With the Bears still looking to establish an offensive identity, the team's 24-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans appeared to show them to be distant from that goal.
While the offense has enjoyed relatively good health in its skill positions, the double-hit of injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic led to an offensive line filled with contingency plans.
First-year guard Alex Bars started at center, filling in for Sam Mustipher, who replaced James Daniels as the backup at the position before starting center Cody Whitehair went down with a calf injury.
Fourth-year player Rashaad Coward moved from guard to right tackle to replace Jason Spriggs, who replaced an injured Bobby Massie last Sunday before being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Rookie Arlington Hambright filled Coward's usual spot at left guard.
Lacking a day of practice this week due to the closure of facilities, the makeshift line struggled to find a rhythm. The Bears averaged 2.8 yards per carry while quarterback Nick Foles was sacked three times. Given the events of the past week, Foles offered no criticism of the lineup.
"They played as hard as they could," said Foles, "and they gave me everything they had, and that's all I can ever ask of them. You go out there, you play together as an offense, and you give it everything you have until the end, and they did that, so I'm proud of them for that."
The Bears may see several players return next week and may benefit from their Week 11 bye.
Hold the line: The Bears defense turned in a solid performance against the Titans, only allowing 17 points to an offense averaging 29.7 points per game.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed only 10 of 21 passes for 158 yards. Running back Derrick Henry, the NFL's reigning rushing leader, ran for 68 yards on 21 carries.
While the defense may have played well enough to win the game, linebacker Danny Trevathan believes that the failure to create turnovers may have cost the team the game.
"We know that it looked like we played well," said Trevathan, "but there's a couple of plays we felt we should have made, myself included. The thing is, we've got to get the turnovers. It's a percentage of teams that get turnovers that add up to wins, versus turnovers and scores, which really adds to wins."
The Bears sacked Tannehill three times but came up short when it came to game-changing plays. Instead, it was the Titans who produced in the turnover column. Cornerback Desmond King II's 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown proved the difference in the final score.
COVID Scare: In a week defined by the Thursday closure of Halas Hall, the team added two players to the reserve/COVID-19 list after the team arrived in Nashville. Safety Deon Bush was put on the list Saturday night, while rookie offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons received that designation in the hours before kickoff. Bears players are learning to live with the uncertainty unique to this season.
"That is a huge concern," said receiver Allen Robinson II. "I know when you see stuff like that, it's definitely not the best feeling at all."
Still, many players have echoed the sentiment that this season's unusual circumstances are not an excuse for the team's three-game losing streak.
"The teams who face adversity well and take on challenges in these crazy times," said Trevathan, "in this crazy world right now, is going to be the team that comes out here and gets to the Super Bowl. If it wasn't COVID, it would be another situation, like injuries, fines and stuff like that. There are always situations."
Season debut: Receiver Riley Ridley recorded his first action of the year, along with his first career start.
The Bears' 2019 fourth-round selection was inactive for the previous eight games. However, with the team releasing Ted Ginn Jr. on Wednesday and Javon Wims serving a two-game suspension, the Georgia alum found his way onto the field.
Ridley's first catch of the game and season doubled as the team's first third-down conversion of the day. Foles found Ridley on third-and-16 for an 18-yard gain. Ridley finished the day with two catches for 23 yards.
Last season, Ridley recorded six catches for 69 yards in five appearances.
QB Depth: Though he didn't see any action, Sunday's game marked the third game in three years that practice squad quarterback Tyler Bray served as the Bears' primary backup quarterback.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky injured his shoulder last week against the Saints, putting more pressure on Foles to stay upright behind Sunday's patchwork offensive. While Bray was a prolific college passer at the University of Tennessee (with current teammate Cordarrelle Patterson), he has only attempted one pass since entering the league in 2012.
The team's decision to keep Trubisky off injured reserve may point to a belief that Trubisky's injury will not keep him out longer than three weeks.
See the game unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers as the Bears face off against the Titans on the road in Nashville, Tennessee.