CHICAGO —Coming into Thursday night’s game against the Washington Commanders, the Chicago Bears knew what kind of front seven they would face.
Last week, the unit made Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s life a living hell. He was pressured 15 total times and sacked five times.
Chicago knew what it was getting into. But the Bears couldn’t do anything about it to help protect their 23-year-old quarterback. Justin Fields was pressured 18 total times and sacked five times in the 12-7 loss to the Commanders at Soldier Field.
“I’m hurting, hurting pretty good,” Fields said. “We got a long weekend, so I’ll have some time to heal up.”
There is nobody to blame for the absolute beatdown Fields took other than general manager Ryan Poles. Obviously he didn’t come into an ideal situation, with a team that needed major retooling, but the current roster is still on him.
Lucas Patrick, a player that was far from a staple on the Packers’ offensive line, signed the biggest contract for an offensive free agent for the Bears this past offseason: 2 years, $8 million. The starting left tackle, Braxton Jones, is a fifth-round draft pick from Southern Utah. Sam Mustipher continues to show each game why he was an undrafted free agent. Teven Jenkins just started playing right guard this season and another fifth-round draft pick anchors the left tackle position in Larry Borom.
This isn’t a line a quarterback can be confident in. No quarterback can. It’s set up for disaster before the ball is even snapped. And that’s why Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne wreaked havoc under the lights at Soldier Field.
With Thursday night’s disastrous performance, the Bears coaching staff is going back to the drawing board to evaluate their solutions. When coach Matt Eberflus was asked about a potential offensive line change, he went to a generic response.
“We are going to reassess everything,” Eberflus said. “I mean everything we are going to reassess from scheme to players, everything. We are going to do a good job of that here coming up. …”
But it really doesn’t matter if the Bears adjust their scheme or move around their players, because it will still be the same personnel the Bears ended this game with. Nobody is coming in to upgrade the offensive line unit dramatically. Unfortunately for Fields, it’s likely he will pay with his physical health for Poles’ inability and failure to give his quarter a fighting chance.
And the same can absolutely be said about the wide receiving corps.
Velus Jones Jr. — Poles’ third-round draft pick — is a liability as a punt returner and made himself a big reason why the Bears lost against the Commanders. Ihmir Smith-Marsette let the one target he had hit him square in his facemask. Dante Pettis scored on a 40-yard touchdown and Equanimeous St. Brown has made some plays, but these guys are role players for other teams.
As for Darnell Mooney, the player that has worked with Fields more than anyone in the offseason, there continues to be those letdown moments. After Fields marched the Bears down field to potentially win the game, Mooney couldn’t deliver.
Again, this is the roster that was assembled for the 2022 season. It’s baffling to think Poles expected a big jump from Fields in his second year. How could he if he has to run for his life every other play and continues to take shots that leave Bears fans wincing every time they get replayed on the TV broadcast?
At this rate, Fields won’t even be healthy enough to play, which would make the remaining games close to pointless. Right now, Fields is just surviving. Maybe next season the focus can be on progression.