After coming away with a win last week against the Raiders, the Bears fell back down to Earth when they headed to Los Angeles on Sunday night.
The Bears lost to the Chargers in a 30-13 blowout, seeing them fall to 2-6 on the 2023 regular season. The Chargers simply outclassed them on both sides of the ball, dominating them in a way that one two-win team should realistically not be able to do another two-win team.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the Bears’ loss in Week 8.
Tyson Bagent ran a limited Bears offense and did most of what was asked of him, but he didn’t do anything to indicate he’s much more than a game manager.
Chicago relied on shorter passes on Sunday, save for that opening-play bomb to Darnell Mooney. Their dink-and-dunk approach ideally stretches the defense horizontally, setting up a more effective vertical game. That vertical game never really came.
There were plays where Bagent looked poised and decisive in identifying checkdowns and going through his progressions, arguably more so than Justin Fields has to this point. That said, the rookie still made some baffling decisions, and he doesn’t have the arm strength or athleticism to easier shield those mistakes.
DJ Moore was able to make a few nice moves after the catch, and Cole Kmet was a reliable short-area target when Bagent threw the ball his way. However, the lack of explosive plays on the offensive side of the ball made it tough for the Bears to really get much of anything going. Darrynton Evans scored a rushing touchdown, and D’Onta Foreman had a nice run or two, but generally speaking, the ground game also didn’t have many opportunities for Bears ball-carriers to get open.
The Bears are heavily flawed in terms of their coaching staff’s offensive philosophy, as well as their personnel along the offensive line. There’s only so much you can do with a Division II rookie quarterback in his second career start, so expecting a lights-out performance on offense might’ve been blindly optimistic. That said, you have to expect more from an NFL offense. Luke Getsy’s group barely looked like that this week.
Novel idea: if you play passive defense against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, you’ll get exposed.
That was the case for the Bears as they got carved up by Justin Herbert on Sunday. The Chargers’ offense thrived on getting short, high-percentage passes off and exposing the weakness of their scheme underneath. Austin Ekeler was especially a dominant weapon for Los Angeles, having topped the 100-yard receiving mark for the first time in the 2023 season.
The Bears got so wrapped up in trying to prevent the big play that they forgot a quarterback of Herbert’s caliber is more than capable of identifying the checkdown and taking what the defense gives him. That resulted in a ridiculously high allowed completion percentage for most of the game, and inconsistency tackling ball-carriers made it tough for them to limit what the Chargers could do with all that space they were willingly giving up.
T.J. Edwards reached double-digit tackles and looked to be the best player on the Bears’ defense on Sunday, showing up in a big way against the run and serving as a reliable tackler more often than not. That said, the rest of the front-seven underwhelmed, as a lack of pass-rushing production made it easy for Herbert to find the open man and calmly read the field. The Bears’ run defense itself was quite strong, but the Chargers adapted and led with a pass-heavy approach that negated their own weaknesses and played up to their strengths.
Jaylon Johnson contributed a pass deflection in the end zone, breaking up a potential touchdown pass to Quentin Johnston, even if he did lose his assignment as a rub route allowed Simi Fehoko to break free from him for a touchdown. Tyrique Stevenson finished with double-digit tackles, but a lot of that came down to passive coverage and a high completion percentage allowed.
Simply put, it was a bad performance from the Bears’ defense. Los Angeles has a talented offense, but there were rarely any moments where Chicago seemed in control when the two units faced off.
Three and out
3. A consistent lack of tackling has plagued the Bears, which is baffling given this coaching staff’s supposed emphasis on tackling.
This current Chicago regime has brought in multiple defensive backs whose strengths seemingly include reliability in run support. That said, it’s bizarre to see them struggle so much with wrapping up out in the open field. One can only speculate from a Halas Hall outsider’s perspective why these tackling issues continue to hurt this team. However, it’s a really bad look on coaching to have these problems lingering around.
2. Time will tell whether the Bears make any moves before the trade deadline, but I’d lean towards selling if I were Ryan Poles.
See if a running back-needy team would give up a Day 3 pick for D’Onta Foreman. Check to see what the market would be for Darnell Mooney. Hell, even Yannick Ngakoue could make sense as a player to dangle on the trade block. An addition like Chase Young or Montez Sweat would make sense to get ahead of free agency and acquire a young star edge rusher, but the more realistic path sees Chicago look for fair value for their current players.
1. This game was a strong example of what Tyson Bagent likely is in the NFL.
For a player with his background, he’s much farther ahead of where he arguably should be. The flashes of getting the ball out quickly, making accurate throws and managing games are encouraging. That said, the lack of top-notch physical ability and the limited ability to consistently make big-time throws showed up in Los Angeles on Sunday night. At this stage, he’s a solid backup QB, which is extremely nice to have on a UDFA contract! That said, let’s not get out of control with narratives.