The Bears lost to the Packers on Sunday.
That is an unfortunate sentence I felt as though I have had to type far too many times over the years, and it rang true again as Green Bay came away with the 28-19 victory at Soldier Field. The loss dropped the Bears to 3-10 in the 2022 season, with this week marking their sixth loss in a row.
Here are some of the key takeaways from Sunday’s game.
Luke Getsy has plenty of potential as an NFL coach, and the flashes of promise he has displayed show that he could become a head coach somewhere down the line. But he is not ready for that role just yet.
The game plan in the first half was pretty sound, using several short passes to get Justin Fields warmed up coming back from injury. They used Fields’ athleticism a bit, but not too much to avoid further aggravation of said injury. Getsy sprinkled in the occasional deep shot, and Fields was able to hit those deep balls well. That had the Bears sitting pretty with 16 points in the first half, which is pretty impressive, all things considered.
But then things fell apart. An ill-timed screen play to Chase Claypool on 3rd-and-5 got blown up immediately by Jaire Alexander and resulted in a three-and-out to start the second half for the Bears’ offense. Their next drive ended with a field goal, but the decision to run the ball up the middle on 1st-and-goal at Green Bay’s 19-yard line did seem puzzling.
The next drive started off strong with a great deep throw by Fields to N’Keal Harry, who made a tremendous leaping grab for a 49-yard gain. The Bears followed up that explosive play with a short dump-off pass to David Montgomery on first down, a run up the middle on 2nd-and-12, and another run on 3rd-and-5. Cairo Santos and the Bears’ special teams unit deserve some blame for a tipped field goal attempt, but the offense looked uninspired after a nice start to the afternoon.
With the Packers now having taken the lead, Fields threw an interception to Jaire Alexander that was intended for Equanimeous St. Brown. St. Brown ran a dig route and was slow coming out of his breaks, and Alexander was able to read Fields’ eyes and jump in front of an unimpressive route. The Bears’ offensive drive that followed also ended with an interception, though one can chalk that up to being aggressive to compensate in garbage time.
Despite a questionable second half of play-calling, Fields put together a solid outing, in fact, tallying his most passing yards of the year at 254. He also contributed 71 rushing yards and a touchdown on 6 carries, as well. Save for a bad throw or two, Fields was very consistent, accurate and poised against the Packers. His ability to step up and make big throws when called upon to do so deserves credit, as well.
The splash plays by Equanimeous St. Brown and N’Keal Harry gave them both solid receiving yardage, with St. Brown leading the team at 85 yards on 3 catches. Chase Claypool had 5 catches for 28 yards but was generally used in a one-dimensional role. The most reliable pass-catcher for Chicago on Sunday was Cole Kmet, who caught 6 passes for 72 yards on 7 targets.
David Montgomery didn’t wow with his performance on the ground, as none of his 14 carries resulted in gains of 10 yards or more. That said, rushing for 61 yards and a touchdowns means his day could’ve been a lot worse. Chicago’s offensive line deserves credit for not allowing any sacks and only two quarterback hits, as well as showing some stability in the run game. Upon first review, Alex Leatherwood seemed pretty comfortable in his snaps rotating in at right tackle with Riley Reiff.
The Bears’ offensive sputters in the second half didn’t come down mainly to their personnel, but rather the coaching. As previously mentioned, Luke Getsy has a bright future in this league, but he still has some issues to iron out before he should take on a head coaching gig, and those were apparent on Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers didn’t have an all-time outing against the Bears this time, but a late collapse from their defense still saw the biggest villain in Chicago sports come away victorious.
For a Bears secondary that had most of its key contributors injured, the unit held up pretty well in coverage. There were multiple instances in which Josh Blackwell seemed to hold his own in coverage, and Jaylon Jones had some solid flashes from time to time. DeAndre Houston-Carson appeared to play well and had a killer tackle for a loss rushing off the edge in the first quarter. Jaylon Johnson played physical against Packers rookie phenom Christian Watson, and while one could argue he may have gotten away with an uncalled DPI call or two, the officiating was generally pretty inconsistent on Green Bay’s side, as well.
