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Hub Arkush: Bears are two-thirds of a contender with an offense that will get people fired

Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles has time as Chicago Bears offensive tackle Rashaad Coward blocks Minnesota Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum during their game Monday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles has time as Chicago Bears offensive tackle Rashaad Coward blocks Minnesota Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum during their game Monday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Contrary to popular opinion Tuesday, the Bears' 19-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings Monday night did not end their season nor did it seal the fates of Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy or any number of players.

That’s about seven weeks away.

It didn’t even put a terribly large dent in the Bears' playoff hopes.

I emphasize the word 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 Tuesday morning.

“They understand that we're going to fight and we're going to see what happens," Nagy said. “You know, I've been a part of other teams and other organizations where we've had similar records at this point in time right now and we've made a run and gotten into the playoffs and hit it with some good momentum.

“And I've seen other teams, too, at this point in time that have done the same thing.”

If that seems to you to be extremely wishful thinking after what we’ve witnessed the last four weeks, I’m with you, but there is no disputing Nagy’s argument.

Stranger things have happened and that’s why nothing was etched in stone Monday night.

But we do know that 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.

That’s why we approach my weekly film study report card a bit differently this week as we head into the bye.

At this point it feels like we’ve seen this report before.

Defense: The effort to control Dalvin Cook was outstanding, the two takeaways came in perfect spots, the penalty bug was almost completely 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 all 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. Hub’s Grade: B

Special teams: The Dwayne Harris muff was the only blemish on an outstanding night for Cordarrelle Patterson, Anthony Miller, who stepped in for Harris with two excellent returns, Patrick O’Donnell, who seems to be winning the punting wars every week now, and Cairo Santos, who was perfect again. Hub’s 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. Unfortunately, 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 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.

While we hope more than anything that Nick Foles was not seriously injured by a hit that somehow miraculously – and again completely indefensibly based on the rules we’re playing by today – wasn’t flagged, and in spite of the fact he gets little help from his line or his coaches, Foles has played nowhere near well enough to justify keeping his job. Hub’s Grade: F

Coaching: Nagy did the right thing by handing off his play calling duties to Bill Lazor and it was predictably his best game of clock and game management as a result, but as I suspected it wouldn’t, it didn't have any impact on the offense.

The problem right now isn’t the play calling. It's the scheme, and Mike Zimmer and company took the Bears offensive coaches to school.

It was a game because the Bears defense and special teams coaches won their matchups. Hub’s Grade: B -

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