Emma: Observations from Bears-Packers

Matt Nagy is still struggling to be selectively aggressiveness with his in-game decisions.

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The Bears backed into the playoffs on the final Sunday of the regular season, losing 35-16 to the Packers at Soldier Field but landing the No. 7 seed in the NFC by virtue of the Rams' 18-7 win against the Cardinals in Los Angeles.

Here are the observations from the Bears' loss.

No balloons
Bears coach Matt Nagy is part fiery competitor and part eternal optimist, something that has been clear over his three seasons in Chicago. It was the competitive side that was on display after the loss Sunday, as he struggled to balance that with the silver lining.

"It’s OK to feel like crap right now," Nagy said after the loss, relaying his message to the team. "We put a lot of time and effort and energy into winning this football game. It sucks when you lose.

"I apologize if I'm not all balloons everywhere."

The Bears wanted nothing more than to earn their way into the postseason by beating the rival Packers, which would've meant finishing the regular season with four straight victories and carrying confidence into what could come next.

But this seemed to be a deserving fate for the Bears (8-8), who never really looked like a true playoff team in the regular season. They finished an even .500 with constantly uneven play, at first struggling to ignite their offense and then watching their defense disintegrate late in the season.

Nagy took pride in the Bears reaching the playoffs despite a six-game losing streak, which is fair. Just four weeks ago, it seemed he was in line to be fired and as if the Bears were preparing for great organizational change. While acknowledging the Bears' late three-game winning streak came against teams with a combined 12-36 record, just salvaging the season was a small accomplishment.

However, the Bears felt like they never should've lost six consecutive games in the first place. And their playoff berth after going 8-8 represents a marginal feat when compared to a team like the Packers, who won the division and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The Bears were again reminded Sunday how far away they are from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Selective aggressiveness
Nagy and the Bears are still struggling to find the right way to be aggressive.

Trailing 21-13 in the third quarter, the Bears faced fourth-and-goal from the Packers' 2-yard line. Nagy sent out kicker Cairo Santos and the field goal team for a 20-yard chip shot. Nagy had his chance to be aggressive there but elected to take the three points instead of play for the touchdown, which isn't going to keep pace with MVP frontrunner Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

That field goal was the last time the Bears would score in the game, though it wouldn't be their last quality chance.

On a fourth-and-1 from the Packers' 25-yard line while trailing 21-16 with 11:22 left in the game, Nagy decided to roll the dice after the Bears had been successful on their previous fourth-down attempts. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky rolled out to his right but threw incomplete to receiver Allen Robinson on a play that had little chance at success.

"We just got to get that fourth-and-1," Nagy said. "And that bothers me that we didn’t."

Nagy has often been aggressive this season, whether it was amid the six-game losing skid or while his Bears were winning. But his lack of consistency in his aggressiveness is perplexing.

Had Nagy elected to go for it on fourth-and goal from the 2-yard line in the third quarter, perhaps the Bears would've been tied with the Packers in the fourth quarter and a field-goal attempt on the pivotal fourth-and-1 would've made sense.

The Packers then found the end zone twice in the fourth quarter to put the game well out of reach. The game spiraled away from the Bears late as their aggressiveness backfired.

The green dot
The Packers took a lead they would never relinquish in the second quarter, when Rodgers hit receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 72-yard touchdown. What happened on that play?

The Bears seemed to have some pre-snap confusion that perhaps led to the touchdown. Linebacker Roquan Smith is typically trusted to wear the green dot on his helmet, meaning he has a headset to communicate with his coaches up until 15 seconds remain on the play clock. But Smith had already left the game with an elbow injury at that time.

It's not clear whether it was linebacker Danny Trevathan or linebacker Josh Woods directing the defense on the field with Smith out, but there appeared to be a breakdown. Before the snap, edge rusher Robert Quinn was left to scramble across a misaligned defense, even bumping into Trevathan before Rodgers snapped the football.

The Packers set up Valdes-Scantling as part of three receivers to the right and with a matchup against Trevathan, who got burnt on the play. All Rodgers had to do was hit his open receiver, and he rarely misses.

Later in the second quarter, the Packers exploited the Bears once again. On a second-and-goal from the 13-yard line, they lined up fullback Dominique Dafney with a bunched formation to the right, then slipped him across Woods and the Bears' second level. He was wide open in the end zone, and Rodgers hit him.

All season long, the Bears have praised Smith for his leadership on defense. It seemed to be sorely missing Sunday as he was sidelined by injury.

Where's the drive?
After starting the game at their own 40-yard line, the Bears drove 14 plays and 60 yards over 7:29 and capped it with running back David Montgomery scoring the opening touchdown.

The Bears reached the red zone four more times in the game but failed to get into the end zone again. They kicked three field goal and finished the game just shy of a touchdown as time expired, trailing by 19 points.

Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine made the right adjustments, and the Bears replicate the success of their opening drive.

Extra points
-- It would be hard for the Bears to replace Smith if he's out against the Saints on Sunday in the wild-card round. He was trying to get back in after leaving with the elbow injury in the first quarter. At one point, Smith was testing the injury out with teammate James Vaughters, but he never returned.

Smith has played at an All-Pro level this season. The Bears' defense would miss his performance and leadership, which are both really difficult for a replacement to replicate.

-- Speaking of costly injuries, will rookie receiver Darnell Mooney be back with the Bears on Sunday? He struggled to put any weight on his right ankle after injuring it. The injury came after he had hauled in a career-best 11 receptions for 93 yards in the game.

-- Remember when the Bears used to force turnovers over and over again? They dropped three interceptions from Rodgers, who has thrown five picks all season. Count those as missed opportunities.

-- It was only fitting the first incompletion from Rodgers came on a dropped would-be touchdown. He hit Valdes-Scantling right between the 83 on his jersey. Rodgers was 10-of-10 for 155 yards, three touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating in the first half.

-- The Trubisky bubble popped Sunday as his run of strong play came to an end. He was 33-of-42 for 252 yards and an interception. In facing a stout defense for the first time since late November -- also against the Packers -- Trubisky once again struggled.

-- Santos set a Bears franchise record with his 27th straight field goal made.

-- The Bears are 85-1 (+8500) to win the Super Bowl, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. That's tied with the Washington Football Team for the bleakest odds of any playoff team. Chicago opened up 9.5-point underdogs against New Orleans.

-- The Bears-Saints wild-card game will be broadcast on CBS, Amazon Prime and Nickelodeon. But you better believe we're all watching on Nickelodeon.

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