Sep 13, 2021 6 min read

Exactly how they drew it up

Exactly how they drew it up

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Good morning, frents!

If you're looking for a silver lining this morning, here's one: The Bears won't play in primetime again until the Steelers on Monday, November 8.

Here's another: The Packers lost without even scoring a touchdown.

There are some fun things ahead on Midway Minute this week, so let's jump right into a Bears game that was not that fun and get it over with.


Did we really expect anything different?

The best thing you can say about Sunday's season-opening loss to the Rams is that it wasn't anything we didn't see coming.

Well, at least most of us. I saw some Bears fans tweet they were "beyond angry" and "fuming" as Matt Stafford and the Rams left tread marks over the Bears defense in a 34-14 win at SoFi Stadium.

Did those people really expect something different when the Bears headed west with Andy Dalton as the starter?

Did they turn a blind eye to a Ryan Pace-constructed depth chart dug as shallow as Matt Nagy's playbook?

Apparently so. If they hadn't, they would've been pulling the same indifferent shrug I'm managing as I write this.

The Bears are who they designed themselves to be.

Which leaves Nagy and Pace firmly on the hook.

The loudest people out there will be braying about Andy Dalton today because that's what we do in Chicago.

We complain about quarterbacks.

But the good news is that Dalton was the one issue from Sunday's game that is eminently fixable. Justin Fields came into the game on just the fourth play, completing a nine-yard pass to Marquise Goodwin and rewarding all of us who took the Parkins-Spiegel wager at BetRivers that said he'd see at least one snap.

The rookie would appear three other times: Twice as a decoy before a handoff and a shovel pass, another time on a read-option three-yard run for his first regular-season touchdown in the NFL.

So that was good news and one of the game's few bright spots. Fields should supplant Dalton as the Bears' starter, if not in Week 2 at home against Cincinnati then sometime soon after.

But can Nagy build a successful 60-minute game plan around him?

Dalton obviously has his limitations and is playing behind a line that lost two left tackles in Jason Peters and Larry Borom against the Rams.

Still, Sunday's gameplan showed a stunning lack of innovation, imagination and risk. Dalton's only throw over 15 yards was the interception on the first drive and it only reached that distance because it was deflected. Only five of his 38 pass attempts were for 10+ yards.

But can you blame Dalton when he largely did what he was asked to do?

David Montgomery made things look closer than they appeared for awhile, turning his 16 carries into 108 yards. But the Rams were content to allow the Bears the short stuff and win the clock battle, confident in the knowledge they'd never be challenged deep.

Contrast that to the Rams offense, which took anything and everything it wanted from the Bears defense.

I'm not one to hit the panic button after just one week, particularly when each NFC North team posted a loss in its opener.

But if you want to, the defense should give you a reason.

Stafford was 20-of-26 for 321 yards and three touchdowns in his post-Detroit prison debut. He connected on touchdown passes of 67 and 56 yards and scored on six of his seven first full drives. The Bears' defense couldn't have made him look any more efficient.

As it stands, the Bears defense is the worst possible combination, old and expensive with plenty of holes. The secondary looks as permissive as it was during the end of the Marc Trestman era. While most bad defenses have issues getting off the field, the Bears sure didn't. That's how quickly the Rams were scoring.

And for that, we have Pace to thank. His cap and talent mismanagement has put the Bears' roster in a spot where neither the needs of the offensive line nor the secondary can be adequately addressed. It's a challenge for any NFL GM to build a balanced roster, but Pace's mistakes have increased the degree of difficulty.

Look, there are still 16 games to go and another hundred storylines to play out.

The eventual promotion of Fields might allow the team to mask some shortcomings. Not every offense they face will be as potent as the one helmed by Stafford and Sean McVay. If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers really aren't any good, their strength of schedule will thankfully decrease. A bad division might even be winnable, whatever a bad division title is worth. (Not much.)

But the root causes for Sunday's sluggish effort aren't going anywhere. And if they didn't temper your enthusiasm or expectations going into the opener, they should definitely alter them going forward.

Quote of the night

Eddie Jackson, I don't know what the heck's wrong with you, but you need to fix it."

— Former Bear Alex Brown on NBC Sports Chicago

News and results


Leury Legend walks the Sox off
The Sox magic number is down to nine. Leury Garcia hit an 0-2 pitch over the center field wall with two outs in the ninth to give the Sox a 2-1 win over Boston on Sunday. The blast rescued the victory from Craig Kimbrel's blown save earlier in the inning and kept the Sox from the extra innings that had felled them a night earlier. Lance Lynn pitched five scoreless innings in his first start since August 28.

  • Tim Anderson is expected back with the team for Tuesday's series opener against the Angels.

Cubs swept by Bryant and the Giants

Among the parting gifts bestowed upon Kris Bryant at Wrigley this weekend? Three victories for the tight NL West pennant race, capped by a 6-5 win on Sunday.  Bryant went 4-for-12 with five runs and several standing ovations in his return.

College rundown

• If Notre Dame (2-0) struggles against a MAC opponent on a streaming service, did it ever really happen? The Irish's close 32-29 win over Toledo + Florida State's hilarious Hail Mary loss to Jacksonville State makes me feel better about my Badgers' chances at Soldier Field in two weeks.

Northern Illinois (1-1) almost pulled off an insane comeback against Wyoming. Trailing by 26 late in the third, the Huskies scored 27 unanswered points to take a late lead. But the Cowboys managed one more score for a 50-43 victory. It's Michigan week for NIU now, they'll head to Ann Arbor as 26.5-point underdogs.

Illinois (1-2) lost its second straight, getting completely housed in a 42-14 road loss to Virginia. How bad are Nebraska fans going to feel the rest of the season looking at the scores Sunday morning?

Northwestern (1-1) got in the win column with a 24-6 breezer over FCS opponent Indiana State.

  1. Toni Kukoc went into the Hall of Fame on Saturday night with Michael Jordan and Jerry Reinsdorf at his side. Here's the highlight video they showed. YouTube
  2. Mike Montgomery once got the final out to break the Cubs' 108-year World Series drought. Now he's throwing rosin bags at umpires in the KBO. CBS Sports
  3. Nick Madrigal made an appearance at Wrigley Field over the weekend and said he's looking forward to playing with old friend, Nico Hoerner. Sun-Times
  4. Oh, just looking at how Packers fans are handling that loss. No reason, really. CheeseheadTV
  5. Chicago was named the second most beautiful city in the world, behind only Prague (and ahead of Paris)! Time Out Chicago
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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