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GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Bears’ Week 18 matchup at Lambeau Field against the Packers was Chicago’s Super Bowl.
The stage was set with a win-and get-in scenario for Green Bay while Chicago played the spoiler role. What more could you ask as a football fan for both teams?
One problem: The idea sounded much better than what actually transpired. The Packers defeated the Bears, 17-9, and clinched a playoff berth. Although it was just a one-score game, that doesn’t accurately depict how far off these two teams are from each other.
“It sucks,” DJ Moore said after the game. “It would have been great to knock them off and even better to have a better record.”
Unfortunately for the Bears, this team lives in the hypotheticals of the “coulds” and “what ifs” and still hasn’t defeated the Packers since the last time the Bears clinched the NFC North back in the 2018 season.
Despite the team showing some positive progress towards the end of the 2023 season, this touchdown-less performance against the Packers is a clear indication that some major changes need to be made on the offensive side of the ball.
The current tandem of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and Justin Fields hasn’t shown enough through two seasons to prove that both should be back in 2024. Fields finished 11-of-16 for 148 yards and was sacked five times. In the third quarter, which was only nine offensive plays, Fields didn’t throw a single pass.
It didn’t help that Fields was under consistent pressure throughout the game. Starting center Lucas Patrick was placed on injured reserve on Saturday and Dan Feeney made his first career start for the Bears. Right guard Nate Davis exited the game right before the first quarter ended with a foot injury and never returned. Cody Whitehair took Davis’ spot at right guard, despite not having played there since 2017.
“I felt it pretty good,” Fields said on the Packers’ pass rush. “When you don’t have the starters out there, of course there’s going to be a minor difference with the O-line and their communication and chemistry up front. But we have a mentality, ‘next guy’s up’ and we’ve been through that all year. It really shouldn’t have been anything different. I felt like their D-line did a good job getting pressure on me and getting to the back field pretty well. Hats off to them.”
If Fields wasn’t dealing with unblocked Packers defenders, he was also a victim of Getsy’s playcalling. Outside of Moore’s 33-yard reception late in the second quarter, there weren’t many plays that schemed the Bears’ playmakers open. On the other sideline, Matt LaFleur consistently found ways to maximize Jordan Love’s throwing ability. The Packers’ quarterback finished 27-of-32 for 316 yards and threw two touchdowns. Rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed caught four passes for 112 yards, which led all receivers.
On top of Getsy not scheming players open, he called a second-and-2 Fields designed run that had 5-foot-8, 178-pound Trent Taylor tasked with blocking the edge. Come on.
The passing offense was supposed to take a step this season, especially with the addition of Moore, but the unit still finished in the bottom half of the league. It took a group effort to create the inconsistencies the Bears had this season in the passing game. Fields is to blame, Getsy, the pass blocking, the playmakers not creating separation and executing plays. Everything.
All things that Fields and Getsy will have to discuss this offseason.
“I mean, yeah, it’s two sides of it because you got to know what he’s thinking and he’s got to know what I’m thinking,” Fields said. “I think that’s a conversation we got to sit down and have. Watch all the games together. Go over what we could have done better, what we would change. Would we change the play calls? Would I have mad different decisions on certain plays? I think you really have to sit down and go over the film together and really talk it out to have those conversations. I think that’s how me and him will have that conversation.”
General manager Ryan Poles will have plenty of conversations inside Halas Hall, especially since he has the No. 1 overall pick for the second year in a row. A new quarterback can definitely be in play.
That unknown isn’t new Fields, who had to deal with quarterback speculation after the 2022 season, but whatever ends up happening, that’s for Poles and the rest of the Bears organization to decide.
“I mean, I’m not sure,” Fields said when asked if had done enough to come back next season. “That decision is not in my hands. All I can control is what I did do. I gave it my all. Whether it’s here or not, I have no regrets. Shoutout to you guys for making my job a little bit harder. To the City of Chicago, love ya’ll. Appreciate the fans and the support from all the Bears, you know, and in case this is my last rodeo with y’all, appreciate y’all for everything.”
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