How Should Ryan Poles Be Judged By His Signings Last Offseason?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune
answers your questions.

Count me among those buying stock in Ryan Poles coming loaded in 2023 with the enviable cap flexibility and improved draft capital. However, the performance of Poles’ guys this season has me leery of the GM’s aptitude for talent evaluation. The rookies have been understandably up and down but his free-agent acquisitions have been lackluster at best. There’s still time, but the trades for N’Keal Harry and Chase Claypool haven’t borne much fruit either. If Poles doesn’t hit it out of the park personnel-wise this offseason should Bears fans start sweating? — David D., Arlington Heights

You’re right that the Bears haven’t gotten a whole lot out of their free-agent additions, but we’re talking about mostly stop-gap measures on one- or two-year deals. You get what you pay for, right? When you spend $4 million per year on Lucas Patrick and $4 million per year on Byron Pringle, you’re not expecting a whole lot — or at least you shouldn’t be. Those guys have suffered multiple injuries and now the Bears have gotten even less from them. Justin Jones has been OK on the defensive line, certainly more productive than Al-Quadin Muhammad.

I wouldn’t judge Poles’ ability to add key pieces via free agency based on what he did last March and April. As far as the draft, let’s see where the current class is in another two years or so. A lot of folks want an instant success/failure indicator and it doesn’t work that way. Let’s have some patience and see what unfolds in the offseason.

Biggs has a point. But I’m going to push back just a little bit.

It is true that individually you don’t expect much out of the free agents that Poles signed. They were bargain basement guys and we all knew that when they signed them.

But having said that, really good organizations seem to find the occasional hit amongst free agents like this. Guys that they dig up that for whatever reason they have not succeeded in the previous organizations but that fit the schemes and what the Bears are trying to do. Taking individually, of course, these are long shots. But as a group you would expect a really good GM to find one or two hits amongst the free agents that were signed last off-season. I haven’t really seen enough of that.

Of course, it’s early. And many of these guys might get better if they’re surrounded by better talent once the Bears start fortifying the roster from the draft. Biggs cites the case of Justin Jones who, though he has been inconsistent, has shown flashes of talent that leads to him getting penetration against the run.

And, to be fair, none of none of these guys has been a complete bust. Most of them have given something.

So I haven’t made any broad sweeping judgments about Poles’ ability to find and judge talent and put it on the roster. But my antennae are up and I’ve seen nothing to indicate any of extraordinary ability in this area that you hope to see in a new GM. The judgements will be much more firm next fall when the Bears’ resources aren’t so limited.

Is Matt Eberflus a Good Head Coach?

The writers at the Chicago Tribune answer key fill in the blank questions about the Chicago Bears.

Matt Eberflus‘ coaching through 11 games has been ________.

Here’s what I know about Eberflus through 11 games: He has done a good job of being the face of an organization that is completely stripping down the roster with an eye toward the future.

Eberflus has to answer for why the defense is one of the worst in the league. The Bears are tied for 27th in points allowed, can’t stop the run, don’t have a hint of a pass rush and have been a mess on third down. The passing offense remains a work in progress, to put it kindly, and he’s playing with a ton of young players.

That’s a long way of saying it is going to be really difficult to judge Eberflus as a head coach until he’s presented with a better roster.”

“Kane: Worthy of an incomplete grade.

Ultimately the all-business Eberflus — at some point down the line — will be judged on the wins. But it’s hard to judge where this team is headed given the roster he is working with. I know that despite a lack of talent the Bears have stayed close in several losses.”

“Wiederer: He has a lot left to prove.

Eberflus earned deserved praise during the summer for articulating his vision and establishing a standard of effort that he wants his teams to live by. The HITS principle was, pardon the pun, an early hit. And to this point, the Bears have remained competitive and feisty despite having a roster that remains low on top-tier talent and quality depth. The moment also hasn’t seemed too big for Eberflus in terms of game management or situational awareness.”

Personally, I found these answers to be a bit on the “let’s take it easy on the new guy” side of things. Which is, of course, logical. But I do think that we have good reason to be more critical on some specific issues that are talent-independent.

I like Eberflus and I’m trying to be patient and to give him a chance. But in no way have I been convinced that he’s going to be the head coach that I thought he was going to be when they hired him. I expected the new coaching staff to maximize the talent on the roster. To me, that didn’t necessarily mean winning games. However, the way that they lost them was going to be significant.

I expected the Chicago Bears to be among the most disciplined teams in the league in 2022. I expected them to lose games because they lack talent. But I did not expect them to lose games because they committed turnovers or, especially, because they committed penalties. These are two quantifiable measures that, in my opinion, can be extended to indicate the level of discipline and mistakes in other areas on the field. That is, are the players failing to properly fill their gaps in the run game and/or are there a significant number of broken coverages?

