A bad week for the Chicago Bears ended in one of the worst ways possible after they dropped their Week 3 matchup to the Kansas City Chiefs 41-10. The score truly doesn’t do this game justice as the Chiefs were up 31-0 at halftime thanks to timely plays from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, as well as costly turnovers by the Bears. It was over at halftime and the final two quarters were merely a formality as the Chiefs pulled their starters midway through the third quarter.
For the Bears, quarterback Justin Fields failed to eclipse 100-yards passing, going 11-of-22 for 99 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. It was another dreadful outing despite the additional quarterback rollouts and designed runs that were added after Fields expressed his desire to simplify things earlier in the week.
On defense, the Bears couldn’t get pressure on Mahomes and allowed him to pick apart the secondary with three touchdowns. The Chiefs broke out of their offensive slump and looked like their old selves once again. Playing the Bears can do that for a team.
The Bears are now 0-3 for the first time since 2016 and the hope from the offseason has completely vanished for the majority of the fanbase. Here are our takeaways from yet another miserable loss.
1. This is a new level of ineptitude for the Bears
When things begin to go bad for the Bears and the losses pile up, we tend to look back at previous failures for comparison sake. With the Bears starting the season 0-3 and having just a 3-17 record during Eberflus’ tenure as head coach, it’s easy to say this is the next Marc Trestman or they’re suffering through another Matt Nagy season. The truth is that this is worse. Much worse.
There has rarely ever been a season where the team has started so poorly that everyone has already given up. Despite making several roster additions that, while not perfect, have upgraded this team on paper, they still have yet to win a game and could go a full calendar year without doing so. Even at their most dysfunctional, Trestman and Nagy never experienced that type of streak, especially to start a new season. Trestman and Nagy both got out to decent starts in every season they coached the Bears. You can argue that the John Fox era was this bad, but even they had excuses while they implemented new systems during the first season and quarterback Jay Cutler went down with an injury in the second. There’s no such excuse for Eberflus now.
This second season is when pieces should start forming. The team theoretically should have an identity. The offense that had flashes in 2022 should have taken the next step. The defense should have the pieces in place after all the spending and drafting the last couple offseasons. And even if they hadn’t, surely they would have still been able to luck into a win somehow, right? They can’t even get luck on their side at this point. Nothing stands out here, and it’s already a colossal disappointment despite the calendar not even hitting October yet.
The Bears haven’t started a season 0-4 since 2000 under Dick Jauron, coincidentally his second season with the Bears. Eberflus needs a win this week to avoid that slide, but more importantly, he needs a win to restore any confidence in this team for the rest of the season. Because it likely has dwindled inside the locker room. It certainly has with the fans.
2. Justin Fields isn't the answer as a franchise QB
That’s it. After nearly two and a half years of hope since he was drafted, I’m officially out on Justin Fields as the team’s franchise quarterback. Whether or not Fields can be successful elsewhere to restart his career is up for debate, but it won’t be in Chicago for a number of reasons.
It feels like I’m beating a dead horse, but Fields and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy do not work together. I will keep saying it until one (or both) are out of the picture. Fields simply look lost in this system. He’s not confident in the pocket, he refuses to trust his receivers, and he looks and sounds beaten down. It feels as if this team broke his competitive spirit, and he’s playing out the season at this point. Just read this quote from his press conference via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin when asked what he’s learned from the last few weeks.
I’m looking at it like the big picture, life in general to be honest with you. I think this past week has had me kind of look at it like what are the important things in life? Because you know when things are going good, you feel me, not say whatever. I think these past couple of weeks have made me appreciate the little things in life like being able to play this game. Every opportunity I get to go out there and play, I’m going to have fun. I’m going to play my hardest and, you know, just thank god for giving me the ability to play. So, no matter what the scoreboard is, I’m going to keep doing the same mindset and just pushing to keep moving forward.
When asked about the Bears losing by 31 today, Justin Fields pointed to what he's learned these last few weeks.
Fields: "I'm looking at it like the big picture, life in general to be honest with you. I think this past week has had me kind of look at it like what are the…
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) September 25, 2023
Does that sound like a man who is ready to lead this team to a winning streak? Without his running ability, Fields is a liability when dropping back to pass. According to ESPN Stats and Info via Cronin, Fields has the worst QBR and yards per dropback from inside the pocket among quarterbacks with at least 200 passes since the start of last season. And it’s not close.
A look at Justin Fields' struggles inside the pocket since the start of last season. Since 2022, Fields has the worst QBR (25) and yards per dropback (4.6) from inside the pocket among QBs with at least 200 passes in that time. @ESPNStatsInfo pic.twitter.com/yB52FJEvPW
— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) September 25, 2023
We’re 28 starts into his career, and he only seems to be getting worse. In 2022, quarterbacks passed for an average of 192 yards per game. Since he became a full-time starter, Fields has exceeded that total just eight times. It feels like he’s a lost cause as a Bear, and that’s incredibly deflating considering his promise coming out of the draft. Chicago hired the wrong offensive coordinator to get the most out of him, and now they’re likely going to turn the page once again to find someone new.
This isn’t all on Fields. He’s the obvious scapegoat as the team’s starting quarterback, but the issues with playcalling, drops, and blown assignments all factor into the equation. But can the Bears really afford to pair him with yet another offensive coordinator in his fourth season while also passing up the opportunity to draft someone like Caleb Williams if this trend continues? Not a chance, and that decision will have already been made for them. A miracle will need to happen to get this train back on the tracks.
3. Eberflus and the staff need to stop talking about execution
When Eberflus first stepped up to his press conference immediately after the game, one of the first things he said was that the team didn’t execute the way they wanted. Whether he meant it or not, that’s an indictment on the players for not executing the game plan in place. But it’s tough to execute a bad plan on both sides of the ball, and Eberflus needs to point the finger at himself before anyone else.
This team got their teeth kicked in a couple weeks ago to start the season. That should have been the end of any lackluster play and unpreparedness. Instead, distractions have only compounded, the preparedness has gotten worse, and the game plans (as a whole) have left much to be desired.
This isn’t just an issue of execution. Practices can look great when you’re going up against an equally inferior unit. The Bears are near the bottom of every offensive and defensive category, no matter how you dice it. These plans need to be overhauled ASAP if this team wants to have a shot at competing in November and December.
4. Next week will reveal just how bad the Bears actually are
Normally, I break down the actual plays in the game and discuss where things went right or wrong. But this is so much bigger than one game. Do we really need to talk about the ineffective alignments and routes the receivers had? What about the questionable play calling yet again? Or how about Eberflus’ soft zone coverage against the greatest quarterback in today’s game? No, one or two plays would not have made a difference in this one. It’s about the inability to show improvement in a year that should have been nothing but. The Bears are arguably the worst team in the league, and that will be determined for sure next week when they welcome the Denver Broncos to town.
The Broncos are the other dumpster fire of the year up to this point after they surrendered 70 points to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in their 70-20 loss. Had it not been for that game, the Bears would have easily been the week’s biggest loser. Now both teams are on a collision course to determine who is the worst of the worst.
Changes won’t be made this week unless another odd situation arises with a Bears coach, but if they lose to the winless Broncos next week and fail to get their offense going, firings will need to happen. Chicago isn’t at rock bottom yet, but a loss next week will get them there.