Chicago Bears sink deeper with another frustrating loss

Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images /

With another Chicago Bears’ frustrating loss, the atmosphere around the team is sure to get worse than it was before.

Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, we learn the opposite. After struggling during a two-game losing streak, Chicago Bears fans grew frustrated. Too many penalties and too many three-and-outs resulted in a tired defense getting gashed. Well, the opposite happened in their Week 8 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Chargers came to Chicago with a small town full of players on injured reserve or coming back from injuries. It showed on the field as the Bears dominated just about everything. The Bears were ahead in total yards (388 to 231), first downs (26 to 11), rushing yards (162 to 36), passing yards (226 to 195) and time of possession (38:00 to 22:00).

When looking at these stats without seeing the game, you’d think the Bears blew out the Chargers. You’d be wrong, however. The Bears lost a game they dominated, 17-16.

In addition to those stats, the Bears entered the red zone five times but recorded just one touchdown. They had three field goals and one missed field goal attempt. The Chargers, in contrast, were in the red zone four times and came away with two touchdowns and a field goal, with one missed field goal attempt.

The Chargers’ ability to score touchdowns and not field goals helped them steal the victory. They came up with the big plays when they needed it while the Bears didn’t.

Trubisky up to his old tricks again

As you could see, the Bears gave their fans what they wanted — an effective running game and a dominant defense. What they couldn’t give the fans, though, was an improved Mitchell Trubisky.

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Trubisky completed 23-of-35 passes for 253 yards but he had no touchdowns and threw a big interception. He also coughed up the ball that ultimately led to the Chargers’ game-winning touchdown.

The Chargers didn’t score on the interception but tight end Trey Burton was open and would’ve gotten a big chunk of yards if not a touchdown had Trubisky not underthrown the ball.

As if having turnovers on consecutive drives weren’t bad enough, Trubisky again missed a wide-open receiver. This time it was Taylor Gabriel. Trubisky had Gabriel open deep downfield but Trubisky overthrew him. On the next play, he lost the football.

If Trubisky thought the criticism by the fans and sports radio of his play was bad last week, those criticisms will be even louder this week. It seems each week we see him regress more. After last week’s debacle, the talk of replacing Trubisky went from a whisper to a yell. The critics will use megaphones this week.

This time the Trubisky defenders cannot use the offensive line or the lack of a running game was to blame for his deficiencies. Yes, Charles Leno got pushed back and bumped into Trubisky. The bump didn’t cause the fumble, however. He had it tucked and still fumbled it. The line had moments of difficulty, but for the most part, they protected well and opened up holes for David Montgomery.

Head coach Matt Nagy made an emphasis on Trubisky’s footwork being bad. That continued against the Chargers. He doesn’t set his feet when throwing the ball. Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky noted Trubisky’s bad footwork on Twitter.

Nagy under the microscope

Nagy surely got some blowback on some of his playcalling, but I feel for the most part he had a good game. I tend to agree with some analysts, like Chris Spielman (who did the color commentary for the game), who feel that perhaps Nagy is losing confidence in Trubisky.

The Bears had 13 plays in the red zone. They ran on seven of them and passed on six. Most of the passes attempted were near the line of scrimmage. Nagy called three passes into the end zone and the Chargers nearly had two interceptions. The first four plays were passes and with Trubisky struggling Nagy decided to run the ball seven of the next eight plays.

The Bears didn’t get to the red zone on the last drive but people criticized Nagy for the conservative playcalling. Again, I think he was just trying not to put the game in Trubisky’s arm and end up with a turnover or some kind of bad play. He wanted to make sure he had things lined up for Eddy Pineiro‘s attempt at a game-winning field goal.

Perhaps he should have had one more run to add a couple of yards instead of taking a knee but this was a makeable field goal that Pineiro pushed left.

After the game, reporters asked him about the play before the field goal attempt. He had no thoughts of it, per Pro Football Talk:

"“Throw the football? What happens if you take a sack and you fumble? There was zero thought of that. I’ll just be brutally clear: Zero thought of running the football, zero thought of throwing the football. You understand me?”"

Nagy also said he gave no thoughts on passing the ball, either. A chance of a sack or a turnover would be horrible. This sounds like a coach who doesn’t have confidence in his quarterback or his offense. If this is the case, things will get worse until they make changes in the offseason.

Montgomery finally has his breakout game

Montgomery finally had the breakout game everyone waited all season for. He finished the game with 135 rushing yards and a touchdown. He added four catches for 12 yards.

Montgomery showed all the attributes that convinced the Chicago Bears that he was their next main running back. He used his strength to gain yards after initial contact, used his shiftiness to avoid tacklers, and used his balance to break multiple tackles. He had a great showing and now we want to see him do it on a consistent basis.

As I mentioned, the line did an excellent job of opening holes for him. Cody Whitehair had a great seal-off block that enabled Montgomery to blow past it on a 55-yard run. On another run, Bobby Massie got to the second level and blasted the linebacker to help Montgomery get more yards.

Next. Bears: QB trade targets should they make a change. dark

If the line could continue to open these holes and Montgomery runs as he did against the Chargers it bodes well for the offense, at least the ground game. What still hinders the offense continues to be Trubisky’s errors. With the trade deadline looming in less than 48 hours, the clamor for the Chicago Bears to do something might very well drown out anything else.