Somehow It Keeps Getting Worse

| October 2nd, 2023

According to ESPN Analytics, the Chicago Bears had a 98.1% chance of winning Sunday afternoon’s game with 4:11 remaining in the 4th quarter. Despite these odds, Chicago bravely managed to wrestle defeat from the jaws of victory and ruin a record-setting day for their Quarterback.

After finally cracking 300 yards passing for the first time in his career, after throwing 4 touchdowns in the first 3 quarters, and just before he watched all of that effort turn to ruin before his eyes, Fields and the offense finished out their a banner day with a crippling 4-drive sequence that, when combined with Head Coach Matt Eberflus’ defense, ultimately doomed the team:

  • 3 & out, Punt
  • Fumble returned for defensive Touchdown
  • Turnover on Downs (following 7 straight rushing plays)
  • Interception

In the span of just 20 football minutes, the Broncos turned two touchdown drives & a single deep pass to Marvin Mims into a 24-point rally that brought them back from a 7-28 deficit. Soldier Field & the Chicago Bears were stunned.

Reportedly, Chicago’s young signal caller did not take this well. How could he?

Is this rock bottom? With the Bears’ current losing streak now extended to 14 games, it’s getting hard to tell. But with the Commanders on the horizon of a short week, there’s no time to mourn what might have been — Justin Fields, DJ Moore, and the rest of the offense will be needed against a Commanders team that’s consistently scoring points. And if there’s any hope of turning the season around, it’ll have to be on Thursday Night.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:

  • Justin Fields played his best game as a pro so far. He played within structure, delivered accurate balls all over the field, and seemed to play on time both from the pocket & while booting out. His athleticism & arm shined throughout the day — this was the offense we expected to see coming into the 2023 season, and it was awfully fun to watch.
  • D.J. Moore is a stud. Moore was constantly open & made tough grabs when needed, including a throw on the first play of the game that… well, I won’t tell the league if you won’t. #2 is quickly becoming one of my favorite players to watch on the roster, seamlessly swapping from ‘receiver’ to ‘high-danger ball-carrier’ after receptions, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
  • The Offensive Line seemed solid enough? Justin Fields had a 3.25s Time to Throw and the RBs rushed well, so I assume that at the very least the right side of the OL (Nate Davis, Darnell Wright) must’ve been cooking. I won’t swear by Borom, Whitehair, or Patrick, but every time I noticed those two on the right they seemed to have their business handled. We like that.
  • Luke Getsy deserves a nod. I don’t know why it took 4 weeks to dust off the rushing diversity that made the 2022 offense so electric, but it was a joy watching the Bears weaponize toss running, sweeps, and their traditional Inside Zone attack within the same game. Khalil Herbert ran like a man possessed while Fields operated with ideal efficiency — all in all, the fruits of a quality gameplan were present up and down the offensive roster.
  • Terell Smith is going to get my only defensive hat tip, primarily because of the nice breakup he had on the Broncos’ late field goal drive. He seemed feisty and was in on more plays than I expected of a rookie pressed into emergency action — hopefully he continues to grow.

The Bad:

  • Linebacker play, more specifically Tremaine Edmunds’ linebacker play. Due to a lack of power on the Bears’ defensive line, Tremaine Edmunds has been called upon to fly downhill in run support and attack the ball-carrier — trouble is, there’s nothing the Bears’ 18-million-dollar man is worse at doing than that. He got mauled today.
  • 3rd & Long has been an unkind down to Chicago this year, but as the Broncos drove late to bring the game within a single score the Bears forced three straight 3rd & longs and the Broncos converted all three en route to a massive touchdown. If the Bears want any hope at winning games this year, this cannot continue.
    • The most worrying thing about the Bears’ 3rd down defense has been how consistent it’s poor results have been — Jordan Love, Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes, and now Russell Wilson have all seemed to cut through the Bears’ long-down defense like butter. Will Sam Howell break the trend?
  • Every Defensive Lineman not named Andrew Billings is so, so frustrating to watch on pass-rush downs. Justin Jones, what exactly do you do here?

The Ugly:

  • Non-stop finger pointing has plagued this org since Week 1’s final whistle, but boy howdy did the situation surrounding Chase Claypool kick the noise up a notch. Somehow, Ian Rappaport reported early that Chase Claypool would be inactive in a clear attempt at holding the mouthy WR accountable, but when asked about Claypool’s absence after the game Matt Eberflus couldn’t keep his story straight on when & how they’d handled Claypool’s inactivity.
    • Whether Claypool was told to stay home or not doesn’t matter, but the clear inconsistency in the org’s messaging on the subject further reveal problems within Eberflus’ leadership.
    • Also, Head Coaches around the league deal with getting the best play possible out of troublesome personalities all the time (notably Mike Tomlin with Antonio Brown, Sean McDermott with Stefon Diggs, and Nick Sirianni with Jalen Carter) so Chicago’s Claypool debacle serves as an indictment on Eberflus’ ability to create the culture he preaches about.
  • The 4th Quarter turnovers. Brutal.
    • I have no idea who’s to blame for Fields’ fumble. I would’ve expected the offense to check out of a look that exposed Fields to a free rusher, which is exactly what the Broncos were lined up in, but because we’re not in the coaching room we’ll never know. Still, when you’re 10 yards deep in your backfield you simply can’t fumble the ball — a standard sack would’ve been much, much preferred.
    • My gut says the INT is on Fields as well, but that’s because I believe QBs have to wear their INTs as part of playing the position — Fields and Kmet seemed to miscommunicate on where the ball needed to be placed, and thus a throw with anticipation quickly became an off-target ball thrown straight to a defender. I’m sure it was a miscommunication, but what a ratty time to miscommunicate with a player you’ve now spent more than 2 years throwing the ball to. Tough way to end the game.
  • No rest for the wicked.
    • This team needed a few days to collect themselves, if even just a standard Sunday-to-Sunday week, but instead they’ll face a hungry Commanders team fresh off an overtime loss to the Super Bowl runners-up in Washington this Thursday. The Bears will need to lick their wounds in a hurry — they’ll be on Prime Vision before they know it.

Postgame Podcast:

Nick and I recorded a podcast where we talked through the ups, the downs, the ins, and the outs of the Bears’ loss & what it means for their future here:

Your Turn: How are you feeling after yesterday’s loss?

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