With the Chicago Bears losing to the Green Bay Packers at home, it’s time to recap week 6 and look ahead to week 7.
1) The Bears opened up the offense more for rookie quarterback Justin Fields and the numbers show it. Fields went 16-for-27, threw for 174 yards, and one touchdown while averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. The last two weeks, Fields passed just 37 times total. The improvement from Fields was noticeable but there is still a long way to go.
2) Let’s talk about rookies. Sixth-round pick Khalil Herbert hand himself a nice starting debut with 19 carries for 97 rushing yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Herbert had a nice 25-yard run in the first quarter and had 12 yards rushing the Bears’ first drive of the game, capped off by a one-yard touchdown.
3) As someone who was very high on Center Sam Mustipher coming into the season, it’s clear that the Bears need to make a switch at the center position. Simply put, Mustipher was beaten multiple times on Sunday and hasn’t shown the ability to get the job done. The Bears need to experiment with the offensive line, likely switching Cody Whitehair back to center, while Alex Bars gets the nod at right guard.
4) Return of the Mack continues. Khalil Mack totaled four tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss on Sunday afternoon. Mack, despite not practicing all week found a way to get the job done and is just three sacks from tying his entire sack total from last season, which was nine sacks.
5) The Bears had zero turnovers, marking the third time all season the defense has failed to create any turnovers. The other two occasions were week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams and week 3 against the Cleveland Browns. Turnovers have become an important piece for the Bears’ defense, so this is a category that needs to see an increase going forward.
6) This was supposed to be a game where the Bears came out and proved the 2021 squad was different compared to years past. Instead, that wasn’t the case. The Bears are still lightyears behind where the Packers are, both in terms of talent at the quarterback position, and as a team in terms of execution, game planning, and coaching. Aaron Rodgers may make all the difference in the world for Green Bay but the Packers’ running game and offensive line also showed out on Sunday. The Bears did not.
7) Regardless of whether or not you thought Justin Fields played well, you can’t deny his commitment and effort towards getting better everyday. Fields was sacked four times on Sunday, none of which where his fault. The Bears still need to figure out the offensive line, which looked above average. The returns of rookies Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom should provide a big boost.
8) The Bears need to figure out what’s going on with Safety Eddie Jackson, who hasn’t been the same since signing a four-year deal worth $58M back in 2020. For those wondering, the Bears can’t get out of Jackson’s contract anytime soon and Jackson’s cap hit jumps to $15.09M in 2022 and $17.09M in 2023. The goods news about 2023 is Chicago can designate Jackson as a post-June 1st cut in 2023 and create $13.1M in cap space with $3.9M in dead cap, per Over The Cap.
9) Mario Edwards Jr. earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty isn’t the kind of mistake that needs to be made in a rivalry game. The seventh-year pass rusher has become the subject of disciplinary issues throughout the course of his Bears tenure and needs to understand that a 20-yard penalty against Aaron Rodgers is the kind of mistake that can cost a team the game.
10) The Bears have not yet scored in all four quarters in any game this season. With tough teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, and Arizona Cardinals looming on the schedule, the Bears need to get the offense going and be in a position where the entire offense can score at will, rather than scoring in random spurts. That means figuring out how to be consistent.
Speaking of Tampa Bay….
The Bears will head down South next week, traveling to Florida for a nice little weekend getaway as the cold weather continues to slowly enter Chicago. The Bears beat the defending Super Bowl champions at home 20-19 last season on primetime television.
This is a different year for both teams. The Bears are developing Justin Fields on the fly while the Bucs are trying to defend their Super Bowl championship and become the first team since the 2003-04 New England Patriots to repeat and win back-to-back Super Bowls.
The Bears will need to watch out for wide receiver Antonio Brown, who’s having a bounceback season after a rough few years in the NFL. Brown has played in two career games against the Bears, both as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, averaging 9.5 receptions and 153 receiving yards, and 1.5 touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference.
The Bucs are playing at a high level once again, so the Bears will have another tough matchup against another top NFC team that will be in the playoffs. It may be just week 7 but the Bears have now lost to the Rams and Packers, both teams that are locks for the playoffs. A loss to the Bucs only put the Bears in a deeper hole.