LOS ANGELES — A feeling of finality was unmistakable in the bowels of L.A. Memorial Coliseum as the Bears filed out of the visitors locker room losers for the sixth time this season, 17-7 to the laughably sloppy Los Angeles Rams.
With Mitch Trubisky departing in the final three-and-a-half minutes with a mysterious hip injury, his chances as the unquestioned starter to rewrite his narrative and win back the hearts of his coaches and fans may have run out. To be as clear as possible because Trubisky said he was injured in the second quarter and Matt Nagy said he didn't catch wind of it until the fourth — and didn't even know what hip was injured — there's no official word on Trubisky's status for the final six games.
"We’ll have to find out more. We have to see how serious it is, No. 1. I just appreciate his toughness," said Nagy, who added that the game situation — the Bears were trailing 10 when they went to Chase Daniel with only a few minutes remaining — didn't factor in his decision.
Added Trubisky, who said he kept the injury to himself, hoping to battle through but it just continued to tighten as the game wore on: "I was super frustrated and disappointed. I just wanted to finish the game and do what I could for the team. ... You just want to be out there with the team. I’m not doing the team any favors if I’m not able to run around. I’m going to fight as long to be out there with my guys."
It's no surprise that Trubisky would keep the injury to himself, if for no other reason to attempt to desperately cling to his job. And although the circumstances surrounding it are nothing if not mysterious, with his ailment not even disclosed on the NBC telecast and the quarterback at no point receiving medical attention on the sideline, this was far from his worst game. The conspiracy theories, then, won't be uttered here, not following a game with so many other actual failures to depict.
Perhaps Sunday night would have been different if not for Pineiro's two misses on the Bears' first three possessions, from 47 wide left and from 48 wide right, flanked around Nagy eschewing his kicker for a 48-yard attempt. Instead it was a failed fourth-and-9 incompletion from Trubisky to Taylor Gabriel, who had his hands on the ball but had it broken loose by Jalen Ramsey.
Ultimately, the Bears were in position to lead 9-0 after their first three possessions, which would've constituted their best first half of the season ... nearly halfway through the first quarter. They forced takeaways on their first two defensive series, but came away with nothing, entering the locker room after being shut out in the first 30 minutes for the seventh time this season.
Yet Nagy had little-to-no choice but to again express his confidence — albeit clearly wavering — in Pineiro, who's now missed four of his five field goals —plus an extra point — over the past three games.
"Well, you want to see field goals made," Nagy said when asked of his confidence in his kicker, adding that the Bears don't plan to try out free agents this week. "We all want to see that. You’re in a game like this, it’s a defensive battle and points are at a premium, you want to be able to make those kicks."
And in in a loaded conference, the Bears want to be better than 4-6, their longshot bid to return to the playoffs in their NFC North title defense season, while still mathematically impossible, all but extinguished. That pipe dream is finally over, even if there are somehow six more weeks to go in this nightmarish season.
But don't feel sorry for these Bears, who couldn't deserve this fate more. From Nagy's incessantly stubborn play calling like Sunday's third-and-1 option play that went for a loss of three following the team's lone TD drive, to his offense mustering only seven points in its biggest game of the season — matching its Week 1 ineptitude mark — to another kicker crisis that all along has paled in comparison to the Bears' big-picture breakdowns coming off their fleeting taste of success a season ago, the Bears are what their record says they are: a below-average football team.
The Bears ultimately still could work out kickers this week, and perhaps Trubisky will be back on the field Sunday vs. the New York Giants. But Sunday night had a different feeling, one of resignation in an all-but-lost season.
"We understand that the only thing we can control is us. We just got to focus on us. No. 1, I thought the defense played really well tonight and again toward the end, they're out there for a while. We just got to score more than seven points."