10 thoughts on the Bears' 35-14 loss to the Packers

10 thoughts after the Chicago Bears were blown out 35-14 by the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

1. The undoing of Mike Glennon is going to be the turnovers. When you heard coach John Fox talk about the quarterback position and reference the kind of play the organization got from the three-headed monster it had at the position a year ago, he was talking about the interceptions that put the Bears in a tough spot. Well, at 1-3 right now and chasing in the NFC North, the Bears are in a jam as Glennon has turned the ball over eight times (five interceptions, three fumbles). It’s not about throwing the ball downfield and stretching the defense and check-down passes and all of the other topics that have been raised. It’s about protecting the football. Passing yardage isn’t a very useful statistical tool when it comes to determining the outcome of a game. Turnover margin is one of the best statistical tools and once again the Bears are getting hammered in that category. The Bears and Packers are the only teams to complete four games and we’ll see what the chart looks like at the end of the weekend but right now the Bears are, you guessed it, 32nd in the NFL in turnover margin at minus-7. The Bengals and Browns, who do battle Sunday in the Battle of Ohio, are each minus-5. Maybe one of them will have a particularly unsightly game and that will move the Bears out of 32nd. The point is the turnovers can’t happen for a team with a slim margin for error.

“Fortunately we have a mini-bye here, 10, 11 days to evaluate and do things necessary for us to improve,” Fox said. "That’s across the board.”

The Bears don’t want to punt on Glennon this early. That’s never been the plan — but if they can’t hold onto the ball, I’m not sure Glennon can survive. It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens. The last thing they want to do is push Mitch Trubisky into action before they think he’s prepared for the role because they made a bad decision to sign Glennon for $18.5 million guaranteed.

Fox stood firmly behind his quarterback after the loss in Tampa Bay that was similarly ugly. He openly talked about change this time. Does that include the quarterback?

“Like I said, we need to make a lot of changes,” Fox said. “We will evaluate everything and we’ve got a lot of work to do here before we line up against Minnesota on Monday night (Oct. 9). We are going to look at everything.”

They can spend the entire weekend looking. The reality is there isn’t a whole heck of a lot they can do besides change the quarterback. It’s not like they’ve got players who have been inactive who are ready to step into major roles. There’s no hidden talent stashed on the practice squad that is going to ride to the rescue. Yes, the schedule is frontloaded and the Bears faced a difficult four-game stretch. No, you can’t excuse sloppy play that leads to giveaways.

Here’s an important thing Fox said that you should remember, and I’m translating a little bit here: Swapping out Glennon isn’t going to solve all the problems.

“I don’t think all of those were Mike’s turnovers,” Fox said. “Again, there are a lot of people out there that are involved. We had dropped balls. We had penalties. There was plenty of stuff to pass around.”

Glennon needed to get the ball out of his hand quicker on the first turnover, the sack by Clay Matthews. Glennon executed a play fake and was looking to take a deep shot downfield on the first snap of the game. The Bears asked tight end Dion Sims to solo block Clay Matthews. That seems like an unnecessarily risky maneuver right off the bat and it didn’t work. The fumble that resulted when a shotgun snap went off Glennon’s shin was the result of poor communication between him and center Cody Whitehair. When I talked to Whitehair, he told me the snap was on two and he was at fault for snapping it too soon. Glennon said they were both at fault. It was hard to see what went wrong on the first interception intended for Markus Wheaton but the ball wasn’t close. It appeared like Deonte Thompson ran a particularly poor route on the second interception.

This is precisely what the Bears hoped to avoid this season.

2. I would have concern that the wide receiver position is so undermanned that Trubisky has little chance to be successful if the Bears do make a change at quarterback. Unless he’s the next coming of Aaron Rodgers, who sat for the first three seasons of his career, Trubisky will have a difficult time making a go of it with the wide receivers on the roster. He’s not a magic fix for what ails the passing game. After giving this some consideration, and four games into the season is enough consideration, I think it’s fair to say this is the worst crop of receivers the Bears have had in an awfully long time. For a couple weeks I’ve been weighing the 2011 group, which wasn’t good. Now that we’re at the quarter point of the season, I think it’s a fair call. That group had Johnny Knox average 19.6 yards per reception even though he caught only 37 balls. The rest of the group included Roy Williams, Dane Sanzenbacher, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and, of course, Sam Hurd.

The Bears knew when training camp opened that they did not have an optimal group of wide receivers and that it would be a challenge. Cameron Meredith and Kevin White were injured and now they’re looking at a real problem such that I think it’s going to be difficult for Trubisky to perform. They’re not going to suddenly run better routes because a different quarterback is in the game. The absolute worst thing that can happen to the Bears is they send Glennon to the bench because of the turnovers and insert Trubisky and then he struggles badly because, in part, the skill-position talent around him is deficient. That would be disastrous. You just have doubts about what this group can accomplish and Wheaton now has two games under his belt but zero catches. Everyone calling for Trubisky to play needs to realize this group is a very significant part of the issues plaguing the passing game and the offense as a whole.

So do you push Trubisky into action because Glennon has been a major problem? Is the one extra practice the Bears will have with the “mini-bye” as coach Fox alluded to going to make much of a difference? It’s not just dropped passes through four games that are on the wide receivers. It’s interceptions too.

3. If the Bears are extremely lucky, the NFL will only fine linebacker Danny Trevathan for the brutal head shot on Packers wide receiver Davante Adams. The fear has to be Trevathan will be suspended by the NFL for an egregious shot that sent Adams to the hospital. It used to be that suspensions were reserved for repeat offenders, a category that does not include Trevathan. However, the NFL passed a rule change this year that illegal hits to the head can be considered for suspension. Considering the NFL has an image issue with player safety and considering this game was nationally broadcast and considering that hit was just plain awful, I think Trevathan could be suspended by the league here. Safety Adrian Amos had stopped Adams’ forward progress when Trevathan arrived at full speed, driving his helmet into Adams’ facemask.

“I regret just the level I hit him at,” Trevathan said. “I could have been a little better. But you have to understand I was (gathering) momentum and I was just trying to make a play. Nothing intentional. It happens in this game.

“I don’t think it should be a suspension. But you never know. I’m going to send a prayer out. My main concern is that he’s OK. It was bad. I never wish that on anybody. Especially after being hurt (myself) a few times, I know how that is. And especially with the head and the neck, you never wish that on anybody. You never want to see that.”

The good news is the Packers had positive reports on Adams late Thursday night. Trevathan doesn’t have a reputation for being a dirty player but this hit crossed the line and it would not be surprising to see the league suspend him.

I wonder if the hit will have an impact on Bears-Packers games to come. I thought Rodgers had some interesting stuff to say about the rivalry from a player perspective earlier in the week.

“Great rivalry, great fan bases,” he said. “At times, in the early years there was a lot more animosity I felt on the field. Then we kind of went through a stretch where both teams kind of liked each other. I’m not sure what side we’re going back to. We’ll see Thursday night if there’s more animosity or more friendship.”

4. The Bears really had a shot to win this game. Consider Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari and right tackle Bryan Bulaga were both sidelined. Green Bay’s top two reserve tackles were already on injured reserve so they effectively started center Corey Linsley and four guards. Add in the fact that defensive tackle Mike Daniels, their best player on that side of the ball, was out, and you have another advantage for the Bears. Then consider that running back Ty Montgomery was knocked out of the game on the opening series with what has been reported to be broken ribs and the Packers were very shorthanded. The Bears should have created more problems for their offense but Green Bay came out and ran the ball right at the Bears. I think that set the tone for the entire game. Five of the first six plays were runs by Montgomery to gain 28 yards and then Rodgers opened things up a little bit. The Bears’ pressure amounted to two sacks, one for Leonard Floyd and one for Pernell McPhee. It was good for Floyd to break through for his first one of the season but this was a complete rag-tag assembly on the offensive line and the Bears did nothing to take advantage of it.

“We got outcoached, we got outplayed in every area,” Fox said.

I asked McPhee if the Bears expected to cause more havoc for the Packers.

“Yeah, we did,” McPhee said. “But we know Aaron Rodgers. He wasn’t going to let us do that. If you watch it, two seconds, he was catching it, slinging it. He’s a great quarterback. He made adjustments. He did sprint outs, all types of stuff to slow us down.”

5. Week 4 is the first time the Bears got the offensive line set as Josh Sitton returned after missing a week with a broken rib. Sitton lined up at left guard and Kyle Long played right guard, where he was last week against the Steelers. You will recall the plan hatched early in the offseason was to have the guards swap positions. Clearly, the Bears have shelved that for right now and for good reason. Long missed the entire preseason and most of training camp so any chance to really work on a new stance (although he was getting left side reps in camp) was really lost. The Bears have done Long a disservice in the past by asking him to change positions and they’re letting him be. For now.

“I play right guard,” he said afterward.

Here’s assuming he’ll play that position for the remainder of this season.

