PHILADELPHIA -- The Chicago Bears' hopes of returning to the postseason likely died inside Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon. It was apparent in the way their offense struggled to move the football yet again. It was clear in how their once-reliable defense couldn't produce the same stops that had long been its trademark. The same team that dominated the NFC North last season is now finding new ways to look disappointing on a weekly basis.
Even the most ardent Bears fan would have a hard time finding the positives in what's happening with this team after a 22-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Chicago has lost each of its last four games, which leaves this team at 3-5 with the second half of its season waiting. That wouldn't be such discouraging news if the Bears were playing in the AFC, where only a smattering of teams are legitimate contenders. Unfortunately for them, they compete in the obscenely stacked NFC, where 10 wins might not be enough to gain a wild-card spot this year.
The Bears weren't willing to look that far down the road when this game ended. What they did understand was that finding a way to just win a game is their major challenge. When asked what the biggest frustration with this season is, quarterback Mitch Trubisky said, "It's not playing up to what we know we're capable of. It's making simple mistakes. It's getting out-executed, getting outplayed when we know we're capable of much more, when we know we have more inside of us, when we know we're talented and come up short. There's a lot of really simple things that we did last year, that we did in practice, that on game day we're coming up short. And that's why we have this crappy feeling."
There's a lot to unpack in Trubisky's answer. There's also plenty of truth in everything he uttered in that last remark of his press conference. It would be one thing if the Bears had one or two issues that could be fixed with more attention to detail or the return of a key player from injury. The reality is that they suddenly have way more flaws than most people ever anticipated.
Of course, offense is the biggest problem. The Bears ranked 27th in the NFL in scoring (18.3 points per game) when this game kicked off, and they were even worse in total and passing yardage (29th in both categories). Trubisky has regressed to the point that it's fair to question what type of future he has in this league, and the lackluster running game can't be overlooked, either. The Bears now have only two games this season when they've rushed for more than 100 yards as a team.
To understand how bad Chicago was on Sunday, all you have to know is its first-half production on offense: 9 yards on 20 total plays. Trubisky finished the game with only 10 completions (in 21 attempts), 125 yards and no touchdowns. There used to be a time when the Chicago defense could overcome such woes, but that wasn't the case against Philadelphia. The Eagles possessed the ball for a staggering 40 minutes and 18 seconds.
Philadelphia also sealed the win with a 16-play drive that lasted 8:14 and ended with a 38-yard field goal by Jake Elliott with 25 seconds left in the contest.
Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said: "It's very uncharacteristic of us. Out of everything that happened, we were still in it. So for us to not get off the field, we have to go back to the board and look at it. I feel like that's how it's been the whole year -- not being able to get off the field -- and we have to correct that."
About the only positive the Bears could take away from this game was their grit. When Howard scored on a 13-yard run early in the third quarter, the Eagles took a 19-0 lead that seemed insurmountable at that point. However, Trubisky responded by hitting Taylor Gabriel with a 53-yard pass that eventually led to a 1-yard touchdown run by David Montgomery on Chicago's first possession of the second half. The Bears also cut the deficit to 19-14 when Montgomery scored on another 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
That could've been the moment when the Bears changed their fortunes for good. Instead, it was the last real positive they had in the game. The Eagles simply rediscovered enough life to close the game out after that. Now 5-4 and eager to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East race, Philadelphia knew full well that it could ill afford another loss of its own.
The really difficult part for Chicago is what now lies ahead of this struggling team. The second half of its season includes a road trip to the Los Angeles Rams in two weeks and a wicked four-game stretch to close out the campaign (vs. Dallas, at Green Bay, vs. Kansas City and at Minnesota). Every one of those teams will be fighting for a playoff spot or a divisional title. They also are currently playing much better than the Bears.
That doesn't mean Chicago is incapable of a miraculous run. It just means nothing is going to come easy in the near future.
"We're built tough and we're being challenged right now," said Bears head coach Matt Nagy. "It's not easy. We hate it. It sucks. But it is what it is. We gotta rally around each other and support one another. It's not where we want to be and there are different parts to it everywhere. We're being as tested as we ever wanted to be, but we'll see how we respond to it."
Several of Nagy's players echoed that same sentiment after this game ended. They acknowledged their frustration and understood that the criticism that will come is well-deserved. This is the same team that won 12 games in 2018, largely because it had the league's top defense. Even with a strong NFC, many people expected the Bears to at least be in the mix for another run at the postseason.
Today, there is a whole new vibe around Chicago. As Amukamara said, "It's not what we envisioned for ourselves, but we are to blame. We put ourselves in this mess."
That about sums up everything there is to know about the Bears at this stage. The only question is how ugly this mess will become before this season eventually ends.