Unfortunately, both the numbers and my eyes indicate that the team is average at best in these aspects of the game.

Right now the Bears are +1 in turnover differential. That puts the Bears in an eight-way tie for ninth place, right in the middle of the league. I could hardly call this a reason why the team is better than expected. Certainly, I would not cal it a reason why they are maximizing the talent on the roster.

The same goes for the 15th ranking in penalties committed, right in the middle of the league. I do not call that maximizing talent. Certainly its nothing to brag about when you hope that you have hired a top five or 10 coaching staff.

I’m hoping that Eberflus can turn this around with time. Perhaps it’s just a question of coaching a very young team that is still making mistakes that no coach could be expected to correct.

But having said that, I have my doubts. New coaching staffs have a major advantage in that they have no connection to most of the guys on the team. Players don’t know where they stand and that causes them to concentrate harder and make fewer mistakes, not more. The Bears stats are, therefore, probably higher than they would be with a staff that has been around for a year or two, the situation the Bears will be in next year.

Eberflus has reportedly been spending significant time in the quarterback meeting room, which I think is good. But I’m starting to think that he should be taking more of a direct hand in coaching the Bears 27th ranked defense. He’s a proven coordinator on that side of the ball and I’m starting to wonder if Alan Williams can get the team to execute with fewer mistakes in the way that Eberflus has in the past.

I think that installation of better discipline on the field should be a priority for this team, or at least for this coaching staff, over the course of the remainder of the season. This, ultimately, will be the proof of what kind of head coach Eberflus is and what kind of staff he has hired.

The Change in the Offense at the “Mini-Bye” Was More Than Just Designed Runs

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

Like a lot of people, I’m a little baffled by the handling of Justin Fields on Sunday and, honestly, for the whole season. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems as if the narrative has been this: Despite having an incredibly gifted and athletic quarterback and an offseason to prepare for that, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and coach Matt Eberflus came into the season basically treating Fields more like a traditional quarterback, and the offense for the first several weeks was awful. I know there were other reasons for that too (bad O-line, iffy receivers), but you weren’t seeing these designed QB runs or seemingly anything creative that fit Fields’ skill set. They finally started doing that and the offense took off, but it seems like they’ve now swung too far in the other direction and it culminated with that final drive play calling with an obviously beaten up Fields being asked to run even more. Am I way off the mark here? — Andy B., Chicago

The Bears started adding more designed QB runs to the offense in Week 7 at New England but it’s not as if these were not in the playbook. Fields had 14 carries against the Patriots after running 12 times the week before in a miserable loss to the Washington Commanders. The difference was more of the rushes were designed against New England versus scrambles against Washington. He had eight carries at Dallas, 15 against Miami, 13 against Detroit and then a season-high 18 in the loss at Atlanta. Many of the designed runs have taken Fields out of harm’s way and he has taken fewer big hits on those. The Falcons did a nice job of playing the zone read and the hits added up Sunday.

I dispute the idea Getsy wasn’t creative with Fields early in the season. We saw moving pockets, sprint outs, bootlegs, play action, all of that stuff was being called. The Bears were not executing it as well. There has been a slight uptick in play action since the New England game, but there isn’t a big variation.

I think Biggs spot on here but I’m going to add one extra point.

I think that Fields came out of the “mini-bye” with more of a mind to run the ball. Not just on designed runs but I think that he actually has felt more free to scramble out of the pocket and takeoff.

Fields has run for 497 yards on 68 carries since the week 7 games against the Patriots. In the five games before that he ran for 254 on 43 carries. That difference of almost 250 yards and 25 carries isn’t just designed runs.

Perhaps the real story behind the changes that took place in the long period between the Commanders Thursday night game and the Patriots Monday night game will come out some day. Until then, I’m not too sure if Getsy didn’t tell Fields to start running more on scrambles as well as calling more designed runs. Or perhaps its possible that Fields just came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do himself.

But, whatever happened, the direction of the last five games is distinctly different from where Fields was headed for the first six games of the season. And I think it’s safe to say that the difference is in Fields mindset, not just in the game plan.

Bears Are Likely Looking for Players at High Impact Positions Early in 2023 NFL Draft

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune
answers your questions.

