Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives his 10 thoughts after the Bears loss to the Buffalo Bills on Christmas Eve. Biggs found the offensive struggles to be worrisome in their simplicity.
‘The Bills showed if a defense can prevent Fields from running the ball, the Bears can’t get anything done offensively. That’s sort if what we saw at the start of the season too.’
Biggs went on to quote a couple of Bills players who confirmed his suspicion. Stop Fields from running and its over. But personally, I don’t think that not entirely fair in that the conditions on Saturday accentuated the problem.
In those conditions at Soldier field in the wind and cold weather where gripping the ball was difficult, passing was a problem for both teams. Even the centers were having trouble snapping the ball. Kickers struggled to make short field goals and even extra points.
Passing in those kinds of conditions is a serious issue. Both teams were forced to run the ball. Both defenses knew it and therefore sold out to stop it.
Biggs is correct in that Fields got an incredible amount of attention from the Bills. I don’t need to watch the all-22 to see that they had at least one spy on him every play and that every single defensive player had their attention focused on him.
Unlike the Bills, the Bears, of course, don’t have much of a passing game under the best of conditions. With so many players like , Equaminious St. Brown and Chase Claypool injured the Bills were in a much better position to execute such a game plan. And, of course, the offensive line was patchwork with both guards injured.
Yes, the Bears running game was unable to beat a good team under such conditions. And that’s worrisome because there are no excuses. But I would argue that even the sliver of a passing game that they would have had in better weather would have led to much, much better results even with the make shift starting lineups. They needed more than they got. But I would argue that they didn’t need much more. The weather made the difference.
So my conclusion from the lack of a run game outside of Feilds is not quite as dire as Biggs’ suggest that it is.
On the other hand, the problems on the defensive side are much more of an issue in regard to the above because it made their job much more easy on a day when the Bills didn’t perform at their best. Not being able to stop the Bills from running over them despite knowing that this was what they had to do is very problematic. Biggs tells the story very accurately.
‘The Bears have averaged 19 points in Fields’ last four starts. The defense has been bad more consistently. The Bears were horrendous in this spot, allowing an offense that usually leans heavily on quarterback Josh Allen to run the ball to feature others. Devin Singletary carried 12 times for 106 yards — tied for the second-biggest game of his career — scoring on a 33-yard run. Rookie James Cook had a season-high 99 yards on 11 carries and scored on a 27-yard play.
‘These are smaller, change-of-pace backs who just gutted the Bears as the Bills rolled up a season-high 254 yards rushing with Allen getting 41 yards on six carries. It’s the fourth time this season an opponent has rushed for more than 200 yards against the defense. The Bears gave up four 200-yard games in 2013 and 1951, and the team record is five in 1955. This was just a trampling.
‘”There were some big holes,” Singletary said. “The big guys up front were moving people — I mean moving people. Guys on the outside were holding their blocks and most of the time all we had to do was beat one person.”
‘That is because the Bears were playing primarily with a single-high safety and we saw another display of consistently poor gap discipline. When it gets really bad — like this — different players take turns and it turns into a total mess.’
‘The Bears need to totally overhaul the front seven in the offseason.’
Couldn’t agree more. The Bears are overwhelmed in the run game and can’t generate a pass rush without blitzing. Any rebuild has to start along the defensive line.
Generally speaking, unlike the offensive woes with a playmaker like Fields on the team, this game showed that the defensive woes are as dire as anyone could possibly express.