5 Takeaways: Bears’ loss in Green Bay underscores need for growth
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Bears’ new regime was handed its first loss in familiar fashion.
The Bears were beat up by the Packers, 27-10, on Sunday night at Lambeau Field in a performance that revealed this team’s need for improvement moving forward.
Here are the five takeaways from the Bears’ loss to the Packers.
1. No passing grade
With the Bears once again meeting the rival Packers in a Sunday night national showcase, this matchup was billed for the quarterbacks.
The Packers are still led by reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, the man who has claimed ownership of Chicago and tortured this franchise. And the Bears have hope in the form of 23-year-old quarterback Justin Fields, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Only one quarterback shined on Sunday night as Rodgers finished 19-of-25 for 234 yards and two touchdowns while Fields’ statistics seemed perplexing. He was 7-of-11 for 70 yards and an interception — his passing abilities hardly part of the Bears’ gameplan.
“Luke (Getsy) said before the game that we were going to run it down their throats,” Fields said, pointing to his offensive coordinator’s gameplan.
“My job is to run the play that’s given to me the best that I can.”
The Bears committed to the running game against the Packers, rushing 27 times for 180 yards in their loss. Lead back David Montgomery carried 15 times for 122 yards while Khalil Herbert rushed four times for 38 yards, including a 27-yard run that marked the Bears’ third-longest play of the game.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Bears embarked on a 13-play, 94-yard drive that featured 13 rushes and zero pass attempts.
The drive was one yard out from the end zone on fourth-and-goal when the Bears lined up in shotgun formation. Fields ran a designed keeper with right guard Lucas Patrick pulling to his left side. But Fields was ruled just short of the score. A challenge by Eberflus was unsuccessful and the ruling on the field stood as called.
Though the play call drew criticism, Eberflus and the Bears only regretted the outcome and not the design itself.
“We felt we had a good look at it, so we made the challenge,” Eberflus said. “They thought otherwise, and that’s the way it goes sometimes. But we thought it was the best play we had at that point right there for us to score. If we score there, it’s a different ballgame. It’s a one-score game at that point and we still got a chance right there to win.
“A lot of times what you do is you outnumber the box. So, you’re using your quarterback as a runner, you got an additional blocker and you like your numbers in the box there. That’s why we called it. It was the best play we had right there at the time.”
The Bears finished with just 228 total yards of offense on the game.
2. Blue Mooney
Through two games this season, Bears top wide receiver Darnell Mooney has 2 receptions for 4 total yards. On Sunday night, he hauled in just 1 catch for –4 yards.
Like the entire passing game, Mooney has been a nonexistent part of the Bears’ offense. It’s a maddening development for the player who had emerged as Fields’ most reliable target last season, when he caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards and four scores.
Fields hopes the Bears can get Mooney activated within their scheme on offense.
“Call plays to get him the ball,” Fields said. “But again, that’s not our job. Our job is to get the play call and run it to the best of our ability.”
Mooney has been targeted by the Bears just 5 times this season, including twice Sunday night against the Packers. Similarly, third-year tight end Cole Kmet has no catches on just 2 targets this season.
Fields was asked after the game if he wants the Bears to rely more on their passing game.
“I mean, of course,” Fields said. “I’m a competitor. Yeah, of course. But again, my job is to run the play that’s given to me the best that I can. I don’t control any of that.”
3. Broken down
If there was one play that could best represent this game for the Bears, it came with 6:50 remaining in the second quarter.
Set back by a holding penalty and a sack, Rodgers and the Packers faced second-and-28 from the Bears’ 42-yard line. It was a chance for the defense to force a key stop with Green Bay leading 17-7 and looking for more.
Rodgers hit rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs on a slip screen for a 20-yard gain, catching the Bears napping on a key play. It was the catalyst for a scoring drive, as Rodgers hit veteran target Randall Cobb for a third-down conversion and then dropped a pop pass to running back Aaron Jones two plays later.
“We got to do a better job with that play,” Eberflus said. “That’s a common play that people run in that get-back-on-track situation.”
4. Rookie mistakes
The Bears believe in the futures of rookie defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker. But both players struggled during Sunday night’s game.
Rodgers and the Packers seemed to take advantage of matchups with Gordon, including on the 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Allen Lazard in the second quarter. Brisker had his own miscue on a 15-yard touchdown run by Jones in the second quarter, a play in which he cheated towards the sideline as the play cut back to the inside. Brisker was swallowed up by blockers as Jones scored.
“This is the NFL,” Eberflus said. “Everybody has good players. We’re going to face that every week. The young guys are in there for a reason. The experience they’re getting right now is invaluable for our football team. So, they’re going to continue to play, they’re going to continue to get better and they’re going to continue to perform well. Tonight wasn’t the best night for some of those guys, but coach and player, we got to do a better job.”
5. Back to the basics
Before the Bears boarded their short flight back to Chicago, Eberflus already knew a point of emphasis to improve.
Eberflus was frustrated with the Bears’ efforts in pursuit and tackling, an element of their fundamentals he plans to hammer this week.
“My eyes are always drawn to the defense because of my background,” Eberflus said. “The tackling, we have to do a better job. Look at the individual, the technique, and break down those ones he did tackle well and he didn’t do well – leverage, angles, tackling, we call it cupping the ball, we have to do a better job with that. That eliminates the big plays.”