The Chicago Bears have now lost 12 consecutive regular season games.
Chicago’s losing ways continued on Sunday, as they fell 27-17 to the Buccaneers to drop to 0-2 to start the 2023 regular season. It was admittedly a miracle they were as close as they were for much of the game, given their massive inconsistencies on both sides of the ball.
One week after a disheartening loss to the Packers, the Bears find themselves in a similar situation, leaving them with significant uncertainty surrounding not only the remainder of the year, but the future.
Let’s break down some of the top takeaways from Sunday’s loss.
Well, at least DJ Moore looked good!
The Bears saw good production out of their prized trade acquisition, as he caught 6 of his 7 targets for 104 yards. In doing so, he became the first player the team has had top 100 receiving yards in a game since Darnell Mooney in Week 18...of 2021. He got open quite well and served as a security blanket with how well he ate up soft spots against zone coverage.
Khalil Herbert was consistent in the run game, tallying 35 yards on 7 carries. Roschon Johnson contributed a nice 29-yard gain of his own on the ground. The flashes he showed, along with the reliability of Herbert, made for a good combination in Chicago’s backfield.
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy had two very well-coached offensive drives, and both of them resulted in touchdowns. The opening drive did a good job of stretching the field and utilizing smart route concepts to exploit the types of coverage they faced. On their other touchdown drive, Fields went 6-for-6 and was able to march down the field with confidence and poise.
That’s all the good stuff out of the way. It’s about to get a lot worse from here.
Justin Fields played a scared brand of football on Sunday. He was hesitant in the pocket, slow to process and incapable of sensing pressure. The offensive line didn’t do him too many favors, as he got hit 10 times and sacked 6 times. Even when the line held up, though, it was no guarantee Fields would make the right read. He held onto the ball way too long and set himself up for unnecessary hits. He was careless with the ball and just outright didn’t look up to speed.
He made the same mistakes that he made as a rookie, and he’s now in Year 3.
Braxton Jones struggled at left tackle, bringing his penalty total up to 6 in just two games. The interior offensive line failed to contain Vita Vea, and Lucas Patrick in particular had issues with both blocking and snapping out of the shotgun. That doesn’t excuse Fields of his mistakes — far from it — but Chicago’s offensive line didn’t do him too many favors.
Cole Kmet and Chase Claypool failed to showcase consistency in the receiving game. Claypool scored his first touchdown as a Bear and caught 3 passes for 36 yards, but he also dropped a pass that ended up resulting in an interception in garbage time. Kmet had a nice snag along the sidelines before it was broken up by 5-foot-9, 203-pound Antoine Winfield Jr.
That doesn’t even mention the horrid strategy that Getsy applied to most of the drives he led for the Bears’ offense. His insistence on keeping Fields in the pocket and relying so heavily on wide receivers to block on screens — which, spoiler alert, they can’t — has plagued Chicago considerably. Certain play choices, like running the ball on 2nd down and calling for a RB screen backed up in their own end zone, played a role in the Bears’ loss.
A lot went wrong on offense for the Bears on Sunday. They’re going to need their offense to play extremely well if they’re going to catch up with the Chiefs’ offense next week, but I wouldn’t bet on them doing so with how they’ve played so far this season.
It seems a bit surprising the Bears’ defense only gave up 20 points when you consider how many yards they gave up against Tampa Bay.
Coverage was an issue again for the Bears, as Baker Mayfield carved their defense up to go 26-for-34 for 317 passing yards and a touchdown. The Buccaneers stalled out when they got closer to the red zone, but their aerial assault — especially when Mike Evans was involved — took advantage of yet another example of passive coverage from Chicago’s secondary. Tyrique Stevenson struggled in particular, putting together a performance that clearly showed his rookie status at cornerback.
The Bears’ defensive line also struggled considerably. Mayfield wasn’t sacked once all afternoon and was only hit once by Chicago’s defense. Yannick Ngakoue did a good job of generating pressure, but he missed on two sack attempts. The defensive line also struggled to eat up gaps in the run game, providing chances for Bucs running back Rachaad White to run for 73 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
Luckily for the Bears, their linebackers cleaned up at the second level on a consistent basis. Their prized free agency additions, Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, had 16 and 12 tackles, respectively. When your defensive line isn’t all that great, it helps to have reliable linebackers to prevent big plays. Tampa Bay, for as well as they moved the ball down the field, didn’t have a run go for more than 14 yards. They helped keep the Bears in this game.
That said, Edmunds and Edwards are the only two defenders who seemed to stand out upon first glance. Gervon Dexter contributed four tackles of his own and showed promise, but the defense as a whole had two pass deflections and no turnovers, in addition to the aforementioned one hit and lack of a sack. The performance itself was incredibly mid.
Three and out
3. If you haven’t watched it already, I strongly recommend you watch J.T. O’Sullivan’s breakdown of Justin Fields and the Bears’ offense from Week 1 against the Packers.
The sad thing is, a lot of the criticism O’Sullivan gave the Bears (and Fields) in Week 1 carries onto their performance against the Buccaneers from Sunday. If he does another video for this week, I suggest making it appointment vision.
2. I’ll keep this part short: a 2024 Bears mock draft will come out this week. I promise.
1. Football doesn’t have to be this difficult.
It’s a complex game to be sure, and I sure am not smart enough to coach at the NFL level. But it seems obvious to play to your players’ strengths and minimize their weaknesses, and when certain calls aren’t working, you make adjustments. This Bears coaching staff has proven over the last 19 games that they aren’t capable of doing that on a consistent basis.
It’s early in the year, sure. However, when you have this nagging of an issue over a large sample size with little to no signs of flexibility or self-awareness, that’s a problem. Unless Chicago’s staff surprisingly bucks their trend of stubbornness, this team will not go anywhere as long as this current group is in place.