Chicago Bears Offense Stalls, Defense Balls

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 05: Members of the Chicago Bears defense stand before a play against the Green Bay Packers during the first half at Soldier Field on September 05, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

We just witnessed what happens when the Chicago Bears offense stalls even if the defense balls. They used all summer to come out and lay an egg against the Green Bay Packers. A 10-3 defeat at home was deflating. It was supposed to be the beginning of a Super Bowl march.

Bears Defense Balls even as Offense Stalls

To be perfectly clear it still can be. After all, the end result was the same last season and the Bears went on to go (12-4). But this one had a different feeling to it. It wasn’t a new one though; often feeling like the playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Offense Stalls

We are just going to rip off the bandage here. The “it was just one game” doesn’t cut it in this instance because of the stance taken by the head coach this summer. Three points are rarely if ever going to beat a team, let alone one quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers. Matt Nagy said so himself postgame.

Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, Nagy took his approach from last season and exposed it to gamma radiation. The starters played the equivalent of a morning walk-through this preseason, and that may be being generous. Well, they showed that lack of activity for the entirety of game one when it counted.

Eddy Pineiro gave the Bears a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on their second drive. It started on the Packers 36-yard line and featured three straight David Montgomery handoffs, one for Mike Davis, and a one-yard Mitchell Trubisky pass.

Trubisky had 73 yards at halftime as Chicago would go on to punt six drives in a row. It would have been seven if not for a failed fourth-down conversion attempt. They only converted three third downs in 15 tries for the game and Trubisky finished with 228 scoreless yards with a pick, 57.8 completion percentage, a 62.1 and a paltry 5.1 yards per attempt.

The running game was supposed to be an asset to a still-growing quarterback. It was mostly ineffective. Volume is the elephant in the room there. 12 carries were split between three players. 11 were by running backs and the other was a head-scratcher by Cordarrelle Patterson on third down.

Montgomery got the start but Davis got just one less carry (six to five) and gained one more yard (19 to 18). Tarik Cohen, who had a hard-earned 49 yards on eight catches, didn’t receive a carry.

Perhaps using a two-head approach with Cohen and Montgomery would allow everyone to get into a rhythm and still keep the offense unpredictable.  Maybe the official snap counts will tell a different story. But Davis’ usage felt a lot like Taquan Mizzell and Benny Cunningham last season.

Defense Balls

Concerns over Chuck Pagano being able to maintain the defense should be laid to rest (maybe, but probably not yet). Rodgers scored 10 points and got sacked five times (as did Trubisky). The difference was Rodgers threw a touchdown instead of a turnover, something Bears have seen before.

Rodgers had an especially rough first quarter going two-for-5 for five yards and taking a sack. He finished the half strongly though completing 11 of 15 passes for 132 yards and the score, an eight-yard toss to Jimmy Graham.

However one wants to view it, Rodgers only had 66 more pass yards the rest of the game. The run game was not a huge factor for Green Bay either. Aaron Jones was treated as the workhorse but that amounted to 13 carries and 39 yards. His totals weren’t surprising but he was getting enough yards that the defense couldn’t pin their ears back,

David Bakhtiari continued his yeoman’s work of containing Khalil Mack. Contain is a relative term here because Mack still made five stops and was getting pressure when not lined up over Bakhtiari. Akiem Hicks, Aaron Lynch, and Roy Robertson-Harris all had a sack apiece. Leonard Floyd also had himself a game notching two sacks; possibly hinting at a contract-year breakout.

Seeing Graham score what ended up being the deciding touchdown stings a bit more when remembering the similar turning point in that playoff loss to the Eagles. The Bears travel to Philadelphia in week nine, by the way.

Green Bay converted just two of their 12 third-down attempts. They were outgained 254 yards to 213. Rodgers finished with 166 net passing yards and, opposite the Chicago offense, Green Bay ran much smoother when off-script.

The defense also played a mostly clean game; only committing two of the team’s 10 penalties. They accounted for 43 of the teams 107 penalty yards thanks largely to a 38-yard defensive pass interference call. The other one was a five-yard illegal contact backbreaker. It happened in the fourth quarter on third down and ended with Mason Crosby’s field goal.

The players made sure their new coordinator had a solid debut for his new team. An overturned fumble recovery from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix here, an eerily-similar-to-2018 dropped interception by Kyle Fuller there and this could be an entirely different article. Too bad their effort prove to be for naught.

Final Takeaways

Eddy Vetted?

There was one bright spot outside of the defense and that was Pineiro nailing his lone attempt from 38 yards out right down the middle. It was nice to see him get the chance and deliver in prime time. Fans would have loved to get more attempts (see: points) but this was a major step in putting all the ugliness behind them completely.

Mitch-to-Robinson Legit?

Allen Robinson gained 102 yards on seven catches. It took 13 targets, though, as the receiver made acrobatic grab after acrobatic grab and doing some good things after the catch. The jury is still out on the passer but the pass-catcher has shown that, when healthy, he can give a team solid production despite the quarterback’s limitations.

Throw it All Away

This is a message to the fans. No one inside the Bears locker room is panicking and rightfully so, it is just one game. But the negative coverage is coming, chock full of told-you-so assessments. Too bad they won’t get much time to dwell on it. A road trip to visit the Denver Broncos (and Vic Fangio) is on tap.

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