As the Chicago Bears again try to clean up from an offensive breakdown, a look at every drive-killing mistake in Week 1

The refrain felt depressingly familiar Sunday evening at Soldier Field and throughout the day Monday at Halas Hall.

The Chicago Bears were taking ownership of their season-opening 38-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was their 11th consecutive defeat, their 15th loss in 17 games and — hold on to your seats — their 113th regular-season setback since last winning a playoff game.

So, yes, this accountability phase of accepting defeat has become way too common for the Bears. So much so that the rhetoric coming from the locker room and news conferences after Sunday’s stumble may as well be painted on the walls at team headquarters.

It wasn’t really anything they did. We just beat ourselves.

This one loss isn’t going to define us.

All these mistakes are correctable.

Back to the drawing board!

Yep. Here we are again, in that same uncomfortable cleanup process, that stomach-turning examination of what went wrong — particularly for an offense that was supposed to look and feel better in 2023 and create better vibes that a climb back toward competitiveness has begun.

Sunday’s game instead left quarterback Justin Fields in apology mode.

“I just want to say sorry to my teammates and all the fans that were rooting for us,” he said. “We will bounce back.”

As hard as the Bears fell in the opener, that bounce might have Superball potential.

The Bears scored 20 points in 12 possessions. (Not since Week 11 of last season have they scored 21 points or more in a game.) They netted 189 passing yards — the 17th time in 18 games they’ve failed to reach 200.

So what went wrong offensively? Or is it easier to ask what didn’t?

The Bears had pre-snap miscues and blocking breakdowns and energy lapses and two critical second-half turnovers from their quarterback.

Naturally, the pitchforks came out from agitated fans who went after coordinator Luke Getsy’s play-calling, the offensive line’s shakiness, wide receiver Chase Claypool’s uninspired effort and, in smaller pockets, Fields’ continued inconsistency.

All the made-for-social-media, feel-good fluff from the summer was quickly devoured by a reality check. And the Bears’ current reality is they have a work-in-progress offense with a reshuffled line and a quarterback still working to prove himself as an accomplished NFL passer.

“It’s all hands on deck to improve,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “Because we want to improve this season as we go. We want to become a stronger football team every single week.

“We have room for improvement, as you can see. We’re excited about getting that done.”

The Bears scored touchdowns on two possessions Sunday, one a 65-yard march that ended with Fields’ pretty 20-yard pass to Darnell Mooney and the other a too-little, too-late 69-yard drive that finished with a 2-yard Roschon Johnson run with less than three minutes remaining.

The other 10 drives stalled — or in several instances never got going. That provides an opening to examine, in chronological order, the biggest drive killer of each possession and how it can aid that all-too-familiar correction phase in Lake Forest.

Series 1

First quarter, 0-0. Six plays, 28 yards, 3:29. Turnover on downs.

The drive killer: After an encouraging start — a 19-yard gain by Khalil Herbert on a screen pass, a 5-yard completion to Tyler Scott, a 4-yard run from Herbert — the Bears faced third-and-1 from their 40-yard line and circled back to a concept they ran successfully several times in 2022. With Fields in the shotgun, tight end Cole Kmet motioned behind center and attempted to sneak for the first down. But the exchange between center Lucas Patrick and Kmet wasn’t clean, and the play went nowhere.

On fourth-and-1, the Bears tried a traditional sneak with Fields. This time the offensive line didn’t move the Packers defensive front at all. Fields never gathered enough momentum and his attempt to leap and extend the ball across the line to gain failed.

On the season’s first possession, the Bears had a turnover on downs inside their territory. The Packers quickly capitalized with a touchdown drive to take the lead for good nine minutes into the game.

Series 2

First quarter, Packers lead 7-0. Seven plays, 38 yards, 4:04. Field goal.

The drive killer: Fields opened the possession with his first explosive completion of the season, a 23-yard connection to Mooney off a play-action rollout. The Bears quickly drove into Packers territory and had first down at the 31.

But Braxton Jones was flagged for two consecutive false-start infractions, creating a first-and-20 hole. Then the Bears negated an unnecessary roughness call against Packers defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton when DJ Moore drew his own personal foul for shoving Jaire Alexander well after a sideline skirmish between the teams.

The Bears squeezed a 47-yard Cairo Santos field goal out of the possession but were doomed by the lack of focus and discipline that created those three penalties.

