Bears’ recent losses cast shadow on future performance

Graphic+Courtesy+of+Angelina+Zheng
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Bears’ recent losses cast shadow on future performance

Graphic Courtesy of Angelina Zheng

Graphic Courtesy of Angelina Zheng

Graphic Courtesy of Angelina Zheng

Graphic Courtesy of Angelina Zheng

Cooper O'Kelly, Contributing Writer

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When I was originally slated to write an article on the Bears, it was right after the teams’ Week Four win against the Minnesota Vikings. As most Bear fans would know, in this game, starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky went down with an injury to his shoulder and remained out for the rest of the game. Bears backup quarterback, Chase Daniel, came in for Trubisky and put up solid numbers and ultimately brought home the win. 

With 588 passing yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions for nearly four games Mitch has played so far, the people of Chicago and critics everywhere have been on his back about his poor play. The good play of Chase Daniel in his first game and obvious struggles for Mitch throughout the season led to people talking, debating which of the two quarterbacks would lead the Bears to more victories. I assumed Chase Daniel would lead the Bears to an easy victory over the not-so-good Oakland Raiders, and I would be writing an article about the “definite” QB controversy the Bears would be having after their bye week in Week Six. While I was partially right about me writing about the Bears’ quarterback struggles, the game’s outcome was the opposite of what I thought it would be. The Bears lost 24-21 and had all fans that hadn’t already begun panicking long ago wondering if it was time to start  freaking out. 

To me, it comes down to injuries, injuries, and more injuries. An injury to your starting quarterback is bad enough, but on top of this, the Bears had and still have injuries affecting the team in every area. Notable Bears injuries have been to Akiem Hicks’ elbow, Eddy Piñeiro’s knee, and Taylor Gabriel with his concussion.

 To start, let’s talk about star defensive tackle, Akiem Hicks. Hicks suffered a knee injury prior to the Bears’ Week Four game against the Vikings and didn’t play in that game. Most Chicago fans and I were hyped to find out Hicks was able to come back and play against the Raiders in London. Just as Hicks was cleared to play, in his first game back, Hicks’ elbow got pinned between two players early in the first quarter, and he was sidelined for the rest of the game. Head coach Matt Nagy believes Hicks will be back later in the season and that his injury won’t be season ending. Hicks’ injury is a big blow to the defense, especially the run defense, which had just been torched by Raiders’ rookie running back Josh Jacobs. 

Next, we have Bears kicker, Eddy Piñeiro. Piñeiro was the hero of the Bears’ last-second win against the Denver Broncos in Week Three when he kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired, but things weren’t going as good for him later in that week. He hurt his kicking leg in the weight room during the week, and while the injury hasn’t affected him lately, it did impact Piñeiro’s play in the game immediately after playing the Broncos. In that game against the Redskins, Piñeiro missed his first field goal of the season. Although the Bears won that game in a blowout, Piñeiro’s injury has affected his range on the football field, which may possibly damage the Bears’ playoff chances

Taylor Gabriel, one of the Bears’ starting receivers, suffered a concussion in the same game where he went off for three touchdowns against the Redskins. After that game, Gabriel has sat out for two consecutive games and his injury has greatly diminished the explosiveness and success of the offense. Gabriel getting hurt just after he had what is probably going to be his best game of the season is a huge blow to the overall skill and productivity of the offense, especially after Trubisky got hurt. A backup QB having to come in is bad enough, and it’s even more concerning if one of the team’s strongest offensive weapons is sidelined.

Chase Daniel came in and played the rest of the game against the Vikings and put up solid numbers. With 195 yards and a passing touchdown through a partial game, Daniel surprised everyone. While many would give most of the credit for the team’s win against the Vikings, Daniel’s strong play was also one of the strong points in the Bears’ win. I thought that Daniel would be able to continue this success into his next game against a decently weak Raider team, but I was wrong. While his 231 passing yards and two touchdowns may seem to be a solid outing for a backup quarterback, the focus of viewers should be on the two interceptions that he threw. Daniel had a very impactful interception with 1:22 left in the 4th quarter, and it was  horribly hard to watch. The most alarming part of the interception was how bad of a throw it was. The pass was supposed to be to Anthony Miller, who was wide open running towards the sideline. Daniel airmailed him, and the pass landed right into a defender’s open arms. On top of this, one of Daniel’s struggles was his inability to be mobile and get out of the pocket. He was sacked four times against Oakland and hit more times than that, and he could have avoided a good portion of these hits if he just left the pocket and rolled out. 

Before Daniel’s bad game against the Raiders, many people (including me) were debating over the future of the Bears’ starting quarterback position. Was Chase Daniel really going to be a better option than a completely healthy Mitch Trubisky? I’m sure lots of peoples’ opinion was changed after Daniel’s outing against the Raiders, but my opinion has remained the same. The Bears have to stay rolling with Trubisky. He’s a young, athletic quarterback with a strong arm who has a great ability to make throws on the run. I get it. Trubisky doesn’t always hit open receivers exactly where he should, he doesn’t make the best decisions all  the time, and he DEFINITELY isn’t a great option as a starter. But, the potential is there.

 Mitch has a lot of upside and talent and keeps getting better as he keeps gaining experience because he is a young player. On the other hand, Daniel, who is 33 years old, will pretty much stay the same. There’s a reason why Chase Daniel has made over 34 million dollars and has started in under five games over his whole career. Don’t get me wrong, Daniel isn’t a horrible quarterback, but there’s parts of his game that he lacks. Daniel isn’t mobile at all, and the Bears don’t have a good enough offensive line to support a pure pocket passer. Mitch can extend plays with his legs and can make good passes even while under pressure and on the move. Neither QBs seem to be good options at this moment in time, but Mitch will be a better option in the long run. The deciding factors in why Trubisky is better than Daniel were his mobility, and ultimately, Mitch has more upside than Daniel and is just able to gain yards and extend plays until there’s an open receiver.

 Due to the struggles and hardships that the Bears have faced, their start to the 2019 season has not looked good at all. The main factors that have led to the Bears’ slow start are the abundance of injuries the team has faced and the quarterback controversy they have on their hands. The Bears need to get things together quickly if they want to keep their Super Bowl, and even playoff hopes alive.

 

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