There was no comeback for the Chicago Bears this week. They struggled on offense despite having a new quarterback and suffer their first loss of the 2020 season.
Well, that didn’t go as planned. After benching starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky last week and making backup Nick Foles the new starter going forward, the Chicago Bears and their offense continued to struggle. The Bears could not move on offense and managed to produce one field goal for most of the game and lost their first game of 2020, falling 19-11 to the Indianapolis Colts.
This was supposed to be the unveiling of the new-look Bears offense. Foles’ strengths were Trubisky weak points so the playbook should’ve been opened. Things didn’t work as planned.
The offense under Foles looked much the same as it looked under Trubisky. Foles couldn’t get the offense moving down the field. The running game, which performed well in the first three games, was nonexistent this week. Just as was the case with Trubisky, wide receiver Allen Robinson was the lone receiver Foles could trust — he finished with 7 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown (though the touchdown came late in the game when the outcome was all but determined).
At halftime, the Bears were down 13-3. Foles had just 107 passing yards. David Montgomery, the Bears’ top runner, had just 15 rushing yards halfway through the game. He finished the game with just 28 rushing yards. The next leading rusher was Cordarralle Patterson, who had just 5 yards.
In order for the Bears to win some games, they cannot depend on having a big fourth quarter. So far this season, they’ve been outscored 26-0 in the third quarter. If they cannot score in the third quarter, they make things more difficult for themselves.
The defense showed up
After taking some criticism after the first three games this season, the Bears’ defense had its best game of 2020. The unit held Colts quarterback Philip Rivers to just 190 yards and he completed just 55 percent of his passes.
While Jonathan Taylor had 68 yards and averaged 4 yards per run, the Colts running game together averaged just 2.7 yards per run.
The Bears defense was again utilizing the “bend but don’t break” attitude. There were times when it looked as if the Colts would break the game open but the Bears’ defense held strong and made big stops. The Colts reached the red zone four times in the game but came out with just one touchdown (on their first drive of the game).
The defense put pressure on Rivers. He gave the Bears some interception opportunities. Khalil Mack had a gimme interception in the second quarter on a tipped pass. The ball went up into the air and Mack waited it to fall onto his hands. The ball went through his hands, however. The Colts went on to get a field goal later on the drive.
Usually, when a defense holds an opponent to under 20 points you expect a victory. Since 2019, teams that did so won 82 percent of their games. The Bears lost 4 games in that same period of time under those conditions. The offense scored three points in the first 58 minutes of this game. The Chicago Bears are squandering a very good and tough defense once again.
Nagy had a tough game himself
As mentioned earlier, many thought that Nagy would open the playbook with Foles as the starter. That didn’t happen. Additionally, when the Colts stopped the running game early in the game, Nagy abandoned the run. In the third quarter with the game still in doubt, the Bears passed the ball 11 times and ran just twice. This is what Nagy said.
A rush for two, a rush for three, a rush for two, a rush for three, a rush for two — a long rush of six. You felt that. And then all of the sudden you look up and it’s the end of the third quarter and we’re trying to get a rhythm. It was hard and that’s a credit to them.
It wasn’t just that Nagy abandoned the run. He became predictable. From their drive late in the second quarter throughout the third quarter, the Bears ran the ball four times and passed it 12 times. All of the runs came when Foles was under center while all the passes came when Foles was in the shotgun. Yes, the Colts defense was good, but the Bears and Nagy made it easier for them to defend the offense.
Remember, this is Foles’ first time with the offense in a game situation
Yes, this was a debacle, but remember that this is the first time Foles played with these receivers in a game situation. There was no preseason and no OTAs this offseason, and he split the reps in training camp with Trubisky. You could see that Foles didn’t have a rapport with his receivers.
Yes, Foles and the receivers played well in that fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons, but that was mostly playing out of desperation. You saw some of that late in the fourth quarter as Foles and Robinson connected.
Expect to see Foles and the receivers look better together as the season progresses. Foles did try to distribute the ball. He targeted nine receivers in the game. As Foles learns the tendencies the receivers have he’ll understand how to throw better so they can make the catch and make a play. Playing against the top-ranked defense certainly didn’t help Foles’ debut.
Next up for the Bears is a meetup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. They have a short week to prepare for Tom Brady, who had a five-touchdown day on this same week. Let’s hope the offense at least reaches a respectable level on national television.