The Chicago Bears went into Sunday night with hopes of coming out with their first win of the season. Granted, it would be a bit difficult with a backup quarterback and several players out due to injury but the odds were good and they had a chance. Dallas hadn’t been playing lights out football over their previous two games and had a rookie quarterback at the helm meaning that mistakes were bound to be made. With a solid, mistake free effort, the Bears could win the game.
The words “mistake free” never really came to fruition for the Bears, especially on defense, and the game was a blowout of sorts. The Bears ended up losing to the Cowboys 31-17. The defense really did a poor job of containing Cowboy’s starting running back Ezekiel Elliot (30 rushes for 140 yards) and allowed quarterback Dak Prescott to look like a seasoned pro. The offense struggled as well, for the most part, but did show some very brief flashes at times. All in all, it was a less than stellar effort by a team that should be going forwards instead of backwards.
Starting quarterback Jay Cutler was out of the game with a thumb injury so backup Brian Hoyer started in his place. To give Hoyer some credit, he wasn’t incredibly terrible, but there were moments when he really struggled. He would throw the ball to nowhere (with no one around) and make some other poor decisions. He would not always throw to the open receiver and seemed to forget that Alshon Jeffery was the Bears number one wideout. In this game, Hoyer appeared to prefer Kevin White and White did actually have a decent game. Tight end Zach Miller had an outstanding game catching two touchdown passes on the night and was really the go to guy for Hoyer.
The running game struggled against Dallas as Jeremy Langford had little room to run. He had one good run and the rest of the time he spent being bottled up by the Dallas defense. Jordan Howard had a similar night, one good run then short runs but he seemed to show much more promise and ability than Langford did. Langford, the starter, did exit the game with an ankle sprain and will be out for a little while (see below), Howard could be the guy. That might not actually be so bad.
The offensive line did a decent job on pass protection although it may have been more of a poorer Cowboys pass rush that they faced rather than doing a good job. They still need to gel a little bit more but it’s possible that this unit could be a little bit better after this game and will continue to improve as the season goes on. Most importantly, an injury cannot happen in this group. It’s critical that they stay together and stay healthy as much as possible for the duration of the season.
The Bears defense was pretty bad throughout the game. Yes, injuries had taken their toll but with the proper depth any team can overcome such issues to a certain extent. That was not the case for the Bears on Sunday night. They made stars out of the Cowboys primary players and let Dallas win, on offense, with seeming ease.
The defensive line got no pressure on the quarterback and didn’t do much to help combat the rushing attack. The Bears went out and got guys like Jonathan Bullard and Akeem Hicks and they did not play well on Sunday night. The next man up philosophy is not very productive in Chicago on defense.
The linebacker group has seen some injuries (Pernell McPhee and Danny Trevethan) but they were supposed to be the backbone of the defense. Jerrell Freeman is playing well but overall, this group is not making the plays like a solid group of linebackers should. Against the Cowboys, they were allowing Elliott to run all over the place and get to the second level time and again. They were getting run over and pushed around and could not do anything to stop Dallas’ offense. If the defense is going to get better, the linebackers have to get better. But they aren’t the only ones to blame in all this.
The secondary has suffered injuries to key personnel and on Sunday night they looked like a unit that was playing with less than adequate backups. Starting safety Adrian Amos had the play of the night cleaning the clock of Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant but overall, it was a less than stellar effort for the secondary. They allowed the rookie quarterback to pass the ball all over the field (the lack of a pass rush didn’t help) and did not make the plays they should have made.
Finally, special teams is just about the only bright spot for the Bears. The punting game is solid with Pat O’Donnell leading the way. Return teams are decent with Eddie Royal doing the job and as long as he can stay healthy the return game will be good. Kicking leaves a little to be desired but hey, not everyone can be Robbie Gould.
The Bears are at a crossroads at this point in the season. Not much has gone right for them after what had been a promising offseason. They brought in talent that clearly should have made them better but instead, after a 6-10 season last year, they have gotten worse. Injuries have something to do with it but overall the depth on this team is poor and they aren’t having much success with the backups on the roster they brought with them from training camp. Who is to blame for the lack of depth? General Manager Ryan Pace has a lot to do with it. Is he not what the Bears brass expected him to be? Was he the right choice?
The Bears still have some time to turn things around but if the injuries keep piling up and the coaching staff keeps calling plays in the manner they have been calling them (Dowell Loggins is not the ideal offensive coordinator and there will be more on him in the future) they are going to continue to lose. Something has to give.
It’s still too early to give up on the Bears this year but things are admittedly not looking that good. Perhaps getting some injured players back and doing a “reset” would do wonders for this team. You can bet that something is going to get shaken up at Halas Hall before too long and things will change. But what will change and when will it?
This coming game against the Lions will be huge. Granted, they will probably be playing with Hoyer at quarterback again but if the Bears defense can do something and the offense can get going at least a little bit better than they have, there may be hope. If they play like they did against Dallas, the season is probably pretty much over.
Injury Update: The Bears placed cornerback Kyle Fuller on injured reserve. The starter had knee surgery before the season had begun and apparently isn’t ready to come back. The elevated linebacker John Timu from the practice squad.
Langford is going to be out 4-6 weeks with a sprained ankle. Saying that, Howard should start in his place. The Bears did bring in former Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell today and signed him.