Bears are two-thirds of a contender with an offense that will get people fired
Contrary to popular opinion, the Bears' 19-13 loss to Minnesota Monday night did not end their season nor seal the fates of Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy or any players.
That's seven weeks away.
It also didn't put a large dent in the Bears' playoff hopes.
I emphasize "hopes" as it did make it impossible to continue talking about them as a serious contender.
As for ruling them out, though, here's what Nagy had to say about that.
"They understand we're going to fight and we're going to see what happens," he said. "I've been a part of other teams where we've had similar records at this point and we've made a run and gotten into the playoffs and hit it with some good momentum."
If that seems to be wishful thinking after what we've witnessed the last four weeks, I'm with you, but there is no disputing Nagy's argument.
We do know Monday night was a fourth straight week of strong defense, this time aided by outstanding special teams play, and yet so suffocatingly weighed down by complete ineptitude and incompetence on offense that the once 5-1 Bears are now 5-5.
At this point it feels like we've seen this report before.
Defense: The effort to control Dalvin Cook was outstanding, the two take-aways came in perfect spots, the penalty bug was almost eradicated, and in front of a national TV audience it's tough to imagine Roquan Smith and Kyle Fuller didn't cement themselves as first team All Pros.
Akiem Hicks was dominant until he got hurt, and Khalil Mack, Danny Trevathan and Brent Urban were outstanding.
That said, the pass rush is still too erratic and sacks are too few, Buster Skrine had a very tough night, occasional sloppy tackling is still an issue, and one disturbing trend may be developing.
The Bears defense is No. 1 in third down efficiency at 33.3%, but after allowing the Titans to convert 40%, the Vikings converted 53%. That's a trend that has to stop. Grade: B
Special teams: The Dwayne Harris muff was the only blemish on an outstanding night for Cordarrelle Patterson and Anthony Miller, who stepped in for Harris. Patrick O'Donnell seems to be winning the punting wars every week, and Cairo Santos was perfect again. Grade: A-
Offense: The offensive line while still subpar was significantly improved over recent weeks with the return of Cody Whitehair and a good debut for Alex Bars at guard. While they weren't awful all night, Rashaad Coward and Germain Ifedi continued to make costly, glaring errors.
Patterson ran hard in place of David Montgomery, but why we were given a peek at Lamar Miller only for him to get two touches and no carries seems indefensible.
The receivers did what they could with a quarterback who put the ball exactly where he should have enough times to count on one hand, and who has consistently been guilty of that for six weeks now.
Nick Foles has played nowhere near well enough to keep his job. Grade: F
Coaching: Nagy did the right thing by handing play-calling duties to Bill Lazor and it was predictably his best game of clock and game management as a result, but it had no impact on the offense.
The problem isn't play calling it's the scheme, and Mike Zimmer took the Bears offensive coaches to school. It was a game because the defense and special teams won their matchups. Grade: B-