So about those gold jackets reserved for Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky …
The nominations, promoted so heavily the last few years, might have been a hair premature.
You were promised that the extraordinary depth acquired by Pace over five years would result in a Super Bowl.
You were promised that Nagy was the perfect guy for the job — the anti-John Fox — so young and so hip and so capable of managing a high-powered, downfield offense.
And you were promised that Trubisky was headed for superstardom, with the great arm, athleticism and ability to read an NFL defense, despite the shocking lack of experience.
But five years into an NFL rebuild, the Bears are a .500 team after a 36-25 loss to the Saints at Soldier Field Sunday that included a pair of scores in garbage time.
Chances are good you didn’t see those Bears TDs in the last 2:31, having left the stadium or turned off the TV, but rest assured the Saints were playing prevent and had little interest in those final possessions.
It’s not the record that should scare you. At 3-3 with 10 games to play, the Bears are absolutely in the playoff hunt and the remaining schedule doesn’t look nearly as daunting as it did when the season began, which is almost always the case.
Virtually every team on their schedule, except for Green Bay, has lost their starting quarterback, changed their starting quarterback or is sick of watching their starting quarterback.
Or, they’re just playing awful football.
No, it’s not the record. What should be frightening is the way Trubisky plays football three years into his NFL career, the way Nagy coaches the offense and the way Pace’s vaunted draft picks have a way of disappearing for halves or games at a time.
There are times when everything about the program feels like a myth.
Nagy, in particular, struggled postgame Sunday to explain what was wrong with the offense, or why he quit so quickly on the run game.
“I really thought our run game would be better,” Nagy said after the Bears ran only 7 times for 17 yards. “It’s just one of those days.”
You’ve heard that before.
“We need to play better early on,” said Nagy, who had two weeks to script the early part of this game. “You would really love to get the run game going early so you can do more things.
“The run game has to get going. It’s as simple as that. You can’t run for 17 yards in the NFL and expect to win a game.”
So what about the offensive line and the running backs that Nagy said he adored coming into the season? Why isn’t the run game as good as Nagy said it would be over the summer?
“I would love to (give you a reason). I would love to,” Nagy said. “I don’t know what to tell you.”
Trubisky was equally baffled by the Bears’ performance, and especially his own, with no explanation for why he hit his throws in practice but returned after three weeks off and continued to overthrow and underthrow receivers.
Continuing a season-long pattern, he spent the first half staring down Allen Robinson and of his 23 attempts he targeted Robinson 10 times as the Bears managed 4 first downs and 81 yards on 29 plays, only 5 of them rush plays for 11 yards.
On the first two possessions of the game, Trubisky had receivers open on third down and missed them.
“You make the plays in practice, and it just comes down to inches within the game,” Trubisky said. “If those inches go your way, then we’re making plays and we’re rolling, but right now they’re not, and we’re sputtering out on offense.
“We have no momentum. We’re not really in sync.”
Not sure what “inches go your way” means when you miss wide open receivers by several feet. Those are just bad throws.
“I still think we’re close, and I feel like (if) a couple of those third downs early on go our way, then hopefully the game goes a different way,” Trubisky said. “But it’s just frustrating and you can’t really pinpoint it exactly right now.
“We just have no rhythm. It’s not about pointing fingers. We’re struggling as an offense.”
A couple early plays were rather strange, with Trubisky holding the ball and faking a keeper before a handoff that went nowhere, and an option play with a flip that also went nowhere.
Did the Saints think Trubisky was really going to risk a hit coming off a dislocated shoulder that has to be painful, and with a left shoulder held down with a harness?
That shoulder is going to hurt for months and the labrum isn’t going to magically heal.
While Trubisky said it didn’t affect the Bears’ play calls, it has to. He’s not a threat to run while there’s concern for the injury.
It’s likely he was rusty, but it’s not like he was playing great football before he got hurt.
“When you have a chance to make a play, when it’s your job to make a block, when it’s your job to make a throw, you do it,” Nagy said. “When it’s my job to call a play, you call the right play and you put them in the best situation possible.
“Until we start recognizing that and understanding that, then nothing’s gonna change.
“But something’s gotta change and something will change. I don’t know what it is, but something will change.”
Not exactly inspiring.