Of all the losses in the Bears’ 14 game losing streak the 31-28 loss at the hands of the Broncos has to hurt the most. The Bears had a win in their grasp, with a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter. But they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory like they have so many times before. The offense couldn’t find a way to score when they needed it. The defense couldn’t manage a stop. Absolutely brutal.
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The end stings. The interception looks bad. But for most of Sunday’s game against the Broncos, Fields was phenomenal. When the Bears traded for DJ Moore, and when people started talking about how Justin Fields could grow in Year Two of Luke Getsy’s system, and when expectations on social media reached pie-in-the-sky levels of hype, this was the type of game that many expected to see. The Bears got Fields on the move early and often against the Broncos, pass protection held up well, and Fields responded with arguably the best game of his career. He was decisive and accurate. He extended plays when he had the opportunity, and took smart checkdowns when he didn’t. On a play-to-play basis, Fields ran the offense incredibly well. He had some incredible highlight reel moments, too. Fields’ ability to avoid pressure, dance in the pocket then find Khalil Herbert for a touchdown was special. Fields didn’t have the crazy 60-yard touchdown run like he did time and time again in 2022, but it didn’t matter. This is the type of performance they need from him more often than not.
With Chase Claypool inactive there were going to be more opportunities for others to draw targets on offense. Kmet was the man who made the most of those extra targets. The tight end was most explosive as a pass catcher down the seam, highlighted by a wide open 22-yard touchdown catch. He was good on a scramble drill for his second TD too. There will be more games when Moore gets blanketed by defenders and Fields will need another outlet in the passing game. If this is Kmet’s emergence as that guy, it will go a long way towards finding continued success as a unit.
The Bears offense looked aimless over the first three weeks of the season. The run game was ineffective. Justin Fields looked uncomfortable. Most importantly, there weren’t enough play action passes or rollouts, after the team’s success with those concepts in 2022. That last point changed in a big way, and everything else seemed to fall into place. It was clear the Bears made it a point to get Fields on the move against the Broncos, and the offense simply worked better. Fields was decisive and accurate, and the passing attack was explosive. In turn, that opened up some opportunities for effective rushes with the running backs. There were some excellent play designs and play calls, too. On the second drive, a play action boot with Darnell Mooney flowing with Fields turned into an easy first down. On the fourth drive, Getsy followed an explosive run with a flea flicker. If there’s any gripe, it’s that the Bears should probably throw away their tight end sneak play, even though it worked on Sunday.
Edwards was part of the big picture plan to revamp the linebacking corps, but so far hasn’t made a huge impact other than racking up tackles. On Sunday he stuffed the stat sheet again with stops, but it was the stops he didn’t make that were more impactful. Too many times Edwards let a ball carrier run past him, or was one step behind in pass coverage. Those little misses add up and hurt the unit as they tried to keep the Broncos offense down.
Hicks was thrust into starting action since Eddie Jackson couldn’t play with a foot injury and struggled as the team’s relief safety. He took poor angles in run defense and seemed to be the man who was beat on several pass completions. Hicks seemed to be late to help on the 48-yard Marvin Mims catch that set up the Broncos' game-winning field goal, then missed a tackle on Mims, which allowed him to grab valuable yards. The Broncos didn't move the ball any farther after that play, and Will Lutz' game winner was a 51-yarder. If Hicks had stopped Mims near where he caught the ball, Lutz' try looked like it would've been around 60 yards, which is obviously a much tougher kick.
You can’t help the team without a jersey. The team making Claypool inactive is indicative of how far he’s fallen since the team traded for him midway through last season.
Had to add this as time winded down in the fourth quarter. Many decisions will be called into question, but the most glaring will be the decision to pass up points with the game tied 28-28 and only 2:57 left in the fourth quarter. There have been so many opportunities for the Bears to get off the schneid over the past 14 games, but they can’t find a way to do it. At a certain point it’s a reflection of the head coach.