Bears flop on Sunday Night Football against the Chargers

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Remember that feel-good, thoroughly-dominant victory over the Raiders last week? Seems like a distant memory now.

The Bears reminded us that they still are not a good football team in an embarrassing, 30-13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football.

It seemed for most of the week that many local fans and analysts were questioning why the oddsmakers had the Chargers as almost 9-point favorites given how the Bears looked last week and how Los Angeles has fared this season. The teams had nearly identical records entering the game and neither one has played very well.

Yes, the majority of bettors and analysts still projected the Chargers to win, but by more than a touchdown? Really?

Yep, as it turned out, the Chargers more than covered the line in the rout. The Bears defense had zero answers for Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and the rest of the Chargers’ offense.

Herbert rattled off 15 straight completions to open the game and finished with 31-of-40 passing for 298 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions for a 122.7 passer rating.

Meanwhile, Tyson Bagent did not have as inspiring a game as he did the previous week, completing 25 of 37 passes for 232 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions — with two or three other passes that were nearly picked off. In fairness to him, his second interception was something that Darnell Mooney should have caught but couldn’t corral. But given that Bagent had a couple others that should have been picked, it’s a wash anyway.

What worked for the Bears last game — dominating the defensive line at the point of attack and rushing for 173 yards — was just not in the cards in this one. The Bears only managed 73 rushing yards against the Chargers. Part of that was due to the fact that they had to play from behind for the entire game. The other part was a result of penalties and a strong Chargers run defense.

It’s not as though Bagent played a particularly bad game by any means. Yes, the risky throws on a handful of passes were not his best. But he did complete a high percentage of passes and they weren’t all just dink and dunk. All week, people questioned Bagent’s arm strength and the Bears came out on the first play of the game and let him air out a 41-yard strike to Mooney. (The fact that Mooney was whistled down on the play and yet he was never touched is a frustration for another day.)

Ultimately, even though the offense didn’t play well enough to win the game, the defense was the biggest culprit in this one. The poor attempt at tackling just never gave them a chance to stop the Chargers and get them off the field. Plus, the defensive front was unable to generate much of a pass rush on Herbert, and when you give a quarterback of his ability that kind of time, you’re toast.

The raucous support for Bagent following last week’s win surely has quieted down. Now, the attention has turned back to Justin Fields and his timeline for returning to action. Bagent will not be the starting quarterback when the 2024 season opens. So, the Bears desperately need Fields to return ASAP so they can finish evaluating whether he’s worth investing in heading into next season. If they decide against it, they’ll likely use one of their two soon-to-be high draft picks to select a rookie quarterback.

For now, despite the horrendous NFC, the Bears still don’t have much of a prayer to make a playoff run. Because of that, the “lose out” crowd will start to become more vocal with each passing week.

Former high school and college kicker. Lifelong Chicago Bears fan. I've been writing about the navy blue and burnt orange since 2007. You can follow on Twitter, like it on Facebook, or email me.