Fatigue Possibly Setting In For Now-Potent Bears Offense

It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. This parenting axiom can also be applied to a Chicago Bears offense. It’s a unit that has kicked it into high gear over the last month-plus. But it might now be feeling the negative side effects of its gains.

Their 27-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday snapped a couple of streaks for the offense. Their six-game streak with 300-plus yards of total offense came to an end as well as their 29-plus points streak.

The latter run lasted four games.

After the game, several players spoke about the preceding events. And what they said echoed sentiments shared by quarterback Justin Fields – who suffered an apparent shoulder injury requiring further testing – a week prior in the loss to the Detroit Lions. Now, there might need to be another adjustment to the upstart unit.

Bears Players Send Similar Message After Another Loss

Bears Sound Tired

“We were a little low on energy after that,” tight end Cole Kmet said of Cairo Santos’ missed 56-yard field goal. “I probably could point to that as a little bit of a turning point there. I thought when we tied the game there, I thought the energy was back up, but we have to be able to respond a little bit better than we did especially when the momentum swings like that.”

Kmet was a star on offense for the third week in a row despite not getting into the endzone after doing so five times in the previous three games.

He still managed to haul in what he considered the best in-game catch of his young career.

The chemistry between the third-year tight end and Fields continues to be a vital part of both players’ development.

Still, Kmet was not the only offensive player to say something that could, perhaps, suggest some of their offensive stagnation was due to fatigue.

“No, I was just trying to run as fast as I could,” Darnell Mooney said taking the blame for his missed connection with Fields on a deep ball in the first quarter. “I kind of couldn’t feel my boost. I was tired from the other plays. One thing I was preaching all during the summer was conditioning. I got the ball a few plays earlier, and I couldn’t hit 100 percent speed to get to them.”

The Bears run one of the league’s faster-paced practices by all accounts, though it is also on the shorter end of the spectrum.

But this was a running theme in this one – no pun intended. The NFL’s top rushing offense still managed to rack up 149-plus rushing yards for the ninth time in 11 games this season. This despite being without Khalil Herbert, the Bears’ leading rusher.

His replacement, rookie Trestan Ebner, toted the rock six times for eight yards.

Fields Heavy Usage

Fields set a new career-high with 18 carries gaining 85 yards and a touchdown. But he also picked up the injury. After the game, he spoke on that and his still-weary legs.

“I was cramping pretty much the whole fourth quarter. So, I was just fighting through cramps and stuff like that,” said a somber Fields before later adding, “I was hurting but it was the last drive of the game. I was just trying to be there for my teammates and fight through the pain.”

The injury, which he described as “new and different” in addition to painful is certainly the Bears’ (and fans’) primary concern at the moment. But the offense’s stall on Sunday is also worrisome as the Bears have been a second-half team this year scoring 15 of their 27 touchdowns in the final two periods of a given game.

What’s more, the biggest difference has been in the passing game. Fields has thrown eight of his 13 passing scores with a completion percentage that is nearly 6% higher and a quarterback rating that is nearly 20 points better.

Fields had four second-half carries, but the 14 first-quarter rushes had already taken their toll.

Bears Missing Their X-Factor

Without Herbert, the Bears lost the other explosive element to their ground attack outside of Fields. That isn’t to take anything away from David Montgomery. He totaled 121 yards and a touchdown on 20 touches for the day.

But Herbert has four runs of 20-plus yards this season to Montgomery’s one.

Three of them being longer than his vet teammate’s lone tally – a 28-yard scamper against the Green Bay Packers in Week 2.

Justin Fields Identifies Next Steps for Chicago Bears’ Offense

It was already clear that Herbert was a key part of this attack. But we might have seen the full effects of his absence in this contest. He is set to miss at least the next two games and the Bears’ bye is coming up after that. They must find a way to adjust. Either by integrating Ebner into the offense more – just 15 snaps on Sunday – or Chase Claypool who was more involved with (26 snaps but still managed just two grabs for 11 yards on three targets.

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