LAKE FOREST – It was hard to escape the feeling during coach Matt Nagy’s weekly post-mortem after his team snapped its four-game losing streak by beating the Lions, 20-13, on Sunday that the Bears’ season has devolved to the same point as our current politics.
Is our football now coming down to a series of talking points that often have nothing to do with reality or facts, but simply focus on what the speakers want us to believe regardless of how far it strays from the truth?
It is fair for Nagy and his troops to feel good about winning Sunday after four weeks of frustrating failure.
There is much good that comes from winning, even if at times it is as much about the other guy losing as it is about what you did to succeed.
But in breaking down the win Monday and what it might mean going forward, Nagy offered some commentary that left me puzzled.
The Bears made two major moves before kickoff Sunday in an effort to escape the growing decline they’d been stuck in.
They benched starting tight end Adam Shaheen and moved Cody Whitehair and James Daniels back to their 2018 starting spots at center and guard, respectively, after they’d been flipped the first half of the season.
The Shaheen move paid immediate dividends, as Ben Braunecker in his spot caught his first NFL TD pass to give the Bears a 7-6 lead over the Lions just before the half.
The switch with Daniels and Whitehair, however, pretty clearly played to some mixed reviews.
Asked if he thought the move had worked out Nagy said, “Yes, for sure, yeah.
“Just a lot of it comes down to some experience, some communication, that sort of thing. I’d say that’s probably the biggest thing.”
Nagy added a few minutes later, “We just know that making that switch, for a lot of different reasons, is more beneficial.”
Let’s deconstruct all of that.
The Bears’ offense managed 226 total yards against Detroit, surpassing only last week’s pathetic 164 yards in Philadelphia, and 10 yards fewer than their third-worst performance of the year that netted 236 total yards against the Raiders with Chase Daniel under center.
The five sacks Detroit totaled Sunday matched the opener against the Packers for the most the Bears have allowed this season.
The difference is that the Packers are tied with the Bears for 12th in the NFL with 25 sacks, while the Lions entered Sunday’s game 27th in the NFL with only 14, and 27th in stopping the run.
The 3.4 yards the Bears averaged against the Lions on 24 rushes was 0.14 below their 3.54 average on the season, which is 27th in the league.
Now granted, while all of that reflects poorly on the offensive line, it is not all the line’s fault.
But consider Nagy’s review of Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.
“We had some mistakes on offense that wasn’t him,” Nagy said. “And that’s what I took from this.
“Yesterday he really, across the board, he missed one guy on a route. And he made a bunch of really good throws.
“The one that never got talked about, the best throw of the game yesterday, was the one he threw to [Allen Robinson] down the left sideline when he got hit. That’s a … not a lot of guys make that throw.”
So the quarterback played well, and the offensive line play improved, but the offense stunk even more than usual.
Does that sound right to you? Is it possible?
Both Nagy and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand made clear Monday the flipping of Daniels and Whitehair was mainly about communication, and Hiestand added that the swap of veteran Kyle Long for inexperienced Rashaad Coward at the other guard spot had been an issue.
OK, but the Bears used the 38th pick in the draft last year on Daniels because he was the best center prospect in his class, and they just gave Whitehair a 5-year, $51 million deal with $27 million guaranteed because of his future at guard.
After a dismal outing against the Lions, although we see the rationale behind the move, it still seems awfully hard to argue for its future success.
• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.com.