Forget 5-2 Record, Matt Nagy, Nick Foles and Bears Exposed as Pretenders on MNF

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 27, 2020

Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles (9) kneels on the field in the closing minutes of a loss to the Los Angeles Rams in an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Don't be fooled by the fact the Chicago Bears scored 10 whole points Monday night in a 24-10 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and don't be fooled by the fact the Bears remain 5-2 despite that defeat in Los Angeles.

The Bears have plenty of talent on defense and a strong enough record to compete for a wild-card spot with the expanded playoff field. But don't kid yourself about this team.

The Bears are fraudulent, bogus. Chicago's professional football team is a big, fat phony.

A lot of you likely felt that way about 5-1 Chicago—well before it produced a grand total of three offensive points, 14 first downs, four third-down conversions and zero touchdowns on two red-zone opportunities in an embarrassing Week 7 loss to the Rams.

But it's also possible some of you hadn't had a chance to see just how bad the Bears actually are. This was their second game outside the early Sunday time slot, and you might have missed a weird Thursday night victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5.

If so, you could have looked at the fact Chicago ranked in the bottom 10 in the NFL in defense-adjusted value over average through the air and on the ground, according to Football Outsiders. You could have discovered that the Bears averaged just 4.8 yards per play (30th in the NFL) and 27.6 yards per drive (29th).

You could have Googled quarterback Nick Foles, who replaced bust Mitchell Trubisky in September and found that he was the league's seventh-lowest-rated passer, and that only he and Sam Darnold of the New York Jets possessed yards-per-attempt averages below 6.0.

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And in that process, you might have also discovered Foles and Trubisky ranked in the bottom 10 in QBR.

But you really had to see it Monday night to properly understand it.

Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

You had to bear witness to Matt Nagy's dull, unimaginative, predictable offense humiliating itself on national television drive after drive.

You had to hear the borderline disgust in the voices of ESPN color commentators Brian Griese and Louis Riddick after the veteran Foles held on to the ball for nearly six seconds and took a sack on 4th-and-goal with the game essentially on the line.

"That play-calling sequence ... seemed too easy," Riddick said. "It seemed too easy to defend the kind of things that they were putting out there on the football field. You have to come up with something a little bit better."

In Foles' defense, his offensive line has become a joke, his running game offers almost no support without Tarik Cohen and with Nagy's failure to get the most out of David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson, and the Bears lack depth beyond Allen Robinson II at wide receiver.

They miss the injured Cohen as well as left guard James Daniels, who suffered a season-ending pectoral injury against the Bucs, but an offense relying on Germain Ifedi to suddenly become reliable was in poor shape even when Cohen and Daniels were on the field.

In the first six weeks of the season, Foles and Trubisky completed less than 48 percent of their third-down pass attempts and red-zone throws. Both had sub-81 passer ratings in the fourth quarter of one-score games. And among 31 quarterbacks who had attempted at least 20 deep passes, they ranked 27th and 28th with ratings of 50.4 and 49.4.

That was before Foles completed just three such passes in 13 attempts on Monday night, with two of the nine incompletions resulting in interceptions.

The Bears are now one of just six teams averaging fewer than 20.0 points per game, but their 19.7 average is inflated by Monday's defensive touchdown from safety Eddie Jackson as well as the fact that the defense had set them up with the fifth-best average drive start position in the NFL.

That D is part of the equation and deserves a lot of credit. It kept Chicago in this game and is the main reason the Bears were atop the NFC North. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks can hijack games, and without heroic efforts from that unit, they probably wouldn't have come back to beat the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons by four points each, they probably wouldn't have edged the Bucs 20-19, and they might not even have beaten the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers by 11 points combined.

The Bears have actually allowed two more points than they've scored this season.

It's 2020. No matter how good your defense is—and this is by no means a legendary D—you can't make a Super Bowl run without at least a half-decent offense.

In fact, a team with a bottom-10 scoring offense has never won a Super Bowl. And if you're the Bears and you've invested $74.6 million per year into five core defensive players (Mack, Hicks, Jackson, Robert Quinn and Eddie Goldman), it's Super Bowl or bust.

This team will become older and more expensive as those players age, which could leave the front office in handcuffs with regard to the offense for years to come.

That's the hole the Bears appear to have dug for themselves. Their record might indicate otherwise, but they haven't fooled many of us this year, and they tricked nobody Monday night. They're a pretender, and that's unlikely to change.

   

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL for Bleacher Report since 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @Brad_Gagnon.