Over the next several days, the Chicago Bears will spend significant time looking for answers, trying to better explain and interpret all that went haywire Sunday at SoFi Stadium. They will study film, engage in meetings and push for as many corrections and fixes as possible. But in the process, they will also look in the mirror and see what the rest of the football world witnessed on the “Sunday Night Football” stage in Week 8, which is an inconsistent and error-prone team that couldn’t stay competitive and was throttled from start to finish by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Sunday’s final score was 30-13. But it really wasn’t that close with the Chargers taking the lead for good midway through the first quarter, extending their advantage to 17 points by halftime and coasting through the second half.
Inside a glum visitor’s locker room, the Bears were again left to process their disappointment. It wasn’t just that they suffered their sixth loss in eight games this season and still haven’t won consecutive games at any point in the Ryan Poles-Matt Eberflus era. And it’s not just that the Sunday night embarrassment was way too familiar — the Bears have now lost seven consecutive Sunday night games by an average score of 31-15.
More than anything, it’s that the entire night was a blooper reel of sloppy penalties and dropped passes and missed tackles and costly turnovers.
Spin the wheel. Where would you like to start?
With Tyson Bagent’s second-quarter interception, on a pass to the left that, in live action, sailed over Darnell Mooney’s head but never made it anywhere close to intended receiver DJ Moore? It turns out Moore, the intended target, had an option on his route based on the coverage the Chargers showed and made the correct decision to take his pattern deeper up the sideline even with his quarterback throwing with an expectation that he would run a hitch.
“A little miscommunication,” Bagent said. “But that was completely on me. I just have to get off that (route) and continue to go through my progressions.”
Stuff happens, right? And on some nights, the stuff is everywhere.
Should we go next to the Chargers’ third and final touchdown of an explosive first half, the one that came with 4 seconds remaining when Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert found tight end Donald Parham Jr. underneath? The Bears were in position to stifle that play, to take Parham down and force the Chargers to settle for a field goal. Instead, rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson missed a tackle and veteran linebacker T.J. Edwards then did the same.
Just like that, the Chargers finished off a 75-yard touchdown drive and a first half in which they scored on all four possessions.
“I’ve got to get back out there this week and work on tackling to get better,” Stevenson said. “That one definitely bothered me.”
Added linebacker Tremaine Edmunds: “That one hurt. Especially knowing they were about to get the ball again coming out in the second half with the ability to double-dip. That was a worst-case scenario.”
Maybe we veer next to the 40-yard touchdown catch Velus Jones Jr. should have made, only to lose his footing, fall, then juggle and drop the football inside the end zone.
“I looked back for the ball,” Jones said. “(It was) a little bit underthrown. So I started working back to the ball as I was running, trying to track it and I lost my footing — because I was running back to it at an angle and I almost ran past it. So I tried to stop and I slipped.”
Jones shook his head in disbelief.
“It’s not an excuse,” he added. “It was a catchable ball. And, I mean, I had it. It’s really devastating. When you prepare all week in practice and put in all the extra work that’s needed and you catch a ball like that 100 times after practice and it’s like in that small window of opportunity, you get to show what you can do and it doesn’t happen for you.”
Sure, the Bears still squeezed a touchdown out of that possession. But that was another example of the sloppiness that has plagued this team in yet another discouraging defeat, another moment the Bears failed to meet.
Bagent’s second interception wasn’t nearly as egregious, a fourth-and-3 shot to Mooney over the middle in the fourth quarter. That pass hit Mooney’s hands but squirted into the air when he was immediately popped by Chargers safety Alohi Gilman. Derwin James was there to collect that Bears turnover and Mooney was left after the game to collect his thoughts on the sequence.
“Did you guys feel like I dropped that one?” he asked a group of reporters at his locker. “I saw the safety coming down and I felt like I grabbed it. But it was just a bang-bang play.”
Mooney vowed to give a more thorough review after he studies the video.
“I’m looking for the answers,” he said. “So if it looked like I dropped it, then … I felt like I had it and immediately when I got it, boom.”
These are the last-place Bears right now, still shaky, still reeling and still bothered by this entire experience. So much for the momentum that seemed to build during a Week 7 blowout of the Las Vegas Raiders. The team that collected that victory at Soldier Field sure didn’t seem like the one that played Sunday near Los Angeles.
The Bears struggled to establish a running game and finished with only 73 yards on 25 attempts with tight end Cole Kmet wondering why there wasn’t a winning level of nastiness in that department.
“I just didn’t feel it like I did last week against the Raiders,” Kmet said. “I know that one was a really good performance. But that edge we usually have in the run game? I didn’t feel like it was there this week.”
The Bears defense, meanwhile, had no answers for Herbert, who spread 31 completions around to eight pass catchers on his way to 298 yards and three touchdowns. Herbert was never sacked and hit only two times. And his first incompletion didn’t come until 8:55 remained in the first half, after he had already hit his first 15 passing attempts. By that point, the Chargers were already in range to turn the first of three Cameron Dicker field goals into a dominant 17-0 lead.
“(Herbert) made a lot of plays today,” Stevenson said. “It’s just his arm strength, man. He’s an excellent quarterback making all the throws he should.”
Added Edwards: “That’s a guy who has been a really good player in this league for a while now. This was nothing too surprising. He makes all the right reads. He’s a really strong dude. And we have to find a better way to make plays when they come to us.”
That didn’t happen Sunday with the Chargers taking their first two drives for touchdowns while facing only two third downs.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the Bears played Sunday without starting safeties Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson, leaving Elijah Hicks and Duron Harmon to man the back end of the defense. Brisker was left home in Chicago with what the team has labeled an illness absence. And while Jackson was officially active Sunday, he really only suited up in case of an extreme emergency with his nagging left foot injury.
Adding to the woe, Edmunds suffered a right knee injury early in the second half which will require additional medical testing Monday and could potentially sideline him for multiple games. If that turns out to be the case, it would be another key subtraction from a team that continues to be followed by a cloud of misfortune.
The Bears, now 2-6 and again staring into the abyss of irrelevance, will play two more games over the next 11 days. They will continue to search for answers and consistency and some kind of winning formula. But, with Sunday night’s fizzle as a sobering reminder, there is still no guarantee they will find any of those things.