Even with the extra time to prepare for their matchup after the bye week, the Bears came out on Sunday looking lost and unprepared.
Chicago fell to 3-3 with their embarrassing 36-25 loss to the Saints at home. In a game that saw many of New Orleans’ key offensive players out due to injury, the Bears were still unable to stop their offense, let alone put up many points.
With a difficult schedule ahead of them in arguably the toughest division in the league, the Bears find themselves facing increasingly challenging odds to make the playoffs.
Here are some notes from the Bears’ loss.
The Bears had 14 days to plan for this game and work on the struggles in their offense. They came back fixing none of them.
Mitchell Trubisky came back from injury and made as disappointing of a comeback as one could have imagined. He finished the game 34-for-54 with 251 yards, throwing two touchdowns in garbage time as a worthless stat-booster. He showed no signs of improvement coming out of the game, struggling with his footwork, decision-making and accuracy. Trubisky panicked consistently under pressure, and he ended up looking like his rookie self, if not worse.
Coach Matt Nagy called a terrible game, but Trubisky also showed resistance to taking shots down the field, relying heavily on the short pass for incredibly minimal gains. Granted, his rare deep throws weren’t very good, but their quarterback’s skill set has greatly affected the Bears’ ability to move the ball down the field.
No Bears player deserves a positive review for their performance besides Allen Robinson, who with 10 receptions, 87 yards and a touchdown was the only reliable offense weapon they had all game. His length, physicality and athleticism have provided Chicago with a legitimate No. 1 target, but the rest of their offense has evened out their star’s bounce-back campaign. Anthony Miller used garbage time to pad his stats to get 5 catches for 64 yards, and Javon Wins caught a six-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter—his only catch of the game.
The Bears leaned heavily on their passing attack and disregarded their ground game, but their running backs were unable to produce much, anyway. They ran the ball a total of 7 times for 17 yards, and third-round pick David Montgomery only ran the ball twice the entire game. Tarik Cohen caught 9 passes but only totaled 19 yards through the air, lacking decisiveness in the open field and trying too hard to make a big play in situations where such a play was impossible.
Chicago’s offensive line struggled against the Saints’ defensive front, allowing two sacks, constant pressure on Trubisky and creating very few holes for their running backs. For a unit that was expected to be one of the stronger parts of their roster, they have seen very little productivity out of their hog mollies up front.
The Bears were able to pick up some yardage in garbage time, but they failed to deliver when it mattered most. There is still a lot of football to be played this season, but their offensive performance to date does not look like that of a playoff team.
New Orleans did not have Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara or Jared Cook on the field yesterday. They still managed to put a whooping on one of the best defenses in the league.
The Bears uncharacteristically struggled defensively this week. They allowed a clean pocket for Bridgewater more often than not, and they ended up with only one sack all day. Their coverage was incredibly cushiony, giving the Saints’ several open windows to catch passes in. Chicago’s run defense also struggled, as Latavius Murray rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries.
Danny Trevathan led the team with 10 tackles, and Khalil Mack was close behind with 8 of his own. The All-Pro edge rusher made his fair share of plays, but Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk did a fantastic job of otherwise shutting him out in pass protection. The rest of Chicago’s pass-rushing unit couldn’t put consistent pressure on Bridgewater—Abdullah Anderson picked up the team’s only sack.
Michael Thomas torched Prince Amukamara for 9 catches and 131 yards, further showing off that he is a top-5 wide out at the very least in the league. Ted Ginn Jr. exploded for a 45-yard catch, and Josh Hill had a 27-yard reception, as well. Chicago simply had no answer for the Saints’ balanced offensive attack.
The Saints did exactly what the Bears’ offense is designed to do: use short passes to set up deep strikes down the field. The differences between the two teams, though, is that the Saints could create separation, and Sean Payton used good route concepts to help his receivers get open even further. Chicago’s receivers failed to pick up yards after the catch, their play calling was poor, and they were far more conservative with their decision-making. Plus, it helped that Bridgewater could actually throw the ball down the field.
Three and out
3. On a more positive note, the Bears showed some flashes on special teams yesterday.
Sure, Pat O’Donnell’s first punt of the day was blocked, and the team’s return coverage could have been better. However, Cordarrelle Patterson had a 102-yard kick return for a touchdown—the Bears’ first kick return for a touchdown since 2014, and their first at Soldier Field since 2011.
Plus, Eddy Piñeiro hit a 45-yard field goal, went 2-for-2 on his extra point attempts and had the first league’s successful onside kick of the 2019 season (he would have had two, but the ruling was overturned). He is now 11-for-11 on extra points and 9-for-10 on field goals this year.
Even though the Bears’ season has been disappointing to date, they at least appear to have their kicker situation finally figured out.
2. At this rate, the Bears are going to have a very difficult road to the playoffs.
With the Packers sitting at 6-1, it’s tough to imagine them falling out of the top spot in the NFC North any time soon. This leaves the Vikings, Seahawks, Panthers, and one of the Cowboys or Eagles as potential contenders for a wild card spot. Even the Lions shouldn’t be counted out to bounce back.
Chicago has a difficult schedule ahead of them, and their offensive struggles will not get them any further than a .500 record if they do not bounce back. Not all hope is lost, but any potential road to the playoffs will be a tough one.
1. I really don’t like being this negative in my writing, and I realize that it can be difficult to digest content when a majority of it leaves a sour taste in the reader’s mouth.
However, it is my job to deliver content that is fair and accurate, as is the job of my colleagues here at Windy City Gridiron. The next week may not be pretty, and some people will perceive us as “haters” for creating negative content about the Bears.
That is not true. What we are doing is providing fair analysis of the Chicago Bears, and right now they are simply not playing well.