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When Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio described the Bills’ Nathan Peterman as “capable,’’ he had to be talking about busing tables or asking if you want cheese on that.
Fangio couldn’t possibly have been talking about quarterbacking this week’s opponent, and if he was, nobody was buying it.
Get a load of this: In the two games this season in which he has thrown more than two passes, Peterman is a combined 11 for 30 for 85 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. His quarterback rating is barely old enough to drive at 16.7.
No doubt, injured Khalil Mack wants to play against this guy more than ever. No doubt, the Bears shouldn’t let him. The Bears screwed this up earlier when they let him return against the Dolphins in the game he originally injured his right ankle. They screwed up again the next week against the Patriots, and they know it.
“In hindsight, should we have taken him out earlier? Probably,’’ Fangio said. “But a guy says he can go, he can go, and we have to see it.”
Here’s what we have seen since: If the Bears can sit on the Jets offense without the outside linebacker who wrecked the NFL in September, then they can sit on the Bills, who are even worse.
The Bills are last in the NFL in passing yards and points per game. They are one of only two teams averaging fewer than 250 yards per game, are second-worst in third-down conversions and tied for fourth in worst turnover differential. The Bills can’t hold on to the ball and can’t do much with it when they do.
If the Bears need Mack to beat this team, then someone needs to be cut or fired or both.
The Bills are the kind of opponent good teams beat even when not at full strength. Don’t play stupid. Let the Bills do that. Make the Bills do that. Just win, get out, and get Mack’s injured right ankle healthy because the important stuff comes next and just doesn’t stop.
I mean, just look:
The Lions come to Soldier Field a week from Sunday. The Sunday after that, the Vikings show up. Then comes a short week to play the Lions again on Thanksgiving.
After a second off week against the Giants, the Bears play host to the Rams, a team they want to be when they grow up, and then come the Packers, the vexing rival against whom Matt Nagy’s Bears choked a 20-0 lead in the opener.
So, of the six games after this week, the Bears play four in the division that they now lead and play a fifth against the only 8-0 team in the NFL.
See what I’m talking about? This is not just a matter of resting Mack for a second game. This is about the next month to two months of the regular season. This is about the playoffs in January.
The Bears will need the guy who recorded five sacks, forced four fumbles and returned an interception for a TD in the first four games.
Protect your best defensive player, their most dominant since Brian Urlacher. Protect yourself from capitulating to something stupid.
Don’t tempt Mack. Don’t tempt yourself. Not only should the plan have been not to play Mack, but not even let him on the plane.
There’s no reason the Bears can’t beat this version of the Bills without Khalil Mack.