Regardless, the lack of pressure up front is what killed the Bears. They didn’t sack Rodgers once, nor did they tally a hit against him or generate consistent pressure. The edge help was practically nonexistent, and the interior pressure wasn’t prevalent enough to have an impact on the game. The likes of Armon Watts and Andrew Brown had splash plays over the afternoon, but none of the interior defenders were able to regularly eat up gaps and stuff the run.
The middle of the field seemed to be a point of weakness for Chicago in coverage, which helped the Packers put together some solid drives and win the time of possession battle by close to 5 minutes. On each of Green Bay’s three scoring drives to close out the game, it was something different. The first drive was affected negatively by a defensive pass interference call against Jaylon Jones which cost the Bears 38 yards, and the possession led to a touchdown. The second drive was simply effective clock management by the Packers, as they drained nearly 7 minutes off the clock with a reliable run game and short passes. To extend their lead, the Packers scored again after the two-minute warning with a 46-yard jet sweep to Watson.
With a defense that is as young and inexperienced as the group the Bears brought out onto the field on Sunday, you’re bound to see the occasional mental lapse. That did apply to many defenders, but undrafted rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn put together yet another strong outing with 11 tackles and a tackle for a loss. He also forced a key incompletion in the end zone that held Green Bay to a field goal instead of a touchdown.
Was it a fantastic outing for the Bears’ defense? No, but that’s not what one should’ve expected with how ravaged the group was by injury. The secondary, though not without its faults, did surpass my expectations, even if it helped that Rodgers had his fair share of inaccurate passes. Nobody will mistake Sunday’s performance as a defensive clinic, nor should they, but it could have been worse. Yay!
Three and out
3. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter has been on my radar since I saw him stand out among three 2022 first-round picks on that Bulldogs defensive line last year. I’ve watched several games of his, both while analyzing film for my pre-draft work and as a casual fan with no rooting interest or desire to watch one specific player on each snap.
Even with all of this exposure to Carter, watching him on Saturday in the SEC championship against LSU made me feel ever stronger about him as a target for the Bears. I still have Will Anderson as my top overall prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, but Carter keeps closing that gap almost each time I watch him. He’s an extremely talented defender, and the strong play of both prospects is good news for the Bears, who could have two blue-chip defenders to choose from in Round 1 when it’s all said and done.
2. The Bears have a bye week ahead of them next week, which means the best way to spend your football Sundays while still involving the team in your viewings is by rooting for increased draft capital cushion!
The Raiders-Rams game on Thursday night will give Chicago some cushion by default with two sub-.500 teams facing off, though it may be smarter to root for the Rams, as wins could be harder to come by with the injuries they’ve faced. Other upsets to root for include the Jaguars over the Titans, the Broncos over the Chiefs, the Panthers over the Seahawks, and the Cardinals over the Patriots. If you really want to get delusional, you could always hope the 1-win Texans topple the Cowboys to give the Bears increased odds at the No. 1 pick.
1. Say what you will about the box score. I know that Fields had two interceptions and Rodgers had none. That said, I do feel like the Bears had a quarterback outperform Aaron Rodgers in a head-to-head matchup for the first time in quite some time.
Fields completed 80% of his passes on Sunday and averaged 12.7 yards per completion, while Rodgers completed 58% of his passes at 10.1 yards per completion. When you also factor in Fields’ 71 rushing yards on 6 carries and his rushing touchdown, he outgained Rodgers by 139 scrimmage yards. The Bears’ last offensive drive was a drive in which they were down by two scores, so essentially 30 of Fields’ passing yards came in garbage time. So, too, did his second interception, upon which he decided to go for a deep shot as a last-ditch effort to get points on the board quickly. You can have all of these hypothetical debates all you want, but if you ask me, Chicago had the better quarterback play on Sunday.