For the 3rd time this season, the Chicago Bears held a 10+ point lead in the 4th quarter. For the 3rd time this season, they surrendered their lead and ultimately lost in regulation, with a final offensive rally falling flat.
Just like the Denver & Detroit games that predated their trip to Cleveland, ESPN’s analytics gave Chicago a 90+% of winning this game just as the 3rd quarter ended. But, just like those games, the Bears found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
These three games plainly hammer home the most frustrating part of the Bears’ 2023 season — the 5-9 Bears, currently the 5th-worst team in the NFL via draft order, are not a talentless bunch. They don’t lack playmakers, they don’t struggle to compete with the team across from them. If football games ended after the 3rd quarter, Chicago would be 8-6-1.
But, of course, that’s not how football works. NFL games are won & lost in the 4th quarter, and it tells you everything you need to know that the 2023 Chicago Bears have yet to win a game that weren’t already winning when they entered the 4th quarter. Combine that with yesterday’s NFL season record-tying third blown 10+ point lead in the 4th quarter, and you start to see a worrying trend — this roster has the talent to earn leads in this league, but it’s coaching staff can’t seem to close.
It’s never as simple as ‘just blaming the coaches’ — Robert Tonyan & Darnell Mooney dropped game-changing passes, TJ Edwards and Jaylon Johnson had opportunities to end the Browns’ early touchdown drive early via interceptions that got dropped, and Trent Taylor muffed two punts, with only one of those muffs coming back to bite him. The players need to execute, and everyone (including the quarterback) needs to own these rough results.
But fool me once against the Broncos, shame on you. Fool me twice in Detroit, shame on me. Fool me a third time in Cleveland, and I think it’s simple — with three strikes against him, Matt Ebeflus is likely out.
What that would mean for Justin Fields remains to be seen, but with Carolina’s pick looming large and Fields entering the 4th year of his rookie contract, I’d imagine the odds of him staying in Chicago under a new head coach are slim. If he wants to stay, he’ll have to prove it over these next 3 games.
Your Turn: How do you feel about yesterday’s game?