It was a one-possession loss by Chicago, but there were a number of reasons why they fell short. The Bears offense stalled in the red zone; the defense struggled to stop the run (and stop play-action bootlegs); and the coaching staff was out-coached by Brian Daboll’s staff.
We’re breaking down the Bears’ loss to the Giants and what it means looking ahead.
First Down: Offense stalls in the red zone
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Heading into Week 4, the Bears ranked fifth in the red zone. Not that they’ve been regulars this season, but they’ve scored touchdowns on 71.43% of their trips. They were impressive in the red zone — until Sunday’s game against the Giants, where they went 0-for-3 and left 12 points on the field in what was ultimately an eight-point loss.
On Chicago’s first red zone possession, Justin Fields tossed an incomplete pass to Dante Pettis on third-and-7, and the Bears settled for a 29-yard field goal. On the ensuing red zone possession, Khalil Herbert was stopped for a 1-yard gain on third-and-3, which led to a 22-yard field goal. Then, on the first drive of the second half, they stalled on the Giants’ 17-yard line after Cole Kmet lost three yards on a pass on third-and-6. Enter Michael Badgley for the 35-yard field goal. Badgley accounted for all 12 of Chicago’s points, and the Bears were held to 10 points for the second time in four games.
Second Down: Luke Getsy's conservative play calling
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Defensive coordinator Alan Williams didn’t have a banner day, but at least he made some adjustments at halftime to get his unit in check. The same can’t be said about offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who had another brutal outing — from start to finish — against the Giants. Getsy wasn’t prepared for the Wink Martingale blitz-attack that’s been on film, and he lacked creativity in his play calling.
Getsy remains conservative with his play calling, especially in the red zone. The Bears stalled on all three red zone opportunities, where Getsy played it too safe with run plays and kept the ball out of Justin Fields’ hands (for the most part). This is Getsy’s first year as a play caller, and he’s going to have his share of struggles. But this Matt Nagy-esque conservative approach — at the expense of his young quarterback — clearly isn’t working.
Third Down: Run defense continues to struggle
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Despite only allowing 20 points, it was another rough outing for Alan Williams’ defense. They had no answer for the Giants’ play-action bootlegs and they also gave up 262 yards on the ground, and they’re on pace to allow 2,000 yards more than last season, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears went into this game intent on stopping Giants running back Saquon Barkley, but they couldn’t contain the league’s top rusher. Barkley had 146 yards on 31 carries (4.7 average). But 94 of those yards came after contact, per Clay Harbor, and tackling remains a huge concern for this Chicago defense through four games.
Fourth Down: Offensive line takes a hit
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The offensive line had a solid outing against the Texans in Week 3, but it was a rough outing for the group against the Giants on Sunday. Justin Fields was sacked six times, with five of those coming in the first half alone. Fields was quick to run at the first sign of trouble, which it’s hard to blame him given the line was collapsing with ease.
To make matters worse, the Bears lost their top offensive lineman in Cody Whitehair, who left the game with a knee injury. Lucas Patrick replaced him, and it doesn’t matter if it’s the left or right side, Patrick has been a liability at guard. The entire offensive line remains a huge concern, especially as it relates to Fields’ development. Sunday’s loss to the Giants made it perfectly clear that GM Ryan Poles needs to prioritize and invest in the trenches this offseason.
Extra Point: The Justin Fields-Darnell Mooney connection lives!
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If there’s one good thing to come out of this frustrating loss, it’s that Justin Fields showed signs of improvement. Granted, the bar was set remarkably low after the first three weeks. But it certainly appears that one key factor has been a big contributor in that — getting wide receiver Darnell Mooney involved. We’ve heard all offseason about the blossoming connection between Fields and Mooney, and it only took four weeks to see it finally manifest on the field.
Mooney caught four passes for 94 yards (on five targets), which more than tripled his production through the first three games of the season. We even caught a glimpse of this duo’s potential on a 56-yard bomb. Mooney was the only receiver that Fields connected with on the day, although Fields also attempted six passes between Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis and Ihmir Smith-Marsette.