Chicago Bears: Offensive woes starting to affect defense

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Chase Daniel of Chicago Bears reacts during the game between Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 06, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Chase Daniel of Chicago Bears reacts during the game between Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 06, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears’ struggles on offense are now negatively affecting the defense. The unit needs to have more sustained drives to keep the elite defense fresh.

The Chicago Bears‘ Week 5 loss to the Oakland Raiders drew questions. Again, the offense struggled, but in addition to that, we saw the defense struggle as well.

The Bears looked lethargic and uninspired in the first half. Yes, part of that had to do with the horrible decision to arrive in London on Friday while the Raiders arrived there on Monday. Those of you who experienced jet lag understand what the players were going through.

That wasn’t the only reason for the Bears’ struggles, however. Their offensive woes have been a sore spot all season long (except of course in the Washington game). Even as well as they played in the first half of their Week 4 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, the second half was different. It basically looked like the Bears played victory formation for an entire half.

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In London, the offense was asleep in the first half. Suddenly, it exploded in the third quarter, coming back from a 17-0 deficit by scoring three touchdowns. It reverted again in the fourth quarter, unable to get to the end zone.

Of the Bears’ 11 drives, seven of them consisted of three plays or fewer. To be fair, two of those drives resulted in touchdowns. One was a two-play drive and the other a one-play drive. Still, that makes five three-and-outs in the game. Against the Vikings last week, of their 10 drives they had five drives of four plays or fewer.

The Bears had a terrific drive in the fourth quarter. It was a 9-play drive that covered 56 yards in 6:02 but resulted in a punt. A score there and the Bears seal the game. Instead, the Raiders marched down the field and scored the game-winning touchdown.

Having so many short drives puts undue stress on the defense. When the defense has to stay on the field so long it eventually wears the unit down. While the defense did struggle throughout the game, it was completely gassed at the end of the game. They allowed the Raiders to go 97 yards on the winning drive.

The Raiders gashed the Bears for 169 rushing yards. The most the Bears allowed in a game before this game was 91. Josh Jacobs ran for an amazing 123 yards.

It was a shocking occurrence a week after the defense had perhaps its best showing. They held the Vikings’ Dalvin Cook, the leading rusher in the league, to just 35 rushing yards. Suddenly, they looked confused and forgot how to tackle.

After 21 games under head coach Matt Nagy, the Chicago Bears are still looking for an identity on offense. Nagy came in as an offensive-minded coach. He and his coaches were supposed to bring out the best in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and bring in a high-powered offense. After a season of mixed results last year, the offense reverted this season. Here are the season rankings so far:

  • Points per game: 17.4 (28th in NFL)
  • Yards per play: 4.5 (30th)
  • Yards per rush: 3.4 (29th)
  • Yards per attempt: 5.2 (30th)
  • Passer rating: 86.3 (24th)
  • Rushing yards per game: 80.6 (26th)

The above numbers add up to an anemic offense that’s starting to negatively affect the defense. This has to change. Nagy himself is feeling frustrated, via the Chicago Tribune:

"We have a happy-go-lucky attitude around the building. We have fun. Every now and then, though, you need to be able to show a dark side. And they need to see that and feel that… They also know the importance that they mean to us as coaches, and to me as a head coach, where I’ll always have my arm around them and always be there to listen, too."

From that quote, I think Nagy is about to unleash on the players. It seems he and the coaching staff might have been a little lenient on the players. I think that stops, but at the same time, he wants to send the message that even though he’ll be tougher on them, he still respects them and wants to make them better any way he can.

Nagy is a players coach and he relates well to them. At some point, however, the players need a good kick in the pants. No, the in-your-face, constant yelling at the players doesn’t work these days. However, when you use a well-timed tirade you can get to the players. This is a good time for that.

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Nagy has to do whatever it takes to get the offense going. The schedule only gets tougher after the bye week. Some say the Chicago Bears defense may be as good as the 1985 version, but if they’re being taxed every game we’ll never find out if that’s true.