Week 2 of the regular season was much sloppier for the Chicago Bears than Week 1. This was despite pristine conditions at Lambeau Field. Unfortunately, just as it has so many times over the last 40 years, the Green Bat Packers’ home was not a welcoming venue for the underdeveloped Bears.
The Bears ran 41 offensive plays. Compare that to 68 for the Packers. Suddenly, a path to the 27-10 Bears’ loss on Sunday Night Football seems evident. And yet, with just over eight minutes to go, the Bears were still in the game and trailing by just one touchdown.
Or so they thought.
Justin Fields’ attempt at breaking the plane on 4th-and-1 was deemed short on the field and then upheld upon review. Green Bay went down and kicked a field goal on the ensuing drive.
Bears’ Justin Fields: ‘My Job Isn’t to Call Plays, My Job is to Execute’
Fields, Bears Ready to Move On
Would that score have led to a Bears’ upset? They would still have trailed by seven points if they scored and 10 points if the Packers’ field goal drive still happened. But it certainly could have changed the opinions of those who came away feeling deflated.
Fields shared his thoughts after the game.
“It changes everything,” said Fields of what he thought was a touchdown. “But again, I didn’t get in. Got to face the facts. Just move on.”
Asked about throwing just 11 times on a night where they trailed by as much as 17 points in the first half, Fields was first complimentary of the rushing attack which he said offensive coordinator Luke Getsy planned on featuring.
“My job isn’t to call the plays,” said Fields in deference, not blame. “My job is the execute the play that’s given to me the best I can.”
Pack defense holds strong at the goal line!
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2022
Fields had just 90 total yards with 20 coming on the ground along with a rushing touchdown and one late interception.
His head coach defended the call which saw the Bears line up in shotgun at the one-yard line and run a quarterback dive despite the success of the running backs on the drive.
“We thought that was the best play we had at that point right there for us to score, began Bears head coach Matt Eberflus. “And, if we score there, it’s a different ballgame. It’s a one-score ballgame at that point and we still got a chance to win.”
As for the play itself?
TD% on QB run plays from the 1-yard line since 2017:
No Shotgun: 60.3%
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 19, 2022
“We looked at it, we practiced it, and repped it because a lot of time what you’ll do – and you do in that regard too – you’ll outnumber the box. So using your quarterback as a runner, you got an additional blocker. And so you like your numbers in the box there. So, that’s why we called it. It was the best play we had at the time.”
Montgomery’s Big Day Gets Overshadowed
Eberflus said they will evaluate what led to throwing just 11 times. But he was also complimentary of the rushing attack. David Montgomery logged his first 100-yard day of the season, amassing 122 rushing yards on 15 totes; a healthy 8.13 yards per carry. It was a tremendous bounceback from the 17-carry, 26-yard performance he had in the opener.
David Montgomery weaving through the defense on 2nd & 20!
— NFL (@NFL) September 19, 2022
“My eyes are always drawn to the defense, a little bit, because of my background,” said Eberflus. “And I would say the tackling, we have to do a better job…Leverage, angles, tackling – we call it cupping the ball – we have to do a better job with that. And that eliminates the big plays.”
Eberflus was referencing the secondary versus the Packers’ passing game. But Jones also gashed the Bears for chunk gains.
Bears Week 2 Reality Check
Week 1 was a nice high and a reminder of how resilient a young team can be in adverse conditions. Week 2 served as a reminder that this is Year 1 of a rebuild that many have questioned every step of the way. Even in a seemingly vulnerable state of transition with personnel, the Packers are still a few rungs above the Bears.
Nitpicking playcalls is fodder for fans and talk radio. But the numbers support the decision pretty strongly and, as Eberflus points out if they score the conversation is very different.
The bigger concern might be the lack of a reliable passing offense to complement the rushing attack and a defense that, for all of the talk of missed tackles, allowed the Packers to score just three points after halftime and six points outside of a brutal, 21-point second quarter.
The Bears host the 0-1-1 Houston Texans and former head coach Lovie Smith next.