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A Historically Bad Bears Passing Attack

Analysis: At least the Bears are a closer team according to coach Matt Nagy, as they bared their souls at a meeting Saturday before they went out and got pummeled by Tampa Bay 38-3.

Amid the comments made after Sunday's Bears debacle in Tampa came one startling revelation about a team meeting on Saturday night prior to the game.

Coach Matt Nagy said afterward the team had grown "really close" in the last few days.

"I think the question was something about are you concerned after this type of loss of losing your locker room, losing your team," Nagy recalled. "That’s why I responded the way I did. I’m not (worried) because I know the feedback I got after that talk. To have that feedback from your players feels good.”

Nagy doubts a long losing streak is coming because his team has circled the wagons. 

"For us to become as close as we have the last 24-48 hours, I just trust and believe in them," Nagy said.

Hopefully not too close, though, as there is social distancing and COVID-19 apparently is now the biggest concern the Bears have beyond Lori Lightfoot throwing them out of Chicago before they even get a chance to move to Arlington Heights.

"We lost and we've got to learn from it, Nagy said. "Our guys have rebounded before in the past and I just know from our discussion in there after the game and where we're at right now as fighters and people and teammates, it's not fun. This is not fun.

"But at the same point in time, we all go through some adversity to get us where we want to go in the end. That's why I feel that way."

In that case the Bears will really go far because adversity is their middle name.

The possibility of a long losing streak looms, with the 49ers, the Steelers and the Ravens ahead, and Kyle Shanahan's team in desperation mode every bit as much as the Bears are, if not more so considering the caliber of their division.

But the Bears are closer now according to Nagy, and that is supposed to help. He traced it back to this meeting the team had Saturday night well before the game.

"As a coach you've got to have kind of a feel and a pulse as to where your guys are at," Nagy said. "That's what I need to do is say, 'OK, hey,' especially heading into this game that we're heading into and you've got a couple things that are going on and just every now and then you got to pull together and you just got to have a good talk with the guys where it's open; and it's everybody.

"We always have a team meeting every Saturday night at the hotel, right? That's really after our meeting and before we shut it down for the night into the next day, and so I just thought it was a good opportunity right there just to kind of speak from the heart a little bit from where I'm at as a head (coach) and where we're at as a team and where we want to go. And I think that's very important to do that, is to have those every once and a while. You can't have those every week."

Bears fans can be thankful for this considering what happened after this meeting.

Closer but Lifeless

If Nagy is not worried about losing the team, it is apparent the offense is lost somewhere. Or maybe they never had one.

On Sunday, the day after they became so close, they looked like something that washed up from the gulf in Tampa. There wasn't a sign of life, particularly from the offense.

The Bears offense is now headed on a historical path leading to a bottomless cavern in the middle of oblivion.

They are at 101 points scored, 14.4 points a game, worst in the league.

All the talk of the team pulling together and turning it around on offense rings hollow in the fourth year of this offense.

"And I understand completely and we all understand because just as everybody wants to win and score points and hold teams to less points, we all want that too," Nagy said. "It comes down to us doing it, we have to do it and we have to perform and put the points on the board so we can win games."

Underscore "score" in this case.

"We need to score a lot more points and however we do that, whatever it is we have to score more points so we can win," Nagy said. "If we all have that same mindset to fixing it, we all have to do it."

Historically inept Bears offense

At their current pace, this Bears passing attack would be the NFL's 11th worst since the schedule expanded to 16 games in 1978, the same year they also put rules into effect prohibiting defensive contact with receivers 5 yards downfield. The contact rule drastically changed the game, and passing yardage began soaring by 1979.

The current Bears average of 124.4 yards a game through the air would be the worst in the NFL since the 49ers averaged 118.6 in 2005.

The Bears have been a historically inept passing franchise, but only since the 1960s and usually only because they had such a potent, viable alternative that throwing the ball more made less sense.

For instance, the Bears were last in the league in passing per game from 1966-69 when Gale Sayers played. Then they were last in 1980 when Walter Payton was playing.

It's fine that the Bears are a much closer group now after the weekend. It's simply splendid.

What is really needed is for them to go be a closer group somewhere in the end zone. 

Passing Yards

Lowest Per Game since 1978

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1. Kansas City 1979 103.8

2. Tampa Bay 1978 106.4

3. Seattle 1992 111.1

4. Kansas City 1978 114.6

5. San Francisco 2005 118.6

6. CHICAGO BEARS 1978 120.8

7. Cincinnati 1992 121.4

8. Cincinnati 2000 121.6

9. N.Y. Giants 1979 122.1

10. San Francisco 1978 122.3

11. CHICAGO BEARS 2021 124.4*

Passing Yards Per Game

Bears Finished Last in the NFL

1966 126.6

1967 102.9

1968 120.1

1969 106.4

1972 79.2

1980 149.7

1990 159.0

1993 127.5

2004 137.0

2017 175.7

2021 124.4*

*Through 7 games 

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