Somehow, the Chicago Bears’ blowout loss on the road to the Kansas City Chiefs doesn’t even feel like the worst news of the week, does it? To say things were tumultuous at Halas Hall this week would be an understatement. Not only did the Bears come into Week 3 as an (0-2) team with not much going right, but things got even worse.
The week started with putting starting left tackle Braxton Jones on Injured Reserve with a neck injury. Quarterback Justin Fields then called out coaching as a reason why he felt he was playing “robotic.” Things then took a dark turn when former defensive coordinator Alan Williams—Who had not been with the team since Week 1— Abruptly resigned shortly after some ugly rumors made their way around social media. This all happened on a Wednesday afternoon.
Then came Sunday. Many figured that this game would go one of two ways. Either Chicago would come out motivated and keep the game close, or things would get ugly in a blowout loss. Well, if you voted on the latter, you’re one of the only true winners in what has been a memorable Week 3 for this team. Considering nothing is going right, and things appear to be spiraling, what now? The only good news is that the Bears will head back home in Week 4 to face a Denver Broncos game who gave up 70 points to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.
1. I’m not sure we’ve reached Marc Trestman levels of dysfunction yet, but we’re getting close, and it’s only Week 3.
Week 3’s lead-up to Sunday’s game might have been one of the biggest circuses we’ve seen around this team in a while. When you really think about it, that’s saying something. For as much as some fans hated former head coach John Fox, there were not many dramatic moments. Even with Matt Nagy, disappointment and fights over quarterback Mitchell Trubisky were much more of a thing than what we saw this week.
It was a relatively quiet Monday and Tuesday. Many people’s eyes were on the health of safety Eddie Jackson. Then, Wednesday happened. It started with the announcement that left tackle Braxton Jones would be placed on Injured Reserve. Considering he had played every snap since coming into the league last season, it came as a surprise to most. Somehow, that storyline would be the most tame of the day.
Shortly after that announcement, quarterback Justin Fields met with the media. It was one of his more “open” sessions since coming in his rookie year. He talked about how he had been playing “robotic.” It’s been no secret that the third-year quarterback has struggled to open up the season, especially with what he’s seeing downfield. He proceeded to explain why he thought he was playing that way and mentioned coaching as a potential factor. Of course, it caught many off-guard, and by the time he was able to meet with the media again (after practice), the flames had already been stoked.
If that wasn’t “fun” enough, rumors started to surface about (now) former defensive coordinator Alan Williams. While I won’t get into the specifics of the rumors, it was jarring, to say the least. Williams had been away with the team for over a week at that point, and head coach Matt Eberflus was not forthcoming with any sort of update. About an hour after the rumors surfaced, Williams submitted his resignation. To put it simply, this has been a weird situation with many unanswered questions.
On Thursday, multiple defensive players admitted that Eberflus had yet to address Williams’ situation with the team. A few hours later, reports started to surface that Eberflus did address the team. Between the headlines Fields’ comments created and the ongoing Williams situation, that was not a great way to head into Arrowhead to face the defending Super Bowl champions.
Here’s the thing. Eberflus can’t control Williams’ actions. He also can only control so much in Fields’ development. With that being said, this team has taken a considerable step back from last season, and the circus surrounding them does this entire organization no favors. Couple that with a 41-10 blowout loss and his team appearing to have given up on the field following this week, and the heat is only cranking up more with this nightmare start to the 2023 season.
2. At some point soon, you’d have to assume there’s going to be another shakeup on the coaching staff, right?
Sure, Williams resigned, and it appears that Eberflus will continue to call the defense, but what about the rest of this team? In my opinion, they have played like the worst team in the league through three weeks, and their point differential shows. Despite the Denver Broncos losing by a whopping 50 points on Sunday, the Bears still have the worst margin in the league. They’ve led a single time this season. Just think about that for a second.
Defensively, they are awful. They are one of two teams to give up 100-plus points through three games. They are a league-worst on third down, too. Offensively, their third-year quarterback has taken a sizable step back. Their offensive line remains a mess, and that prized acquisition—D.J. Moore— has not been a focal point of this struggling offense.
The Bears aren’t known as an organization that fires coaches mid-season, but you’d have to believe that offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s job is in question. The film reviews are bad enough, but when you have former players and knowledgeable analysts calling out the fundamentals of Getsy’s offensive concepts, it’s getting bad. Organizations never want to overreact and overcorrect early in a season, but a shakeup is needed. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a move made if things don’t improve soon.
3. Quarterback Justin Fields talked about playing with a “F-it” mentality, and Sunday’s performance was not one he’d like to repeat. We’re quickly closing in on the Bears having yet another starting quarterback for the 2024 season, and I’m not sure Fields should share much of the blame.
