LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears are seeing positive flashes from rookie quarterback Justin Fields and getting solid contributions in the run game no matter who is carrying the ball.
When it comes to scoring, they are struggling in a big way.
“You need to score more, we understand that,” coach Matt Nagy said Monday. “How we get to that, we’re going through that identity. I think we all feel good about the identity. But now it’s like, within that identity ... what else do we need to do to complement that, and how are we going to get to that point? We’re working through all that.”
At 16.3 points per game, Chicago ranked 30th in the NFL through Sunday. Only Houston and the New York Jets were averaging fewer.
The Bears (3-3) were hoping to grab a share of the NFC North lead with a rare, statement victory over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday. But they struggled once again to put points on the board in a 24-14 loss.
Chicago strung together two 80-yard touchdown drives, but mostly came away empty-handed. It added up to the Bears losing to their rivals for the 20th time in 23 games counting the playoffs, and falling to 5-22 with Rodgers as Green Bay's starter.
“Is it the amount of possessions that you have in a game?” Nagy said. “Are you getting takeaways on defense that flip the field and have a short field? What’s your identity? The explosives to me right now are what signifies the big plays, which you can get more possessions through explosives. You’re not driving the ball in 10-play drives all the time.”
The pass rush. The Bears were tied with Minnesota for the league lead with 21 sacks through Sunday, after Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn and Akiem Hicks each had one against Green Bay. Mack now has six on the season and Quinn has 5 1/2.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The passing game. How's this for a stat? Through Sunday, the Bears ranked seventh in rushing — and last in the league in total offense. Clearly, the passing game is a work in progress. And that starts with Fields.
The former Ohio State star made some neat decisions and throws in leading touchdown drives on Chicago's first possession of the game and in the fourth quarter. But the offense stalled in between, with an interception and four straight punts.
Fields had a heave picked off in the end zone by Darnell Savage on what the Bears thought was a free play. It looked like the Packers might have jumped offside, but no flag was thrown.
He missed a wide-open Allen Robinson downfield when he kept the ball on a second-quarter scramble from the Chicago 35.
“That’s a naked play and my eyes aren’t supposed to be there,” said Fields, who was 16 for 27 for 174 yards with a touchdown, an interception and four sacks.
Running back Khalil Herbert. The rookie came up big in the second straight game. He ran for a season-high 97 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay after going for 75 in a win at Las Vegas. Herbert's emergence is coming at a good time for the Bears, considering David Montgomery (sprained knee) missed his second game in a row and Damien Williams (reserve/COVID-19 list) was unavailable against the Packers.
NT Eddie Goldman. The Bears are counting on the veteran to be one of their most reliable run stoppers. But it's clear he still has some catching up to do. The Packers ran for 154 yards. Goldman was credited with just three tackles. It doesn't help that he missed the first three games because of a knee injury after opting out of last season because COVID-19 concerns.
Nagy had no update on KR/PR Jakeem Grant Sr. (ankle) and DB Deon Bush (quad) after they were injured on Sunday. Grant came back into the game in the second quarter, but Artavis Pierce handled returns down the stretch. Bush exited in the second half. Nagy also said Williams remains on the COVID-19 list.
20 — sacks for the Bears since they got only one in a season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Bears visit Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.
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Andrew Seligman, The Associated Press