Another week, one other evaluate of what may need been if the Chicago Bears might simply end video games.
The newest failure got here when the Detroit Lions scored 17 unanswered factors within the fourth quarter Sunday at Ford Field to drag off a 31-26 victory. It was the Bears’ eighth loss in 11 video games this season and their ninth NFC North loss in as many video games in coach Matt Eberflus’ two seasons.
As the Bears search for solutions with two extra divisional matchups arising, Tribune writers Dan Wiederer and Colleen Kane kind via all of it in a spirited “true or false” dialog.
True or false? The Bears’ 31-26 loss to the Lions was about as unhealthy a defeat as a crew might undergo.
Wiederer: False. The “Brutal Losses” file at Halas Hall shouldn’t be solely packed, it doesn’t ever collect a lot mud. So the analysis isn’t troublesome. Sunday’s late collapse was painful and dispiriting for sure, however this crew has had considerably worse shows to lament.
What about final season’s journey to Ford Field, for instance, a 41-10 embarrassment by the Lions that illuminated a crew with little expertise and even much less perception? Or what about Week 1 this season because the Bears greeted the rival Green Bay Packers with a flat and sloppy effort in an agonizing 38-20 house loss.
Two weeks later, the uncompetitive stink bomb the Bears dropped in Kansas City was troublesome to look at. And blowing a 21-point second-half result in the Denver Broncos in Week 4 most likely stung worse than Sunday’s unraveling within the closing 5 minutes.
At least this time the Bears confirmed some competence and competitiveness. The offense discovered its groove on the opening drive and did a pleasant job controlling the sport for a lot of the afternoon. The protection offered three interceptions. For 55 minutes, the Bears appeared like an bettering group able to hanging with one of many league’s finest groups.
And then they fell aside. But, hey, not less than they didn’t lose when a game-winning field-goal try hit the upright after which the crossbar, proper?
Kane: Yikes, there are too many unhealthy losses to select from. (But did you actually must convey up the double doink?) You’re proper, not less than the Bears had been entertaining via 3 1/2 quarters. A protection that has been brief on takeaways this season lastly got here up with performs. Quarterback Justin Fields made a robust return from his thumb harm. Special groups made an impression too.
So in that approach, it was actually higher than the loss to the Chiefs. But I’ll agree with tight finish Cole Kmet that the Bears are previous ethical victories at this level.
I’ll be curious to see how the Bears gamers reply to this one as a result of they appeared fairly surprised — and a few appeared on edge — within the locker room after the sport. The losses in so many ranging fashions might take a toll, and I’m wondering how coach Matt Eberflus can hold his gamers targeted over the ultimate six video games.
Perhaps having Fields again will proceed to supply a lift. Maybe a smooth remaining schedule will assist too. The Bears want one thing to cease them from including to that overstuffed file.
True or false? Justin Fields acquired off to a great begin as he tries to show himself to the Bears over the ultimate seven video games.
Kane: True. Fields did lots of good issues on his option to throwing for 169 yards with a landing and no interceptions and speeding for 104 yards. The passing numbers weren’t the flashiest, however Fields made some massive throws from the pocket and likewise discovered targets on the transfer.
His 39-yard landing go to DJ Moore after climbing the pocket fell completely into Moore’s fingers because the huge receiver ran via the top zone. Moore stated it was just like the play on which Fields overthrew him earlier within the recreation, and Fields made the fitting adjustment. His second-longest throw, a 24-yard dime to Darnell Mooney, got here as Fields moved left whereas pressured by two Lions defenders. There had been lots of these moments.
The loss added to the Bears’ fourth-quarter woes, however this failure to complete didn’t fall a lot on Fields. He made the fitting choice throwing deep to Tyler Scott on third-and-9 with 2 minutes, 51 seconds to play. Scott misjudged the ball and couldn’t reel it in for what may need been a game-sealing catch.
The Bears have used the phrase “consistency” when speaking about Fields. If he can construct on this efficiency over the following six video games, he’ll make the choice concerning their quarterback future way more attention-grabbing.
Wiederer: Yep. You hit it on the top. Positive step, even in a loss. Now it must be backed up with consistency subsequent week in opposition to the Minnesota Vikings. And in Week 14 in opposition to the Lions. And so on and so forth via the end line of the season.
I used to be totally impressed with how Fields performed. Of the 33 passing performs dialed up for him, I marked solely three as “iffy/ugly.” One was that missed submit shot to Moore within the first half that you simply talked about. Fields additionally was approach off the mark on an end-zone throw to Robert Tonyan within the first quarter, and a throw to Moore contained in the purple zone within the second quarter was a tad late close to the left sideline and practically intercepted.
