Some eyes were opened and weaknesses exposed when the Bears lost to the Oakland Raiders across the pond. A lackluster first half led to worry setting in for the Bears faithful. Sure, Chicago almost did enough to win it, holding a lead till late in the fourth quarter, but the Raiders managed to hold on. Oakland outgained Chicago 398-236 in terms of total yardage with 169 yards coming on the ground to Chicago’s 42 yards.
The Bears entered their bye week hoping to get healthier and prepare for a surging Saints squad. There was hope that Chicago might get things back on track, not having to face Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara or Jared Cook. Add all those factors in and throw in the fact they were playing at Soldier Field, the Bears were favored by four prior to kickoff.
Mitchell Trubisky returned for his first action since Week Four after injuring his shoulder. A couple of smash-mouth defenses showed out early with the Saints taking an early 9-0 lead. Chicago got on the board with a 102-yard kickoff return score from utility man Cordarrelle Patterson. A couple of field goals, one for both side, had the Saints up 12-10 at the half.
New Orleans tacked on 24 straight points through the third and early portion of the fourth quarter, while Chicago’s woes continued. Chicago found some success during garbage time, finding the endzone with 2:31 left in the game. They then managed to become the first team this season to convert on an onside kick attempt, with the ball glancing off Michael Thomas and recovered by Patterson.
Trubisky found Javon Wims with just under one minute left to pull the Bears within 11 with one timeout remaining. Chicago nearly pulled off another improbable onside kick recovery, but this time Ben Braunecker snuffed it, except he was out of bounds and didn’t re-establish himself before the recovery.
New Orleans got the ball and kneeled to run out the clock, extinguishing any mere hope of Chicago coming back. The Saints had blown away Chicago in every category before garbage time. Even with the late yards, the Bears were still outpaced 424-252 in total yards with New Orleans rushing for 151 yards compared to Chicago’s 17 yards.
It’s pretty rare any team will have any chance at winning if they rush for less than 20 yards over a span of 20-plus minutes. It’s downright sad in fact, considering the Bears were supposed to have a triple-headed monster in the backfield.
Through six games Tarik Cohen has 47 rushing yards on 20 attempts, David Montgomery has 231 yards on 71 attempts, and Mike Davis has 22 yards on nine attempts. The lack of a consistent running game won’t cut it for the Bears with a struggling Trubisky failing to take that next step. Not only has worry set in about a general lack of offense, but worry has also set in with an inability to stretch the field. Basically, the Bears have been carried by their defense so far, with an occasional good night from the offense.
So what’s the issue? A lot of fingers can be pointed at the offensive line, or lack thereof. It’s eerily similar to when Jay Cutler was playing in the Windy City, except Trubisky isn’t throwing as many interceptions. The fact remains he hasn’t had time to set himself properly and has overthrown numerous receivers. With Kyle Long on IR, the Bears are likely to have more inconsistency down the line as they try and find that suitable replacement.
The Bears have a string of winnable games coming up, starting with a home game against the struggling L.A. Chargers. The Chargers have lost four of their last five by seven points or less, but it’s a necessity for either team to get a win at this point in the season. Chicago then faces the Eagles on the road, then host the “dark-horse” Lions for a tough divisional matchup.
The sky is slowly falling, but the Bears had similar issues to begin last season, and everyone knows how they managed to finish that out. Nevertheless, if the Bears can’t at least win two of the next three games, Chicago will be in a much larger world of hurt and their Super Bowl chances will be all but extinguished.