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JustAnotherBear
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POST COUNT: 522
Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
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by Lorin Cox

There is no such thing as a legitimate excuse for an NFL team that goes 3-13 in the second year of the same regime that went 6-10 in the previous season, as the Chicago Bears did under John Fox and Ryan Pace.

The type of historically bad season that this franchise had in 2016 should be unacceptable to Bears fans, and the two leaders of the team said as much in their post-season press conference on Wednesday, before they hypocritically blamed injuries as the excuse for their regression.

Bears fans are quick to point to the 19 players on injured reserve and give this team a pass for their first-ever 3-13 season, but if you really dig deep into this season and this team, injuries are not a valid excuse for total failure.

Take a look at specifically who those 19 players are and the number of games they spent on injured reserve, listed below.

OT Nick Becton (16 games)
CB Brandon Boykin (16)
DL Ego Ferguson (16)
CB Kyle Fuller (16)
C Hroniss Grasu (16)

LB Danny Mason (16)
QB Connor Shaw (16)
OLB Lamarr Houston (14)
WR Kevin White (12)
WR Marquess Wilson (12)
QB Brian Hoyer (9)
G Kyle Long (7)
DL Will Sutton (7)

TE Zach Miller (6)
QB Jay Cutler (5)
LB Danny Trevathan (5)
WR Eddie Royal (5)
OT Mike Adams (4)
NT Eddie Goldman (2)

Fuller, Grasu, Houston, and White were the only four players who were expected to be starters or major contributors that missed more than half of the season on injured reserve.

Then you have players like Long, Sutton, Miller and Trevathan that were all big injuries, but they all went down when the team was already 2-7, 2-8 or 2-9, and the season was lost before any of them got hurt.

Meanwhile, you have five guys on there (Becton, Boykin, Ferguson, Mason and Shaw) who were all bottom-of-the-roster players that weren't even guaranteed a 53-man roster spot.

Pace was actually smart to stash them on I.R. and keep them around, but they shouldn't count as lost talent that was hurting the Bears this season. You can throw the late season addition of Mike Adams in there too, who only played in a game and a half.

Yes, the Bears had a ton of other injured players who missed a lot of games not on injured reserve, but when you really sit down and go loss-by-loss through the season this year, it's hard to chalk up 13 of them to injury.

A season of disappointments

I'm willing to chalk up the first three losses of the season to the Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in consecutive weeks as the direct result of injuries and the lack of talent. From there though, that excuse really starts to run out.

The Bears won in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions, proving that they can actually win games against playoff teams, even with injuries and a backup quarterback, when they run the ball consistently and their defense makes some plays.

That is what made the loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the next game hard to swallow and impossible to dismiss as an injury-plagued contest. Brian Hoyer led the Bears on a 96-yard touchdown-scoring drive to give his team the four-point lead with seven minutes left in the game.

That was followed by the brilliant coaching decision to leave Jacoby Glenn matched up in single coverage against T.Y. Hilton, and the Colts torched the Bears down the field to retake the lead.

Hoyer still had another opportunity to drive down and take the lead, but Indianapolis keyed in on Dowell Loggains' predictable play calls and route concepts, and Chicago fell short.

The same thing happened the next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bears were up 13-0 after three quarters. Injuries did not blow that lead over a team that would finish equally bad at 3-13.

The Bears abandoned their running game and their defense completely folded.

The Week 7 loss to the Green Bay Packers is one that injuries definitely caused. Hoyer went down, and Aaron Rodgers torched the Bears' banged-up secondary. No arguments there.

Then the Jay Cutler-led Bears, who already had 11 players on injured reserve, took down the 5-2 Minnesota Vikings, showing once again that injuries were not a reason that kept them from winning decidedly against a quality opponent.

The loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the bye week is a tough one to nail down because of the turnovers, but it's still hard to say the Bears fell short in that one due to injuries because it was the healthiest they had been for quite a few weeks, and they beat the Vikings a week earlier with a more banged-up squad.

