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The Chicago Bears' season has been over for a while now, but they had an opportunity today to play spoilers for the Green Bay Packers' playoff hopes. That didn't really happen, as the Bears settled for a game-tying field goal instead of attempting to convert a fourth and goal from the four yard line to win the game. The Bears had a first and goal at the three yard line with less than two minutes in the game and down by three (27-24). A penalty backed them up to the thirteen, and they weren't able to punch it into the end zone. Micah Hyde swatted a pass out of the hands of Cameron Meredith on third down, and John Fox decided to kick a tying field goal rather than going for the win.

Jordan Howard had rushed for over 90 yards, a touchdown, and a 5.3 yards per carry average over the course of the game, yet John Fox decided to throw the ball on third down and concede to the field goal. I would have put the ball in Jordan Howard's hands and given him both third and fourth downs to try to punch the ball four yards into the end zone. No way I would have settled for three.

Bears v Packers: swatted pass in end zone
Micah Hyde swatted a 3rd down pass that would have given the Bears a late lead.

Chicago had nothing to play for except beating Green Bay. Kicking a tying field goal had no strategic advantage. You have nothing to play for; there's no reason to play it safe. Let your bell-cow running back show what he can do.

Bad decision-making didn't end with the decision to play for the tie. The Packers got the ball back with about a minute left and no timeouts. An injury on third down stopped the clock, but the Bears refused to enforce the ten-second run-off. Aaron Rodgers followed that with a deep bomb, a clock-stopping spiked ball, and a game-winning field goal with three seconds left.

Way to add insult to injury, John Fox. As if a 3-11 (and counting) season weren't bad enough, John Fox's decisions may have just handed a playoff berth to the Green Bay Packers. The win puts the Packers at the top of the NFC wild card race. Further, the Lions and Vikings both lost as well, which means that the Packers may very well be playing Detroit in two weeks for the division title.

Bears v Packers: Nelson behind safety
You can't let a receiver get behind your safeties in this situation!

Barkley made mistakes, but played well

Matt Barkley had an up-and-down game. He gave up three interceptions. The first was a hail mary intercepted in the end zone to end the first half (can't really blame Barkley for that). The two later were overthrown deep passes into triple coverage that were picked by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He also lost a strip sack to Julius Peppers. The rest of the game wasn't bad for the Barkley and the Bears' offense. Both Cameron Meredith and Deonte Thompson had over 100 yards receiving and made some big plays. This offensive unit definitely seems to be better with Barkley under center and Jordan Howard behind him. It's a shame the two weren't starting from week 1; this season could have gone much differently. Or maybe not, since the Bears didn't win this game either.

Bears vs Packers: Barkley intercepted
Bears vs Packers: Barkley intercepted
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepted two passes that Barkley overthrew into triple coverage.

Poor tackling by the defense allowed Green Bay running back Ty Montgomery to have an excellent game. He totaled 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the end, it was also the defense that gave up the deep pass that cost them the game. You'd think in that situation, the safeties would know not to let anyone get behind them, but not so. A lot of reserves were playing in this game, so mistakes are expected, but this was ugly. This defense needs a lot of work.

Bears v Packers: can't tackle Montgomery
Poor pursuit and tackling made Ty Montgomery look like a superstar.

Optimism for next year?

The defense may need a lot of work, but the offense shows a lot of promise for next year. Barkley has shown promise, but might not be the answer at quarterback. Jordan Howard, on the other hand, seems to be a viable replacement for Matt Forte. The young wide receiver corp also looks like it is developing nicely. A lot of receivers have looked like they could step up to be viable number 2 receivers since Kevin White's injury. Injuries seem like they may plague White's career, so it's good to know that the Bears seem to have decent depth at the position.

Tony Romo
The Bears should sign Tony Romo.

Here's what I expect (and hope for) from Chicago this offseason: They're going to release Jay Cutler and take the salary cap hit. With his inconsistent play and injury history, I doubt they'll be able to set up a trade for him. Then, I expect the Bears to sign Tony Romo, if the Cowboys release him into free agency. If he's not a free agent, then the Bears should try to trade for him if possible. The Bears should then resign Matt Barkley to be Romo's backup.

I've been highly critical of Tony Romo in the past. But the truth is that when he's healthy, he's a very good quarterback, and he's cut down on his mistakes immensely over the years. Despite his flaws, he's a huge upgrade over Jay Cutler, and he's a much better team leader.

This will give the Bears a year or two to look for a long-term solution at quarterback, and it takes pressure off of the team to reach for a quarterback in this coming draft. They can afford to take their chances with a late-round quarterback and focus their earlier picks on the defensive secondary and maybe the offensive line.

I was pretty hopeless about the Bears' future earlier in the season. But with the partial success that the offense has had, I'm optimistic that if the Bears can get Tony Romo and shed the dead-weight of Jay Cutler, that they could actually have a good year next year. But in the meantime, it looks like I'm going to have to suffer through watching the Packers make a playoff run, and it opens up the possibility of a worst-case scenario: a Packers-Patriots SuperBowl. Ugh.

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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