Emma: Bears-Rams Observations

A sense of finality lingered over the Bears' 17-7 loss to the Rams on Sunday.

Chris Emma
November 18, 2019 - 10:34 am
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LOS ANGELES (670 The Score) -- After the final whistle of the Bears' 17-7 loss to the Rams on Sunday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum, there was a sense of finality that lingered.

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What hope the Bears held for 2019 is no more, with their playoff chances are all but officially gone. The discussion is no longer what the Bears can accomplish this season but rather how they get this fixed for the future.

Here are the observations from Los Angeles:

The end

Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky walked with a slight limp as he navigated up a ramp from the Bears' locker room out of the Coliseum. He appeared to be even more broken emotionally.

The Bears built their roster around Trubisky, hired a coach in Matt Nagy in part to foster Trubisky's development and believed they would enjoy a deep playoff run because of Trubisky. He has failed the Bears.

Nagy, the other coaches, players and the organization have worked to protect Trubisky. So when Nagy pulled Trubisky late in the fourth quarter and inserted backup quarterback Chase Daniel into the game, it called into question whether the Bears were done with Trubisky.

The Bears later revealed that Trubisky was dealing with a right hip injury, with Trubisky and Nagy offering varied details of how the decision to pull him was reached. Trubisky explained that he first experienced tightness in his hip in the second quarter and received treatment at halftime. The lack of clarity behind Trubisky's injury only increased skepticism as to why he was removed.

After another game in which the Bears hurt themselves, it became clear that Trubisky's fate is sealed. He couldn't stop the spiral of this season and salvage the pivotal year of his young career. What matters more than when Trubisky is done as the starter is who replaces him. 

A Bears team that carried such promise has broken around its scuffling quarterback.

A silver lining?

While it's of little solace amid a 4-6 season, the Bears are fortunate to understand what Trubisky is now rather than later -- before it's too late. They only had to look to the Rams for the lessons to be learned.

The Rams owe $110 million guaranteed to quarterback Jared Goff through 2024, but they've learned he isn't worth that money. Goff struggled again Sunday in going 11-of-17 for 173 yards and an interception.

Goff has dramatically regressed in his fourth NFL season and third year under coach Sean McVay. In 10 games, he has thrown 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It's in part because defenses have neutralized McVay's scheme and exposed the weaknesses of Goff. It's similar to Trubisky's regression under Nagy's watch in 2019.

Given the way Trubisky has struggled, the Bears can't kid themselves in thinking he has untapped potential. They have to accept reality.

Instead of committing to Trubisky for the long term, the Bears will look to find his replacement whenever they see fit.

Swing and a miss

On Sunday, the Bears blew their last realistic chance to hang around in the NFC playoff race. Their 4-6 record leaves them far behind the Seahawks (8-2) and Vikings (8-3), who hold the two wild-card spots. Chasing a wild-card spot themselves, the Rams (6-4) are now two games up on the Bears and hold the tiebreaker.

The Bears were 6-of-17 on third-down conversions and averaged a season-low 3.6 yards per play. After a strong 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to open the third quarter, the Bears ran 21 plays for 36 yards.

Despite the many miscues, the Bears still trailed by a score of 10-7 when cornerback Kyle Fuller dropped a pass that might've turned into a pick-six and lead for his team. 

It was one of many moments the Bears let get away.

Kicked when down

Remember when the Bears' greatest concern was a kicker?

While Trubisky and the offense are at the forefront of Chicago's problems, it also looks as if Eddy Pineiro might not be the Bears' answer at kicker. He set the tone for Chicago's night with two missed field-goal attempts in the first quarter -- one wide left from 48 yards out, another wide right from 47 yards out.

While Nagy said after the game that he still believes in Pineiro, he also decided to keep the offense on the field for a fourth-and-9 from the Rams' 31-yard line in the first quarter instead of having Pineiro attempt a 49-yard field goal. That decision followed Pineiro's first miss but came before his second miss, which only diminished that dwindling faith. 

The Bears named Pineiro their kicker in early September after an exhaustive search for Cody Parkey's replacement this offseason. They believed he had the physical skills and mental fortitude to handle the pressure of his position. Instead, he has struggled, as he's 12-of-17 on field-goal attempts this season.

The Bears don't plan explore replacements for Pineiro, Nagy said, but that possibility still looms for potential kicker workouts Tuesday at Halas Hall.

Extra points

-- The Bears were a double-doink miss away from playing the Rams in the divisional round of the playoffs last January. It would've been a tremendous football game. What happened to those teams since?

-- Inside linebacker Roquan Smith was the Bears' player of the game, posting 11 tackles and an interception. He played with emotion and led the defense admirably without fellow inside linebacker Danny Trevathan.

-- Before the Bears lost Trubisky, they saw starting right tackle Bobby Massie leave with a back injury. Cornelius Lucas took over in his spot. If the Bears move forward without Massie, they'll be playing only one offensive lineman, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., in his original position from the start of the season.

-- Bears great Lance Briggs tweeted Sunday wondering whether fans appreciated how good they had it when Robbie Gould was kicking in Chicago. Any Bears fan can assure Briggs they relished Gould -- and miss him more with each missed kick.

-- When Nagy called the third-and-1 option, was he unaware of Trubisky's hip issue? Or was he simply not concerned?

-- Rookie running back David Montgomery was active but perhaps hampered by his ankle injury. He wasn't much of a factor in the Bears' offense, rushing 14 times for 31 yards.

-- This is the Bears' 100th season of football, and there are few that will be remembered as more disappointing.

-- These last six weeks will feel like an eternity.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.