The Bears offense was supposed to be better this year. GM Ryan Poles traded away the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft to bring in DJ Moore and give the team a bonafide No. 1 wide receiver. Poles then used the No. 10 pick in the draft to select Darnell Wright and firm up the team's offensive line. There were a bevy of other free agent signings and draft picks, like Nate Davis, Robert Tonyan, Roschon Johnson, Tyler Scott and D’Onta Foreman that were all supposed to elevate the talent floor of the team. All the additions on offense, paired with another year of comfortability in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s system were supposed to lead to a Year Three Jump for Justin Fields.
It hasn’t happened.
Fields is still averaging under 200 passing yards a game, largely thanks to Week 3’s 99-yard dud. His rushing numbers have dipped from 76.2 yards/game in 2022 to 36.3 ypg this season. Fields tied for the league-lead by taking 55 sacks last year. He’s on pace to be sacked an incredible 73.7 sacks this year. In 2022, the offense struggled as a whole, but they at least ran the ball very well. Their 3,014 rushing yards led the league by a wide margin. Fields’ rushing prowess obviously helped, but good years from both David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert played big roles, too. This year, their 305 yards rank 17th in the NFL.
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Put all of that together, and the Bears are only averaging 15.7 points per game this year. That’s down from their 19.2 ppg average last year.
It’s only been three weeks– and one of those weeks was against the defending Super Bowl Champs– but it’s about as troubling a start for the offense as could be imagined. After months of expecting improvement, fans are restless. Already, the discourse on social media has turned from hopeful optimism to widespread calls for major changes. At the heart of a good chunk of the vitriol is Getsy.
“That’s the business, right?” Getsy said. “Coach Flus gets the most of it. Quarterback’s probably No. 2 and then it probably goes to me after that from the offensive perspective and that’s just the way it is. That’s what we signed up for. You gotta have strong shoulders to be able to handle all that stuff and that’s part of the business.
“Nothing or nobody or no circumstance is going to put more pressure on myself than myself already. So, yeah, absolutely (I feel pressure). If we’re not achieving everything that we want to achieve as a team, I’ll always look inward first.”
Getsy deserves his share of the blame for the slow start. He’s been unable to devise effective designed runs for Fields to counter the slew of spies defenses are deploying to keep Fields in check. The playcalling has been questionable at times, like calling a screen three snaps in a row, eventually resulting in a pick-six, against the Buccaneers.
Getsy does not deserve all of the blame, though. There have been times when the scheme is rock solid, but a missed assignment or poor effort from a player ruins its chances. There have also been times when everything is right, Fields has time to hit an open receiver, yet Fields misses him for whatever reason. Or there are times, like the Bears’ second quarter two-minute drill in Week 3 when everything goes right, Fields throws an absolutely perfect ball, and Moore uncharacteristically drops it. When they go right, moments like that can be an important catalyst to spark a stretch of positive plays. Instead, Fields threw an interception one play later. When it rains, it pours.
Often when coaches or players are asked, “What’s going wrong?” and they answer “a little bit of everything,” it’s an old cliché to avoid addressing the real problem publicly. In the Bears’ case it’s probably true. There have been little failures all over the field that have resulted in one big flop.
The Bears have maintained they’re a few little fixes away from making noticeable improvements. Getsy cited seven or eight plays that should’ve been “explosive” in Week 3 that fell apart for one reason or another. He believes if the team can lower than that to one or two missed opportunities, they’ll play more competitive football.
“I think we’re in the process of building something special. And I think that we’re in the phase of it’s Week 3 going into Week 4 and we’re going on to find a way to attack Denver in a completely different way than we did Kansas City. That’s a week-to-week challenge that you have. There’s different schemes. There’s different mentalities of coordinators that you’re playing against. Like coach Flus kind of always says, you get 24 hours to enjoy or be sad about whatever the heck happened and you move on. That’s part of our business. It’s a 17-week process. It is not a three-week process.”
If ever there was an opportunity for the Bears to get right, it’s this week. The Broncos just gave up a staggering 70 points to the Dolphins and 350 rushing yards. The Broncos still have several big time players on defense like shutdown corner Patrick Surtain and ballhawking safety Justin Simmons, but they’re not the same dominant unit led by Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell a few years back.
This feels like an opportunity the Bears need to take advantage of, right now. Things are bad, but a loss to the lowly Broncos would make things worse. A win wouldn’t make the Bears playoff contenders– the 0-3 start almost assures they won’t earn a postseason bid this year– but it will go a long way in their climb out of the NFL basement.