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Game Notes: Bears offense crumbles in fourth straight loss

The Bears fall to 3-5 after another loss that brought more of the same.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles
This picture summarizes everything you need to know about this week’s game.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

A lackluster first half dug the Bears into a deep hole that they just couldn’t get themselves out of.

They showed some promise late, scoring one touchdown each in both the third and fourth quarters. But a scoreless first half which saw them tally just 9 yards and punt the ball six times buried the Bears in a 22-14 loss to the Eagles.

With the first half of the 2019 regular season now in the books, the Bears find themselves at 3-5, their playoff hopes an unrealistic pipe dream at this point. Here are some notes from this week’s action.

Offense

Nothing can be said about the Bears’ offense in this game that hasn’t been said in previous games.

Mitchell Trubisky finished the day 10-for-21 with 125 yards and no touchdowns, and he was sacked three times. Take away two plays—a 53-yard pass to Taylor Gabriel and a 30-yarder to David Montgomery—and he finished the day with just 42 yards through the air. The Bears didn’t trust him to air it out much and try to stretch the field, and the rare instances he did he collapsed and failed to put anything together.

Footwork, throwing mechanics, poise and decision-making still remain problems for Trubisky, and they are arguably the most important traits for a quarterback to have. Unlike last season, there has yet to be a breakout game for the third-year veteran, a game in which he truly looks the part of a quality starting quarterback. At this point, he is what he is, and what he is is not the Bears’ franchise quarterback.

Chicago’s offensive line struggled yet again against a formidable Eagles defensive front, allowing multiple pressures throughout the game and failing to create many holes for David Montgomery in the running game. The rookie finished the day with 14 carries for 40 yards, putting him just short of three yards per carry. He did contribute the team’s only two touchdowns of the game, putting him at five touchdowns on the year. He also contributed with an impressive 30-yard reception through the air, though it could be argued that his dropped screen pass on the Bears’ last possession of the game killed their momentum.

As has been the case for Montgomery all year, he wasn’t all that consistent this week, but he showed flashes of potential and made a handful of intriguing plays. The game will be more likely to slow down for him next season, when he gets a full offseason in the team’s system and the Bears (potentially) add some more help along the offensive line. There have been growing pains, but he has proven that he can make plays for the Bears already.

The Bears had possession of the ball for just 19 minutes and 42 seconds all game, making it difficult for their playmakers to put up much in the way of production. It didn’t help that most of them were on the receiving end of poor throws, but nonetheless, Chicago’s pass-catching weapons put up disappointing numbers. The most disappointing stat line was that of Allen Robinson, who finished the game with one catch for 6 yards on five targets. Most of the passes thrown his way were difficult balls to grab, and the Bears should have made it a priority to target their No. 1 weapon more. Even though circumstances mostly excuse Robinson’s game, it was still disappointing to see him putting up poor numbers.

Among those who finished the game with no catches were Trey Burton and Anthony Miller. The former has been nonexistent all season and still has yet to top 100 receiving yards on the year, while the latter is just one game removed from a three-game stretch of having 50 yards or more in games. Tarik Cohen only had 9 yards on his two grabs, and David Montgomery saw 30 of his 36 receiving yards come on just one of his three catches. The only target who put up good stats was Taylor Gabriel, who had two of the Bears’ three passes that went over 10 yards, but his 3 receptions and 69 yards were heavily inflated by his 53-yard grab.

Overall, it was the same old song and dance for the Bears’ offense this week, and with just eight games left in the season, this will likely be the status quo for the unit.

Defense

This week was another continuation of what happens to the Bears’ defense when they lose the time of possession battle.

Having been on the field for more than two-thirds of the game’s duration, they fell apart on the final drive of the game, keeping the Eagles on the field for more than eight minutes and allowing four third-down conversions. At that point, they were a tired unit who couldn’t manage to keep it together when it mattered most. A big part of that falls on Chicago’s offense’s inability to put a long drive together, but the defense collapsed late.

The middle of the field was a free-for-all for the Eagles, as they constantly attacked it using Zach Ertz in the passing game and Jordan Howard in the ground game. Ertz finished the game with 9 receptions, 103 yards and a touchdown, a testament to the Bears’ inability to guard the Pro Bowl tight end with its linebackers and defensive backs. Philadelphia’s offensive line also helped create numerous rushing lanes for Howard, who ended the day with 82 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against his former team.

The Bears had some flashes on defense throughout the game, though. Prince Amukamara was reliable in coverage against Philadelphia’s receivers, and he blew up a screen play on 3rd-and-2 to force the Eagles to kick a field goal instead of extending the drive into the end zone. Khalil Mack was held without a sack for the third time in four games, but he made two tackles for a loss, had a deflected pass and hit Carson Wentz once.

The likes of Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, Eddie Goldman and Nick Williams all came away with sacks, as well. For Floyd, this game marked his first sack since his two-sack outing in Week 1, after which he disappeared. Williams’ sack was his fifth of the year, putting him just half of a sack away from Mack for the most on the team. He has quietly been very reliable when called upon.

However, the time of possession game proved to be too much for the Bears to overcome. Their run defense failed to eat up gaps on too many occasions, and their coverage was lacking across the middle of the field. In the end, that proved to be too much for the unit to overcome.

Three and out

3. The Bears are now losers of their last four games, sitting at 3-5 after sharing first place in the NFC North in Week 4. Their playoff hopes were already slim to begin with heading into this week, but their loss to the Eagles practically guaranteed their spot on the couch this January.

It’s just unfortunate to see the Bears essentially locked out of their playoff hopes this early, let alone at all. This was supposed to be the year that they put it all together, or so we thought. The truth is, as good as a team’s defense may be, this NFL is an offense-driven league—more specifically, a passing-driven league—and a team can only do so much with poor quarterback play. Trubisky isn’t entirely at fault for Chicago’s collapse, but his performance this year significantly screws up whatever long-term plans the team had coming into the season.

2. With four divisional matchups and all but one of their remaining opponents firmly in the playoff race, these next few weeks are going to be painful for Bears fans to watch. Tankathon features updates regarding the 2020 draft order, for those interested.

1. Where do the Bears go from here?

They were designed to be Super Bowl contenders this year. Instead, they’re back in last place in the NFC North and will need a miracle to make the playoffs in 2019. They have plenty of talented players locked in with expensive contracts—and other players who will need to be re-signed, too—but their plan to compete with a quarterback on a rookie contract won’t come to fruition.

This leaves the Bears in a difficult position. They’re built to win now, but their plans to win now aren’t working. Do they abandon ship and starting trading away players this offseason? Do they keep their roster in tact and just add a new quarterback? Only time will tell, but as of now, the Bears don’t have any direction or visible signs of long-term success.