The Chicago Bears suffered another frustrating defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, which dropped Chicago to 3-3 on the season and halted the momentum they’d gained after back-to-back wins.
There was plenty of good — early pressure on Aaron Rodgers and Khalil Herbert’s breakout — and bad — defense’s struggles against Green Bay’s run game and the offense’s overall execution — in the loss.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what we saw during the game and how we graded the Bears in this loss.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
The Bears offense remains the biggest concern with this team. Scoring 14 points just isn’t going to cut it, especially against an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team. The good news is that rookie running back Khalil Herbert looks like he’s another late-round steal for GM Ryan Pace. In his first NFL start, Herbert had 19 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown — and he had another touchdown called back on a questionable holding call. Herbert showcased his vision and power with some nice runs, and the run game appears in good hands while David Montgomery recovers from a knee sprain.
While there are some that are quick to pin the offense’s struggles solely on Justin Fields, Fields had his good moments and bad moments — and that’s to be expected with a rookie quarterback. Fields had some impressive moments, including taking advantage of what everyone believed to be a free play by going deep or flashing his command of the offense on Chicago’s 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that cut the deficit to 17-14. But he also had his rookie moments, which included missing some open reads, holding onto the ball too long and fumbling the ball on a scramble. But it was nothing to be concerned about as far as the big picture is concerned.
While the Bears’ run game has thrived, their passing attack has been brutally bad — as in, dead last in the NFL bad. The receivers continued to have mediocre days, including Allen Robinson (53 yards) and Darnell Mooney (45 yards, touchdown). But tight end Cole Kmet had his best game of the season with four receptions for 49 yards, a career high. Still, until the offense can find a way to score more points and consistently move the football, these games are going to happen against good teams.
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The Bears defense played fine against the Packers. In fact, you could argue their performance would’ve been enough to beat Green Bay had Chicago’s offense been able to do their part. The Bears defense held the Packers offense to 24 points, 169 net passing yards and 154 rushing yards, which is encouraging considering last year’s matchups. Chicago set the tone early with pressure on Aaron Rodgers, which included three sacks on the afternoon by Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn and Akiem Hicks. But, as always, Rodgers managed to get the best of the Bears.
Rodgers didn’t have one of his big games against Chicago, but he still did enough to best the Bears. Surprisingly, it was the Packers run game that proved to be most explosive gaining 154 yards against one of the better run defenses in Chicago. While the Bears defense had done a better job of taking the football away this season, they failed to notch any takeaways in a game where Chicago could’ve used a momentum swing.
Special Teams: B+
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Special teams remains the most consistent unit for the Bears, even though they didn’t play as significant a role on Sunday. Kicker Cairo Santos, who had two clutch field goals a week ago against the Raiders, was limited to just two extra points. Given the offense’s struggles, punter Pat O’Donnell was called on a few times. O’Donnell had four punts for 161 yards for a 40.3 average. Returner Jakeem Grant continued to show his willingness to make plays on special teams, where he had just two punt returns for 11 yards and three kickoffs returned for 83 yards.
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Overall, the gameplan for Sunday’s game against the Packers appeared solid — establish a balanced attack, capitalize in red zone, bring pressure on defense and force Rodgers into mistakes — but the execution was an issue. But the offense’ ineptness is nothing new, and it all goes back to Matt Nagy. While Nagy isn’t the one calling plays, he remains responsible for the offense — it’s his scheme. And scoring 14 points is not going to be enough to win — especially when you’re playing Rodgers. This was the 27th time the Bears have scored 20 or fewer points in Nagy’s 56 games as head coach (postseason included). Nagy has been defined by his offense’s failures over the last four years, where it’s gotten worse with each passing year. And with some talent on the roster, it comes back to Nagy.
While Rodgers was inevitable and eventually wore down the Bears defense, defensive coordinator Sean Desai remains a bright spot. He put his guys in a position to succeed against the Packers, and they did for the first half of the game. They brought pressure on Rodgers, sacking him three times, and came up with some big stops to get the offense the ball back. But there were some execution errors, including missed tackles and allowing the Packers to run the ball all over them.