The Bears taking an L against the Bucs, in Tampa Bay, was not unexpected this week. But losing in such embarrassing fashion, for the second time this season was a bit more of a surprise. Matt Nagy’s team was completely outmatched in each phase of the game, which makes writing an “observations” column difficult. Instead, let’s go over the biggest problems on offense, defense and then one sliver of a silver lining.
JUSTIN FIELDS, OFFENSE STRUGGLE MIGHTILY, AGAIN
Going in, this was going to be a tough task for Fields. One of the biggest things any rookie quarterback has to learn as he grows in the NFL is how to properly diagnose a defense, pre and post snap. When facing Todd Bowles’ defense, that job is even tougher, as he disguises coverages and loves to bring the blitz. But the Bears were dealt another blow when they had to place Elijah Wilkinson一 the team’s backup right tackle who was in for the injured Germain Ifedi一 on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That forced the team to start their third-stringer Lachavious Simmons.
Right out of the gate, the Bears bungled a Bucs safety blitz and Fields was lit up for a sack fumble on the second play of the game. Then Simmons was soundly beaten for two sacks, leading the Bears to bench him in favor of Alex Bars. Fields was under pressure pretty much all day, and it led to some ugly plays and rookie mistakes. He finished 22-32 for 184 yards and 5 giveaways.
DEFENSE CAN’T STOP ANYTHING
The Buccaneers legitimately did whatever they wanted on offense, and the Bears were powerless to stop them. Tom Brady picking apart the secondary is less surprising, considering that’s what he does and the Bucs have the best passing attack in the league. There have been questions about the Bears’ nickel defense and Brady has historically worked the middle of the field incredibly well (to be fair he does pretty much everything incredibly well). But it wasn’t just Chris Godwin feasting in the slot: Mike Evans also put on a clinic on the outside, going against Jaylon Johnson. To be fair, Johnson played pretty good defense on Evans at times, but Brady and Evans just connected to beat him, because that’s what they do.
What was more surprising was the fact that the Bucs ran all over the Bears too. Yes, Akiem Hicks is out, and he plays a huge role in that area. But you would Roquan Smith, Eddie Goldman and co. would be able to get the job done against a team that was bottom-five in rushing attempts and yards, and sixth-worst in YPC coming into this game. The run defense’s performance is even more concerning, considering it’s the second week in a row they've let a team run all over them. If the D wants to get back on track against the Niners, they’ll have to start by shoring up the run defense.
KHALIL HERBERT WAS GOOD AT LEAST
If there’s anything the Bears can hang their hats on, it’s that the run game has continued to roll despite many obstacles. They lost David Montgomery and Damien Williams, and haven’t missed a step with Herbert acting as the lead back. Additionally, they were able to succeed against the best run defense in the league. Herbert managed 100 yards on 18 carries, when the Bucs had surrendered a previous high of 67 yards to Sony Michel.
Going into the game a big question was who would come out on top as two strengths went head-to-head, and the Bears managed to win in this one area of the game. But now the question remains how can Nagy and Bill Lazor figure out a way to turn their effective run game into points on the board.