Bears

Bears observations: Team finds new ways to lose

Bears

If you’re reading these postgame observations because you opted not to watch the Bears’ Week 11 matchup against the Ravens, I don’t blame you. Because, well, that game was ugly, except for that one 4th-and-11 hail mary that gave the Bears hope they might finally end their losing streak.. Each team was shorthanded, as Lamar Jackson, Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, Marquise Brown, Akiem Hicks and Allen Robinson were all inactive with various injuries and illnesses. Things got even worse when Justin Fields exited the game in the third quarter with an injury to his ribs. Despite having so many stars out, it was a game that the Bears still could have won. They simply couldn’t seal the victory, because of things that have plagued them all season.

JUSTIN FIELDS HURT

The Bears have had an incredible stretch of bad injury news over the past week, and it got even worse in the early stages of the second half on Sunday. After the Bears first drive of the third quarter, Fields went into the medical tent on the sideline. When he came out, he headed straight to the locker room with trainers. The diagnosis was an injury to his ribs, and he was ruled out one quarter later. But even before the injury, Fields was having a rough day. There were several moments where he appeared to have a miscommunication with his intended receiver. He didn’t make many plays with his legs, and generally appeared to take a step back from his impressive fourth quarter against the Steelers. Fields finished completing only 4-11 passes for 79 yards, with 23 rushing yards on four carries.

 

STILL TOO MANY MISTAKES

The Bears no longer have a troubling trend of silly mistakes. It’s one of this team’s biggest weaknesses. The Bears typically lose these types of games because they’re not good enough to overcome those mistakes, and Sunday was no different. Not even Andy Dalton and Marquise Goodwin’s 4th-and-11 hail mary score could bail the team out.

There were the aforementioned miscommunications between Fields and his receivers. There were strange play calls, like a 3rd-and-5 pitch that went for a loss of six, and pushed back an eventual Cairo Santos missed field goal attempt. But there were bad penalties too. There was a “too many men on the field” penalty that helped the Ravens convert a first down when they were backed up against their own endzone. The most embarrassing however, were two more false starts coming out of stoppages. One was a false start on Jason Peters, coming out of a timeout, on 4th-and-6 with less than two minutes left and the Bears down by two points. That was eventually bailed out by Dalton’s hail mary. The other came on the very first play of the second half. Completely inexcusable.

ROQUAN SMITH, ROBERT QUINN BALL OUT

It wasn’t all bad though. With Mack out for the season, the major narrative on defense was how the Bears would fill his void. Quinn answered that question very early with two first half sacks,. He finished the game with 3.5 sacks and should’ve had another half-sack he wasn’t credited for. Quinn was a problem all afternoon for the Ravens offensive line, and impacted many plays even if he didn’t get a tackle, or hit on Tyler Huntley. On one drive, Quinn forced a punt practically by himself. On first down he got a TFL on Latavius Murray. On second down he (along with Smith) hurried Huntley on an incomplete pass. Then on third down, Quinn ran down Huntley from behind for a sack.

Then there’s Smith, who seemed to clean up every single play that made it to the second level of the defense. This felt like the type of game that could be Smith’s transition from great linebacker, to great “Bears” linebacker. He was everywhere, running sideline to sideline, laying huge hits on ball carriers, and finished the game with 17 tackles. The organization has probably the richest history at the position, and Smith is carrying forward the franchise’s legacy.

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