The Chicago Bears are now 3-5 following another loss, this time to the San Francisco 49ers, and have clearly been doing it all wrong spending so much money on their defense. That much was proven today as their once-vaunted and still very expensive defense entered the game wounded. They would leave with their tails between their legs after another late-game meltdown.
Justin Fields was shutting down a lot of the narratives that had surrounded him.
But the other pieces to the puzzle just don’t seem to fit. Almost as if they are parts of another puzzle altogether.
A 13-9 lead at halftime turned into an 11-points loss as the Bears fell 33-22. This was largely on the strength of 18 fourth-quarter points from the 49ers while the Bears could muster just nine points total after the break.
The Chicago Bears Have Spent Unwisely on Defense for Too Long
We knew entering the game without Khalil Mack was going to mean the pass-rush would take a hit. But the Bears couldn’t even knock 49ers quarterback and Arlington Heights, IL native, Jimmy Garoppolo down let alone keep him out of the end zone. And not via pass either, as Garoppolo passed for 300 yards but did not throw for a touchdown.
He did, however, run for two backbreakers that came on the heels of a couple of big plays that defined the afternoon.
There was also a soul-crushing run by Elijah Mitchell that saw him get stopped short if not for a loss only to be allowed to continue until he took the pile into the end zone. On the day, Mitchell ran for 137 yards on 18 carries.
75 of those yards came in the fourth quarter as San Francisco scored on seven consecutive drives. Only kneeling at the end of the game could stop them. That was never more evident than on a tunnel screen to Deebo Samuel that wound up going for 83 yards. Samuel stepping out of bounds at the one is the only thing that saved a score on that one.
They lost Eddie Jackson early on in this game as well but they were doomed without Mack.
In a league built around offense, the only players that should have that kind of impact are quarterbacks.
The Bears are 21st in percentage of cap dollars allocated to the offense and 25th in raw dollars. They are one of the youngest offenses, for what it’s worth. It’s worth noting that many of the top offenses are higher in cap allocation due to quarterbacks on big contracts, a place the Bears hope Fields can get to.
Conversely, they are third in percentage of the cap spent and fourth in raw dollars on the league’s ninth-oldest defense.
Some may want to argue they are trying to rectify that with draft capital spent on Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom. The latter looked good at right tackle on Sunday. But that is just the point. Why did it take two coaches and a handful of starting quarterbacks to address common football knowledge?
You win in the trenches.
For years the Bears paid Charles Leno a middling salary that was above his paygrade. They let him go without much of an insurance plan in favor of a rookie with back issues. There are far too many occurrences such as this.
Robert Quinn has looked good this season. But the Bears hamstrung themselves giving him such a big deal for a wasted year.
Signing aging defensive veterans that had inconsistent resumes didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.
It may have since been deemed “ok” because what’s done is done. But that doesn’t mean it will ever qualify as a “good” deal. It looked even worse as he was stalemated against San Francisco left tackle Trent Williams, whom the Bears pursued when he was available from Washington an offseason ago.
And, full disclosure, with all of the cap dollars spent on Mack and how little the Bears have put around him, was that even a good deal? An argument can be made they won the trade but lost the war.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 31, 2021
Day Not Wasted
This week several talking heads poked fun at Fields saying he felt the offense was close to a breakout. Well, the Bears mustered 324 yards on the ninth-ranked defense and 22 points on the unit that held the Arizona Cardinals to just 10 points a couple of weeks ago. Fields himself looked as comfortable as he ever has in a Bears uniform.
The rookie completed 19-of-27 passes for 175 yards and threw his third touchdown pass of the season.
He was also the Bears leading rusher with 103 yards on 10 carries that included the spectacular touchdown run of 22 yards seen above where he eluded the entire 49ers defense on his way to the end zone.
It was just what the doctor ordered coming off of another beating at the hands of a superior opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. But the offense seemed to move with a different sort of purpose this week compared to last. The big difference, of course, is the absence of Matt Nagy on the sideline. The head coach remains in COVID protocols.
After the game, special teams coordinator and fill-in head coach Chris Tabor abstained from acknowledging whether or not there were more designed runs for Fields this week.
Whatever the case, even when the Bears seemed to find something with Fields. Their ineptitude with the rest of the roster overshadowed what should have been a big win for the rookie. Instead, questions over the job security of the current regime can (and should) persist. This team is firmly in seller’s territory with the trade deadline on Tuesday.
If Cairo Santos doesn’t miss that point after attempt, and Cole Kmet catches that pass in the end zone, maybe we are having a different conversation. But as it stands, planning for the future should begin this week.
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