That game was followed by the Week 11 loss to the New York Giants, yet another game where the Bears were up seven at halftime, failed to adjust, abandoned the running game, and blew their lead in the third quarter before failing to come back. Injuries didn't make the team worse in the second half.

The next week against the Tennessee Titans, somehow and someway, Matt Barkley brought the Bears back in the fourth quarter, and Loggains continued to trot out wide receiver Josh Bellamy, who could not hold catch the ball.

He was not "forced" to play anyone. Pace can find receivers off the street who can catch the ball. Yet the inability to assess their own talent and field the best possible players for success kept them from getting the win, even with their third(!) starting quarterback of the season.

That was followed by a decisive win over the San Francisco 49ers that showed Barkley was capable of leading his team to victory in spite of injuries.

Then came another blown fourth-quarter lead in Week 14 to the Detroit Lions. That banged-up Bears' defense got a pick-six and held Matthew Stafford's offense to only 20 points. Injuries didn't stop Barkley from overcoming a first-half deficit, and injuries didn't prevent him from finishing off yet another comeback.

Discipline, personnel use and coaching did.

The same thing happened in the next game against Green Bay. Barkley threw three interceptions and still brought his team back from a 17-point deficit to tie it in the fourth quarter. Overtime was within reach, yet Fox's clock management gave Rodgers another shot, and they blew it again.

The last two losses to the Washington Redskins and Vikings were clearly because the team was too banged up and didn't have much fight left in them in a lost season.
Injuries only go so far

So where does that put the Bears season? The first three and the last two losses of the season were definitely talent and injury issues. Throw the first Green Bay loss and even the Tampa Bay loss in the same category, and you have seven losses that can be blamed on injuries. That's fine.

That still leaves you with six games (Colts, Jaguars, Giants, Titans, Lions, and Packers) that the Bears were in position to win (or at least send into overtime), and they blew it.

Injuries did not prevent the team from getting in position for success in each of those games, so you can't blame injuries for taking them out of position for success. If the Bears could overcome them for three quarters, why couldn't they for the fourth?

The common denominator was coaching decisions.

No one is asking this coaching staff to take a roster with 19 players on I.R. to the playoffs. That's an unreasonable expectation. That said, it is reasonable to expect more than three wins, especially when the team was in position to win several games down the stretch.

This regime has to work internally to solve the bigger issues that really forced this team to take a step back in 2016; issues that go beyond just missing players.

Calbrooks
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POST COUNT: 5449
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
0

Train like you are 2nd, but play like you are 1st.

Calbrooks
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POST COUNT: 5449
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
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It is not black and white. By the authors own admission there were 5-7 losses that could be said to be from injuries. That puts us at around 8-8 with a healthy roster, pretty much where a lot of people felt the Bears would be. 

But I won't argue that 2-3 losses where completely on the coaches. Fox, Vic, and Loggains. All three have had some surprising WTF moments. In reality it all just kept snowballing. Injuries having to make the coaches rely on green players, having to try and learn new players on the run. Remember, this is not a veteran team with coaches and players having been together for 4 plus years. It's hard to have the same success in "next man up" when you have players that have been there less than a full season. 

 

Train like you are 2nd, but play like you are 1st.

The Shadow
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POST COUNT: 5489
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
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This what finally got Jeff Fisher fired in LA.

"I'm not making excuses, but......"

He said that for two years. All the while making excuses for everything from poor play and coaching to you name it.

I really hope the new Bears culture does not include this philosophy.

"Not to make excuses, but player X was injured!"

"Not making excuses, but we weren't ready to play"

"Not making excuses, but that was a really good Jaguars team we played today!"

Chicago Bears.......Under construction.

Year 3 of a 4 year re-build.

