Tank Gains, Bad Losses, Learning to Win, Draft Day Silver Linings, and Other Bears Bullets

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Tank Gains, Bad Losses, Learning to Win, Draft Day Silver Linings, and Other Bears Bullets

Chicago Bears

Opening TikTok when you’re hungry in the morning is arguably worse than grocery shopping before you’ve eaten. I found myself hankering for a good chicken parm before breakfast because I was scrolling through that app.

Well, I guess this serves as a reminder to take out some chicken to thaw.

  • The Bears lost. Again. They’re 3-7 now and are currently riding a three-game losing streak. Bummer. Oh, and they’ve also lost six of their last seven games. That’s not fun. However, Justin Fields continues to sustain his strong play during this otherwise rough patch. I feel as if this thread from DBB’s Johnathan Wood puts some things in perspective:
  • Fields is playing out of his mind right now. And he is doing it with a less than stellar supporting cast that will likely see an offseason overhaul. Despite everything we know about who these Bears are right now, they’re averaging 31 points per game since the mini-bye. That is impressive considering this is the same offense (and mostly same players – give or take a few spots here and there) that was averaging 15.5 points per game before the breakout. The offense taking off is mostly on Fields making splash plays — mostly with his legs, but also his arm. And he is the main (if not, only) reason the Bears are watchable and in these games in the first place. Full stop.
  • It wasn’t perfect for Fields by any means. Having to explain this pick-six (via NBC Sports Chicago) was no fun:

“Just a dumb play,” Fields said of the fourth-quarter pick-six by Jeff Okudah after the loss. “I can assure that will never happen again for the rest of my career. The D-end sniffed it out, I tried to move him a little bit and tried to float it over to (tight end Cole Kmet). Just overthrew it a little bit. Just got to dirt it and move on to the next play.”