I’m not sure what I expected from the offense on Sunday, but what they produced was somehow the worst we’ve seen through three games in 2023. Fields finished the game 11-of-22 for 99 passing yards, a touchdown, and an interception. He did add 47 rushing yards but was sacked three times and hit hard many more. Simply put, this isn’t working.
The lack of designed runs is damning. The lack of confidence that the play calling is showing in their young quarterback is blinding.
All in all, it equates to something similar to what we saw with Nagy and Trubisky back in 2019 and 2020. Despite having 14 more games to get things “figured out,” it feels like we have 14 more games before this is “over.” That’s not a great feeling to have, and maybe I’m off in those feelings, but this is not trending in the right direction. Not even a hint of “good” so far and that’s troubling.
Assuming that this is trending toward another shakeup, I can’t help but feel like the Bears’ culpability in Fields’ failures is much bigger than Fields’ fault in this situation. His rookie year was not ideal. He came into a broken offense with a regime that was on the fringe of being fired. Then, he gets another new offensive system but without any hint of a supporting cast around him in Year 2. While I understand what general manager Ryan Poles was trying to do, the lasting damage to Fields’ development is evident. Despite the vast talent upgrades on the offensive depth chart, the offense is still a mess.
I do believe that some quarterbacks are meant to be great regardless of their situations. I’m also not trying to absolve Fields of any blame. But when you consider how bad of a situation he’s been in since being drafted, it’s not hard to see why this hasn’t worked out.
4. The injuries are mounting for a team that lacks quality depth—just another symptom of what has been a miserable start to the season.
Currently, the Bears have Teven Jenkins, Kyler Gordon, and Jones as starting players on Injured Reserve. Jackson missed Sunday’s game, as well. Tremaine Edmunds, Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, and fill-in nickel Josh Blackwell all left the game due to injury.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this is not a roster that can continue to lose starting-caliber players at the pace it has. Couple that with the vast amount of injuries they saw through training camp and the preseason, and it’s not a good sign in general. I’m not sure we are at a finger-pointing stage yet, but it’s a trend that goes back to most of last season. Either way, it’s hard to see how this is a remotely good sign for a young team that desperately needs development from their young core of players. If this continues, this could be yet another roadblock when trying to evaluate this roster at the end of the season.
5. At some point soon, general manager Ryan Poles is going to need to start answering for his roster building. Despite spending a ton of resources during the off-season, there don’t appear to be many cornerstone pieces on this roster.
Last year’s objective was clear, and there’s no reason to question that. Poles’ ability to tear down quickly and efficiently should be lauded. His ability to build this roster back up should be questioned though. If we just focus on his two drafts, this year’s free agency acquisitions, and how he has built this roster, it’s been a mixed bag.
First, let’s start with Poles’ roster construction. Despite being a former offensive lineman, his choices on the offensive line haven’t yielded positive results. As a whole, Darnell Wright has played well for a rookie. Jones was a good story as a rookie but in his first two games (prior to going on injured reserve), did not yield many improvements. The acquisition of Nate Davis deserves an incomplete so far. All in all, this group has been bad under Poles’ watch, though. He didn’t take many chances in free agency, and it has shown.
On the defensive line, things are a mess. He opted not to chase big-name options in free agency but was somehow willing to give Larry Ogunjobi over $13 million a year last off-season (before a failed physical). Justin Jones has been a non-factor, and the draft picks of Gervon Dexter Sr., Zacch Pickens, and Dominique Robinson have produced little results so far. Albeit, the first two have played in just three games. Andrew Billings has been his best find so far, and it’s not even close.
Despite all of the names added in the trenches, his biggest investments have come at receiver, linebacker, and defensive back. While I’m not knocking the focus of those positions, I can’t help but feel like he has built this roster backward. As of right now, how many “blue chip” players would you say the Bears have? I’d say maybe one in D.J. Moore. Maybe Wright can become one of those. The second question I would ask is, how many of these current players would you pencil in as starters on a playoff-caliber team? Again, you’re talking about a very small minority of players on this roster. The Bears lack talent, but most importantly, they lack top-end talent. So far, Poles has let more blue-chip talent leave than he has acquired. Considering his resources this off-season, that’s a problem.
By no means am I fully advocating for Poles leaving with Eberflus if things don’t improve, but George McCaskey and Kevin Warren better be damn-sure that he’s the guy to not only hire a brand new coaching staff but draft the right quarterback and fix the issues that continue to plague this team. If there are any questions about those core issues, he might not be the guy to proceed with into the next off-season (assuming things continue to trend in this direction).
6. When is it appropriate to start tracking the race for the No. 1 overall pick? Asking for a friend.
I’m having a hard time believing that we’re even at a point where this is an acceptable conversation to have. Yet, here we are. Three weeks into the season wondering if it’s time to dive into tank mode. Sure, this season could still turn around, but outside of relying on pure blind optimism, it’s hard to see how and when this thing would turn around for the Bears.
