It may seem like one shouldn’t be too upset about the loss. The Chicago Bears are thinking big picture and the team’s front office has been clear that this year is all about rebuilding the roster to better position the team to compete for the postseason in future years.
It is about developing second-year quarterback Justin Fields. Indeed, general manager Ryan Poles has traded away the team’s two best defensive players in order to increase draft capital.
So, with the bigger picture in mind, it would be logical not to be upset about the loss to Detroit as long as Fields played well. For the most part he did save for a brutal pick-six and an anemic final drive in which his wide receiver corps and the offensive line didn’t do much to help him.
One could even argue that every loss is actually better for the Bears long term as the more the team loses, the higher it will draft next season.
Your humble author understands that. But I am bothered by the loss nonetheless. Some of it is pure emotion — it’s never fun to lose a divisional rival, particularly one like Detroit that the Bears have treated as a perennial punching bag.
The Chicago Bears allowed the Detroit Lions to come back and beat them.
It’s even harder to stomach when the Lions are arguably a worse team than the rebuilding Bears with a head coach who is on the hot seat and previously had never won on the road.
All that aside, what really bugs me is how they lost. A well-played game in which the Lions were one or two play better than the Bears? I could handle that. Same with a blowout. But the Bears blew a 24-10 lead in the final quarter.
They did it with some self-inflicted wounds such as dumb penalties and a missed extra point on a go-ahead touchdown. The defense also was shredded by a Lions attack that is competent but not particularly feared.
This kind of loss is hard to stomach for any team and it’s definitely hard to accept when you have a young rebuilding team that needs to learn how to win.
Some will say that the Bears aren’t at that point of the rebuild yet (many of the defensive players and perhaps a good chunk of the offensive line and receiving corps won’t be here when the Bears are ready to compete for the playoffs again)
Fair point. But some of the players who will be here when the Bears are expected to be good again were part of the problem. Jaylon Johnson had a bad day on defense.
New acquisition Chase Claypool was more ghost than wide receiver and he is young enough that he is likely part of the plan moving forward.
Rookie Braxton Jones had a key holding penalty that stalled the opening drive and forced the Bears to settle for a field goal. Only Fields and tight-end Cole Kmet stood out as future core players who had good days.
What really bugs me though is that rebuilding teams need to learn, at some point, how to win. How to close out games. Again, maybe the Bears aren’t there yet and maybe too many players on the roster just don’t matter right now.
But some of the ones that are supposed to matter in the next one to five seasons were part of the problem. Further, I believe that had the Bears held on yesterday, it could’ve instilled confidence in young players who are part of the future. Even at the possible expense of draft order.
I realize I am arguing a nebulous point here. It’s hard, if not impossible, to quantify how a game like yesterday’s affects future success.
It’s possible that it won’t matter at all and that it won’t be remembered by any of the future core if and when the Bears are back on the winning track. I also realize the frustration could fuel players and coaches (or at least teach lessons).
All that said, it still stung worse than earlier losses this season, regardless of Fields once again showing that is almost certainly taking the next step forward.
And not just for the “meatball” reasons — division rival, et cetera — but because it felt, at least when observed from the safe distance of my couch across town from Soldier Field, that while the Bears may have some foundations for future success, the team’s mental toughness is nowhere near where it needs to be. Especially when it comes to players not wearing the number 1 on their jersey.
Bad teams lose games they should win and that’s not always simply because of a talent disparity. Mentality and mindset play a part.
Yes, a loss like this will sting more when the Bears are closer to being good or if and when they actually are. But it’s still frustrating, even acknowledging the bigger picture, to see this team lose games like this.
Hopefully, those who pointed out that the big picture outweighs any given Sunday this year will be proven right. Perhaps I will be proven wrong over time. But it can’t help but feel like while this game was another step forward for Fields, it was a step backward for the Bears as a whole.