After watching tape of Sunday night's 45-30 loss to the Packers, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed what stood out to him in the game.
(1) After the Bears outscored the Packers 24-21 in a wild second quarter to take a 27-21 halftime lead, Green Bay dominated the third period to take control of the game. The Packers outscored the Bears 17-0 and held decisive advantages in first downs (10-0), total yards (71-8) and time of possession (11:01-3:59).
Green Bay scored two touchdowns in a 1:00 span early in the second half to turn a 27-21 deficit into a 35-27 lead. After Aaron Jones capped a 9-play, 75-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run, Justin Fields lost a fumble on a strip/sack at the Bears' 23. On the next snap, Aaron Rodgers floated a 23-yard TD pass to Jones.
"When we get the ball in the third quarter, we've got to go down and get points," Nagy said. "If they get the ball, it can't be as easy as whatever it was … with positive plays the whole way. And if they do score like they did, offensively, let's get out of being backed up, let's get some first downs, let's flip the field at least. Against a team like that with that quarterback, if you don't do that, you're going to be in trouble."
After standing toe-to-toe with the heavily favored Packers in the first half, the Bears were unable to recover from their disappointing third-quarter performance.
"It was difficult," Nagy said. "We've got to learn from that. But at the same point in time, when that happens against a good football team, they're going to beat you every time. That's probably the biggest takeaway right now."
(2) Fields continued to show growth, making plays with his arm and legs and avoiding any unnecessary hits that could further damage his sore ribs.
The first-round draft pick from Ohio State passed for 224 yards with two touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 74 yards on nine carries.
"Especially in that second half when we were more one-dimensional, I thought he was really, really good with his decision-making," Nagy said. "He didn't take a lot of hits, right? He scrambled. He got down. He kept his eyes down the field."
Fields' biggest miscue came in the second quarter when his pass intended for Darnell Mooney on an out pattern was intercepted by Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas and returned 55 yards for a touchdown.
"Rasul made a nice play," Nagy said. "He kind of was sitting on the sticks a little bit. I thought in the game that Justin's tempo was good. I think it's probably the combination of if we do that again or run it more, there might be a little more urgency to Justin's footwork. But at the same point in time, [Douglas] still might have made a play on it."
Fields rebounded from the pick-six three plays later by connecting with Damiere Byrd on a slant pass that turned into a 54-yard TD, enabling the Bears to retake a 17-14 lead.
"What we're taking from that is that, yeah, that hurts that it's a pick six—we never want that—but at the same point in time, he came back on the next possession and made that nice throw to Damiere," Nagy said.
"It's a common play that we run. You have to give Justin and Damiere a lot of credit in the fact that Damiere made a quick decision. He snapped inside, and then Justin made a quick decision. And then more than anything, Justin made a really accurate throw that he could catch it on the run. Damiere is fast. So, the second he caught that, as a wide receiver out of the backfield, it can put the defense in a little stressor."
(3) When veteran left tackle Jason Peters exited with an ankle injury in the first quarter, the Bears knew that they had to provide protection for rookie replacement Teven Jenkins. After making his Bears debut a week earlier on special teams, the second-round pick was seeing his first action on offense.
Jenkins drew three penalties—one for holding and two for false starts. A fourth infraction was declined because the player that Jenkins was flagged for holding, Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith, sacked Fields, causing a fumble that Green Bay recovered.
"You definitely want to help out as much as you can," Nagy said, "And even with the sack/fumble, the strip/sack, there was a chip on that play. Throughout the game, we had 32 drop-backs, 16 of them had chips and slams. So, 50 percent of the time, we're chipping and slamming.
"Now, when you do that, you eliminate receivers or tight ends because you're saying, "OK, we're going to protect.' We need to understand that. Everybody needs to understand that. So there's a little risk-reward when you do that."
Nagy revealed that Peters will remain the starting left tackle when he returns from his ankle injury. If Peters is unable to play next Monday night against the Vikings, Nagy did not rule out flip-flopping his rookie tackles, with Jenkins lining up on the right side and Larry Borom moving from right tackle to the left side.
"With Jason, we've got to be able to see where he's at," Nagy said. "And then if he is not able to go, we'll get together as a staff and talk through what's best for us."