The Bears suffered their most lopsided loss since Matt Nagy became head coach Sunday at Soldier Field, falling behind 36-10 in an eventual 36-25 defeat to the New Orleans Saints. Here are three things that stood out in the game:
(1) Returning from a left-shoulder injury to play his first full game in four weeks, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggled throwing the ball.
Through the first three quarters of Sunday’s loss, Trubisky completed 14 of 27 passes for just 84 yards for an offense that generated only 85 yards and four first downs. The unit failed to pick up a first down on six straight possessions, which consisted of five three-and-outs and a lost fumble.
After watching tape of the game, Nagy told reporters Monday that he felt poor footwork was Trubisky’s No. 1 issue.
“I thought [his] footwork was just OK,” Nagy said. “When you have sloppy footwork it can lead to other issues and I think that’s what we saw. There were some times where there were some backpedals or movement in the pocket that could have been a little bit better or different.”
Poor footwork often leads to inaccurate throws. That was the case on a play early in Sunday’s game that Nagy singled out Monday. The Bears faced third-and-five from their own 28 on their second possession of the game when Trubisky missed a wide open Taylor Gabriel on a corner route. It’s a pass that Trubisky had consistently completed during the week in practice.
“He hit that all week and missed that [in the game],” Nagy said. “That was the start and then there were a few other ones.”
Nagy cited a second crucial mistake that Trubisky made on a run/pass option on first-and-10 from the Saints’ 24 in the second quarter. Trubisky was sacked by defensive end Cameron Jordan for an eight-yard loss, and the Bears eventually had to settle for Eddy Piñeiro 46-yard field goal.
Nagy knows that the quarterback will always receive most of the blame for a struggling offense, but Trubisky isn’t the only one who needs to play better.
“It always starts there, it always does,” Nagy said. “But what I have to remind everyone else is that there are other parts to this system, not just quarterback play. And I think we know those other parts that we need to be better at. Collectively—not just at the quarterback position but everywhere—we need to be a little bit better.”
(2) The Bears got virtually nothing from their running game, mustering 17 yards on just seven carries and losing two fumbles.
The seven rushing attempts were the fewest in a game in Bears history. Trubisky, meanwhile, threw 54 passes, completing 34 for 251 yards and two late touchdowns.
“I know we need to run the ball more,” Nagy said. “I’m not an idiot; I realize that. Seven rushes, I totally understand that. You need to do it. I never go into a game saying, ‘I want to throw the ball 54 times.’ I would love to go into a game and say, ‘I want to run the ball 54 times.’ But that hasn’t happened.”
Nagy said he abandoned the run because it wasn’t producing. On four carries in the first quarter, the Bears netted two yards and lost a fumble that the Saints converted into the game’s first touchdown and a 9-0 lead.
“With this run game, it’s about productive plays,” Nagy said. “Right now we’re not having productive plays in the run game any way you look at it.
“In the offseason I’ll sit down with every one of you (reporters) and we’ll just sit down and talk through this and talk through the ‘why’ part. I can’t do it right now because we’ve got to worry about the Chargers.
“But I want positive plays. Part of that is patience as well. There’s no doubt about it; there’s got to be more patience. But every game is a little bit different based off the defense you’re seeing and then how your o-line is blocking and the schemes of the plays that are working or not working that game.”
(3) The defense performed well in the first half Sunday but buckled in the second half while spending nearly 20 of the 30 minutes on the field.
The only touchdown the Bears allowed in the first half came after the Saints had taken over at the Chicago 24 following a turnover.
On the Saints’ first possession of the game, Bilal Nichols and Danny Trevathan teamed up to stop running back Latavius Murray for no gain on third-and-one, forcing New Orleans to punt. In the second quarter, Buster Skrine and Prince Amukamara both made nice plays to break up passes in the end zone. Wil Lutz capped those two drives by making a 39-yard field goal and missing a 42-yard attempt wide right.
But it all unraveled in the second half. With the Bears offense unable to sustain possessions, the defense allowed touchdown drives of 75 and 76 yards. “We just started doing uncharacteristic things,” Nichols said. “We didn’t play our techniques right. We just played bad.”
The defense ended up yielding 424 yards and 24 first downs while permitting a short-handed Saints offense to convert 7-of-15 third-down opportunities.
While it appeared that the defense became gassed in the second half, players refused to blame their offensive counterparts for failing to stay on the field.
“It doesn’t matter,” Nichols said. “When we’re on the field we need to play our best at all times. We consider ourselves one of the top defenses in the league and when we’re on the field we need to play like that.”
See the best photos–as selected by Bears photographers–from Sunday's Week 7 game against the Saints at Soldier Field.