_Afrocomb
_Afrocomb's picture
POST COUNT: 478
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
0

Making such a big deal about games missed on IR, but dismissing the rest of the games missed as an afterthought? Really. Yes Goldman only ended up on IR near the end of the season, but he missed 10 games. There were games missed by other starters, such as McPhee, who didn't end up on IR.

The other factor was how the injuries were concentrated around certain positions. WR & LB were decimated especially if including the Jeffery and Freeman suspensions. This was highlighted in the final game when a defense missing Floyd, McPhee & Houston could develop no pass rush, allowing Bradford to tear apart a confused secondary.

Rosters are composed to cope with injuries at all positions, so can only be so deep at anyone position. In years past the Bears would carry 6 wide receivers with the bottom two most likely to be more ST contributors first. Against the Lions the Bears were without Jeffery, White, Royal & Wilson who would have been the top four WRs coming into 2016. What roster can withstand that type of injury.

 If the Bears could overcome them for three quarters, why couldn't they for the fourth?

That's exactly what happens when you test the limits of your roster depth. The players brought in to replace starters tire and those who wouldn't normally even be on the roster are forced in for plays and the whole thing starts to break down.

Of course the coaches aren't completely off the hook and neither is the front office, but not to think that the amount of injuries sustained by the Bears isn't one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed is naive at best.

Calbrooks
Calbrooks's picture
POST COUNT: 5449
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
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ORIGINALLY POSTED BY _Afrocomb

Making such a big deal about games missed on IR, but dismissing the rest of the games missed as an afterthought? Really. Yes Goldman only ended up on IR near the end of the season, but he missed 10 games. There were games missed by other starters, such as McPhee, who didn't end up on IR.

The other factor was how the injuries were concentrated around certain positions. WR & LB were decimated especially if including the Jeffery and Freeman suspensions. This was highlighted in the final game when a defense missing Floyd, McPhee & Houston could develop no pass rush, allowing Bradford to tear apart a confused secondary.

Rosters are composed to cope with injuries at all positions, so can only be so deep at anyone position. In years past the Bears would carry 6 wide receivers with the bottom two most likely to be more ST contributors first. Against the Lions the Bears were without Jeffery, White, Royal & Wilson who would have been the top four WRs coming into 2016. What roster can withstand that type of injury.

 If the Bears could overcome them for three quarters, why couldn't they for the fourth?

That's exactly what happens when you test the limits of your roster depth. The players brought in to replace starters tire and those who wouldn't normally even be on the roster are forced in for plays and the whole thing starts to break down.

Of course the coaches aren't completely off the hook and neither is the front office, but not to think that the amount of injuries sustained by the Bears isn't one of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed is naive at best.

Well said. 

Train like you are 2nd, but play like you are 1st.

PGT34
PGT34's picture
POST COUNT: 156
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
0

I completely agree with Afro on this one. Injuries were a major issue and you can't ignore it. How the coaches adapted to the next man up was another. They for the most part reacted poorly 13 out of 16 times. It would be another thing to have the significant amount of injuries on an established team but in year 2 of a complete rebuild, it was the dumpster fire we all witnessed. I personally don't think any coach could have lead that team with the players available

Never die easy....

PapaBear.OR
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POST COUNT: 8012
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
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Injuries were a huge factor this season, not an excuse, a factor.  That being said we can only comment on and analyze how the brain trust adjusted and responded to them.  I think Fangio did a pretty good job managing a horrific situation as it applies to injuries this season.

Butkus never wore an earring

The Shadow
The Shadow's picture
POST COUNT: 5489
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
0

My point with the comment above was based on, not that they made excuses or that they had a lot of people on IR.

It was a plea that this does not become the philosophy of the Bears.

Stop making excuses every year when we are in the cellar. Find ways to fix it!

Bears spent millions renovating Halas Hall, but they have a practice field that players called attrocious?

Bears are a huge part of the Chicago landscape, you telling me they cannot get the Parks Department to keep the field at Soldier Field in top notch condition?

Why are they having these issues in the first place?

