Justin Fields

Schrock's Bears Report Card: Grading Justin Fields, offense, defense in Browns loss

Bears Insider Josh Schrock hands out harsh grades from another late-game collapse

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Bears had everything in their grasp Sunday in Cleveland: a marquee win, a defensive statement, and their playoff destiny.

Dread it, run from it: A Bears collapse arrives all the same.

The Bears led the Browns 17-7 entering the fourth quarter. Chicago's defense had suffocated Browns quarterback Joe Flacco and even gave the offense a boost by providing a pick-six and another interception return that set them up at the Cleveland 1-yard line.

But for the third time this season, the Bears threw up on themselves and gave up a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead.

After the Browns scored 13 unanswered points to take the lead, quarterback Justin Fields' Hail Mary attempt was intercepted after wide receiver Darnell Mooney couldn't secure what would have been a miraculous game-winning grab.

Final score: Browns 20, Bears 17

The Bears' playoff hopes aren't mathematically dashed. But that dream is after another late-game collapse.

What follows is a report card from a collapse that had no business happening:

Passing offense

There was very little positive from Sunday's offensive performance.

Some might say it's OK to grade them on a curve, given the quality of the opponent. But the Browns' defense entered Sunday surrendering 27.5 points to teams above .500 while only giving up 13.7 points to teams at or below that mark.

Whether or not you can effectively move the ball and score on the Browns is a good barometer for what kind of offense you have.

The Bears didn't pass it.

Fields finished the game 19-for-40 for 166 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions, both of which came on Hail Mary attempts.

Fields played efficient football in the first half. He kept the negative plays to a minimum and took shots downfield. He threw a beautiful pass to Robert Tonyan that would have been a 73-yard touchdown that Tonyan cold-dropped.

The offensive line got punked all day long, especially center Lucas Patrick. Defensive end Myles Garrett had his way with both tackles.

DJ Moore was clearly hobbled, and Mooney had one of his worst games of the season.

The Bears needed more from Fields, but, more importantly, they needed better play from the line and a better plan from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

Sunday's performance was a dud on all levels. While Fields deserves a piece of the blame pie, he was the least of their issues.

Fields GRADE: D+

Rushing offense

We can keep this short.

The Bears had no run game to speak of Sunday in Cleveland.

Chicago rushed 27 times for 88 yards (3.3 yards per carry). D'Onta Foreman rushed six times for -6 yards. Roschon Johnson led all rushers with 36 yards on five carries.

Fields only rushed for 30 yards on seven carries.

With Patrick and the guards getting chewed up, the Bears couldn't run between the tackles, and Cleveland's speed gave them issues on the perimeter.



Pass defense

As bad as the offense was, the defense was that good for three-plus quarters on Sunday.

The Bears picked off Flacco three times and sacked him four times.

Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds had a pick-six, and safety Eddie Jackson returned his interception to the 1-yard line. Rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson made an incredibly high-level interception in the red zone to turn the Browns away in the third quarter.

Jackson said after the game that the defense knew they would have to win the game and figured they'd have to score to do it.

They did that.

But the passing defense also gave up explosive plays in the second half that allowed the Browns to come back, including a 51-yard touchdown by Amari Cooper and a 34-yard catch by tight end David Njoku to set up the game-winning field goal.

The pass defense was good, but they surrendered 374 yards to Flacco, and there were just enough lapses to let the Browns pull off the comeback.

That dings the grade a little, but it was still a sterling performance from a unit playing near-elite football.


Run defense

Chicago's run defense was a force Sunday.

The Bears held the Browns to 29 yards rushing on 18 carries for 1.6 yards per carry.

That about covers a dominant effort by the defensive line and linebackers, led by Montez Sweat, Andrew Billings, Tremaine Edmunds, and T.J. Edwards.



Whenever you blow a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead in five minutes, it starts with coaching.

On offense, Getsy's game plan was disjointed and lacked creativity. The reliance on the ineffective crack toss put the Bears behind the sticks numerous times. The third-and-3 sweep to Tyler Scott and the fourth-and-1 run by Fields that was stopped short deserve criticism.

But the more significant issue is that after the game, Mooney, Moore, and others said they felt the offense was complacent and lackadaisical in the second half.

"We were just happy to be winning," Mooney said.

That can't happen.

Having already blown two big fourth-quarter leads this season, there's no reason the Bears should ever take their foot off the gas. The Bears needed their leaders, both on-field and off, to step in and get the energy cranked back up on the offensive end.

For that lull to happen speaks to a systemic issue that should have red flags waving all around about this staff.


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