Backup quarterback Andy Dalton stepped in for the injured Justin Fields to lead a fourth-quarter comeback against the Ravens on Sunday. But a horrible sequence by the defense paved the way for the Ravens to march down the field in less than two minutes to secure a 16-13 victory.
As I sat pondering the second blown fourth-quarter comeback in as many games, I couldn’t help but think of the bigger picture.
Unless you’re a follower of the “Matt Nagy must go” movement — and that bandwagon is getting more crowded by the week — there was absolutely nothing good that came out of Sunday’s loss.
Bears fans tend to be on one end of the spectrum or the other. Either you want to root for the team and hope they make a playoff run despite any deficiencies they might have. Or, you want them to be completely horrible so that they will “clean house.” I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. And in most weeks, you can find the good from one perspective or the other.
But Sunday’s loss to the Ravens had neither. They lost their fifth-straight game, thus pushing them so far out of the playoff race that it’s nearing mathematical certainty they’ll be watching the postseason from home. And, unlike against the Steelers when Fields showed some major improvement, there was nothing of the sort against the Ravens. Fields lost another fumble and looked more like a rookie than he has in several weeks. And the stink on the manure pile was that Fields got hurt and had to leave the game.
No victory, a fifth-consecutive loss, and regression from the most important player in the organization.
I’m never one to call for anybody’s ouster. So, you won’t hear me expressing joy in the large step the Bears took yesterday toward Nagy’s dismissal. But I can concede that that fate is slowly creeping toward reality. And I can admit that despite my insistence that Nagy has gotten a raw deal — trying to play chess with 16 pawns — his offense just hasn’t been good enough throughout his tenure. The Bears scored zero points in the first half on Sunday, and they have averaged an anemic 16.3 points per game this season, good enough for the Bottom 5.
On a day when the Ravens were without star quarterback Lamar Jackson, one had to think the Bears would be in good shape to win the game, even without players like Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson and Akiem Hicks. And as the Bears took the lead with under two minutes to play and Tyler Huntley led the Ravens onto the field to try to win the game, Bears fans had to feel good about their chances of securing the victory.
But, alas, the defense had another major breakdown. In total, they played a good game. They held Huntley to 219 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He finished with a 76.0 passer rating, and the Ravens only scored 16 points.
But on that final drive, Kindle Vildor committed a pass interference penalty, Huntley completed a 21-yard pass to Devin Duvernay, the Bears defense blew their coverage and Sammy Watkins broke free for a 29-yard completion, and Devonta Freeman rushed it in the end zone for the go-ahead score.
Not only has the offense been anemic, but the highly-paid defense has broken down at the most inopportune moments.
The formula just isn’t working anymore. Even if the Bears were playing top-notch defensive football, the offense still isn’t scoring enough to play winning football.
The Bears have a short turnaround before playing on Thanksgiving against the winless Detroit Lions. Wouldn’t it just be a low blow if the Lions broke their streak against the Bears? The Bears got good news on Monday that Fields’ injury was just bruised ribs. However, with the short turnaround, don’t be surprised to see the Red Rifle starting.
But with how bad the offense has been playing, I don’t think it really matters who plays quarterback.