Emma: Bears-Packers Observations

GREEN BAY, Wis. (670 The Score) -- The Bears are no longer in the hunt after losing 21-13 to the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon, officially being eliminated from playoff contention when the Vikings defeating the Chargers several hours later.
With that dagger, the view of this 2019 season came into complete focus -- once viewed as Super Bowl contenders, the Bears were a major disappointment.

Here are the observations from the 200th meeting between the Bears and Packers:

Tru words

In the three games prior to Sunday, it seemed that Bears coach Matt Nagy was committed to catering his offense to the strengths of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He did so by moving the pocket, changing Trubisky's landmarks and calling more play-action.

That all changed Sunday, when Nagy's play-calling reverted to its old form and was once again ineffective. It was clear Trubisky was frustrated with by when he was asked postgame about the Packers' pressure and instead provided an answer that in part referenced Nagy's offense.

"Yeah, I felt like they were pretty good," Trubisky said of the Packers' front. "They have a really good front. I felt like our O-line played really well. I thought we could have took more pressure off (the line), moving the pocket a little more and me getting out. But, yeah, they’ve done a great job of that all year long. And that’s what they hang their hat on and they did that today.

"And we just got to continue to find ways to take pressure off our O-line with a good pass rush like that, continue to mix it up, whether it’s screens, running it, draws, all that kind of stuff. That helps."

Wait, Mitch. Are you talking about the play design?

"Could have done a lot of stuff, yeah," he said.

Ten days before the loss to the Packers, Nagy explained after the Bears beat the Cowboys that their altered offensive identity was best for Trubisky and the offensive line. But with extra time to prepare for a pivotal game, Nagy didn't build on that. He instead went away from that type of offense.

After the season, Nagy must re-evaluate his offense and a decision needs to be made: Do the Bears commit to Nagy's offense by turning to another quarterback who can better operate it or back Trubisky with a scheme better suited to his strengths?

Lay off
Plenty of replays have been shown of the Bears' multi-lateral final play against the Packers in which they came up just short of a touchdown that would've given them a chance to tie the game with a two-point conversation. 

In those freeze frames, it's easy to call out tight end Jesper Horsted for failing to pitch the ball at the right time to receiver Allen Robinson, who was flanking him on the right sideline with open space to the end zone. It looks like a blatant mistake on replay.

It's a much harder play to pull off at full game speed, as the undrafted rookie Horsted noted. The rarely utilized play had reached the point of improvisation, and Horsted did what he thought was best after initially seeing daylight for himself before realizing too late that Robinson was available for the score.

"I knew I had a guy on the outside, wanted to get it out there in hindsight," Horsted said. "Probably should have got there a little earlier, but it was moving quickly. It was a little bit hard to see exactly what was going to the right when I was focused on straight ahead and left."

Those criticizing Horsted should cut him a break and consider the difficulty of that decision at NFL game speed.


After missing eight games with a left elbow injury, Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks played through pain Sunday with an eye on helping save the team's season. It certainly drew the admiration of his team.

Hicks reaggravated his elbow injury twice during his return to action, both times leaving to the Bears' medical tent on the sideline before emerging and rejoining the team. 

Hicks still produced four tackles while playing with just one healthy arm.

"For him to fight back like that, to be back out there with his team, he's a warrior," Nagy said. "We appreciate that."

With the Bears' playoff hopes now gone, it would be wise to shut down Hicks and avoid him further injuring his left elbow.

Return of the Mack?

The last time prior to Sunday that Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack played at Lambeau Field, he produced a truly dominant performance. He had three tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pick-six in the Bears' loss to the Packers in their season opener in 2018.

In his return to Green Bay on Sunday, Mack was rather quiet. He had one tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry that forced Aaron Rodgers into an intentional grounding penalty.

It was far from the encore that Mack and the Bears hoped to see.

Extra points

-- The officials completely botched the kick-catch interference penalty call in the first quarter when the Bears' Cordarrelle Patterson laid out the Packers' Tramon Williams as he hauled in a punt. The blown call gave the Packers excellent field position instead of the Bears, who had recovered the fumble. The Packers scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Still, the game was lost by the Bears' inconsistencies, not the referees.

-- The Bears declared cornerback Prince Amukamara healthy leading up to Sunday, then removed him in the second half as he struggled in coverage. Was that due to injury or performance? It was unclear. Either way, the 30-year-old Amukamara could be yielding his position to the 24-year-old Kevin Toliver for the rest of this season. Chicago has a decision to make on Amukamara this offseason.

-- The Bears defense put forth another terrific effort -- with the exception of its play early in the third quarter, when the Packers had back-to-back touchdown drives that totaled 139 yards in just 10 plays. The Bears let up coming out of the locker room.

-- From former Bears long snapper and 670 The Score teammate Patrick Mannelly: "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is Matt Nagy to call plays to get Mitch on the move." So does Trubisky, apparently.

-- The Bears would've won many other games against the Packers if Rodgers finished with the stat line he had Sunday: 16-of-33, 203 yards, one touchdown. This time, it wasn't enough.

-- Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro quietly passed a test, hitting field goals from 30 and 27 yards out in the bitter cold of Green Bay.

-- It's hard to find a more unique football atmosphere than Lambeau Field.

-- Soldier Field may wear out the "Bear Raid" siren next Sunday in primetime trying to inspire something in the home crowd.

-- Two games of now-irrelevant football remain, then the Bears can move on to the big decisions that are necessary.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.