Series 3

First and second quarters, Packers lead 7-3. Twelve plays, 52 yards, 6:32. Field goal.

The drive killer: On what was easily the Bears’ best drive of the first half, gains of 10, 11, 11 and 14 yards on consecutive snaps carried the offense to the Packers 8. A first-and-goal completion to Kmet put the Bears on the doorstep of taking the lead.

But on second down from the 4, on a run-pass option play that was discombobulated from the start, Fields took a 7-yard sack by Lukas Van Ness, failing to throw the ball away in the face of obvious pressure. It was a Quarterbacking 101 mental mistake that Fields owned up to immediately, and it put the Bears in third-and-long. Fields’ subsequent incompletion left Santos to kick his second field goal.

Series 4

Second quarter, Packers lead 7-6. Three plays, 0 yards, 1:48. Punt.

The drive killer: What’s the quickest path to a three-and-out? How about a second-and-long holding call, the third of four penalties on the day by Jones.

Series 5

Second quarter, Packers lead 7-6. Five plays, 14 yards, 1:00. Punt.

The drive killer: The Bears’ first two-minute operation of the season started just outside their end zone and got only as far as the 24-yard line. A second-and-5 screen to Mooney was blown up when Claypool blew his block on Keisean Nixon for a loss of 4.

When the Bears failed to convert on third-and-9, they left the Packers with enough time (1:12) and field position (their 44) to steal three more points before halftime.

Series 6

Third quarter, Packers lead 17-6. Three plays, minus-2 yards, 2:14, Punt.

The drive killer: After the Packers scored 10 consecutive points without the Bears touching the ball, a response drive was badly needed on the first possession of the second half. Instead, a play-action, bootleg passing play on first down was blown up with defensive lineman Devonte Wyatt devouring Fields barely a breath after he completed his play fake to D’Onta Foreman.

Just like that: second-and-21. Drive killed.

It was a great call by the Packers and great execution by Wyatt, who went outside of Jones as the left tackle blocked down as part of the play design. The Bears managed to suck outside linebacker Preston Smith down the line of scrimmage with the play fake, but Wyatt’s big play crushed the drive.

Perhaps worse than the three-and-out was the way the offense seemed to respond, appearing flustered and defeated on the sideline after the possession. The Bears were down only 11 points with 8:05 to play in the third quarter.

Series 7

Third quarter, Packers lead 24-6. Three plays, 7 yards, 1:28. Fumble.

The drive killer: On a third-and-3 pass play, Mooney didn’t get a clean release on his deep route. Fields didn’t see Moore near the sideline for a possible chain-moving completion. He also didn’t use a check-down option to Herbert as pressure cluttered the pocket. Instead Fields tucked, ran, was hit from behind and lost a fumble.

Series 9

Fourth quarter, Packers lead 31-14. Three plays, minus-1 yard, 0:54. Interception.

The drive killer: Fields’ second turnover in three possessions was a brutal lapse in decision-making. From inside a clean pocket, he opted not to attempt an open corner route to Moore 18 yards downfield and instead locked on to Mooney over the middle with linebacker Quay Walker lurking in a Cover-2 look.

Fields thought he had a window there. If he did, he didn’t throw the ball fast enough. His 22nd career interception was snatched by Walker and returned 37 yards for a back-breaking touchdown.

Series 10

Fourth quarter, Packers lead 38-14. Five plays, 9 yards, 2:24. Punt.

The drive killer: By this point, the game was all but over. Fields was sacked for a fourth time when defensive tackle Karl Brooks beat left guard Cody Whitehair on third-and-5 for a loss of 9.

Series 12

Fourth quarter, Packers lead 38-20. Five plays, 27 yards, 1:03. End of game.

The drive killer: Mercifully for everyone involved, the clock ran out after a 9-yard completion from Fields to Scott that took an empty drive across midfield but nowhere near the end zone.

The Bears now head to Tampa hoping to show they are far sharper than what was on display in the opener. Monday’s film review and correction process was decidedly painful, but hopefully it provided the offense with an understanding of how much better it needs to be to have any chance of winning.

As early as it is in the season, with a Week 3 trip to Kansas City on deck, Sunday’s game has heightened urgency. It’s up to the Bears to replace the explanations and apologies with winning execution.