Report Card: Bears position grades after loss to Packers
Dan Powers - USA Today Sports

Report Card: Bears position grades after loss to Packers

by - Staff Writer -

The Bears began this season with heightened expectations after they finished with a league-worst 3-14 and traded the No. 1 overall pick in a deal to acquire DJ Moore and draft capital. The Bears added exponentially to the offensive line and the defense and were widely anticipating a significant improvement in 2023. However, it had gotten off to an extremely rough start through four weeks. But since then, the Bears have been 7-6 and balanced some hideous losses with well-deserved wins. The Bears, coming off a New Year’s Eve win over Atlanta, had a chance to knock Green Bay out of the playoffs at Lambeau on Sunday. The Bears dropped the contest 17-9.


Once again, Justin Fields was under center for the Bears and left much to be desired. Typically, with Fields, we see some jaw-dropping plays and then a fair share of puzzling throws. Fields was 11 of 16 for 148 yards and did not throw a TD or an INT. He also carried the ball eight times for 27 yards on the ground. If that was Fields’ last game as a Bear, there is undoubtedly much to be desired. Fields’ future with the Bears is in doubt as we head into the offseason.


Khalil Herbert has been back from injured reserve for the last several weeks and has reemerged as the Bears top back after back-to-back 100-yard games. He has finally looked like the ball carrier the Bears chose over David Montgomery for the future. He carried the ball 12 times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards through the air. Rookie Roschon Johnson is also healthy and had five carries for 20 yards. Former Panther D’onte Foreman has led the way over the last few weeks while the other backs were injured, but he was injured himself. The Bears were the league’s top rushing offense a year ago, but they have not yet entirely been able to unleash their four-headed monster. With a free agent class loaded with RBs, expect the Bears running back room to look slightly different next season.


This unit was supposed to take one of the largest steps from last season to this one, and it has been up and down this year. Chase Claypool was traded to Miami midyear after being a nonfactor, which has turned the WR room into the DJ Moore show. Moore has been excellent this season and finished with a four-catch, 64-yard performance. Darnell Mooney did not appear on the stat sheet, and Equanimeous St. Brown and Tyler Scott combined for two catches and 30 yards.


Highlighted by the newly paid Cole Kmet, this group was solid. Kmet had three catches for 41 yards.


Similarly to last season’s debauchery, the offensive line has been a weakness. Fields was sacked five times and was running for his life when he did drop back. Plus, the run game was not good. A promising Bears future depends on this group improving — no matter who plays QB.


The defensive line was not good at stopping the run, and they turned in one of their worst efforts in QB pressure we’ve seen all year. DeMarcus Walker picked up the Bears’ lone sack, as Montez Sweat was active but did not appear on the score sheet. Aaron Jones gashed the Bears’ top rush defense, and their lack of pressure allowed Jordan Love to throw for over 300 yards.


No, Roquan Smith is headlining this group, but they are still the defense’s strengths. New additions T. J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds have been the bread and butter thus far, combined for 19 tackles. However, when you allow 300+ passing yards and 100+ rushing yards, the strength in your defense is not strong enough.


The Bears’ secondary has become a strength late in the season, with veterans like Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson combining with Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, and Tyrique Stevenson to create a dynamic secondary. However, without Johnson on Sunday, the Bears looked pathetic at the back end of their defense. Jordan Love picked the Bears apart, and the secondary could not provide the takeaway this Bears’ team desperately needed.


Cairo Santos was 3-of-3 on field goals. Trenton Gill punted three times and nailed two inside the 20. The return game was great, as Velus Jones Jr. had four returns worth 113 yards.


The final game of the second season of the Matt Eberflus era was not much better from the play-calling department. According to a newly released metric, the Bears play calling has been the worst in the NFL — which has been no surprise to those who watch this team week in and week out. Fields was not unleashed, which has been the case all year. The scheming was as poor as we’ve seen. The coaching staff needs to gain some conviction in Fields or a different QB because calling games tentatively is the only way to be optimistic you will miss the playoffs.

The Bears finished the season 7-10 and will set their sights on the NFL draft, where they hold the No. 1 pick for the second consecutive season.

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