For the Bears, Monday became all about coming to grips with how they managed to lose a big lead at the end of a game for the second time this year.
In other words, it was time for the blame game, after a 31-26 loss to Detroit.
Coach Matt Eberflus and players wanted no part in tossing around the blame at each other, but absorbed it unto themselves with explanations for how things came down during the late collapse.
It all seemed like a classic movie scene from "Spartacus," when slaves were asked to identify Spartacus and all would have their lives spared. Every single one in the group stood up and claimed to be Spartacus rather than let Kirk Douglas be indentified.
All explanations probably instill little confidence the Bears can prevent a similar collapse from happening again, anyway. After all, its happened twice now, the first in a blown 21-point Week 4 lead over Denver.
"So it just came down to one of those things where we didn't execute at the end and couldn't make a play to get them off the field when we needed it," linebacker T.J. Edwards said. "It's one of those things. You got to do that in this league.
"But there was a lot of good things on tape as well. A lot of good things that were shown, a lot of plays that were made."
It's just none of those happened when it mattered most, at the end.
"We got to find a way to make one at the end there. No doubt," Edwards said.
Coaches and Players Both
Eberflus did put some blame on coaches without really identifying sins committed.
"You just go to take responsibility for–it's our charge as coaches to put players in position," Eberflus said. "It's the players' job to make the plays. You are always looking at that. That's always a big part of it.
"Like I said, for 56 minutes we did that. We were putting guys in position, they were making plays, we owned the time of possession, we took the ball away, gave our guys a short field, gave ourselves a big lead. We've got to continue to do that as we go forward. It's always hand in hand. It's always coach and player, player and coach."
Players didn't see a need for coaches to come under fire for their collapse.
"I mean, at the end of the day no matter what is called, the coaches can only do so much, right?" Edwards said. "It's down to us executing our job at a high level.
"That's what the league is. You know what I'm saying? So there's never going to be a perfect call. That's kind of how it goes. They've got good coaches over there, too, so when we get those opportunities no matter what we're in, and I think we were in the right position, we've just got to find a way to make a play. We had two drives kind of there at the end of the game where we couldn't get them off the field and that's what it came down to."
Eberflus insisted both Sunday and Monday he had no regrets about two decisions made on fourth down in the second half to kick field goals, one a fourth-and-1 and the other fourth-and-5. In the first half, they had gone for fourth downs twice and converted them into first downs.
Some Bears personnel usage also seemed suspect.
They had reserve linebacker Dylan Cole on the field for Jack Sanborn at strong side linebacker during Jahmyr Gibbs' touchdown run, and Cole rarely plays on defense. Sanborn was playing the middle.
"Yeah, that was rotation," Eberflus said. "That was 'cause the goal line, ‘cause we were rotating our mikes–right?"
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had a knee injury and tried playing through it with a start after missing two games. He wasn't on the field at game's end for the drive that decided the game.
"He worked out before the game and then came back because he's had that knee and all those things," Eberflus said. "He did a good job, but in goal line, we're rotating the (middle linebacker) so left Dylan out there (on the field) at the right backer."
Working Up a Sweat
Another substitution issue was how they had newly acquired defensive end Montez Sweat on the field only for only 39 plays, 63% of defensive plays. They had the other edge, Yannnick Ngakoue, on the field for 45 plays. By contrast, Detroit had edge Aidan Hutchinson on the field for 69 plays, or 92%.
"Sweat's one of our best players, he really is," Eberflus said. "And that's just how we do it. We platoon our guys and keep them fresh that way. That's how we do it."
The Bears did just trade a second-rounder for Sweat and paid him $98 million on a contract extensiojn.
"For sure, we want him out there more," Eberflus said of Sweat, who had his first Bears sack Sunday. "But those guys are rotating. Travis (Smith, defensive line coach) rotates them in and out. "Usually, they're five to seven plays–somewhere in there–during the two-minute drive like that."
Another unusual substitution came when Dan Feeney came in at center instead of Cody Whitehair after Lucas Patrick went out with an injury. Patrick had been pursuing and went out after what appeared to be an unflagged blindside block on a return that didn't count, anyway.
"That's really just about prep," Eberflus said. "You only can prep one center to back up, and Feeney was the guy to do that. He obviously has experience at that position, and then Cody was gonna back up the guard spots. We just felt that was the best continuity at the time."
As for the blindside block, the Bears are including that in plays for the league to look at because it was an area of emphasis a few years ago.
"Obviously, we're looking at that, are gonna have the league look at that, because the play was blown down and then Lucas was pursuing and then he ended up getting hit right there," Eberflus said. "And that's unfortunate.
"I talked to the ref about it, we discussed it and we'll leave it at that. We'll see what they say."
Eberflus said he has also seen his team finish games and not lose the lead, so he believes they can get it right.
"I pointed to the Washington game and I pointed to the Vegas game," he said. "We played a very good opponent yesterday, I understand that.
"But I will say this: we did finish there and those the moments that we did finish the right way. He finished with third down, fourth-down stops on defense. We finished with takeaways, scoring on defense and also the four-minute offense. Both things worked together. You've got to do a great job on the four-minute offense and you've got to do a great job with that two-minute defense and that's sacks and takeaways and ending the game on fourth down. That's what we’ve got to do together."