After watching tape of Sunday night's 41-25 loss to the Packers in Green Bay, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him in the game:
(1) Nagy was very disappointed with an uncharacteristically poor performance by a normally dominant Bears defense.
A unit that had allowed either one or two touchdowns in nine of the first 10 games of the season permitted the Packers to score TDs on their first three possessions Sunday night. Green Bay star quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes to cap drives of 75, 75 and 80 yards, staking the Packers to a 20-3 lead.
"That can't happen, and our defensive guys know that," Nagy said. "You have to be able to shut them down and not allow 16 first downs in 36 plays, 5 of 6 on third downs and three touchdown drives. That's not who our defense is. And our guys, they need to understand where we're coming from with that and how we feed off them as a defense. They've done a hell of a job all year long, but yesterday was not where we need to be."
Playing without the injured Akiem Hicks for the first time this season, the Bears defense yielded five touchdowns on seven Packers possessions, not counting two drives that ended both halves. The Bears did not record a sack, quarterback hit or takeaway and were gashed for a season-high 182 yards rushing.
"Our defense knows when we talk through this stuff, we talk as a team [about] how important they are to how we're built and what they mean to us and how they get stuff started," Nagy said. "When we go out there on the field, we expect a three-and-out. If not a three-and-out, we expect a punt. That's just who we are. When that doesn't happen, it digs us in a hole. We're fighting and fighting and you get a deficit like that and it's just hard to overcome, and oh by the way, it's even more difficult when you're playing Aaron Rodgers, so we get that."
(2) David Montgomery's career-long 57-yard run on the Bears' second snap of the game provided a boost, but the offense failed to take advantage of the splash play and continued to struggle.
Trailing 6-0, Montgomery's gain up the middle to the Packers' 8 put the Bears in position to take a 7-6 lead. But an offense that entered Week 12 tied for 30th in red-zone touchdown percentage was forced to settle for Cairo Santos' 27-yard field goal. The kick came after Cole Kmet and Allen Robinson II had failed to haul in catchable passes from Mitchell Trubisky on back-to-back plays.
"We had a five-play drive that resulted in a field goal, not good enough in the red zone," Nagy said. "We have an opportunity to get a touchdown, we end up with three."
Trubisky followed by committing his first of three turnovers, throwing a pass into the end zone into double coverage that was intercepted by safety Darnell Savage. After Rodgers' third straight TD pass made it 20-3, Trubisky completed a 12-yard pass to Darnell Mooney on third-and-7. But the apparent first down was nullified by a holding penalty against Charles Leno Jr. On the third-and-17 play that followed, Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith sacked Trubisky, forcing a fumble that outside linebacker Preston Smith returned 14 yards for a touchdown, increasing Green Bay's lead to 27-3.
"That's where everything started going downhill in regards to the fumble and the defensive touchdown," Nagy said. "Before you look up, it's 27-3, and you know offensively you're at 15 or 16 plays with a couple minutes to go in the half."
(3) Despite continuing to make the same type of mistakes on offense, Nagy finally saw some progress on that side of the ball.
Returning to action after their bye week, the Bears shuffled their offensive line. They moved Cody Whitehair from center to left guard, inserted Sam Mustipher at center and Alex Bars at right guard, and moved Germain Ifedi from right guard to right tackle. Leno was the only lineman who started at his regular position.
The unit helped open holes for a running game that produced 122 yards, its highest output since a 130-yard performance in a Week 3 win in Atlanta. The line also provided decent protection for Trubisky, who was sacked three times while throwing 46 passes.
"The run game was a lot better," Nagy said. "I thought protection was a lot better. I thought our offensive line played their ass off yesterday. I thought they did a good job of fighting. They handled [the Packers] front four pretty well. They established the run game. They did in the second play of the game. David fought his tail off in running hard, and so that part to me is good."