For the seventh straight game and the 11th time in total in the 2022 season, the Chicago Bears finished with a loss. For the seventh time in those 11 losses, it came by only one possession.
The Bears fell 25-20 to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, bringing their record down to 3-11. The end results was much closer than many outside of Chicago expected it would be, and though yet another loss may be tiresome to certain fans, there were bright spots to be had in the performance.
Here are some of the key takeaways from Sunday’s action.
Justin Fields became the Bears’ single-season leader in quarterback rushing yards, and he became just the third player at his position to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
That was the positive headline of the afternoon for the Bears on Sunday, as their second-year quarterback led the team with 95 rushing yards on 15 carries. His 39-yard run that led to a 9-yard touchdown run by David Montgomery was the type of play that Bears fans will remember for years to come. Even if some of his broken tackles didn’t count because he stepped out of bounds, it showed just how dynamic of an athlete he is.
Through the air, Fields went 14-for-21 with 152 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of his completions came on short passes, as he attempted just four passes that traveled beyond 10 air yards past the line of scrimmage. On those four attempts, he went 2-for-4 for 55 yards and scored a touchdown. He showed some inconsistency in terms of accuracy on dump offs, but more often than not, he was decent through the air.
Those issues and positives come with a major asterisk because of the conditions under which Fields was playing. Not only was the weather an issue, but injuries and poor offensive line play plagued the Bears on Sunday. Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool didn’t play, and Equanimeous St. Brown left the game early due to injury. That led the likes of Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle, Nsimba Webster and Velus Jones Jr. to step into bigger offensive roles, and outside of Pringle’s 35-yard touchdown in which he improvised to get open on a broken play, none were all that impressive.
When you factor in the offensive line play they had against a dominant Eagles defense, Chicago scoring 20 points was honestly a miracle. Fields got sacked 6 times, with all of Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick tallying two sacks each. Philadelphia had 9 tackles for a loss as a unit. Cody Whitehair in particular got beat like a drum in pass protection, while Alex Leatherwood also struggled at times.
The offensive line was unable to give plays enough time to consistently develop, and it didn’t help that Teven Jenkins also got injured. David Montgomery was able to pick up a rushing touchdown and 4.4 yards per carry on 12 attempts, though. He had a solid outing on the ground, and the offensive line held up a bit better in the ground game.
The Bears were able to keep the game close off of solid scheme and Fields’ sheer athleticism. The personnel issues are clear with their offense, but there’s not much that can be done until the offseason comes around.
For what the Bears have to work with on defense, they didn’t perform too bad when the Eagles’ vaunted offense came onto the field.
Rushing the passer proved to be an issue for the Bears, as they sacked Jalen Hurts just once. The lone sack, which was credited to linebacker Joe Thomas, was the only time Hurts got hit all afternoon. Though the pressure up front was lacking — a reoccurring theme for Chicago’s defense this year — the secondary held its own.
Kudos especially goes to Jaylon Johnson, who had a heavyweight bout for the ages against A.J. Brown. Both players were at the top of their game, and while Brown finished with a stellar stat line of 9 catches for 181 yards, don’t sell Johnson’s performance short. He broke up three passes and played a big role in Hurts only completing 59.5% of his passes. Even some of Brown’s catches weren’t the fault of Johnson and came down mostly to a stellar throw by Hurts and/or a tremendous grab by Brown.
Kyler Gordon and DeAndre Houston-Carson each had interceptions, with the former showing some encouraging flashes in coverage after what has been a rocky rookie season. Covering the middle of the field proved to a bit of an issue, but the boundaries were pretty rock solid.
Nicholas Morrow led the Bears with 11 tackles, and he — along with most of the Bears’ defense — did a good job of stopping the run. Miles Sanders finished with 3.8 yards per carry out of the backfield on 11 tries, while Kenneth Gainwell was held to just 5 yards on 3 attempts. Hurts was able to do damage with his legs, however, scoring three touchdowns. Stopping him was a task that provided inconsistent results, which helped the Eagles march down the field pretty well.
All told, the Bears performed better on defense than they had any right to. Their deficiencies ultimately came down to the Eagles having more pure talent on their offense than the Bears had on defense, especially up front.
Three and out
3. If his neck injury marks the end of his 2022 season — which hasn’t been determined as of this writing — then kudos to Teven Jenkins for a fantastic year.
He went from a backup offensive tackle to a potential trade candidate, then to a right guard and, soon after, the Bears’ best offensive lineman. If he is able to make a full recovery, he will be a key member of the team’s future plans. He proved himself capable of being a reliable blocker and a dominant force in the ground game, and with the state of their offense, he’s become a very valuable piece of their unit.
2. The Eagles have two defensive players especially intriguing to the Bears, as both are on track to hit free agency this coming offseason. Linebacker T.J. Edwards finished the game with 9 tackles, while defensive tackle Javon Hargrave ended up with 3 tackles and 2 sacks.
Though Chicago might not be willing to pay big money to someone who turns 30 this offseason like Hargrave or an off-ball linebacker like Edwards, both are impressive talents who would instantly provide help at massive positions of need. General manager Ryan Poles had the chance to experience that firsthand on Sunday.
1. This was a perfect Pseudotank (trademark pending) loss.
Though the Bears ended up falling to the Eagles on Sunday, they played the best team in the NFL very tough, despite not having quite the same level of star power on paper. Fields has shown plenty of promise, the coaching staff generally looks quite promising, and most of their young prospects look like quality football players. With the resources they’ll have to improve in the coming offseason, they should be able to turn all of these one-possession losses into victories going forward.