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Notes: Bears fall flat on their face at Lambeau

The Bears lost in their regular-season finale, dropping yet another game to the Packers.

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

A tale as old as time: the Chicago Bears lose to the Green Bay Packers.

Sunday’s game marked the 10th-straight time Chicago has lost to their rival up north, as the Bears fell 17-9 in what was an opportunity to play spoiler for Green Bay’s playoff hopes, as well as a chance to win their fifth game in the last 6 weeks. Instead, they reverted back to their previous losing ways, ending their 2023-24 regular season on a sour note.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the loss.

Offense

The Bears were utterly dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but that proved especially true on offense.

Justin Fields was sacked 5 times on Sunday, as there was consistent pressure coming from the Packers off the edge and along the interior. The run blocking wasn’t much better, as Khalil Herbert averaged just 2.3 yards per carry. There was little progress in the ground game, which isn’t surprising considering the offensive line’s performance in pass protection.

Chicago’s lack of a true WR2 hurt them against Green Bay, as outside of DJ Moore — who had a solid 4 catches for 64 yards — only two passes were completed to wide receivers. Equanimeous St. Brown and Tyler Scott each had one reception, while Cole Kmet was the only Bear other than Moore to have more than 20 receiving yards all evening. It was more so an issue of Fields not getting the ball out quick enough, whether it be the offensive line not giving him enough time or him not processing to find the open man in time.

It’s difficult to evaluate Fields for his performance, given the lack of opportunity around him. At the end of the day, the story was a lot of the same: the flashes were there, but the consistency was not. He showed some good pocket maneuverability, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the offensive line’s struggles. He had some good throws — his throw on the move to DJ Moore and his near-touchdown to Robert Tonyan, in particular. It wasn’t his worst performance, and while he was certainly capable, it wasn’t in that “game-changer” type of mold he displayed most of last year.

Ultimately, a lot of the Bears’ offensive struggles come down to the poor planning of Luke Getsy. The offensive coordinator saw his offensive line was struggling, and he knew he was down starters at both center and right guard. He did nothing, however. It seemed like a foregone conclusion to move the pocket, thus amplifying Fields’ athleticism and masking the line’s weaknesses in a one-on-one vacuum, but that simply didn’t happen.

No matter your thoughts about what the Bears should do at quarterback or at head coach, it seems abundantly clear there needs to be a change in offensive play-caller in 2024.

Defense

You could look at the Bears’ performance on defense in two different ways: they didn’t force the Packers to punt once, but they also allowed just 17 points.

The speed of the game clock saw lengthy offensive drives for both teams, which speaks more to the offensive gameplan of each team than anything. Of the Packers’ 5 offensive drives that weren’t cut off by the end of the half, three of them resulted in points for Green Bay. One drive resulted in a missed field goal by Anders Carlson, but the Packers were able to march 52 yards down the field.

Jordan Love was able to consistently hit his targets, and the Bears’ secondary struggled a bit with the absence of Pro Bowler Jaylon Johnson. Tyrique Stevenson had some ups and downs, as he got burnt a few times but also forced a fumble and broke up a would-be touchdown in the end zone. Terell Smith had some rookie moments in the last game of his rookie year, though he also nearly came down with an interception of his own.

Chicago struggled with putting pressure on Love, as DeMarcus Walker’s sack was the only time the Bears even hit the quarterback. Clean pockets and inconsistencies in zone coverage communication helped the Packers slowly but surely move the ball down the field.

The best Bears’ best performers were linebackers T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds, who had 10 and 9 tackles, respectively. Both showcased plenty of effort cleaning up at the second level, particularly against the run.

It wasn’t the sexiest game for the Bears’ defense, nor was it for the Packers’ offense. That said, Chicago folded on 7 of Green Bay’s 10 third-down plays, and their inability to get the defense off the field hurt them in the end. It was far from the caliber of play the unit had shown in recent weeks.

Three and out

3. Just two weeks ago, the Panthers were able to put 30 points up against Joe Barry’s Packers defense.

Barry established himself as a running joke within Green Bay’s fanbase, and he has done very little to impose fear into the hearts of opposing offenses. Luke Getsy’s Bears offense only scored 9 points against him. If that’s not an indictment on him, I’m not sure what is.

2. Jaylon Johnson and his agent should show Ryan Poles this game in contract negotiations and ask for a blank check.

The disconnect between the young cornerbacks and the safeties was apparent, and there were several instances of the Packers’ receivers — also young players — besting Chicago’s secondary to create considerable separation. Love completed 84.4% of his passes and threw for over 300 yards. That’s damning, and it speaks to the value that Johnson brings to the defense.

1. I’m writing this on Sunday night. By the time this gets published, the Bears’ decision at head coach might be made public. Time will tell what happens, but I feel like this kind of performance against their biggest rival has to leave a sour taste in Ryan Poles’ mouth.