Rozner: Chicago Bears have earned record heading into bye
Just a week ago, the pompoms were raised in unison praising Ryan Pace as perhaps the greatest general manager in NFL history, based on … well … something.
But at 3-2 in the fifth year of a rebuild, another year in which the Chicago Bears sold the Super Bowl very, very hard, even their most ardent expert supporters are beginning to question Pace and Matt Nagy, also considered just a week ago the finest offensive mind since Don Coryell.
The Bears' bandwagon is a dangerous ride, where rotator cuffs are torn and hamstrings pulled from back-patting and sudden leaps.
The Bears sell everything hard, promoting everything they do and everything they have as the best of all time -- more than three decades out from a Super Bowl -- and they get a lot of help with it, but when you start to lose those heartily endorsing the product, that has to be concerning for the hype machine.
Instead of lowering expectations, or at least managing a reasonable outlook, the Bears for decades have overpromised, never quite understanding that it's a week-to-week league.
That which separates the good from the terrible is only a couple of playmakers on each side of the ball, and five years in -- after five drafts and five chances in free agency -- Pace has still not found enough of them.
Last week, he was a genius because of all the depth that helped them beat the Vikings.
So where was all that depth against a mediocre Raiders team?
The Bears' defensive line -- which is the key to this football team any way you slice it -- had it handed to them Sunday in London.
That has to be disconcerting even among the zealots.
It can't just be about Akiem Hicks -- the Raiders have significant injuries, too -- not when Pace was the MVP just the week before because of their all-pro depth.
But that's the essence of the NFL, and why it's so dangerous to promote so hard and then believe the press clippings you helped cultivate.
When the Bears' defensive line doesn't dominate, the Bears are an average football team. You saw that Sunday.
And if you're being reasonable, you have to go back to last season before the playoff game against Philly to find a 60-minute game.
The Bears are 3-3 since then and that record feels about right, given their quarterback play and refusal to stick with the run game.
"We've just got to stay at it," QB Chase Daniel said of the ground game. "We've got to stay at it. We've got to trust it."
The ugly state of the offensive line might have something to say about that.
"We've got to dig deep right now," Nagy said in perfect Nagyspeak. "I need to figure out as a leader of this team what our hot buttons are for how we get better in certain areas."
Not sure quite what the means, but it sounds feisty -- and everyone adores feisty Nagy.
"Each person, every coach, every player, time to start looking at themselves in the mirror," Nagy said, "and figuring out why you're out there and why we're out there."
Well, just a football game, but it sounds very serious.
"It usually starts up front and we know that. We preach it. We talk it. We understand that," Nagy said. "Throughout the game we weren't real successful with running the football. It's been an issue this year and so we need to figure out why."
Well, you are the coach.
Look, teams have had time to figure out Nagy and Mitch Trubisky and every player on the offense, and if you add it all up only Allen Robinson has improved.
The rest are regressing.
That means adjustments must be made and coaches must coach, and the Bears have a week off to heal up and figure it out before hosting the Saints.
The Bears have lost two of three against teams with winning records, defeated two terrible teams and nine of their next 11 have winning records as we sit here today.
Not that it means a lot in a league where only the teams with truly elite quarterbacks have any right to scare you.
All that said, if the Bears don't run into the kicker they win the football game overseas and are 4-1, and the city would be making reservations for Miami in February.
That's how fast it can change.
Still, with so many geniuses in one building, it shouldn't be that hard to figure it out.