After watching tape of Sunday's 24-17 loss to the Titans in Tennessee, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him in the game:
(1) With little margin for error on offense, Nagy was disappointed with the costly penalties the Bears drew that stalled multiple drives.
The offense struggled again Sunday, failing to score or even reach the red zone through the first three quarters. The Bears were unable to sustain drives in part because they converted just 2-of-15 third-down opportunities (13.3 percent) in the game versus the NFL's lowest-ranked third-down defense.
While the offense didn't draw any penalties on its first six possessions—three of which were three-and-outs—the flags started to fly late in the first half. Trailing 10-0, the Bears took over at the Titans' 48 following a punt. They were in excellent position to cut into the lead. Instead, they went in reverse, drawing back-to-back penalties for a false start on Charles Leno Jr. and an illegal use of the hands on Rashaad Coward.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Bears faced fourth-and-1 at the Tennessee 31. They kept their offense on the field but were forced to punt following consecutive false start fouls on rookie Arlington Hambright and veteran Jimmy Graham.
"Probably the big picture that you all get is that you just can't have penalties at inopportune times," Nagy said. "When you have a fourth-and-1 and we have a penalty, and now it's fourth-and-6 and we have another penalty, you can't have that. You can't have those."
(2) Quarterback Nick Foles didn't play particularly well behind a patchwork offensive line, but Nagy stressed it was a group effort.
"I'm going to keep going back to it: There's not just one person right now with this offense," Nagy said. "There's a lot of different things. There's a multitude of issues that we're having. Where you get a little frustrated is if there's 10 guys that are doing something the right way and there's one guy that's not, that's where we've got to get that unison back of understanding the effectiveness of a play. Or just stay within the play sometimes. I think that's very valuable regardless of No. 1, who the quarterback is, and regardless of No. 2, who the O-line is, who the running back is, who's catching the ball in the flat with the tight end."
The Bears were missing five offensive linemen Sunday: starters James Daniels, Cody Whitehair and Bobby Massie; and reserves Sam Mustipher and Jason Spriggs. As a result, two linemen made their first NFL starts: first-year pro Alex Bars at center and Hambright at left guard.
Foles finished the game completing 36 of 52 passes for 335 yards with two touchdowns and a 99.4 passer rating. But a decent amount of that production came on two late TD drives after the Titans had built a comfortable 24-3 lead, as Foles connected on 11 of 15 passes for 98 yards.
(3) Nagy lamented that the Bears once again were unable to take advantage of another strong defensive performance.
The Bears got the ball back at the Titans' 48 with :54 left in the first half after an impressive three-and-out by their defense. Tennessee punted from its own 2 after Roquan Smith held Derrick Henry to a 1-yard run, Bilal Nichols sacked Ryan Tannehill for an 8-yard loss and Akiem Hicks and Jaylon Johnson teamed up to stop Henry for no gain.
"The defense does a hell of a job forcing them to punt from their own -yard line, field position is at a premium and you go penalty, penalty," Nagy said. "That can't happen, but it did happen, so why is it happening? That's where we need to make sure that we are holding each other accountable.
"That's the frustrating part that we have to understand that, shoot, you have an ability to make things happen, you get in the red zone and you have to score. You can't do it in the fourth quarter when it's too late and you're running out of time. You have to do it on the front end. We have to be better there."