We’ve already focused on the positives from the Chicago Bears’ 31-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but what about everything that went wrong?
To answer that question, we present three negatives from the game that the Bears will need to address in order to have better success against the Arizona Cardinals next week.
Goal Line Playcalling Needs Work
With the Bears trailing 24-16 and in desperate need of a touchdown, the team’s offense came onto the field and immediately went to work. They drove down the field effectively and quickly, using a 50-yard pass reception by Marquess Wilson to help fuel a drive that ultimately got into primetime scoring territory.
Unfortunately, that’s where things went south. The Bears had four opportunities to get the ball across the goal line, and they failed on every single one of them. Notable during the sequence was the absence of touches for running back Matt Forte, who already had a rushing touchdown in the game and had rushed for over 100 yards and been the team’s most effective offensive player up to that point.
The Bears also missed an opportunity to utilize Martellus Bennett effectively on the drive’s final play, as he was kept in as a blocker instead of going out as a passing target on the play.
Those kinds of play calls wouldn’t have generated much surprise last season as Marc Trestman’s offensive genius (or lack thereof) was routinely called into question, but under Adam Gase, it was curious to see the team move away from several things that have worked well for them during the preseason and during the Week 1 game itself.
Pass Defense Continues to Be a Concern
The Bears’ secondary has been a huge question mark over the past few seasons, and even with a group of new personnel and a new defensive scheme on Sunday, they had a tough time slowing down Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback completed 18-of-23 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns.
While Kyle Fuller didn’t get many targets in the game, Alan Ball was attacked ruthlessly throughout the contest. Even though he had a couple of good coverage plays early, Ball's play dropped off as the game wore on. James Jones was especially hard on ball, grabbing four catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
Granted, the Bears are not going to face an Aaron Rodgers-led offense in every single game they play this season, but the coverage issues aren’t going to get miraculously better just because the competition isn’t as difficult. The team needs to come up with ways to limit the passing game more effectively, and while the secondary has to improve, the pass rush does as well.
The Bears didn’t get a single quarterback hit in on Rodgers throughout the game. Part of that certainly has to do with the fact that they minimized blitzes and were playing in their nickel package a vast majority of the time, but they still have to do better in forcing passes and getting into the pocket.
If they can’t hurry quarterbacks and force bad decisions, then the Bears are in huge trouble, and no amount of scheming or tinkering by Fangio will change anything.
Penalties Continue to Kill Bears’ Momentum
On the Bears’ first drive of the game, the offense moved the ball effectively and methodically, eating up clock and keeping Rodgers off the field. Then, a Vladimir Ducasse penalty threw a wrench into the works, and the Bears had to settle for a field goal.
Later in the game with the Bears trailing 17-13, a potential touchdown drive was halted once again by an offensive line penalty, with Matt Slauson earning the yellow handkerchief as he was called for a holding infraction.
Add in the holding penalty by Jermon Bushrod that wiped out a second quarter touchdown (the Bears did eventually score thanks to a Forte run), and there were at least three potential touchdown drives that were hindered by careless penalties in the game.
That is a trend that has to change, and the Bears have to show that they are a more disciplined football team if they are going to win games against tough opponents like Green Bay.