6. It’s fair to interpret Quintin Demps’ standing on the 53-man roster as a positive when it comes to his health right now. Demps suffered a fractured left forearm last Sunday in the win over the Steelers, but the Bears have not moved him to injured reserve. That likely means they believe there is at least a chance he is able to play in less than eight weeks. That’s the minimum amount of time a player has to spend on injured reserve before he can be designated to return. The clock for that doesn’t start until the player has been moved to IR so it’s not like the Bears would just wait on Demps if they didn’t have a positive feeling about that. Same goes for inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, who missed the game with a pec injury. I wouldn’t expect Demps out on the field anytime soon, but it beats him going on injured reserve and potentially missing the remainder of the season.

7. It’s definitely a ways down the road, but it’s not too early to consider what will happen when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association expires at the conclusion of the 2020 season. Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips, who has been in that role since 1999, addressed the topic earlier this week during the team-controlled show on WBBM-AM 780.

“Well, you know what, I think the CBA as it sits now has been good for everyone,” Phillips said. “It’s been good for teams. It’s been good for players. It’s a little early probably. I think everyone would love an extension now. It’s a little early so it is saber-rattling, which is much ado about nothing in my mind as years of being a contract negotiator.

“I think some of the issues that will come up are the discipline issues, the authority of the commissioner, guaranteed contracts. I think there’s got to be some discussion about how much time coaches get with the players in the offseason. From a coaching perspective, it’s not enough. And how do we get more time to develop the young players? I think those are some of the issues. I think financially it has worked well and hopefully those are good foundational items that both sides see as positives that will help get a new deal done.”

There are a lot of issues for both sides to consider and I think it’s important to remember to follow the money. The NFL generated $8 billion in revenue in 2010 before the current CBA was hammered out. SportsBusiness Journal reported in March that the league expected to total $14 billion in revenue this year. It would be foolish to think players will not seek a larger piece of the pie than they are currently receiving. NFL players have grumbled the past couple years about fully guaranteed contracts, something that seems far-fetched. The way the money is divided is always going to be the No. 1 issue. At this point, be thankful we have this season and the next three before a labor impasse could halt action.

8. Roberto Aguayo isn’t the answer, I think the Bears learned that. But Connor Barth isn’t going to be able to miss many more kicks before the team explores some options there. Barth was wide right from 47 yards and that’s the same distance he missed wide right last week against the Steelers. Barth is 2 for 4 on the season and the coaches are comfortable with him but they’re not going to put up with many more misses. Who knows? Maybe they take a look at a few legs in the next week or so.

9. Talk about a white-flag possession. That’s one what former Bears assistant coach said — that the Bears are waving the white flag — after a 15-play, 75-yard drive that took 8 minutes, 59 seconds off the clock in the fourth quarter. Jordan Howard scored on a 3-yard run, but it was an extra methodical drive that started after the Bears fell behind 35-7. I chalk that up to Fox knowing his turnover-prone offense wasn’t going to strike for four touchdown in the fourth quarter. But there was some reaction on Twitter about it and one former coach was wondering the exact same thing. That’s the pitfall of playing poorly in prime time. The other 31 teams see you.

10. Hat tip to stat guru Doug Colletti, who provides all sorts of good stuff for the WBBM-AM 780 broadcast every week. The Bears have now won the coin toss 14 consecutive times. Yes, you read that right. They won the coin toss for the final five games of the 2016 season. They won the coin toss for the four preseason games. They won the coin toss for the first three weeks of this season. They won the coin toss for overtime against the Steelers and they won the coin toss here at Lambeau Field. Long ago, I wrote about a streak of coin toss wins the Bears had under coach Dick Jauron and referred to them as “odds.” Boy, was I chided by the folks out there that are smarter at math than I am. I believe the probability of winning the coin toss 14 consecutive times is 1 in 16,384. Start flipping and see if you can get there.

10a. The Packers took the lead in the all-time series, edging ahead of the Bears 95-94-6. It’s the first time the Packers have held the lead in the series since Sept. 24, 1933, way back when Virginia McCaskey was in grammar school.

10b. Maybe it’s a good thing the Vikings are next on the schedule. The Bears have won eight of the last nine meetings with the Vikings at Soldier Field. The Bears are also 5-2 on “Monday Night Football” since the 2013 season.

10c. Too many Packers uncovered too often in this one. How is Jordy Nelson uncovered in the end zone? That’s got to be cleaned up on defense. Imagine if that happened in a close game.

10d. Not trying to pile on Sims, but remember how much the Bears raved about his ability to run downfield and make plays in the passing game? Remember how much the Bears raved about the strength of the tight end position? I’m not forgetting the what the tight ends did in the blocking game last week against the Steelers. They did real nice work helping make holes but they haven’t helped much in the passing game yet.

bmbiggs@chicagotribune.com

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