question 2: Gabi from Melrose Park asks, “My boy Anthony Miller seems to be taking a back seat to Darnell Mooney. Why? Miller was a 2nd round pick and Mooney was a 5th round pick.

Draft picks certainly come with expectations based on their pedigree, but as we’ve seen a million times in Chicago, those expectations are almost never met. The draft is just one big hype fest anyway. It’s designed to get fans excited about the new talent for one reason: Money! Gimme that swag! It’s an extremely effective ad campaign for SALES. Let’s ditch the rest of the capitalism rant, though.

The meat of your question is really about the “fall” of Anthony Miller – someone once projected as a legit #2 receiver. In his 3rd season, he is still struggling with the details about his job. **Nagy’s eye just twitched** Routes, blocking assignments, communication. You name it, he’s had a brain fart about it. The strange part is that Bears brass touted Miller’s drive to be more detail oriented throughout the off season and predicted a breakout campaign for the Memphis product.

Instead, he’s added another blemish to his play this season: dropped passes. It’s partially rooted in a battered confidence, but to be fair, some of those passes shouldn’t have been classified as “drops.” Also remember that he’s caught two, 4th quarter, game winning TD passes. He’s coming through in big situations, and I’m glad he’s on this team – even if his play-to-play consistency hasn’t yet shown up. His leash is long in my book, but it’s about time for him to put up or shut up.

Moving on to Darnell Mooney – I think he’s a nice player. The hype is a little premature and overblown, though, don’t you think? He’s caught 1 TD pass and has made a few impressive catches (a couple of passes defensed on some potential INT balls too). The devil is in the details, and he must have an advantage over Miller in that department. Look no further than the snap count differential for the only proof you need. On a wholesome side note, Nagy sent a personal “thank you” to Mooney’s college program – Tulane:

Allen Robinson was also raving about Mooney’s intelligence, work ethic, and attitude, so I think that he WILL be a legit #2, but he’s not that player right now. It’s okay to be excited about his future on this team, but just temper your expectations for the 2020 season.

Question: Eli from Skokie asks, “Can Nick Foles be the long term solution at QB?”

The important word in your question is “Can,” because he is currently NOT the long term solution. Let’s assess the evidence. He got hosed against the Colts Defense which just gave up 32 points to the Browns. The Bears offense generated 11 points of pathetic in that game, eight of which were during garbage time. “But that was his first game as a starter!” Give me a break. Even practice squad quarterbacks like Brett Rypien have shown that they can score 30+ points in this pass-happy league.

Then the Tompa Bay game happened (Yes, I caved on using the word “Tompa”). He missed multiple throws that were beyond inexcusable. I mean really cringe-worthy stuff. I remember burying my face in my hands after he airmailed an 8 yard pass to Robinson in the flat thinking, “Same stuff, different story.” Mitch missed these passes too, and we roasted him for it. At least Mitch could escape the pocket to complete a pass. Foles has the mobility of a treadmill. He runs like I do in my dreams – tireless effort without really going anywhere. It’s a sad sight.

The Bears won that Bucs game with a score of 20-19 after falling behind 13-0 and going through 5 lead changes. So to his credit, Nick Foles does appear to have some form of an “it” factor. When the game is on the line, the dude can sling it, and that’s an awesome quality to watch play out on television. If we continue to score 20 or less points, though, we won’t normally be in the position for him to sling us to victory. Instead, he’ll be slinging us to the first round of the draft where the Bears will inevitably trade up and pick a QB (Trey Lance anybody?).

So back to the “Can” part of your question. That honestly depends on his marriage with Matt Nagy. For all the talk about his knowledge of this offense and experience working with this coaching staff, Nagy has never called plays with Nick under center before halfway through the 4th quarter of the Falcons game. If their working relationship can blossom, and the play-calling and execution can remain in game-long rhythms, then yes. Nick Foles CAN be the solution at QB for the next 3 years. I just don’t think it will happen.

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