Same old Bears: 12th straight loss raises more questions about Justin Fields

TAMPA, Fla. — Jaylon Johnson stays upbeat. The Chicago Bears cornerback is doing his job on the field. But he’s tired of the same conversation.

It’s a new season, but the Bears’ 27-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday makes it 12 losses in a row dating to Oct. 24, 2022. Since the start of 2021, the Bears are 9-27.

Does that weigh on the team’s No. 1 corner?

“Hell yeah,” he said. “That’s what I think about consistently. I’ve been here for a good minute now. Going through the same things, the same letdowns, the same, in a sense, postgame speeches. For me as a competitor, I’m tired of that s—. I’d rather be happy when we come in on Monday where we’re celebrating a W.”

If Week 1 felt like just another chapter of the Bears-Packers series, Week 2 felt like another chapter in the past decade of Bears football.

The opening series for the offense, which featured a pair of Justin Fields-to-DJ Moore connections for 64 yards followed by a Fields touchdown run, was a mirage. The offense went six consecutive possessions before finding the end zone again — one field goal and five punts.

The game ended with back-to-back interceptions, including a pick-six when Fields’ middle-screen throw to running back Khalil Herbert was picked off at the 4-yard line by Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett.

Turnovers, penalties, Fields holding on to the ball too long, ineffective run game, questionable screen calls.

The result was 17 points and an 0-2 start.

The defense finished strong, giving up only seven points after halftime, but it allowed the Bucs to start 7-for-11 on third down. The group had a whopping one quarterback hit and zero sacks. Defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and DeMarcus Walker had their chances, but Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield was able to get free.

With time to throw, Mayfield and wide receiver Mike Evans picked on rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, an easier thing to do after safety Eddie Jackson left with a foot injury and didn’t return. The defense got a blocked field goal from Rasheem Green but couldn’t take the ball away.

The result was digging a 10-point deficit in the second half and an 0-2 start.

“This was a very, very winnable game,” Johnson said. “I think that we’re just tired of shooting ourselves in the foot. We’re tired of not capitalizing. I think the biggest thing for us, being a young team, we’ve got to learn how to win. We’ve got to learn how to pull through. We’ve got to learn how to come together and execute at a high level throughout the duration of the game and not shoot ourselves in the foot. It takes us getting burnt, but at the end of the day, we have to learn. I think it’s better to learn from wins and we have to learn to win.”

Safety Jaquan Brisker sat at his locker still in his uniform a good 30 minutes after the game ended. An ultra competitor and vocal leader on defense, he let an interception go through his hands and had to miss some time because of dehydration.

“This is a new year,” he said. “It’s been a long time (since a win), but it’s a new year. We’ve got a lot of new faces. A lot of additions. We can’t dwell on last year. This is a new team, so we’ve got to keep moving forward to try to find a way to win, and we will. We’ve got the team to do it. We’ve got the players to do it. We’re going to stay positive. We’re not going to point any fingers. We’re going to stick together.”

Coach Matt Eberflus also wants to separate this season from what happened in 2022, when the Bears lost their final 10 games en route to a 3-14 record.

“This is 2023, so there’s a lot of guys in that locker room that weren’t here last year,” he said. “A bunch of free agents, draft guys, a bunch of guys we picked, and it’s a new football team. We’re getting the chemistry together, we’re getting the guys together that are playing together for the first time in a season and we will make that work. The guys are very optimistic about that.”



‘When will the pain end?’: Bears mailbag frustration, plus Week 2 picks

That might be true for the new players, but for how much longer? Stevenson sat at his locker with his head in his hands for several minutes. He knows days like these will happen his rookie year, but that doesn’t make it easy.

Linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards came to Chicago from Super Bowl contenders. Back-to-back, double-digit losses to start their Bears careers isn’t ideal.

Walker has yet to play on a winning team, now in his seventh season in the league. His biggest frustration is simple.

“Not winning. Not winning,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. I could have 10 sacks and if we don’t win, I’m still gonna be pissed.”

Fields knew little else but winning in his college career. He’s now 5-22 as an NFL starter. As hard as that is, he tried to put a good perspective on it.

“We’re going through a storm right now,” he said. “Like I said before, you can just be in the moment, just take it day by day and just be grateful for what we do, what I do, because shoot, I can look back to when I was a kid, I would never see myself in this position. I can be grateful for it and give my all each and every day.

“Each and every day I have the opportunity to do what I do and be the quarterback of this team, but, of course, it’s frustrating not winning. But I think at the same time, like I said, just take it day by day and not really worry about the past. … Can’t do anything about that. … You’ve got right now, and of course, you’ve got the future, so.”

It’s hard to see that future as promising after these two games. After an offseason of hope for what Fields could do with new weapons and another year in the playbook, it’s been a mess. The line and run game aren’t helping, and the defense isn’t good enough to carry this team.



How the Bears must ramp up the pass rush against Baker Mayfield and the Bucs in Week 2

Next up is a trip to Arrowhead Stadium, a matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the real possibility of an 0-3 start.

Johnson relishes the opportunity to end the streak against the Chiefs. Something as monumental as that could serve as hope that this thing won’t go off the rails like we’ve seen too often with a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game in nearly 13 years.

To Johnson, it just takes one.

“Just continuing to learn how to win,” he said. “I think it’s a very important element that people don’t really take in. It’s not about having good players all the time, it’s not about the scheme. It’s really just learning to win, learning when to step up, when to be on your assignments. The plays in the fourth quarter aren’t the same as the fourth quarter. Really being able to come together and execute together at a high level.”

The idea of one win sparking something, getting the proverbial monkey off the back, is tougher to buy if the problems are widespread.

If the quarterback simply isn’t going to lead this team to enough wins, if the personnel around him isn’t good enough and if the defense can’t live up to its offseason acquisitions, it’ll take a lot more than “learning to win” to turn things around.

But the Bears have to start somewhere.

(Photo: Kim Klement Neitzel / USA Today)

“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time, goes on sale this fall. Preorder it here.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top