Chicago Bears: Week 11 takeaways, quick tidbits, and more

andy dalton, bears

Currently, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Chicago Bears now look ahead to week 12 for a Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Detroit Lions. But first, let’s recap week 11.

1) There are two players of the game in this one, both on defense. Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith kept the Bears in this one, especially with the defense missing Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Eddie Jackson. Props to Quinn for turning in such a monstrous performance with 3.5 sacks, five tackles, three TFL, and four QB hits. Smith had 17 tackles on the afternoon, the most by a Bears linebacker since 2009.

2) Regarding Justin Fields, who has bruised ribs, the Bears have a decision to make. If it were in Fields hands, he’d be dressing up on Thursday afternoon against the Lions. Ultimately, with seven games remaining, the Bears should play it safe with Fields and sit him in a meaningless game. Give the future of the franchise a little over 10 days to get right before the Arizona Cardinals come to town on December 5th. It’s better for the Bears to have Fields healthy for the final six games of the season, a stretch that includes playing the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Minnesota Vikings (twice).

3) The Bears got away from the running game early in this one and it showed. Khalil Herbert had just one carry for zero yards while David Montgomery had 14 carries for 58 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Keeping the ball out of the Ravens’ hand should’ve been a goal of the Bears but Chicago failed to do so consistently throughout the afternoon. The Bears coaching staff needs to realize that neither Fields nor Andy Dalton can fully the offense, which means knowing your limitations of what skill position players can and can’t do is vital when it comes to offensive philosophy.

4) At times, it may not have looked like it but wide receiver Darnell Mooney had a game. Mooney’s quickly establishing a reputation as a big-play threat in the Bears offense. With five receptions for 121 receiving yards, averaging 24.2 yards per reception, the second-year wide receiver made his presence felt all afternoon, especially on a 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton.

5) This was what you could consider the Marquise Goodwin breakout game. Goodwin added to the Bears’ explosiveness on offense, with four receptions for 104 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Bears the lead late in the fourth quarter. This game needs to serve as an example of how the Bears can continue to utilize Goodwin moving forward.

6) The Bears struggled to execute consistently but another issue is playing good situational football. Matt Nagy needs to understand the Bears aren’t getting the job done right now and much of it is due to coaches being able to react in situations. An example of this is when the Bears burned a timeout with 1:41 left to go in the fourth quarter after failing to convert a two-point conversion.

7) The Bears also struggled to get off the field on third down in this game. Baltimore was 7-for-16 on Sunday afternoon, with the game’s biggest play coming on a 3rd-and-12 where Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley hit wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 29-yard gain with just 0:33 left in the fourth quarter. The Bears defense has struggled to consistently get off the field on third down this season and it’s only going to get harder over the final seven weeks of the season with Mack being out.

8) Speaking of giving up a big gain on 3rd-and-12, guess what? The Bears’ secondary isn’t very good without Eddie Jackson but Jaylon Johnson had a nice showing. Second-year CB Kindle Vildor got rocked all afternoon while Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson were beaten as a result of miscommunication. The entire unit needs an overhaul in 2021 with just Jackson and Johnson guaranteed to start.

9) What does this loss mean for the Bears? Well, Chicago’s final seven games are against NFC North opponents. But understand the Bears were on the outside looking playoff-wise heading into week 11. This latest loss digs the Bears even deeper into a hole that’s getting harder to get out of.

10) For the rest of the season, nothing matters for the Bears except seeing what sticks on the wall for 2022 and beyond. Essentially, for the Bears, 2022 has already started despite 2021 not being over yet. The Bears’ future is already on the roster in Fields but the front office needs to figure out who’s staying in 2022 in an effort to build around Fields. That means taking a hard look at players and more importantly coaches.

Chicago Bears: Losing streak now at five games after latest loss

bears, matt nagy

What seemed to be a relatively competitive game for the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon got away very quickly in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. After failing to score on the first six possessions, the Bears finally managed to get on the board after wide receiver Darnell Mooney scored a 60-yard touchdown with just 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.

With rookie quarterback Justin Fields leaving the game due to an injury and then being ruled out, the Bears were forced to turn to veteran Andy Dalton, who tossed two second-half touchdowns, including a 49-yard pass touchdown to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on 4th-and-11.

Veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn, who is in the second year of a five-year $70M contract signed in 2020 made an impact all afternoon. With Khalil Mack sidelined for the remainder of the year due to a foot injury, Quinn totaled five tackles, 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and four quarterback hits, making his presence felt from the beginning.

Currently, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Bears’ final seven opponents will be against NFC teams. However, this latest loss to the Ravens stings merely because Chicago seemed to be in the game until the very final possession when Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley connected with wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 29-yard gain with just 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. From there, running back Devonta Freeman scored a three-yard rushing touchdown to give Baltimore the lead.

Despite being shorthanded with no Allen Robinson, Eddie Jackson, or Akiem Hicks, the Bears did all a three-win team could to try and stay competitive but ultimately, a missed field goal in the first half by kicker Cairo Santos and an inability to execute in key situations made the difference in the Bears latest loss. With the Bears scheduled to play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, the opportunity to snap a five-game losing streak presents itself.

Chicago Bears: How can the Bears win in week 11?

Currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the second half of the Chicago Bears season will begin on Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Ravens come to town. The Bears, who have won two straight games against Baltimore dating back to 2013 will have another opportunity to get in the win column.

On paper and on the field, the Ravens are just as good as advertised. Led by MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, the offense features a number of weapons, including wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. On defense, Baltimore is one of the most talented in the NFL, a unit that features defensive lineman Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, LB Patrick Queen, and defensive backs Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Anthony Averett.

To slow the Ravens down, the Bears will need to slow Jackson down. That means consistently blitzing Jackson while also having a linebacker spy him at all times. The Bears could be forced to turn to reinforcements, as Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Eddie Jackson did not practice on Wednesday due to injuries. However, luckily for the Bears, Baltimore is coming off a loss to the Miami Dolphins, with a template for how to slow down Jackson and the Ravens offense.

“Give them different looks and get pressure, said CB Jaylon Johnson via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “I thought they did that pretty much all game was sending constant pressure making the ball come out high, making them really go through their route progression. I mean it’s kind of hard to do that when you got six and seven people coming so I mean it, really they just I mean had a good game plan the Ravens didn’t adjust.”

What’s noteworthy is the Bears haven’t won a game out of the bye week dating back to at least 2013. Being 0-3 under head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t bode well either for a HC who’s fighting for his job at this point. The Bears will need to complement the defense’s game plan by being able to consistently move the ball efficiently on offense in order to have a chance on Sunday afternoon.

Chicago Bears: Wednesday injury report a major concern

On Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago Bears released their first injury report in nearly two weeks ahead of Sunday’s home matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. For a team that’s currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the Bears’ first injury report of the week wasn’t encouraging, with key starters on both offense and defense being injured.

Heading into a crucial matchup against the Ravens, the following Bears starters are injured: Akiem Hicks (ankle), Khalil Mack (foot), Eddie Jackson (hamstring), Allen Robinson (hamstring), Danny Trevathan (knee), Darnell Mooney (foot), and Alec Ogletree (ankle).

Of the names listed above, only Mooney and Ogletree were limited in practice on Wednesday, while the rest of the names were listed as did not practice. Looking at Hicks, Mack, and Jackson, the Bears’ defense would be short-handed on all three levels. Mack provides a stable presence as a pass rusher and tone-setter, while Jackson has covered up many holes in the Bears secondary throughout 2021.

The injuries to Mooney and Robinson are concerning for the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields. While the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has continued to develop chemistry with both wide receivers, Mooney’s connection with Fields is more important. As Fields continues to develop, Mooney is currently the only WR slated to be on the roster in 2022, with Robinson set to hit free agency in the upcoming offseason.

Other injuries to monitor include running back Damien Williams (knee), tight end J.P. Holtz (concussion), and kicker Cairo Santos (elbow). While Williams, was limited in practice on Wednesday, Holtz and Santos were full participants. This means it’s more than likely both Santos and Holtz will be ready to go in Sunday’s contest against the Ravens. Chicago could merely be precautionary and choose not to have Williams dress, especially with the emergence of rookie running back Khalil Herbert, who has burst onto the scene in 2021.

The Bears will release two final injury reports on Thursday and Friday ahead of Sunday morning when the inactives list will be announced just over an hour before kickoff.

Chicago Bears: What did the first half of 2021 teach us?

david montgomery, bears

With the Chicago Bears officially on a bye week, the first half of the season has wrapped up and with just eight games remaining, the Bears face an uphill climb to make the playoffs in 2021.

Much has been made of the first half of the Bears season. There have been ups but also downs and while 2021 is all about the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields, the Bears 2022 offseason is taking shape.

The Bears’ first half has shown us that looking ahead to 2022, much of the roster remains unresolved with impending free agents that include WR Allen Robinson, guard James Daniels, and DE Bilal Nichols. Chicago’s best hope is that Daniels and Nichols market is cheaper than originally expected with Robinson likely on the way out.

While Fields continues to be a bright spot on offense, much like the Bears running game. Chicago’s offensive line has struggled with Center Sam Mustipher being a weak link. When head coach Matt Nagy mentions self-reflection, this should include looking at the offensive line and reshuffling the interior. That means moving veteran Cody Whitehair back to center and inserting Alex Bars into the starting lineup.

As a vertical passing game, Fields improved chemistry with wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney was on display in week nine. This is a connection that needs more growth with the hope that Mooney and Fields are on the same page by seasons’ end.

Then there’s the defense. Without Khalil Mack for two straight games, Chicago struggled to generate any consistent pass rush while holes in the secondary were visible. Second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson has taken a leap and safety Eddie Jackson remains an asset in coverage but a liability as an open field tackler. Veteran Robert Quinn continues to have a resurgent season but still needs to be consistent during the second half of the season.

The Bears 2021 season has showed that work remains to be done. Fields makes Chicago’s future bright and the Bears have a quarterback. What remains to be seen is whether or not the Bears can build around Fields, using the rest of 2021 as a roster evaluation to build a plan around Fields as soon as 2022 arrives.

Assessing the Chicago Bears at the trade deadline

Ryan Pace, bears

As soon as 3:00 pm CST hit on Tuesday afternoon, the 2021 NFL trade deadline has officially with the Chicago Bears opting to make no moves, further cementing the front office’s belief that the 2021 roster is good enough to compete for a playoff spot. To note, Bears general manager Ryan Pace has made just one trade in his seven-year tenrue

The annual winner or loser mantra is back when it comes to the NFL trade deadline. Ultimately, with the Bears opting not to sell, the question needs to be asked: Are the Bears losers at the trade deadline?

For a team that’s struggled through the first eight games of the 2021 regular season, key players on the Bears roster such as wide receiver Allen Robinson and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks were the subject of trade rumors, as was running back David Montgomery, who has been on injured reserve due to a sprained knee.

How one views the Bears moving forward by making no moves is certainly a point of contention. One viewpoint is Pace is confident in the Bears roster and ready to continue compete in 2021. The other viewpoint is the Bears didn’t sell because the market was dry but Chicago wants to keep the roster intact for Justin Fields development.

The 11th overall pick certainly needs as much talent on the roster to continue being successful but the Bears also needs to understand selling assets in 2021 could’ve been key for the Bears to build around Fields in 2022 and beyond.

Robinson and Hicks could’ve been shipped off for mid-round picks, which would’ve beefed up Chicago’s limited trove of day two and three draft picks. With no first or fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears will once again be tasked with making the most of limited draft capital.

The Bears unwillingness to ship off players with expiring contracts shouldn’t go unnoticed. For now, Pace continues to hope every domino will fall in the right direction and the Bears sneak into the playoffs. However, if not, Pace will need to dig the Bears out a hole that was created by the much-lambasted general manager.

Chicago Bears: Holes apparent in week eight loss

Trevis Gipson, bears

In what was deemed a very winnable game for the Chicago Bears in week eight at home, the Bears struggled, failing to put together a complete game in all three phases. Chicago averaged 4.8 yards per play, with rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushing for a 22-yard touchdown on fourth-and-one to give the Bears some life.

The Bears season isn’t necessarily over but Chicago has now lost three straight games to NFC opponents. Since week six, losses to the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and now San Francisco 49ers have put the three win Bears on the outside looking in, in the context of a playoff spot.

Sunday afternoon was an eye-opening moment for the Bears as a whole. Through the first seven games of the season, the assumption was that Chicago featured a solid defense while the offense would struggle. Sunday afternoon proved to be different.

The 49ers gashed the Bears’ defense throughout the second half, with multiple throws down the middle of the field late in the fourth quarter. Chicago simply wasn’t playing with enough speed on the defensive side of the ball to warrant slowing down the 49ers’ offense. The Bears pass rush failed to generate any sacks, even with Khalil Mack out

Mack’s absence leads to an important question regarding Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn, both of whom failed to record a sack on Sunday. How much of Hicks and Quinn’s success in 2021 is the result of Mack’s presence? Mack may not always pad the stat sheet but his impact was felt on Sunday afternoon.

The Bears offense did show signs of life but there wasn’t enough. It’s clear that the Bears aren’t a very good team around Fields, with the inability to execute prevalent from the wide receiver, tight end, and offensive line.

The Bears have a long way to go before being relevant again. Fields provides hope for the future but Chicago’s holes were visible on Sunday afternoon for a team that has struggled mightily in 2021.

Chicago Bears: Will short-handed defense rebound in week eight?

Trevis Gipson, bears

With the Chicago Bears returning home in week eight to take on the San Francisco 49ers, there is a high likelihood that Chicago is without pass rushers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. Add in a groin injury for defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and Chicago’s defense could be missing three integral pieces from its front seven.

If Hicks, Mack, and Quinn don’t suit up for the Bears, Chicago will need to rely on depth to beat San Francisco, who is averaging 22.5 points per game, good for 19th in the NFL. While the Bears defense allowed just three points in the second half of week 7 in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another noteworthy stat from week 7 is that Chicago also failed to record a sack for the first time all season.

The Bears are hoping to redeem themselves in a big way on Sunday afternoon. A win against the 49ers on the heels of a solid defensive performance before what is expected to be a tough road matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers would be a confidence booster heading into the bye week.

“You know, that’s part of this NFL, is, it’s a long season and that was week seven and obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted from a team perspective and certainly from a defensive perspective,” said defensive coordinator Sean Desai via the Bears official YouTube channel. “But having said that, there’s also some things that we can build off of, off that tape. And there’s some things of swarm and particularly in the second half where the guys play with tremendous energy and good technique and fundamentals that we’re going to continue to build on.”

Chicago will need to get creative when it comes to putting together a good enough game plan. Can cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor forget a shaky performance where both defensive backs allowed a combined four passing touchdowns while the front seven gets back to sacking quarterback? A win could certainly alter the trajectory of the Bears season.

Chicago Bears: Time for Trevis Gipson to step up

Trevis Gipson, bears

With the Chicago Bears returning home to take on the San Francisco 49ers in week eight, reports have surfaced that the face of the Bears defense, Khalil Mack is unlikely to play due to a foot injury.

To be clear, the Bears have yet to make a final decision on whether or not Mack will be placed on injured reserve. Should the Bears elect to place Mack on injured reserve, the Bears could be without their top two pass rushers on Sunday.

Chicago, whose pass rush is already short-handed with veteran Robert Quinn being on the reserve/COVID-19 list will likely rely on second-year pass rusher Trevis Gipson to fill the void. Expect undrafted free agent Charles Snowden to be called up to the active roster.

With an aging defense, the only silver lining is that Gipson and Snowden will get additional reps, giving the Bears an opportunity to evaluate what young talent of the future is able to do. While Mack is under contract through the 2024 season, the likelihood of Quinn being designated as a post-June first cut in 2022 seems high, especially with the Bears hoping to extend linebacker Roquan Smith, a key face of the defense.

For the first time all season in week 7, a hobbled Mack and banged up Bears defense failed to record a sack. While Chicago is one of the NFL’s leading teams in total sacks, the 49ers do have a solid enough offensive line that will be sure to test Gipson and Snowden.

Gipson’s progression as a rotational player will be under the microscope throughout the rest of the season. Playing just 35 percent of snaps on defense in 2021, the second-year pass rusher has missed 23.1 percent of tackles but racked up two sacks, two quarterback hits, and two tackles for loss.

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Bears defense may not trot out Mack against an opponent, meaning the true mentality of next-man-up will be on display Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.

Chicago Bears: Week 7 takeaways with Usayd Koshul

Marquise Goodwin, bears

After a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 7, it’s time for the Chicago Bears to look ahead to week 8. But first, some quick takeaways.

1) Let’s be honest, the Bears gameplan was bad in this one. On the offensive side of the ball, the pass protection was very average, with the coaching staff choosing to start Lachavious Simmons at right tackle instead of Alex Bars, who started eight games for Chicago last season. The Bears need to do a better job of identifying which talent to replace when players go down.

2) Kudos to rookie running back Khalil Herbert, who had his first career 100-yard rushing performance. The 2021 sixth-round pick racked up 18 carries for 100 rushing yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Not bad for a player who’s emerged as a centerpiece for the Bears offense.

3) Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney were underwhelming. Whether you want to admit it or not, the Bears wide receiver duo has been uninspiring. A lack of chemistry with Justin Fields is the major issue but Robinson and Mooney combined for just four total receptions in week 7. Not the production you want to see from a WR duo that had 163 total receptions a year ago.

4) The Bears had zero sacks this game, marking the first time all season Chicago failed to record a sack. Khalil Mack was injured and while the star pass rusher played, the Bears missed Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn due to injuries and COVID-19. The Bears hope to get both back and healthy for week 8 to get the defense back up to full speed.

5) There was growth from Justin Fields in this game. Trust me, I spent Sunday night analyzing two losses that showed why Fields progressed, even if it was a little bit. Also, Fields isn’t Mitchell Trubisky 2.0, so let’s quit with that narrative.

6) This was a game that cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor will clearly want to forget. Johnson was beat twice by Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans for touchdowns, while Vildor was beaten by Evans and wide receiver Chris Godwin. Here’s to hoping that both players have a major bounceback game against the San Francisco 49ers.

7) Fields statline is a hot point of debate. The 11th overall pick was 22-for-32 with 184 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions. Part of Fields struggles are warranted but stat lines don’t define a quarterback’s progress or growth. Nor are final stats factored into development. Fields continues to make rookie mistakes, which is fine. Would you rather Fields makes mistakes as a rookie or in year three or four, when we’ll have a good read on what Fields is as a quarterback.

8) Bilal Nichols’ punch was unacceptable. For the “Nagy is a players coach” crowd, if Nagy was really a players coach, long-term building blocks like Nichols wouldn’t be out there punching opponents in a game that was pretty much over. Have some respect for the guys in the other uniform and play with discipline, something the Bears have been lacking in 2021.

9) The Bears were never winning this game but losing by 35 points is a bad look. Chicago didn’t even attempt to be competitive, which is an issue since the Bears have now lost to Tampa Bay, the Green Bay Packers, and Los Angeles Rams, three playoff-caliber teams in the NFC.

10) At some point, Matt Nagy needs to acknowledge and understand the Bears are out of options on offense. Chicago needs to solidify the offensive line and it starts by benching Sam Mustipher, who was manhandled by Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea on what seemed like every play. It’s time to switch Cody Whitehair back to center, kick James Daniels out to left guard, and slot in Alex Bars at right guard.