The Bears continued to struggle on offense in a 17-7 loss to the Rams Sunday night in Los Angeles. Here are three things that stood out in the game:
(1) A Bears offense that has been stuck in neutral most of the season mustered just seven points while running 74 plays.
The Bears scored on just one of 12 possessions, were shut out in the first half for the third time in the last six games and mustered their lowest point total since a 10-3 loss to the Packers in the season opener.
Asked Monday about the performance of the offensive line, coach Matt Nagy conceded that there was “some leakage” in pass protection and there were a couple times on running plays that “we could have held the point a little bit longer.” But Nagy stressed that there was plenty of blame to go around.
“Overall, as an offense, it was just really sloppy, not just the line, just everywhere across the board,” Nagy said.
The Bears reached the red zone only once and failed to produce a play of at least 20 yards for the first time this season. Their longest gain was a 19-yard swing pass from Mitchell Trubisky to David Montgomery.
“We didn’t have a lot of explosives,” Nagy said. “When you don’t have those explosives, you’re not in the red zone as much. Seven points on 74 plays, you can’t have it.”
(2) The Bears defense played well for most of the game but eventually wilted late while repeatedly having to go back on the field.
The Bears opened the game by generating takeaways on the Rams’ first two possessions. But the offense failed to capitalize on both opportunities, turning the ball over on downs and missing a field goal.
The defense later forced the Rams to punt on their first five possessions of the second half, which included four three-and-outs. But the Bears offense was unable to take advantage, countering with punts on four straight drives, including three three-and-outs.
“We got two turnovers in the first quarter,” Nagy said. “We came away with zero points. I’m going to always continue to make it very clear that I think our defense is playing really, really well. I really do. What has happened is we’re not scoring points. When you score seven points, you don’t win a lot of football games.”
Nagy is correct about that; the Bears have now lost 50 straight games when scoring seven or fewer points. Their last win came on Oct. 3, 1993 when they beat the Falcons 6-0 at Soldier Field.
After allowing just 36 yards and one first down on 17 plays on the Rams’ first five possessions of the second half, Jared Goff capped an eight-play, 71-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Brown, giving the Rams a two-score lead at 17-7 with 3:31 left in the fourth quarter.
(3) After a strong start to the season, kicker Eddy Piñeiro has slumped.
Through the Bears’ first six games, Piñeiro had made 20-of-21 kicks; 9-of-10 field goal attempts with a long of 53 yards that beat the Broncos as time expired Sept. 15 in Denver and all 11 of his extra-point tries.
But in the last four contests, Piñeiro has connected on just 3-of-7 field-goal attempts and missed one extra-point try as well.
In Sunday’s loss to the Rams, Piñeiro missed his only two field-goal tries, wide left from 48 yards and wide right from 47 yards. In between, Nagy decided not to have Piñeiro attempt a 49-yarder on fourth-and-nine from the 31 and instead kept the offense on the field. But the Bears turned the ball over on downs as cornerback Jalen Ramsey broke up Trubisky’s pass intended for Taylor Gabriel.
“We missed two, so some of that is exactly where you’re at,” Nagy said. “It’s kind of a feel of where you think you are field-position-wise, and then the play that you have. So that was just the route we went, and we want to make those field goals. [Piñeiro] knows that.
“We’re in a game like this and it’s a defensive battle. Points are at a premium. You want to be able to make those kicks.”
Despite Piñeiro’s recent struggles, Nagy said Sunday night that the Bears do not intend to explore other options at the kicker position as of now. “We look at us and I think with Eddy, he knows you’ve got to make those,” Nagy said.