  • Throwing a game-changing pick-six stinks. But on the other hand, Fields’ bounce-back TD on the next drive leaving Jeff Okudah (who just picked him off) in his dust was a nice look. There’s talking about it and being about it. And Fields is defiintely all in on being about it. Single-handedly scoring a TD with another dazzling run is proof of that.
  • Since the mini-bye, Fields is rolling (even with that ugly pick-six). His stat line as a passer in the last 4 games: 64.1% completion pct., 8 TD, 2 INT, 103.5 passer rating. Don’t be upset that he isn’t cooking opposing defenses through the air. This team isn’t built for him to do that just yet. But this recent run represents an increase of 5.2 percentage points on the completion rate over his first 22 games as a pro (58.9%). The passer rating during this run is 24.6 points better than his career rate (78.9). We’d like to see the yards per attempt number kick up (it’s 6.7 Y/A the last four games), but this leaves something for Fields to work on from a passing perspective. And it gives something for Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy to tinker with in his play designs and game calling in coming weeks.
  • Let’s add some context to this tweet before it goes overboard:
  • Before the Bears went on that final empty drive, the Bears’ fourth-quarter possessions were the Okudah pick-six, Fields’ touchdown run, and a sequence of conservative play-calling headlined by back-to-back Herbert runs before a Fields scramble on 3rd-and-long. That depth allows us to further understand why the Bears had just two completions in the fourth quarter. When you throw a pick six and score on a 67-yard run on the third play of a drive, you’re just not going to have that volume.
  • With that being said, I concur with this thought from Clay Harbor that Luke Getsy is starting to find a rhythm:
  • The passing game schematics still have kinks that need to be ironed out. But Getsy, like Fields, is showing growth. The risk of having a QB and OC taking bumps as part of growing pains is that it bogs down in some key moments (whether it’s because of a Fields decision or a play-call that doesn’t necessarily fit the moment). But the reward is the big picture stuff we’re seeing from Getsy as a play-caller when things are in rhythm and from Fields executing when things are there (and improvising when they aren’t).
  • Despite the surprisingly wonderful things the Bears offense is doing, this team keeps losing. And I thought Colleen Kane (Tribune) did a good job underscoring how plays from players you want to succeed/develop (Fields pick-six, Cairo Santos’ missed PAT, a costly Braxton Jones holding penalty) ultimately contributed to a Bears defeat.
  • Spin zone: A Braxton Jones holding penalty isn’t the worst thing in the world. Firstly, it was a pretty egregious call. That’s not one you see called often around the league. Also? We can see this as a sign that Jones is actively learning how to use his hands as a blocker. Once he irons out issues, he won’t be flagged for holding. Sometimes, you need to take a few penalties before learning how to fully utilize that upper body leverage that comes with proper hand usage and deployment.
  • Let me be clear: The loss is good for the tank standings, and I’m not mad about that. Not in the slightest. But it would be nice to see them complete a late-game fourth-quarter comeback. Winning is fun. And it can be good for the development of players (and not just Fields, Jones, etc.) and coaches (not just Getsy or the defensive assistants) alike. Winning also helps boost morale and team spirit. That’s not wholly inconsequential, even if it is low on our priority list. Learning to win is important. That they aren’t there yet is frustrating. And that’s OK. Feeling frustration about losing to the Lions means that you care. And if you care, it means the Bears are giving you reason to care. Or, in reality, Fields is giving us a reason to care because you hate seeing a team waste that kind of performance. We’ve been waiting an eternity for a QB like Fields. It would be nice for his teammates to help reward themserlves with a win at the end of the day.
  • The duality of man:
  • This is all part of the big picture, mind you. But that they didn’t beat a bad Lions team had me struggling to call this a tank win in the immediate aftermath. Going full meltdown mode blowing what was a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter (at home) (against a team that is worse than yours) isn’t good. Committing nine penalties (including 4 that gave the Lions first downs) is unacceptable. Don’t care that this team is getting another extreme overhaul next season. That isn’t an excuse to play sloppy football.
  • Odds are high that GM Ryan Poles will be signing another wave of bridge guys next offseason. Which means that Matt Eberflus and his staff will have to coach them up. So, no, I can’t excuse poor play on “these guys are just here for one year” because we’re going to have to go through this next year. And we shouldn’t want to go through this again. We want to see more Fields, right? Dumb penalties that extend opponents drives keep us from getting to watch Fields. Clean it up.
  • Also, yes, I realize draft pick positioning has value, too. But I also remember Jake Arrieta budding into a stud pitcher in the second half of a Cubs tank season in 2014. Remember Jorge Soler’s two-homer game against the Cardinals in a prospects coming out party? We also saw Kyle Hendricks make waves as he came onto the scene. And I also recall Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop locking things down in late inning situations down the stretch. There was ample groveling over the Cubs winning games and losing draft pick leverage. That team ultimately still ended with the No. 9 overall pick — which they used on future All-Star Ian Happ. In other words, winning can have a positive impact while also not ruining your draft positioning.
  • But also, yes, the draft pick boost is probably worth taking the short-term hit of being the team that allows Dan Campbell to secure his first road win as a head coach.
  • We need to have some conversations about this defense. But I can’t have them until later because I need to have a strong drink and it’s too early for that as I’m typing this morning. The short version: This collection of defensive talent isn’t good enough to play the traditional style of this defense. And, hey, they were short-handed when they had Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith, so it’s not as if those trades were the sole reason as to why the defense has been falling off of late. However, without that starpower, the Bears probably need to make additional adjustments defensively.
  • Maybe Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams needs to bring more pressure. Sure, they’ve been bringing more heat than we’d usually expect, but there could always be more — especially when the defensive line isn’t generating pressure at an acceptable rate. Let’s get creative and throw some of these younger players (Brisker, Gordon, Morrow, Sanborn) into more blitzing situations. If your defense is going to struggle, at least go down emptying the bag of tricks.
  • Tank? What tank!? Jeff Saturday led the Colts to a win in his first game as a head coach in the NFL. Guess he knew what he was talking about when tweeting about the Raiders a few weeks ago. And this post-win speech is dang good:
  • That’s a real shame the Colts won because they were an embarrassing loss to the Raiders away from us circling like vultures over that situation in Indy looking for the perfect time to swoop in and snag DeForest Buckner. You know … the type of 3-technique defensive tackle who could provide a shred of resistance to the opposing offensive line? yeah, that DeForest Buckner. Maybe there still is a deal like that to be done next offseason. But for now, we’ll wait it out until more of the dust settles.
  • Also? Where can one find a Justin Jefferson or Stefon Diggs type of receiver? I’m asking for a friend. Let’s just call him Fustin Jields. Yes, that’s it!
  • Diggs had 12 catches and 128 yards against the Vikings. Jefferson put up 10 catches, 193 receiving yards, and a touchdown. The two were essentially traded for each other. And they both did this:
  • Again … where can my friend Fustin Jields find someone like Diggs or Jefferson to throw to starting in 2023?
  • An important post for our friends who are Blackhawks fans:
  • The betting odds suggesting the Cubs are a favorite to sign free agent shortstop Carlos Correa is a nice jumping-off point for some discussions we need to have about the offseason ahead:


Author: Luis Medina

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