(670 The Score) Patience is a tricky thing. Right now, it’s a prerequisite for watching the Bears – the team is, after all, only four games into the Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus era and still very bad. It’s also the only safeguard in place for the lowest of the low moments, like when Saquon Barkley looks more comfortable playing quarterback than Justin Fields. Patience is, we’re told, what separates us from the worst of the boneheaded, reactionary punditry that the NFL content machine churns out. It’s easier to not lose the forest through the trees when we tell ourselves that tight ends take years to develop and that waiting for Cole Kmet to become The Guy is worth our while.
But patience can also be a double-edged sword. Sure, it buys us time to avoid the realities of what’s shaping up to be an abysmal Bears season, but time is rarely ever on an NFL team’s side. In January 2020, the Houston Texans were one half away from advancing to the AFC championship game and up 24 points – since then, they have made it to zero AFC championships and lost 28 games. There’s a fine line between waiting for the window to open and missing it entirely as it passes you by. There’s no doubt that the Bears are at the beginning of a lengthy process and one that should be allowed to go on as planned. But you didn’t need to squint during their game Sunday – an equally boring and uninspiring eight-point loss to the Giants – to see some concerning signs that the big turnaround everyone’s waiting for may not be as inevitable as we thought.
Sunday’s performance may have looked worse for first-year Bears general manager Ryan Poles than anyone who actually played on a team that didn’t score one single touchdown. Poles’ inaugural draft class, initially lauded for being a pro-ready group, looked anything but against the Giants. Cornerback Kyler Gordon would probably be benched if the Bears had any other options, but again -- we’re being patient. Safety Jaquan Brisker has clearly been the better of the two rookie secondary starters, but even he looked lost on more than a few occasions Sunday afternoon. (Play-action is tricky! Who has the ball??) Left tackle Braxton Jones, the darling of Training Camp Twitter, had another shaky performance too – he got beat badly on Fields’ fumble in the second quarter, and his third-down false start just minutes later basically forced the Bears into settling for a field goal. Just the growing pains of a rookie season, I guess. And receiver Velus Jones Jr.'s punt return fumble wasn’t the reason why the Bears lost the game, but I mean, in another sense, it kind of was, right?
It should also be noted that the Bears have one wide receiver. Technically, I think that number may be higher, but who can really say. You know who played well Sunday? Steelers rookie receiver George Pickens, who had six receptions for 102 yards while catching passes from Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Colts rookie receiver Alec Pierce also had a breakout game of sorts, with 80 yards on four receptions. Both of them were on the board when Poles took Brisker and Gordon nine picks apart. Behind Darnell Mooney, the Bears’ second-leading receiver Sunday in catches (three) was a tight end and yards (24) was a running back. Neither Equanimeous St. Brown nor Dante Petis even had a catch, and yet somehow Fields ended the day with season-highs in both completions and passing yards. Maybe the one-receiver offense works? The key is running it on second down at every and any distance.
We probably shouldn’t be all that surprised – it’s hard to muster up outrage over another underwhelming offensive performance when said offense has yet to be prioritized in any meaningful way. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the Romans didn’t have to watch their mistakes get mocked on cable television in real time. The problem isn’t that the Bears looked like a bad team Sunday, it’s that they looked like a misconstructed one. That, more than any coverage issues or bad interceptions, is something patience can’t help with.
Cam Ellis is a writer for 670 The Score and Audacy Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KingsleyEllis.