Rozner: Sounds like Bears are lowering expectations
It was just a couple months ago that the Bears were talking Super Bowl.
Now, the head coach is trying to lower expectations and remind you that the Bears are still rebuilding.
This has to be the last act of a desperate man, though -- with apologies to Mel Brooks -- we don't care if it's the first act of Henry the Fifth.
In Year 5 of Ryan Pace and Year 3 of Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy tried this week to subtly ask for patience -- yet again -- because the program is in its infancy.
He wants you to wait for a sixth year of Pace and a fourth year of Trubisky, a far different story than the Bears were selling a few months ago.
Unless they rally, it will be one winning season out of five for Pace, and Nagy seems to think you'll buy into the notion that the Bears understood there was still a long way to go.
"It is totally different (expectations this year)," Nagy said Wednesday. "Last year, there (weren't) those outside expectations. No one knew exactly what we were getting into (last year), and then we made a little run."
Now, it's just a "little run." Over the summer, it was only a double-doink that kept them from capturing their first title since before Trubisky was born.
Now, not so much.
"We ended up winning the division," Nagy said. "And we put ourselves in a great opportunity to where now the expectations are meteoric."
In other words, unfairly large for a team not at all close.
"Now, the (expectations are) just extremely high," Nagy said, "for a team that's coming from where we were coming from."
Ah, there it is. A reminder that the Bears were really bad in 2017 and went 12-4 in 2018. Sounds like he's calling last season a mirage, reminding you the rebuild could last forever and that he knew that heading in, that he knew last year was a fluke.
Hard to follow the narrative sometimes as they grasp at straws in Lake Forest.
Nagy might be out of answers as he tries to convince Trubisky he's better than his numbers, having tried to use the Washington Nationals as motivation, among the ever-changing mental gymnastics at Halas Hall.
The defense is exhausted and underperforming as it bears the brunt of the offensive struggles.
And Trubisky is not so much regressing as continuing to play as he has for most of his three years, the exception being when he gets to play a team that can't cover receivers, which ought to be the case Sunday against a horrible Lions defense.
Trubisky is No. 33 among NFL quarterbacks in touchdown passes with 5. That's 2 more than Chase Daniel, 2 more than Brian Hoyer (in 26 pass attempts) and 4 more than Pace favorite Mike Glennon (in 3 pass attempts).
It's why Nagy was trying all those 1-yard passes a few weeks ago, trying to pad Trubisky's stats and sell the program.
It's always about promoting the operation and showing progress, about displaying the genius of draft picks.
One of those is Adam Shaheen, who had a single target last week when he couldn't fight to catch a third-down pass against a man 9 inches shorter and 80 pounds lighter. He also had a false start and muffed that infamous final kick.
Shaheen, a second-round pick in 2017, has 26 catches in three years. Niners tight end George Kittle -- taken 101 picks behind Shaheen -- has nearly that many in his last 4 games.
The Bears' tight end has 4 career TDs, none this year and all from 2 yards in or closer. One-yard TD passes are a way to support draft picks and show everyone how smart the selections were, selling the program so the fans have evidence of brilliance.
But in the last 10 years only two teams have gone from 3-5 to the playoffs as a wild card team, so the story is changing.
Nagy seems to be lowering expectations and this week tried to remind you that there's a long way to go.
It's an extraordinary turn for the Bears, but when the story changes you can't be surprised.
Certainly not anymore.