Week 7

Studs and Duds from Bears' Week 7 loss to Saints

Studs and Duds from Bears' Week 7 loss to Saints

The Bears played what may have been their worst game in the Matt Nagy era in Sunday's 36-25 loss to the New Orleans Saints. This despite the fact that the Bears were coming off of a bye week that was supposed to be used to establish the team's identity on offense.

Instead, Nagy and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky created more questions than answers about not only this year's Bears, but also about Nagy's ability as a play-caller and Trubisky's potential to ever emerge as a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.

They weren't alone in their struggles on Sunday. The defense was atrocious, too. Facing a depleted Saints offense that was without Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook, the Bears allowed 424 total yards, including 119 rushing yards for Saints running back Latavius Murray.

There were a lot more duds than studs in Week 7:

Dud: QB Mitchell Trubisky

Beware the final stat line for Trubisky on Sunday. It will lie to you. Sure, he completed more than 63 percent of his passes, threw for more than 250 yards and had two touchdowns, but Week 7's effort against the Saints may have been the worst we've seen from the third-year quarterback. He was inaccurate. He made bad decisions. He floated turnover-worthy throws. And, the worst part? We're getting used to it by now. The Bears are stuck with Trubisky for the rest of this season and if the former No. 2 pick doesn't make a marked turnaround over the final 10 games, you can add quarterback to the team's wishlist this offseason.

Dud: OLB Khalil Mack

For the second consecutive week, Mack was invisible. And while it feels unfair to call him a dud considering all he's done for the Bears over his first 20 games, the fact remains that the Bears' pass rush was non-existent on Sunday, and it starts with Mack. He isn't getting any help from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and there was no interior push without defensive lineman Akiem Hicks in the game, but generational players step up and make the key play when it's needed most. Mack hasn't done that in either of Chicago's last two losses.

Dud: ILB Roquan Smith

Smith is trending toward one of this team's biggest disappointments of 2019. His talent is undeniable, and when he's on his game, there are few linebackers who can match his heat-seeking style. But his struggles at the point of attack and in coverage were exposed yesterday. Murray's size and power gave Smith trouble. He has to play better considering the Bears need to make a decision on linebacker Danny Trevathan's future this offseason. If Smith's struggles continue, it could force GM Ryan Pace to keep the steady veteran around on another multi-year deal.

Stud: WR Allen Robinson

The impact Robinson is having on offense can't be understated at this point. He's the only sign of life from a unit that's been dead on arrival for most of 2019. Robinson ended the game with 10 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. He was Trubisky's first read on almost every pass play and was targeted 16 times. A-Rob is everything the Bears hoped he'd be. It's the other 10 guys on offense who haven't been.

Dud: RB David Montgomery

Montgomery's rookie season may have hit rock bottom on Sunday. He finished the game with just two carries for six yards and lost a costly fumble. The struggles with the offensive line have been well-documented, but at some point, Montgomery has to prove he can make something out of nothing. Right now, he hasn't done that. And it appears like the coaching staff is beginning to lose some faith in him.

Dud: RB Tarik Cohen

Cohen joins Montgomery as a dud from Week 7. He didn't fare much better on the ground (just 10 yards on three carries) and managed only 19 yards on nine receptions. His biggest moment in the game came at his own expense when Saints defensive back Chauncy Gardner-Johnson mocked his height. Cohen has to start flipping field position for this offense to stand a chance over the last 10 games. 

Stud: WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson has to be a stud, right? Even if it's for just one play? It happened to be a pretty good one -- kickoff returned 102 yards for a touchdown -- and looked like the spark the Bears needed to wake up. Unfortunately, it would be one of the few highlights from an otherwise brutal four quarters at Soldier Field.


NFC North Standings: Bears are worst team in division through Week 7

NFC North Standings: Bears are worst team in division through Week 7

It seems like such a long time ago that optimism and hope were the feelings that best described the Chicago Bears fanbase. Optimism was bred from the talking points around quarterback Mitch Trubisky in training camp; Hope was the result of knowing this defense was good enough to win a Super Bowl.

Yet, here we are, seven weeks into the 2019 season, and the Bears sit at 3-3 and in third place in the NFC North. And it's not like they've had a few bad breaks, either. Nor is it because another team or two in the division is fool's gold. Instead, the Bears are a pretty bad club right now. They have the division's worst offense, led by the North's worst starting quarterback, and a defense that's suddenly drifted closer to a middle-of-the-pack group than the elite squad that was drawing comparisons to the 1985 team.

