It's Time to Vent: Commanders 12, Bears 7

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It’s Time to Vent: Commanders 12, Bears 7

Chicago Bears

The newly re-branded Washington Commanders beat the Chicago Bears 12-7 at Soldier Field on Thursday Night Football. But this year wasn’t ever truly about wins and losses. It was all about evaluating Justin Fields and trying to figure out whether or not he could be the type of quarterback this team builds around.

Unfortunately, I’m finding it incredibly difficult to fairly grade Fields.

There have been good plays. And there have been bad plays. In one play he is missing a layup touchdown because a touch throw had too much loft:

On the next, dropping a dime that you would’ve thought had no shot at being a touchdown:

But there isn’t much help surrounding him. And that is an important thing to note in the evaluative process.

How is Fields supposed to thrive with this offensive line?

To be fair, not all of the sacks should go on the line. There is a shared responsibility between the blockers and quarterback. But Courtney Cronin’s tweet serves as a reminder that Fields has been taking sacks at a high rate going on two years. In other words, these offensive line woes are spanning multiple years. Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised.

Think about it.

  • Had Dakota Dozier not suffered a season-ending knee injury during OTAs, things were lining up for him to be in the running for starting right guard.
  • Left guard Lucas Patrick was one of the Bears’ first offseason signings, but hasn’t been a settling force along the line of scrimmage. It’s early, but it feels like a dud signing with the returns being what they are at this point of the season.
  • Even the most admirable performers are roughing it out. The starting left tackle (Braxton Jones) is a fifth-round pick who is riding the rookie rollercoaster when he would’ve probably been better off using this year as a developmental redshirt and reserve lineman.
  • On the other side of the bookend, the starting right tackle (Larry Borom) who has started at three different positions in two seasons in Chicago. On a better-functioning team, Borom would be a swing tackle who would be behind a veteran whose job he can win as a third-year Day 3 pick.

The Bears are struggling at balancing development and winning

The same team that was artificially suppressing Fields’ throws — and thus, bypassing opportunities for individual player development for the sake of winning in 2022 — and rotating Lucas Patrick and Teven Jenkins because of poor Wednesday practicing can enact the same when it comes to its deployment of Velus Jones Jr. as a punt returner.

Because, if the Bears were using the same logic in prioritizing winning over development in all situations, then Dante Pettis would’ve been returning punts late in the fourth quarter. You know, for ball security and experience reasons.

Instead, for the second time in three games, Jones muffing a punt came back to haunt the Bears:

On Thursday, Jones’ muffed punt while retreating is the only reason the Commanders were able to score a touchdown. Jones’ high-profile punt-catching issues serve as a reminder that he was a superb kick returner in the SEC — and not a renowned punt returner coming out of college.

None of this is to say that Jones can’t grow into a dynamic punt returner. He certainly has speed and the ability to wiggle in and out of traffic. Also? We’re seeing Jones show his value as a bit player catching quick passes and running jet sweeps. So he isn’t a total loss after three games as a pro. But the Bears should re-assess their plan with Jones through the lens of balancing their stated goals of winning while trying to develop one of the league’s biggest projects.

History repeats itself

Part of me admires when history repeats itself.

But not like this:

No context. No notes. 12/10. Shoulda, woulda, and coulda done a copy-and-paste job with that format, changing the date, leaving the post with nothing but the shrugging emoticon, and calling it a night. I won’t. But just know that I wanted to do so. And I do reserve the right to use that in the future. However, I’ll keep it in my pocket for now.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.