Dec 24, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks to pass the ball against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
LAKE FOREST — The Chicago Bears’ 27-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday was the latest installment of how different this Bears team is from the first half to the second half of games.
Through the first two quarters at Soldier Field on Christmas Eve, Justin Fields and the offense put up 21 points, including three straight touchdown drives after the first possession ended in a punt.
Fields in the first half completed 10 of 17 pass attempts for 135 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis. Fields also added 32 yards on the ground on four attempts. Cole Kmet had four receptions for 107 yards, and Khalil Herbert ran for 62 yards on eight carriers
The offense was humming.
But the last two offensive drives in the second quarter foreshadowed what would happen for the majority of the second half. After the Cardinals scored a touchdown to make it a 21-7 game, Fields and the offense went three and out and gained just one yard on the possession. The next offensive drive following a Cardinals’ three and out ended with the Bears gaining zero yards on three plays.
On five offensive possessions in the second half, the Bears scored two field goals, punted twice, had a drive end in a red zone interception and Fields only threw for 35 passing yards.
It didn’t help that DJ Moore was dealing with an ankle injury throughout the entire game and Kmet didn’t play in the second half, but it was completely different from the first half performance.
“You know the executing the plays, positive yards, you know. Two-minute drills on offense or defense is always about that, right?,” Eberfus said on Monday. “Starting with a positive play. If you get a third down, you got to convert on those downs and chunk plays are at a premium or defending against the chunk play it’s how you score. Get the ball into scoring range and that’s really what we need to do in those situations there at the end of the half. Now at the end of the game, if you got back to the end of the game, we’re trying to put the game away.
Chicago Bears offense: First half versus second half
In the first half this season, the Bears have scored 161 points compared to 149 points in the final two quarters. There is also a significant drop off from the team’s scoring in the second quarter (104) to the third quarter (67).
Another bad combination with scoring less in the second half is that the Bears have also given up 106 points in the fourth quarter and have only scored 82. It makes sense why the Bears have blown three games when they have had a lead in the fourth quarter.
One glaring difference between the first half and second half for the Bears’ offense against the Cardinals was the team’s efficiency on first down. On 16 first down attempts, the Bears gained 109 total yards (6.8 yards per attempt). In the second half, the Bears had 15 first down attempts, including a holding penalty by Lucas Patrick, for 58 total yards and only 3.86 ypa.
Obviously the Bears had opportunities on second and third down to make up the yards, but the offense did not have the capabilities more times than not to make up for it in the second half against a Cardinals defense that ranks in the bottom of the league in most categories.
The overarching problems can stem from anything to player execution to coaching adjustments coming out of halftime. It’s probably a combination of both.
Two games isn’t enough time to change a season’s worth of inconsistent offensive play, but the Bears can end the season on a more positive note and that would start with playing a complete game on offense.
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