At least we can say the Bears scored four times in their 20-12 loss to the Giants on Sunday.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t find the end zone, as they settled for four field goals from fill-in kicker Michael Badgley.
They also couldn’t find the ball on defense, either, as Giants quarterback Daniel Jones bootlegged himself to two touchdown runs with nary a defender in his way.
It was tough sledding for the defense for most of the game, trying to stop a rejuvenated Saquan Barkley from leaving cleat prints up and down their backs.
Barkley tore his ACL against the Bears two seasons ago and tried to come back last year but he just wasn’t the same player he was as a rookie. This year, however, he seems officially back to his old self. Against the Bears on Sunday, he rushed 31 times for 146 yards and just couldn’t be stopped.
It was because of Barkley’s prowess that the Bears defense got undisciplined and forgot about Jones. Several times, the Giants’ nimble quarterback used play action to Barkley and rolled out of the pocket without any Bears defender in containment. On two of those bootlegs, Jones scampered into the end zone.
Those were the Giants’ only two touchdowns on the day, but that’s all they would need against a Bears offense that is still desperately seeking some success in the passing game.
Justin Fields completed just 11 of 22 pass attempts for 174 yards and a 76.7 passer rating. It was his highest completion total, most pass attempts and yards, and best yards per attempt (7.9) mark of the season. Unfortunately, it’s just not the kind of improvement you were hoping for from him.
In large part, Fields played well from a clean pocket, proving he still has some skills to work with. But for most of the day, Fields was running for his life behind an offensive line that just couldn’t handle Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s waves of pressure.
When all was said and done, Fields was sacked 6 times and took 9 quarterback hits. I don’t care what quarterback is back there, that’s a beating, and it’s happened all too many times to Bears quarterbacks on the road against the Giants (just ask Jay Cutler).
I was pleased to see Darnell Mooney show up to Sunday’s game. Perhaps those extra reps with the JUGS machine helped pay off. Mooney finished with 4 catches for 94 yards, including a huge, 56-yard bomb in the first quarter that led to a field goal.
Cole Kmet also made a few nice catches — 3 for 16 yards — but he also struggled in pass protection which kind of neutralized his overall performance.
On special teams, the Bears welcomed back rookie Velus Jones, who didn’t fair much better than Trestan Ebner on kickoffs or Dante Pettis on punt returns, but that seems to indicate the problem lies more with the blocking than the returner.
The bigger issue for Jones is that he muffed a punt within the final three minutes of the game that cost the Bears one final desperation drive. I’m not as mad at the rookie for that mistake given that the Bears hadn’t found the end zone at all up to that point in the game and they would have had to do it twice — a touchdown and an ensuing two-point conversion — just to tie the game. Still, you can’t make those mistakes in those situations and all you can ask for is at least a final crack at making some big plays.
There is a lot to be frustrated about from the Bears’ performance on Sunday, but it’s important to remember that this is still a young team under new leadership that was intentionally gutted in order to restructure salary under the cap. Nobody thought they were going to make a playoff run before the season, and that still holds true through four weeks.
I’m more concerned about the development of Fields, and for at least one afternoon he played marginally better, particularly when his line blocked for him.
He’ll get another shot next week against the division rival Vikings.