Going into Sunday’s game against the Browns, the Bears knew that Myles Garrett was going to be a handful. David Montgomery and Justin Fields each name checked him in the week leading up to the game as a challenge the offense would have to find a way to overcome. Offensive line coach Juan Castillo said the goal was to not allow Garrett to beat them, to force the Browns to find another way to affect Fields.
But two weeks after limiting Aaron Donald to only one sack and three tackles, they seemed completely unprepared for Garrett. He set a Browns record with 4.5 sacks, and notched six QB hits and seven tackles total. By Monday morning the coaching staff still didn’t have many answers for where things went wrong in the pass protection gameplan.
“I think they did a good job of moving him around a little bit,” Matt Nagy said. “They put him on the inside and did some things there. Really, no matter where he’s at, whether he’s on the edge or whether he’s in the three-tech or shade, he’s going to always be dominant. He’s a special player in this league. We knew that. You’ve got to always give respect to those types of players.
“And so now, we want to look into was it a time we got beat one-on-one? Was it a time we got beat two-on-one? What was the role of certain players in that specific call? We got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure those players are in the best situation possible.”
While Nagy gave the Browns credit for moving Garrett across the line, both Fields and Castillo said nothing the Browns did with Garrett surprised them.
“The thing is we worked on all the things,” Castillo said. “We have to be more consistent with our fundamentals. I think the guys know that and it’s still just Week 3 and we’re working to get better, you know.”
In his Monday press conference, Nagy reiterated when discussing self-evaluation that he is always open for critiques. It can come from other coaches or players, it doesn’t matter, his door is open. To that end, it became apparent pretty early in the game that whatever the plan was to neutralize Garrett and the rest of the Browns pass rush, it wasn’t working. So my colleague Adam Hoge asked Castillo if, at any point, he went up to Nagy and asked for some help. Could he bring in an extra tight end to block, dial up a screen? Anything to help his O-line protect Fields?
“You have to worry about your job, what you can control and your responsibility and take care of it and attack it,” Castillo said. “No different... I know you had a bad day before. And think about what you did and how you approached it. We all have, or you wouldn't be here. If you didn't overcome it, you wouldn't be standing here asking me questions, you know? So it's the same thing with us... Well, that's the thing that by the end of the year, we want to be in a position to be competing for the playoffs and things like that.”
The Bears offensive line had performed admirably in the first two weeks so a huge dropoff in Week 3 was a bit of a surprise. Next week, the Bears play the Lions, who rank No. 10 in the league in sacks, so it’s not like things will get much easier, despite their 0-3 record. The Bears will have to figure out where things went wrong in their pass protection on Sunday, approach it, attack it and take care of it, as Castillo said. If not, there could be more bad days at the office ahead.