Rewatching the Bears’ 41-10 loss to the Lions on Sunday wasn’t a pleasurable experience and it’s definitely something the team would like to quickly forget.
But there were still a few things that stood out to me as I watched the game again. Here are five things worth revisiting.
1. Velus Jones Jr. is missing out on experience
Bears coach Matt Eberflus is big on getting game experience for his players. That’s why Justin Fields played the entire game, even if fans didn’t like it.
The first-year head coach said in his postgame press conference, “you can’t really get that anywhere else” when it comes to in-game experience. And he is right.
But it’s too bad this mindset doesn’t apply for every player. Take for example, Velus Jones Jr. – who said last week against the Bills felt like his most complete game as a pro.
Against the Lions a week later, Jones played just five offensive snaps.
His last offensive snap occurred with 13:49 left in the second quarter. Jones went in motion and took a handoff toward the right sideline for 13 yards. That was the last time Jones played on offense.
“I practiced all week. Everybody’s healthy, everybody’s back, everybody has different packages and stuff,” Jones said on Monday. “Whenever my number is called, I just go out there and give my all. That’s what’s important at the end of the day. No matter how many snaps you get, what matters is what you put on film.”
The rookie never got a chance to play on a third down, in a two-minute offense or simply in the second half. All missed opportunities for a player that clearly would have benefited from those situations, just like Fields is supposedly doing when he is staying in the game.
After Jones returned a kickoff for a career-high 63 yards before the end of the first half, he couldn’t even get on the field for whatever that final play was in the second quarter. That’s not Jones’ fault. Blame the coaching staff.
2. Chase Claypool disappoints, again
For the first time all season for the Bears, Chase Claypool didn’t catch one single pass. He was targeted, though. But his only target happened with just over two minutes left in the game.
Fields threw a pass to Claypool on second-and-19, and the ball went off Claypool’s hands as he stretched out to try and secure the catch.
The 24-year-old wide receiver played just 19 snaps in the loss against the Lions – which is tied for his season low when the Bears last played the Lions in Week 10.
Eberflus did mention in his postgame press conference that Claypool was going to have a limited number of plays. Claypool sustained a knee injury in the Week 13 loss to the Packers and he was forced to miss the next two games against the Eagles and Bills.
The Bears offense faced 13 third-down plays throughout the game, yet Claypool was only featured on six of them. Not having Claypool on the field in those critical moments again seems like a missed opportunity from the coaching staff.
Claypool did garner attention when he threw his helmet down in frustration, which Fields was asked about in his postgame press conference. Eberflus was impressed with how the quarterback addressed the situation.
“Yes. Yes. I thought what Justin said yesterday was outstanding,” Eberflus said. “It was really good and I really don’t need to add upon that, because what he said was perfect. And we have had conversations with Clay. We understand how we want to operate on the sideline. Because on the sideline, you’re there to encourage certain and there to challenge, that’s good too. But there’s a way to go about that. And when you go about it the right way, it’s positive and it’s productive. If you go about it a certain way, then it’s taking away focus and energy because everybody’s looking over and seeing what’s going on. So it’s just got to be productive. You gotta have some self control with the controlled violence that you have to play this game with, but that’s the biggest takeaway for that.”
3. Justin Fields run in the low red zone
It may seem like an entirely different game altogether, but the Bears actually moved the ball on their first two drives of the game. Granted a holding call on third-and-9 seriously helped the offense on the opening drive that ended in a Cole Kmet touchdown.
But on the second drive, Fields ran down the middle of the Lions defense for a 60-yard gain to set up the offense up at the Lions 9-yard line. David Montgomery gained six more yards to set up a second-and-goal opportunity at the 3.
And the Bears went to play that has had success this season. A quarterback-designed run that features linemen getting out front while skilled players block down to help create a rushing lane.
Against the Patriots, Cowboys and Falcons, the play worked. The Lions were prepared for Fields in the low red zone and forced the Bears to punt. For everyone who actually watched the entire game, which probably wasn’t a lot, field goals weren’t going to cut it against the Lions’ explosive offense.
4. Kyler Gordon’s pass interference penalty
The Lions basically did whatever they wanted to do offensively in Sunday’s blowout victory. But giving the Lions free yards wasn’t going to make anything easier for the Bears defense.
On fourth-and-4 from the Bears’ 35-yard line, Detroit got a gift on its first offensive possession. Jared Goff threw an underthrown ball in the end zone, trying to target wide receiver D.J. Chark. Kyler Gordon and DeAndre Houston-Carson were in the area. Chark looked back at the underthrown ball and Gordon yanked him to the ground with his right arm.
“Again that fourth-and-5, you know that DPI, where they got the ball down there on the 1-yard line, so again I thought that was a good play,” Eberflus said after the game. “It was a nice job of looking back at the ball. We’ll see where that is. I got to go look at the tape on that one.”
The Lions took over at the 1-yard line and scored two plays later with Brock Wright’s 2-yard touchdown reception.
That penalty on Gordon was the first pass interference call on Gordon since the Week 6 matchup against the Washington Commanders on Thursday Night Football.
5. Fields tied a season low with seven completions
The Bears offense was abysmal against the Lions. There is no other way of putting it.
Eberflus said after the game that it “felt like they (the Lions defense) were collapsing the pocket pretty good.” Fields was sacked seven times and took some big hits throughout the game.
Luke Getsy’s unit didn’t get a first down in the second half until 6:57 left in the fourth quarter. Fields ran for six yards on second-and-2 to finally give the offense a fresh set of downs. Unfortunately, the Bears’ fifth offensive drive ended in a turnover on downs. Fields tried connecting with Ryan Griffin on fourth-and-2, but the pass fell incomplete.
(Why Griffin of all people is the player being targeted on that play is extremely questionable to say the least.)
A lot wasn’t working for the Bears’ offense, but Fields also didn’t have his best game. On third-and-goal from the Detroit 2, Fields was flushed out of the pocket and ran out of bounds – losing three yards. The Bears settled for a 23-yard field goal.
Fields also threw an uncatchable ball to Byron Pringle on a third-and-10. Yes, Khalil Herbert whiffed on his block, but I’m sure most people would agree that Fields is capable of throwing a better ball to Pringle despite the pressure.
The second-year quarterback also had two turnovers: the fumble on the Bears’ fifth offensive possession and the interception at the end of the half.
Fields completed only seven passes in the game – which is tied for his lowest of the season with the Week 2 game against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
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