If anything, this should serve as a tough reminder that “winning the off-season” is only that. Once games start, a lot of things need to go right in order for a team to win regular season games. For the Bears, they are a few losses away from an entire calendar year of going winless. No matter how you cut it, things can still absolutely get worse. Let’s just hope this week doesn’t propel them into a never-ending tailspin.
7. Speaking of the No. 1 overall pick... If the Bears draft another quarterback in next year’s draft, they better have ALL of their eggs in a basket before they ruin another quarterback.
The history of quarterbacks for the Bears is a bleak one. Considering how long they’ve been a franchise, it’s not a good thing. Even if you want to stay in the modern era, their track record of quarterbacks can only be rivaled by the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.
This “new era” started with Jay Cutler. Despite acquiring a Pro Bowl quarterback with a sky-high ceiling, they surrounded him with a bad offensive line and zero offensive weapons. The trend continued (except through the Trestman era). Cutler’s two best statistical seasons in Chicago came when they spent resources to surround him with talent. Oh, and don’t forget about the glut of offensive coordinators they went through with him at quarterback.
Despite that cautionary tale, the Bears did little to help Trubisky in his rookie year. Then, they opted to change the coaching staff and try to build their franchise around him. The biggest issue? They made the wrong hire as head coach, and it destroyed his development. I’m not convinced Trubisky would have panned out regardless, but once again, they did him no favors.
We’ve already covered how much they’ve wrong Fields. We’ll have plenty of time to rehash that if things don’t work out by year’s end in Chicago. The signs are there. The track records of what not to do are clear. So, if the Bears end up drafting yet another quarterback in next year’s draft, they must end the cycle.
That means making sure they have a stable head coach and front office in place. If Eberflus isn’t the guy (I don’t think he will be if Fields is gone), make sure to hire a good offensive-minded head coach. They also need to make sure Poles is the guy they are comfortable giving a minimum of two to three years with a new head coach. Once that is figured out, what’s the plan for the offensive line and receiving options? All of those questions need to be answered before they even think about drafting another quarterback. The right blueprint is out there. Having a game-changing quarterback makes all the difference. But having the right situation in place to house that young quarterback is something the Bears have failed to get right far too often in recent memory. That needs to change.
8. The Bears will enter Monday night as one of only five winless teams.
The Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, and Cincinnati Bengals are the four other winless teams heading into Monday night. The Bengals could change their fortunes tonight, but as of now, the list of winless teams is short.
Of the five teams, the Bears, Broncos, and Panthers stand out as the “worst” of the group. The Bears will play both the Broncos and Panthers, as well as the Arizona Cardinals (who have surprised so far) this season. That could be a good thing or a bad thing for the Bears. All three of these games are winnable, but with the way Chicago has played, wins cannot be assumed nor expected. The list of winless teams will continue to shrink. Eberflus and Poles better hope that means a few wins are on the horizon for the Bears soon.
Despite being down 17-0 for the better part of three quarters, Jordan Love led the Packers back, and they beat the New Orleans Saints in Green Bay’s home opener. Although I’m still not sold Love is the answer, or that the Packers are any good, they are a very well-coached team with a young roster that has some untapped talent.
The Lions handled the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday by a score of 20-6. Detroit’s defense shut down Desmond Ridder and rookie running back Bijan Robinson, holding the Atlanta offense to 183 total yards, including just 44 yards on the ground.
The Minnesota Vikings fought hard but lost the battle of the 0-2’s against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Vikings’ defense continues to be an issue, as does Kirk Cousins’ turnover issue. Minnesota’s regression in one-score games has been extreme thus far.
All in all, this is not a strong division, and it would not shock me to see the Lions start to run away with this division over the next month. Green Bay is fighting hard but in all reality, should probably be 1-2 heading into a pivotal Week 4 matchup with the Lions on Thursday Night Football. I’d also bet on the Vikings beating out the Bears for third place in the end.
10. Week 4 look ahead: The (0-3) Denver Broncos who gave up 70 points on Sunday.
Miami’s 70 to 20 victory over the Broncos, I’m sure you heard about it. The Broncos, much like the Bears, have had a vastly disappointing start to the season. Before Week 3, Denver had imploded in the second half. On Sunday, they gave up 726 total yards to go with the 70-point Dolphin effort.
Russell Wilson is playing better, but overall, the Broncos continue to struggle in a similar way to the Bears. This will be a tough-to-watch meeting between two bad teams. Despite the 50-point loss, the Broncos will open up as 2.5-point road favorites. That should tell you everything you need to know about how the majority of the nation views the Bears through the first three games of the season. The Bears will play two games in 11 days, with a Thursday night affair upcoming in Week 5.