Chicago Bears find an identity, lost composure in tightly officiated contest

Bears lost

Fans of the Chicago Bears saw their favorite team lose more than a game on Monday Night Football; they lost their composure. Again. In what was shaping up to be a second-half coming out party for rookie quarterback Justin Fields, several penalties would ultimately do the Bears in as they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-27.

It’s their fourth straight loss and certainly not the way they wanted to head into their bye week; 3-6 with an equally daunting second-half schedule coming up.

Still, this wasn’t like most of their losses (for what little that is worth). They seemingly found out what to do with Fields, albeit in the second half. And the quarterback himself found his stride after being under siege for most of the night.

Justin Fields Rose to the Challenge but the Chicago Bears Still Lost to Steelers

Plans Change

Matt Nagy wanted Fields to redshirt this year but an injury to Andy Dalton in Week 2 sped things up a year. On Monday, they saw him take another step towards becoming the franchise quarterback many believe he can be. And he did it against one of the best defenses of a team that had won three straight coming in.

Fields finished the game with a career-high 291 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He added 45 yards on the ground.

Chicago had 91 yards as a team with 2:00 to go before halftime and finished with 414 total yards; 134 more than Pittsburgh. It wasn’t enough, though, as the defense — which had stiffened through most of the second half, gave up a 10-play, 52-yard drive.

That drive resulted in what was ultimately the game-winning field goal but came after Fields led a 10-play, 75-yard march of his own.

 

That’s quite the halftime adjustment

Fields found six different receivers on the night, including Cole Kmet who had a career night with six grabs for 87 yards. Allen Robinson might have finally gotten on the same page as well as he finished with 68 yards on four grabs. Darnell Mooney caught Fields’ touchdown and Marquise Goodwin caught a 50-yard bomb.

The moonshot was one of seven explosive plays in the game for the Bears. It’s been an area of weakness and, per Fields, one of emphasis. His development is the name of the game and has been for a few weeks. This was a big step to that end and an impressive one at that.

Not For Nothing

Availability is said to be the most important ability. Right behind that, however, should be adaptability. For years we’ve seen this team struggle to adjust to what opponents were doing against them. This has been the case for both the offense and the defense under Nagy and has often been the root cause of their frustrations with the regime.

There were even reports that the team had already begun a preliminary search for his successor. 

Following this loss, many feel they are one step closer to Nagy’s exit. However, while not beyond the realm of possibility, two things happened that make that less likely than it was going into the contest.

First was the play by Fields. We can lament the fact that it has taken until the second half of each of the last two games to see the offense come alive, thanks in large part to doing the things many have wanted to see as they have struggled. This has included moving the pocket, play-action, and designed runs.

Second, the Bears did not get embarrassed in this game.

 

Facing a storied franchise with a couple of Hall of Famers leading it, they could have easily folded. Fields interception came on the Bears third possession after a pair of punts and led to a quick 14-0 deficit. 

Chicago had a touchdown taken off of the board by a questionable blocking call on James Daniels and saw a Pittsburgh drive get extended on a taunting call.

The latter was also questionable but the league has been strict about the new rules.

It was the personal fouls and, really, the offsides calls that were inexcusable. 11-year-veteran Robert Quinn and second-year man Trevis Gipson each lined up in the neutral zone on consecutive plays of the game-winning drive. The latter had his infraction was waved off due to the play going for 22 yards.

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Weighted Measure

So which will ownership view as the bigger takeaway? The evidence is mounting that Fields is growing. How much of that is because of Nagy and the staff as opposed to the talent of the quarterback? The discipline issues haven’t gone away despite several players being shown the door.

Nagy is walking the finest of lines by all accounts. But he would appear to be getting the better part of the equation right now, even if the process could be much further along.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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