By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
In the NFL, you’re often only as good as the effort you show in a given week. After their most recent effort, the Chicago Bears aren’t looking very good at all.
The Bears fell to the Oakland Raiders in London by a final score of 24-21 Sunday evening (in the United Kingdom) to yet again show how different each week can be for an NFL team.
Just a week ago, the Bears looked like a galvanized team, and worthy of placement in any given power rankings, after rallying past multiple injuries in route to a huge division win against Minnesota. Not much of that grit and determination showed in the trip to London.
Once again the Bears dealt with injuries throughout their game, but this time the no magic came from Chicago’s performance. Look at quarterback Chase Daniel who played a pretty solid game last week against the Vikings only to comeback this week and play pretty pedestrian.
Edge rusher Khalil Mack wanted to show up and show out against his former team but his play and the rest of the defense wasn’t good enough to shut down the Raiders. Throughout the game, aside from the third quarter, looked not quite right from the Bears. Perhaps the travel played a factor or simply an off day but the sharpness that the Bears can show, rarely showed up on Sunday.
Reminiscent of the Dolphins loss or Giants loss last year, has everyone hoping this won’t be a game we look back on as a missed opportunity. Now the Bears head into the bye week at 3-2, essentially tied for third in the NFC North with a lot of work to do after their week off. Here are some deeper observations from Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Raiders.
Defense Takes the Day Off
Coming into the game, the match-up that would likely determine the winner or loser was the Bears defense against the Raiders offense. It went back and forth but overall the Raiders offense made more plays than the Bears defense.
An ugly first half from the Bears defense made it feel like the game was over before a big third quarter comeback. But in the first half, penalties, injuries and just bad play lead to a 17-0 deficit. Unlike last week, the pass rush was pretty non existent which made sense since the Raiders utilized the quick passing game.
Rarely do you see the big zero next to the sack total for the defense. But maybe the even more shocking part of the defense’s performance was how badly the Bears run defense was, giving up a 169 yards on 39 carries. A staple to this defense is its ability to shut down the run and had they done so then the game would have played out much differently.
When a team establishes the run they can control the clock and take pressure off of the passing game which is exactly what the Raiders did. If not for the couple of takeaways by the Bears then this game could have gotten ugly. Hopefully the defense just had a one off and they will get back to their dominate ways after the bye week.
What in the world is going on with the Bears run game? Shockingly, this run game just hasn’t found a way to become a reliable part of the offense. Last season the problem seemed to be the running backs that were on the roster. No excuses this year since the running back room has been redone. The blocking has been inconsistent and very few effective runs are being produced.
Even with the halftime deficit of 17-0, that shouldn’t have been a big enough lead to stop the Bears from running the ball. Yet, the Bears only managed 17 carries for the entire game for 42 yards. These numbers are a real concern and has hit a new critical problem level. Patrick Mahomes isn’t playing quarterback for the Bears, the team doesn’t have a quarterback that can throw the ball around the yard constantly to make big plays. This offense has to have a certain amount of balance and contributions from both the run and the pass game.
All these issues fall to the feet of head coach Matt Nagy, he has to be the one to get the ship righted by committing to the run and figuring out schematically what can get them rolling. Efficiency and effectiveness have to be buzz words for the Bears offense. So that doesn’t mean do everything to get the quarterback going, it means being a balanced offense with an identity that is conducive to winning football based on the roster at hand.
If the offense can’t figure out some critical things about itself during the bye week, then the next few games after the bye could be a real disappointment.
Chase Is Not the Answer
A lot of Bears fans felt the need to vocalize their feelings of love for Daniel after the way he looked against the Vikings. Many loved the way he looked like a composed quarterback that knew where to go with the football.
Sure quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been very disappointing but the idea that Daniel gives the Bears a better chance to win is simply farfetched. And just like a year ago, Daniel showed fans why his value is as a backup and not as a permanent starter. The Bears may have to turn to Daniel again when they play the Saints after the bye but no doubt the Bears need Trubisky back as soon as possible.
Say what you will about Trubisky but the awful game ending interception from Daniel as well as his overall up and down play showed that he isn’t going to give the Bears better quarterback play. His stat line wasn’t terrible but also just average at best, 22 of 30 for 231 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for a rating of 89.7.
It wasn’t all bad but can any Bears fan say it was much different than what Trubisky provides? Because the arm talent and leg talent give Trubisky a chance to be something. Both quarterbacks for the Bears haven’t been good enough for the team to be a true Super Bowl contender. Definitely another area where the Bears have to figure some things out during their bye.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR