Bears Insider

Bears Overreactions: Jalen Carter regret? Should Bears have traded Justin Fields?

The Bears' dispiriting Week 1 faceplant against the Packers brought questions, anger, disgust, and takes to this week's overreactions mailbag

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Well, that didn't go according to plan.

All the Bears' offseason moves fueled a hype machine that threatened to break contain prior to a Week 1 game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.

A 38-20 back-alley butt-whooping at the hands of Jordan Love eviscerated that hope balloon.

Back to the drawing board at Halas Hall.

The Bears did nothing right Sunday against the Packers. That's not hyperbole. When the only silver linings are garbage time snaps from your rookie running back and a punt returner successfully catching a punt, you have big freaking problems.

If we're going to be fair, it's only Week 1, and the Bears can correct some of the issues.

Start with effort and execution, and work your way from there.

The bludgeoning from the Packers brought questions, anger, disgust, and takes to this week's overreactions mailbag. Let the therapy begin:

Overreaction? No.

I'm going to focus on the final point here since there's not much to say about topics one through four. I agree with all of them.

The Jalen Carter noise will only get louder as the Bears' defensive line struggles, and the rookie nicknamed "Baby Rhino" by his Eagles teammates continues to pop.

On Sunday, Carter had eight pressures and one sack in 34 pass-rush snaps, per Pro Football Focus. The Bears' entire defensive line had six pressures and one sack against the Packers.

It's easy to have 20/20 hindsight. I don't even think it's hindsight. Carter was clearly the best player in the draft, but the Bears weren't comfortable with his character issues. That's a defensible position, but not when you have other players on your roster who have less talent and don't fit the H.I.T.S model.

The Bears will probably regret passing on Carter, and it might have nothing to do with how good Darnell Wright becomes. But it's also impossible to say if Carter would have the same success in Chicago that he likely will find in Philly.

It's going to sting, though. Weekly.

Overreaction? Yes

Yes, the passing game was horrific Sunday against the Packers.

There were scheme issues all over the place, and when he did have open throws downfield, Fields didn't pull the trigger.

But I'm going to hang in Fields' corner. I believe in the talent and the potential. It's tough to play quarterback when you have no time to throw, and that constant beating impacts your decision-making when you do have a clean pocket.

I don't think trading Fields after last season was the answer unless ...

Overreaction? No

On Sunday, it looked like the staff either didn't trust Fields or didn't want to construct an offense that plays to his strengths. At times, it looked like they went back to the first weeks of the 2022 season.

Last season, Fields was one of the best passers in the NFL on throws from outside the pocket, finishing fourth in EPA. On Sunday, 40 of the Bears' 52 passing dropbacks were straight dropbacks. Limited bootlegs. No rolling the pocket.

If the Bears don't want to let Justin Fields be Justin Fields and construct a blend of their offensive concepts with what he does well, then what the hell are we doing here? They should have traded him and drafted a quarterback who they think fits their scheme in a way Fields doesn't.

It's a complete debacle at the moment. The Bears can pull out of it, but quick adjustments are needed.

Overreaction? No

I really do think there is something to the fact that the Bears' starters played minimal snaps in the preseason. Some of that was due to injury (more on that in a minute), but some was a decision head coach Matt Eberflus and his staff made.

They believed that the Bears' work on the back fields at Halas Hall and in two joint practices with the Indianapolis Colts was good enough not to need substantial live game reps.

The Bears are adamant that didn't play a role in their flat opening performance, but there's not a ton of evidence to support that case.

The bigger issue is the injuries and lack of time on turf during camp for key players.

Between eight and 12 key players missed multiple weeks during training camp with soft tissue injuries. Eddie Jackson, Jaquan Brisker, Chase Claypool, Nate Davis, Lucas Patrick, etc.

Yes, they all came back for Week 1. The injuries weren't long-term. But Eberflus admitted Monday that the poor offensive line performance and ineffective pass rush had a lot to do with those players not having time on task.

The Bears will re-evaluate how they do things in camp to mitigate soft tissue injuries, but it's clear that played a role in Sunday's flop.

Overreaction? Yes and no

The game plans on both sides of the ball were horrific on Sunday. We covered the offensive game plan above.

On defense, the Bears racked up only six pressures with their new defensive line and only blitzed Love five times on 30 dropbacks, per PFF. When blitzed, Love went 3-for-5 for 43 yards and one touchdown. When unblitzed, he went 12-for-22 for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

None of it worked. None of it was good.

I said entering the season that I think Getsy is under more pressure than Williams because of the Fields piece of the equation. If the Bears think Fields is a franchise QB, they have to be able to build an offense around him.

The Bears' defense needs to be better in 2023, but Williams still doesn't have the necessary horses in the front four to trot out a dominant defense. More blitzing is needed, but it's Getsy whose adjustments must come quickly.

I think a bigger question might land on Eberflus. The Bears were good at making in-game adjustments last season.

None came Sunday.

The offensive game plan was ineffective, but they stuck with it for far too long.

Eberflus lamented the lack of execution but stopped short of really criticizing the plan on either side of the ball.

Bottom line: It was an embarrassing opening effort from all involved, and now the Bears face an early gut-check moment in Tampa.

Coach Prime Voice: Do you believe?

Not a chance.

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