Making excuses for Alshon not being there in the OTA's and saying they are sure he will come in in shape. Funny how he got busted for PED's after "working out on his own".

You get tired of hearing the same old crap, year after year. "Ah, we are just missing a couple pieces!", "We expect a huge improvement from -insert players name here-!", We still feel that when players a,b,c,d,e and f come of rehab they will be just what we need them to be!"

Funny thing is, other franchises cut these players that cannot finish a season, regardless of where they were drafted. And the funny thing is, it seems it is always the Bears giving these injury busts a shot at making their team.  Why is that? I think it is a serious flaw in their player development program. Stop the reclamation projects! Build new and move on!

Marquiss Wilson needs to go, nice kid but cannot play in the NFL, he is better suited to the CFL.  If White does not play in 16 games next year it is also time to say goodbye.

Bears have cap space, so franchise Alshon again or give him an encentive laden contract to show he can stay on the field. He doesn't play in 16 games next year it is adios.

Teach the young players how to tackle so they do not miss games do to concussions! I thought the NFL was the central sponsor of " Heads up Football!" SO they do not practice what they preach? Floyd is never going to meet his potential if he keeps getting his head rocked! This ended Hunter Hillenmeyers career early, bad tackling form rattled his brain. This has been a problem with the Bears for years now.

They talk about changing the culture in Halas Hall, but to be honest I am hearing the same rhetoric that has come out of their mouths since they hired Lovie Smith and replace Jauron.

Going to replace the losing culture with a culture of winning. They managed it for about 4-5 years, then back to the bottom.

Chicago Bears.......Under construction.

Year 3 of a 4 year re-build.

bearslife
bearslife's picture
POST COUNT: 351
Re: Why injuries are not an excuse for the Bears’ 3-13 season
0

ORIGINALLY POSTED BY The Shadow

My point with the comment above was based on, not that they made excuses or that they had a lot of people on IR.

It was a plea that this does not become the philosophy of the Bears.

Stop making excuses every year when we are in the cellar. Find ways to fix it!

Bears spent millions renovating Halas Hall, but they have a practice field that players called attrocious?

Bears are a huge part of the Chicago landscape, you telling me they cannot get the Parks Department to keep the field at Soldier Field in top notch condition?

Why are they having these issues in the first place?

Making excuses for Alshon not being there in the OTA's and saying they are sure he will come in in shape. Funny how he got busted for PED's after "working out on his own".

You get tired of hearing the same old crap, year after year. "Ah, we are just missing a couple pieces!", "We expect a huge improvement from -insert players name here-!", We still feel that when players a,b,c,d,e and f come of rehab they will be just what we need them to be!"

Funny thing is, other franchises cut these players that cannot finish a season, regardless of where they were drafted. And the funny thing is, it seems it is always the Bears giving these injury busts a shot at making their team.  Why is that? I think it is a serious flaw in their player development program. Stop the reclamation projects! Build new and move on!

Marquiss Wilson needs to go, nice kid but cannot play in the NFL, he is better suited to the CFL.  If White does not play in 16 games next year it is also time to say goodbye.

Bears have cap space, so franchise Alshon again or give him an encentive laden contract to show he can stay on the field. He doesn't play in 16 games next year it is adios.

Teach the young players how to tackle so they do not miss games do to concussions! I thought the NFL was the central sponsor of " Heads up Football!" SO they do not practice what they preach? Floyd is never going to meet his potential if he keeps getting his head rocked! This ended Hunter Hillenmeyers career early, bad tackling form rattled his brain. This has been a problem with the Bears for years now.

They talk about changing the culture in Halas Hall, but to be honest I am hearing the same rhetoric that has come out of their mouths since they hired Lovie Smith and replace Jauron.

Going to replace the losing culture with a culture of winning. They managed it for about 4-5 years, then back to the bottom.

Wow, great post Shadow,you just posted what I have been thinking for how long now, just been to lazy to type it all

"don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining" outlaw josey wales

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