THE MORNING AFTER: The differences in defeats

Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen (29) fumbles a handoff from quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field in Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – From a standings perspective, it counts the same, as it has last six times the Bears have opened up a regular season.

Just like they did in 2014, 2015, 2016. 2017, and in 2018, the team last the first game of the year. The circumstances were quite similar to last year – with the Bears losing to the Packers in a primetime game in front of a national audience. Once again, Matt Nagy’s team is the one that feels the worst after the defeat, considering the circumstances surrounding the final results.

Last year, it was the fact that the Bears completely went to sleep after grabbing a 20-point lead at Lambeau Field and losing by one. On Thursday, it was the fact that their offense, which figured to take a step forward at the least, took three steps back.

Yet it was so much different. Can you feel it?

Even with the letdown of a blown lead, the Bears of 2018 showed the potential that would later be realized in the following three months. Khalil Mack’s addition to the defense took the group to elite status, and while the offense had its ups and downs, there was still plenty of time to grow.

After this opening, there is more of a sense of dread, for doubt creeps in about the one side of the ball that represents the key to Bears’ trajectory.

Penalties, inconsistency, lack of big plays were all part of an offensive performance that had no rhythm. This was a complete departure from the narrative being sold during the offseason, where the offense expected a major jump.

Nagy knew it the minute he stepped to the podium in his postgame news conference.

“Obviously unacceptable. Starts with me,” said Nagy of the 10-3 loss to the Packers. “I just told the guys in there, this is not who we are. I was proud of our defense. I thought they played their a– off tonight. Offensively, not good enough.

“And we’re going to fix it. Our guys know that.”

But when this happens, the question of whether they will do so creeps in. It’s cliche, but Bears’ fans have been here before with their offense.

Unlike last year, there is no benefit of the doubt, not for the standard that was set for the 2019 team by the NFC North champions last year. To gain just 254 yards and score just three points, to have three-straight plays with penalties in the fourth quarter can’t happen.

To have uninspired play calling then play by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who came very close to a number of interceptions before one finally happened in the fourth quarter, can’t happen. A team that’s done a lot right in the still young Nagy era looks, frankly, unprepared offensively, and it led to a dud of a opening night.

It brings out thoughts on Grossman and Cutler along with failed offenses of Bears’ past. Is that a little premature? Yes, probably, but there’s no doubt it was a rough night for the offense that was poised not to let this doubt creep back again.

“We couldn’t find a rhythm. It’s really frustrating because it’s very uncharacteristic of this offense, especially the way we’ve been practicing,” said Trubisky, who finished 26-of-45 for 228 yards with an interception. “But the type of guys we’ve got in there, obviously we had our defense, special teams battled all night to keep us in it, so we’ve just got to continue to pull together, look within ourselves, and find answers to make sure we’re not feeling like this again.

“But I definitely feel like I let a lot of my teammates down and the fans down with the way I played, and I definitely felt like I could have done better.”

He’ll have his chances. The Bears will have their chances, so panic isn’t really in order.

Want to feel better? Look at the defense. That will soften the blow of an offensive performance that gets 2019 off to a rocky start.

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