Chicago's embarrassing 36-25 loss to the Saints on Sunday makes it back-to-back one-sided defeats that were the result of an equal parts offensive and defensive failure. But it's impossible to talk about this team without bringing up the obvious and most necessary issue: Mitch Trubisky.

His performance in Week 7 was more like an undrafted rookie making his first career start than a former No. 2 overall pick in his third season. Sure, he was restricted by a shoulder harness and probably wasn't 100% healthy, but the Bears are running out of excuses for Trubisky. The boo birds were out in full force in the second half of Sunday's loss and it's a trend that will continue unless, of course, he rights the ship quickly.

His passes fluttered high and wide when they mattered most, and despite finishing the game with over 250 yards and two touchdowns, he was downright bad. 

And to make matters worse, the NFC North may have already slipped away in 2019.

The Packers walloped the Oakland Raiders, 42-24, to improve to 6-1. They're the class of the division, and if quarterback Aaron Rodgers starts to click like he did on Sunday (he threw for 429 yards, five touchdowns and had a perfect passer rating), Green Bay could end up being the favorite in the NFC.

The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Detroit Lions, 42-30, to improve to 5-2. The Vikings are now in sole possession of second place in the NFC North at 5-2.

The Lions, meanwhile, drop to 2-3-1, and are currently in last place in the North. That said, they aren't the worst team. That distinction belongs to the Bears, and it isn't particularly close.

You'll hear a lot about the Bears being 3-3 after six games last season, too. Unfortunately, this team is very different. And it starts under center, where Trubisky has taken a big step back in a season that he was expected to develop into Chicago's franchise quarterback.

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Will Bears offense find its identity vs. Saints?

Will Bears offense find its identity vs. Saints?

The Bears offense hasn't gotten off to the start that was predicted over the summer, when quarterback Mitch Trubisky's development was praised by Matt Nagy and his Bears teammates, and rookie running back David Montgomery felt like a lock to provide Chicago with an uptick in production as a do-it-all player.

Instead, the Bears enter Week 7's game against the New Orleans Saints with an undefined identity on offense. Nagy hasn't committed to the run game while the passing offense has been inconsistent at best.

Most of Chicago's struggles stem from the poor play of the offensive line, but even so, there doesn't seem to be any one thing this team can hang its hat on offense.

NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms, who spoke with NBC Sports Chicago this week, said the Bears' lacking identity is one of their biggest problems so far this season.

"The first thing is, have a motto, what are you, what is it, what is the Chicago Bears, have a mantra," Simms said. "We know the Dallas Cowboys, they want to run the ball. You’re seeing up in Green Bay, they made a thing, we’re gonna run the ball, and we’re gonna get in the I formation and come downhill and slowly but surely, they’ve built a lot of stuff off of it.

"I think my concern with the Chicago Bears is there’s not one thing they’re great at, and that’s important, because when you’re great at one thing, what it does is it makes defenses go 'We have to stop that one great thing,' and from there, a guy like Matt Nagy, who’s very smart, he’ll be able to play off of that and go, now defenses are doing this to take something away, and now I can do this, this, and that off of it to combat that plan of attack.

"The running game, there’s just not a lot of patience and persistence with the running game, and I see passing schematics that I think are a little bit repetitive at times, I do think there need to be a few more new ideas and concepts in the passing. But more than anything, it just goes back to find something that’s your bread and butter, and once you find your bread and butter, the defenses have to adjust, and then you can adjust off of that and come up with some creative things to beat that."

The Bears enter Week 7 with the 30th ranked total offense in the NFL, the 30th ranked passing offense and 26th ranked rushing offense. It's a minor miracle (and a credit to Khalil Mack and the defense) that this team is 3-2.

But for Chicago to make a push for the playoffs and a potential Super Bowl run, the offense has to do its part. And it has to start Sunday against the Saints. It won't be an easy task; New Orleans' defense is ranked 10th in yards allowed per game so far this year.

"Find the identity, what is the identity, I don’t know what it is right now," Simms said. "It’s just a bunch of plays and formations every week, I never go, 'Oh this is what they’re trying to do, I get it.' I’m always going, 'I don’t know, it’s underneath the center, it’s a run, then it’s shotgun for four plays, then it’s back to underneath the center and running the ball, and then it’s running the ball out of the shotgun.' I don’t know what they’re trying to get accomplished on a week to week basis."

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