Bernstein: Wild Win Can't Quell Bears Concern

The manner of Chicago's 16-14 win at Denver was sobering.

Dan Bernstein
September 15, 2019 - 7:17 pm
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(670 The Score) The Bears can get out of Denver with a stolen win before the scoreboard changes again somehow, but the outcome only partially obscures some difficult truth.

They might not be as good as we thought they were.

First we have to untangle that insane final sequence, one that turned a miserable slog of an afternoon into something unforgettable in its sheer improbability. Joe Flacco led the Broncos to a game-tying touchdown with 31 seconds remaining, and Vic Fangio opted to go for the win right then and there against his former team. But the Broncos didn't get the ball snapped in time, and the ensuing five-yard penalty pushed another such try back to the 7-yard line. So Fangio relented, and Brandon McManus missed the extra point wide right. But the Bears' Buster Skrine was offsides, allowing Fangio another shot from the original conversion spot, and the Broncos converted it to take a one-point lead.

Then Mitchell Trubisky had the ball back on the 25-yard line, and the Bears ended up eventually staring at fourth-and-15 from their own 40, peering into the abyss. But Trubisky made his one good throw of the day, eluding pressure and climbing the pocket to hit Allen Robinson for 25 yards, his knee down and a timeout called with one second left. Bring on Eddie Pineiro, who banged through a 53-yard field goal as time expired.​

Just like we all called it -- the Bears earning a 16-14 win as they were led by three Pineiro field goals, the booming leg of punter Pat O'Donnell (five punts averaging 57.4 yards) and a handful of clutch holding penalties by Broncos offensive tackle Garett Bolles, who was trying in vain to stop the relentless Khalil Mack.

Related: Haugh: Bears survive but need more from Mitchell Trubisky

The Bears even got one of those touchdowns people talk about, after needing what felt like 15 tries from the 2-yard line to allow David Montgomery to graze the plane of the goal line with the ball after extending it precariously.

If this is what coach Matt Nagy refers to as the "200 level" of Bears offense, I'm waiting for drop/add day and swapping it out for Comparative Literature or Russian History, because this is tough to watch. It's rough for any team to struggle to get a semblance of a push up front, have accurate passes out on time or create creases for running lanes, but it's inexcusable for a championship contender.

And it's completely reasonable to take that expectation off the table until the Bears earn it back.

Trubisky was 16-of-27 for 120 yards. He underthrew an open Tarik Cohen and overthrew Taylor Gabriel on two plays that could have been big gains. Two passes on the game-winning drive were behind receivers. He has to get better at football real fast, or the defense goes to waste.

And that formidable side of the ball raised its own questions, with new coordinator Chuck Pagano getting blitz-happy in a way that some warned. His coverages were either risky man schemes or soft zones, and there were too many missed tackles on passes checked down in front of them. Though Kyle Fuller made a big interception to snuff a scoring drive, that collection of stars will now have to be asked to be more impactful.

Nagy has to understand how much work there is to be done, now. His team can celebrate avoiding the 0-2 mark that has doomed 87.8 percent of teams to playoff absence since 1997, but the performance was sobering.

Club Dub is finally open for business. The mood isn't exactly festive.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.