The Bears had another stinker of a game on Sunday, and all of their points were scored by kicker Michael Badgley, who wasn’t even on the team to start the weekend.
I don’t really feel like doing the pseudo-journalist lede today. Chicago lost to the Giants 20-12. Here are some of the key takeaways from that game.
Good news: Justin Fields hit Darnell Mooney on a deep ball, Mooney had 94 yards on four receptions and the Bears ran the ball pretty well. Bad news: basically everything else.
We’ll dig into the positives to start. Khalil Herbert hit the over and put together a solid outing, tallying 77 yards on 19 carries for a 4.1 yards-per-carry average. He showcased the explosiveness that he has become known for early in his NFL career. He also added a 24-yard gain through the air on a screen. Fields was effective in his scramble opportunities, as he gained a season-high 52 rushing yards on 7 carries.
Mooney — as did the rest of the Bears’ receivers — had occasional issues getting open, but he was much more impactful than he has been in recent weeks. His 94 receiving yards more than tripled his season total through his first three games.
The rest of the offense, though. Yikes.
Fields saw pressure on a consistent basis, as the Giants generated 6 sacks and 9 quarterback hits over the course of Sunday afternoon. New York dialed up the blitz pretty often, and the Bears’ pass protection had no answers for it. Some of that was due to an inability to adjust and max protect, but even when they kept a running back in the backfield to block, very little went right.
It didn’t help Fields that the receivers also struggled with getting open. Heading to the All-22 tape will provide a better understanding of whether it was the coaching, execution or a bit of both. However, when your receivers fail to create separation the way that they did, someone has to be held accountable. Upon first viewing, it seemed like both coaching and personnel at the wide receiver position played a factor in the lackluster passing attack.
Granted, this isn’t to say Fields is without blame. Any time you complete just 50% of your passes and don’t score any touchdowns, you’re doing something wrong. Some of his throws had questionable accuracy, and decision-making wasn’t necessary precise on a regular basis. That said, the weight of this loss falls heavily on the Bears’ offensive unit as a whole. A lot of things have to change if they are to field a passable NFL offense.
The general expectation was that the Giants would take a run-heavy approach. Those expectations were certainly met.
The Bears saw 44 rushes to just 16 passes on Sunday, and while some of those included scrambles from Daniel Jones, they did have to approach this game with a mindset of attacking the run game. Saquon Barkley ran for 146 yards on 31 carries, averaging a quality 4.7 yards per carry. Barkley got stuffed on some runs, but more often than not, he served as a tough task for the Bears to deal with. He looked explosive and decisive out of the backfield, and Chicago’s defensive line struggled with consistently plugging up running lanes.
Roquan Smith led the Bears with 10 tackles, and while he didn’t have as big of an impact as he did in Week 3, he still had a solid outing and made some good-looking tackles upon first watching. Justin Jones was another standout up front, as the defensive tackle had 6 tackles, two of which going for a loss. The rest of the front-seven seemed pretty hit or miss against the run, though. With just one sack and two quarterback hits as a team — with that sack and one of the hits coming from Jaquan Brisker — Chicago struggled significantly with generating pressure in the passing game, too.
The Bears deserve plenty of credit for how they fared in coverage. Though Kyler Gordon continued his rookie struggles, the likes of Brisker, Kindle Vildor and Eddie Jackson all seemed to play well. Jackson deflected a pass underneath and also had an interception in a centerfielder role, marking his third pick of the year. 9 of the Giants’ combined 16 passes between Jones and Tyrod Taylor were completions, so while the sample size was small, the Bears were effective in coverage.
Chicago’s defense isn’t the reason that they lost on Sunday. They had some issues up front, but they maintained a bend, don’t break approach that kept them in the game. It wasn’t perfect, but it was acceptable.
Three and out
3. Luke Getsy has shown an irrational penchant towards running the ball up the gut on 2nd-and-10, but he showed another annoying trend on Sunday: the tight end screen.
All three of the tight end screen throws went to Cole Kmet. The first was admittedly productive, as the Bears got a first down out of it, and Kmet ran over a would-be tackler. The second saw him targeted along the perimeter on a screen, despite it being 3rd-and-15 on that call. They didn’t convert. His third screen catch ended in a loss of 3 yards. It’s almost like relying on a player with poor agility to make defenders miss in space isn’t a good idea.
2. The Bears have been plagued by an inability to adapt in regimes past, and that plagued them again in their loss to the Giants.
Luke Getsy’s aforementioned forcing of certain plays hurt them, as did his inability to get Justin Fields on the move to not only take advantage of the QB’s speed, but to also get him out of a pocket that was under constant duress. Alan Williams’ defense bit too hard on bootlegs from Daniel Jones and failed to equip a quarterback spy on a consistent basis (one of the plays they did, though, Jaquan Brisker got a sack. Shocker). I get that the latter can be tough when you have to try to shut down Saquon Barkley in the run game, but they couldn’t even do that right. Matt Eberflus choosing to punt on 4th-and-2 in the fourth quarter down by one possession near midfield was cowardly, too. It was a frustrating coaching performance for many reasons.
1. All of this said, don’t rush to conclusions about this season.
It’s still way too early to totally write certain players or coaches off, and it’s too early to crown others. We are four games into a 17-game season. Is there reason to be worried? Certainly. Is there reason to be mad? For sure. Try not to operate in absolutes this early into the year, though.