Everybody remembers how bad the Broncos-Colts game was last Thursday night. The Bears’ loss to the Commanders this week saw 2 fewer points scored than the aforementioned trainwreck.
It was a 12-7 loss for the Bears, one which saw them come up just inches short of the end zone on a 4th-and-goal conversion. It’s obviously unfair to point to that one play as the reason Chicago lost, as there were many glaring issues that caused them to lose that game. However, that visual is made even more painful considering how poorly they played over the course of those 60 minutes.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the Bears’ Thursday night loss.
Three words: red zone struggles.
The Bears didn’t do a terrible job of moving the ball down the field. Justin Fields threw for 190 yards on his 14 completions, and Chicago as a team ran for a whopping 238 yards. They just couldn’t get the job done when it mattered most, and that’s what cost them the game.
Fields went 14-for-27 with 190 yards, a passing touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 88 yards on 12 carries, marking the second-most rushing yards he has had in a single game. However, he got absolutely walloped in the pocket, as the Commanders got to him for 5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Washington also hurried Fields a total of 18 times.
The second-year quarterback had his clear issues on Thursday. There were instances in which he held the ball for too long, and others in which he simply missed open targets. These are glaring issues that need to be fixed, otherwise he will never take that next step to becoming a true franchise quarterback. The lack of development in that regard has been worrisome to this point.
That said, Fields wasn’t without his impressive moments. His 40-yard touchdown throw to Dante Pettis was a thing of beauty, and he had multiple genuinely impressive passes to help the Bears move the ball down the field. He was also very good running the ball, and his 39-yard run sparked a feeling of hope that most NFL quarterbacks wouldn’t have been able to give their teams.
Essentially, it was a night of serious ups and serious downs for Fields, as nearly every game has been for him this year.
Fields wasn’t the only player to excel in the ground game. Khalil Herbert broke away for a massive 64-yard run that propelled the Bears into the red zone. David Montgomery was his steady self, rushing for 67 yards on 15 carries. The run blocking wasn’t bad at all for the Bears, even though their pass protection was horrible.
Darnell Mooney led the Bears’ weapons with 7 receptions, and he tallied 68 yards on those catches. He was a reliable target for Fields, and his ability to exploit soft spots in zone coverage and stretch the field horizontally was helpful for Chicago’s offense. Dante Pettis has his aforementioned touchdown and finished with 4 catches for 84 yards, with 40 of them coming on that one catch. Drops remain an issue for him, but when he secures the ball, big things have happened.
Mooney and Pettis were the only two Bears to catch more than one pass. Cole Kmet caught just one of his three targets, while Ihmir Smith-Marsette had a drop across the middle of the field. The lack of separation from Chicago’s weapons stood out on the broadcast film, and it will be interesting to see how the All-22 tape looks.
The fact of the matter is that the Bears simply didn’t execute when it mattered most. Their performance within the first 80 yards wasn’t all that bad, but their performance in the last 20 yards — the most important 20 — was abysmal. One can only hope that the coaching staff and the players learn from this performance and make changes.
The Bears’ defense is hardly the reason they lost on Thursday.
All told, they put together a pretty strong outing. They only allowed 12 points, and their only touchdown allowed came when the Commanders started the drive at Chicago’s 6-yard line due to another Velus Jones Jr. dropped punt. The Bears sacked Carson Wentz three times and allowed a completion percentage of just 54.5%, deflecting four of his 10 incompletions.
The Bears gave up some big-yardage runs; Antonio Gibson tallied 30 yards on 3 carries on one drive alone, and both J.D. McKissic and Brian Robinson had their moments. However, Robinson averaged just 3.5 yards per carry on the ground, and considering he took the bulk of Washington’s carries, that’s reflective of an improved outing for Chicago’s run defense, especially along the interior. Armon Watts in particular was able to come away with 6 tackles.
Roquan Smith and Nicholas Morrow finished with 12 and 9 tackles, respectively. Though each had some issues with gap integrity and block-shedding, they were able to make tackles in space effectively when given the opportunity. Kyler Gordon finished with 6 tackles and had a pass deflection, showcasing improved instincts in coverage and reliability tackling ball-carriers after the catch. Upon first glance, Kindle Vildor seemed to do a good job in coverage, too.
Smith and Jaquan Brisker both finished with sacks on designed blitzes, while Al-Quadin Muhammad chased down Wentz for another sack. Those sacks were the only hits on Wentz all game, which speaks to the Bears’ struggles with generating pressure in the trenches. Alan Williams had to get creative to bury the quarterback into the ground. The likes of Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson didn’t seem to produce much upon first viewing.
It wasn’t a sexy outing from a statistics perspective, and part of that was due to how poorly Washington’s offense played. That in mind, it was a perfectly serviceable game: no frills, no flash, but they still forced 6 punts and only allowed 12 points. That’s worth being commended for.
Three and out
3. In due time, expect a ramp up of NFL Draft coverage from me.
I’ve already released a few mock drafts, two big boards and the weekly college previews. Whether you like it or not, though, draft analysis will be a way for me to cope with poor play for the Bears. Strap in!
2. There is valid reason to be concerned with Justin Fields, but I’m not out on him.
Did this game seem to be as strong as his performance last week against the Vikings? Maybe not, but he still had a handful of very good throws and made some special plays with his feet. It’s no hot take to say that the talent around him on offense simply isn’t good enough.
The issues are obvious: his decision-making needs to quicken, and it needs to get better. His pocket presence isn’t all the way there. That said, shouldn’t the Bears give him a shot with an actual supporting cast next year? The fact that he’s making these flashes with sub-optimal talent around him indicates that he could be playing much better with upgrades around him.
1. Make no mistake about it: this is not a good team. Not right now, at least.
Good football teams do not lose the type of game that the Bears lost on Thursday. Good football teams do not score just 7 points at home against the Commanders. The same goes for going 0-for-3 putting up any points in the red zone. Is there promise to be had with this roster? Certainly. The fact of the matter is, though, that there is a lack of proven talent on this roster. Until that changes, don’t expect Chicago to be taken seriously.