But there was a lot to like in Sunday’s efficiency, together with the infectious vitality Fields performed with. His pocket consciousness and poise had been terrific for many of the afternoon. He made a number of good throws together with his eyes up whereas on the transfer. He made good selections within the read-option recreation and ran the ball with goal, most notably on that 29-yard scramble and dance present he placed on in the course of the Bears’ closing field-goal drive.
Those who weren’t inspired by Fields’ play are simply being troublesome. But these calling for a sequence of sturdy performances down the stretch are on level.
True or false? Jaylon Johnson’s bid to receives a commission top-of-the-market cash in his second contract took a major hit.
Wiederer: True. Mistakes occur. Missed alternatives are a part of soccer. But Johnson had approach too many missteps, beginning with a 34-yard pass-interference penalty in opposition to Josh Reynolds within the first half.
Johnson took exception to the suggestion he dropped a possible pick-six within the second quarter when he undercut a Jared Goff go to Amon-Ra St. Brown close to the purpose line however didn’t safe it.
“It didn’t go through my hands. It touched one of my hands,” Johnson stated. “I couldn’t get both of them on it. I probably could have taken a better angle.”
Still, “it’s a play I have to make,” Johnson acknowledged.
Even worse was the fourth-quarter present Johnson bungled on a wild pitch by Goff in Lions territory that sailed proper to him with the Bears needing so as to add to their 23-14 lead. That go hit a diving Johnson within the shoulder pad earlier than spilling to the turf. That’s a play the NFL’s elite game-changers make, a possible win-sealing alternative that was missed.
Kane: Johnson’s physique of labor as an entire shall be evaluated because the Bears or one other crew considers how a lot to pay him, and there was loads of good, constant play over 4 seasons. So I don’t know if I’d classify it as a “significant hit.” But you’re proper that elite gamers can’t have such missteps.
Making both of these interceptions would have helped Johnson’s quest to get a much bigger contract. He nonetheless has solely three interceptions for his profession, two in the identical recreation in opposition to the Las Vegas Raiders in October. And as you identified, he is aware of he must seize alternatives for game-changing performs.
“Not easy catches,” he stated. “But I’m a player that can make those plays and I’ve got to do it.”
True or false? The coaches’ efficiency performed a task within the Bears’ collapse.
Kane: True. You must dissect all the things once you soften down just like the Bears did within the fourth quarter, when the Lions stormed again from 12 factors down within the closing 4:15. That contains teaching selections, play calling and having gamers ready to complete video games.
Plenty of selections appear worthy of examination. On offense, Eberflus’ option to have Cairo Santos kick a area purpose early within the fourth quarter to place the Bears up 23-14 moderately than go for it on fourth-and-1. The three run performs that totaled 5 yards and led to Santos’ closing area purpose moderately than a landing with 4:15 to play.
And then the three performs on the Bears’ second-to-last drive: two Khalil Herbert carries — one a learn choice — and the unfinished deep shot to Scott. Not all of these calls essentially had been improper, however the outcomes performed an element within the loss.
And then there’s the protection, which wilted as Goff simply led two landing drives to win it. There had been some apparent participant errors, however it’s honest to ask what Eberflus and his coaches can do higher to stop such collapses from occurring. And as a result of it’s not an remoted prevalence over the past two seasons, it’s honest to ask what it means for the coaches’ future.
Wiederer: Since the day Eberflus arrived, he has emphasised situational consciousness and situational follow. Yet 28 video games into his tenure, the Bears nonetheless are lamenting their incapability to complete video games correctly.
You’re proper, Sunday was not an remoted incident and never even the primary time this group blew a double-digit lead within the fourth quarter this season. It’s troublesome to look at a crew just like the Lions overcome an erratic efficiency and salvage their day with the right ending focus and never surprise why the Bears are so erratic in game-on-the-line conditions.
Heck, mediocre groups everywhere in the NFL are discovering methods to win whereas the Bears proceed to stumble. Sunday’s loss dropped the Bears to 2-11 in one-score video games beneath Eberflus. That qualifies as a pattern. And it undoubtedly registers as problematic.
Given the sport circulation and the way in which the protection was enjoying, I didn’t hate the choice to bypass a fourth-and-1 try for the Santos kick that put the Bears up two scores early within the fourth quarter. But that needs to be backed up by profitable contributions within the clutch from the crew’s game-changers. Instead, the Bears had been outscored 17-0 within the closing 4:15, a complete crew breakdown for which the top coach should be accountable.
Eberflus is 6-22 as Bears coach, 0-9 within the NFC North, and has but to win consecutive video games. The Bears went 1-5 in opposition to playoff groups in 2022 and are 0-4 this season in opposition to groups at the moment contained in the playoff image. They’re simply not adequate. And in some unspecified time in the future, “not good enough” should register as “not good enough.”