Late in the third quarter on Monday night, with the Chicago Bears Minnesota Vikings trying to capitalize on a drive that began at the 30-yard line, the entire season was essentially summarized in a snap.
A few minutes earlier, Damien Williams tipped a Vikings punt running back, setting up prime field conditions for the offense. Trying to cut a 17-3 deficit and move inside the red zone, the Bears suffered a fourth out of 21 and a -1.
In 8 seconds of familiar slackness, promise turned into movement, hope into complete annoyance.
A little confusion. interrupted time. A pass that was never thrown. Or a scramble that never started.
Result of the play: Quarterback Justin Fields was dismissed for a 2-yard loss.
Thousands of mysterious nods looked as if the Soldier Field stood like a wave.
Down fields, fouled with a right flank by linebacker Nick Vigil, then wrestled on the grass by defensive end DJ Vonum. Turnover on down.
more than? Really?
That brand of discombobulation defined the entire night in a 17–9 loss to the Bears, the team’s eighth loss in nine games.
“That’s the story,” Fields said after the game. “It’s definitely been the story of the year.”
He is not wrong.
On that fourth and one, there were pretty rough edges. Start with receiver Darnell Mooney, who is assigned to stay in the backfield on a play out of a tight formation with three tight ends. Mooney had a flat route for a small section of the field, but was certainly a little confused and a slow beat to combine.
“It was a personnel group where I was a different receiver,” he said. “And the last name on the play I’d have to hear before I got into the position. But literally everyone was running over the line of scuffle and Justin was still calling the play. So I finally got (tag) and (quickly) right went to the place.
Play Design asked Fields to play a nude bootleg off-play action with Mooney as his first reading. But the drama was fake out of sync. Then the whole drama was like this. And with the Vikings in a cover-2 form, the advantage of the chess match the Bears hoped did not exist.
“Kona sat on the (flat road) and it didn’t move,” Fields said.
For a moment, Mooney looked open as he ran from the backfield to his right. Fields also had the option of seeing Jimmy Graham downfield on an over route. The drama, however, never clicked.
“I wasn’t looking at the right time when Mooney was open,” Fields said. “When I looked back at him, he was covered. It’s just time in football.”
Fields credits the Vikings for defending the game well.
“I mean, that’s football,” he said. “You win some, you lose some.”
Bear’s “lost something” pile, however, always seems to be twice as high. That’s the only way to explain how they stayed behind by 50 minutes and 3 seconds despite outselling Vikings 370-193.
That’s the only way to explain how a commendable effort by a humiliating defense was ruined by an offensive display that included two lost fumbles and three red-zone trips that ended without a point.
That’s the only way to explain how the Bears now sit second-to-last in the NFC standings, with the New York Giants tied at 4-10.
And somehow, there are three more games left.
Monday night’s smorgasbord of errors included three more penalties by rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins, another lost fumble by Fields, a 49-yard field-goal effort by Cairo Santos that was blocked and, yes, even that included a non-player conduct penalty against Nagy, who blew up after Deion Bush’s hit on Tyler Conklin’s tight end during the third-down stop in the first quarter was ruled by unnecessary roughness at his top. .
“Our men are fighting with their asses to get out of the field,” Negi said. “And I saw what happened. I clarified my opinion on it. And I don’t regret it.”
For the second time this season, umpiring for the Bears in Monday night’s game attracted a lot of attention with no shortage of debatable calls. The Bears finished with nine penalties for 91 yards. But his overall failure goes much deeper than some iffy penalty decisions.
For the fifth time this season, the offense failed to score a touchdown in the first half. The Bears are 0-5 in those games.
He has been ranked below 17 points seven times this season, and his 17.8 points per game ranks him 28th in the NFL.
The Bears’ only touchdown came on their 70th snap, a meaningless play with time running out. Fields hit Jesper Horsted for 19 yards. Even that was originally decided to be one foot below the goal line.
Mooney said, ‘It’s a disappointing situation.
Sure, the Bears took the field with 14 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including all five of their defensive backfield starters plus receiver Alan Robinson. Offensive coordinator Bill Ledger and special teams coordinator Chris Tabor also dropped out.
It was a tough hand that had to be dealt with. And given the circumstances, the Bears again played with competitive fire that thrilled their coach.
“It would be one thing if the team came out and just said, ‘You know what? We’re 4-9 and we’re at the point where we’re going to investigate,'” Nagy said. “Our guys don’t do that. That’s why you get emotional. That’s why you care. Because they spend a lot of time and energy coming out of here and playing. That’s what I love about them.”
But that little plus hasn’t been nearly enough for a nonstop offensive slogan. Or a fine. Or bad decisions. or untimely turnover. Or the mound of loss that has left the fan base in a sour mood.
In their home game this season, the Bears again made a mess in several situations. The team has been broken for some time, and the most important repair work will not begin until the 2022 off-season.
Meanwhile, missed opportunities and on-field mistakes are hard to spot.