What’s the bigger draft need that the Bears should address with their first pick? OL or DL? — @kct2020

Depending on where the team selects, the Bears could have their choice of the first or second non-quarterback to come off the board. That would put GM Ryan Poles in a position where, if he didn’t trade down, he needs to hit a home run. In that instance, you’ve got to trust your draft board and go with the highest-graded guy. Whether that is an offensive lineman, defensive lineman, edge rusher, wide receiver, cornerback, it doesn’t matter. That has to be what scouts call a “blue,” a player that would be a clear starter on any NFL roster and an elite performer. If the grades are similar, I would lean toward a front seven player on defense. The Bears are wholly lacking on defense and need players that can tilt the field.

I tend to agree with Biggs here.

I think that the Bears have shown their hand in terms of what they think about positional value around the field.

It a little early to draw broad conclusions. But when the Bears traded Roquon Smith to the Ravens, it wasn’t just a statement on Smith’s value. It was a statement about the value of the off the ball linebacker position as a whole in the organization under GM Ryan Poles. In addition, given the way that Poles tried to address the line in the offseason with a large quantity of late round picks, it may say something about where he thinks that he can find good players at those positions.

By extension, my conclusion is that it they’re going to spend a high draft pick on one player, they’re probably going to go with a guy in a position that they is going to have the highest impact.

That doesn’t mean that they won’t take, for example, an offensive lineman. Of course, if the best player on their board by a long shot is an offensive tackle, that’s the direction they’ll go in. But all else being equal, I think that Poles is likely looking at three technique defensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback, or wide receiver. Those of positions of need that have the highest impact on the field in terms of big plays. That is, scoring touchdowns or preventing touchdowns.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Falcons 11/20/22


  • The Bears looked to me like they were totally dominated up front. The Falcons had a nice mix of run and pass and the defensive line was getting no pass rush (again) and they got none of the penetration that they got a little bit of last week. The Falcons win the ball 29 times for 126 yards. The Bears had three tackles for loss the entire game.
  • The lack of a pass rush led the Bears to blitz far more than they would like. Mariota is a savvy veteran nowadays and he took advantage of the blitz on occasion. One play at the end of the first half particularly comes to mind where the Falcons got an important first down to eventually set up a field goal. They passed for 131 yards on 2O attempts.
  • I noticed that teams are not avoiding the side that Jaylon Johnson is coverage anymore. Apparently they’ve decided that it just doesn’t matter which side they go to. They are going to be able to take advantage of the Bears defensive backs either way. XXXX pass stats
  • There was some poor tackling out there. Looks like the Bears continue to have work to do on that aspect of the game.
  • Setting running quarterbacks loose seems to be the new style in the NFL. Personally, I think Justin Fields is setting the trend. But Marcus seems to be following it as he did a lot more running than I expected. Mariota ran 10 times for 28 yards and a touchdown.
  • Jack Sanborn (9 tackles) had another good game.
  • Former Bear Cordarrelle Patterson (10 runs for 52 yards) had a very good game today against his old team. His record setting kick return for a touchdown was the difference in the game.


  • Nice, alert play by Sam Mustipher the first quarter on a Justin Fields pass that went high into the air. Mustipher got to the ball and pushed Grady Jarrett down before he could intercept it.
  • Michael Schofield started despite the fact that Tevin Jenkins was active. It will be interesting to see what head coach Matt Eberflus has to say about that after the game.
  • The Bears evidently decided that there was no one on the Atlanta Falcons that could cover Darnell Mooney. Whenever Mooney got into an obvious one on one Fields was going to him and he was going to him fairly deep. Mooney shook loose on the Bears first touchdown and was wide-open on a long route down the right side line that Justin Fields just overthrew him on. The Falcons learned their lesson early and did a better job on him after the first quarter.
  • Give Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Peas credit for coming up with a nice plan to handle Fields (18 carries for 85 yards). The Falcons were spying Fields with linebacker Lorenzo Carter (5 tackles and 1 sack). When he decided that Fields wasn’t going anywhere on a designed run he crashed into the backfield on a delayed blitz. It was very disruptive. Eventually the Bears started to pick him up but he appears to be a pretty good pass rusher and he still caused a lot of problems.
  • It certainly did appear to me like the Bears did a poor job of picking up the Falcons blitz. The Bears are starting some veteran lineman over developing younger players presumably in an effort to better protect Fields. If that is the case, it’s not working. The Falcons sacked Fields 4 times. They ranked 1st in sacks coming into the game.
  • Spectacular catch by Cole Kmet running down the seam on a one-handed grab in the second quarter. That’s about as good a catch as I’ve seen all year. Kmet is really blossoming now in his third year. Kmet had 3 catches for 35 yards.
  • Trestan Ebner (6 rushes for 8 yards) simply doesn’t seem to have the explosion that the other running backs on the Bears roster do. He also seems to lack the vision of David Montgomery (17 carries for 67 yards). Montgomery did a particularly good job at getting good yardage after contact today. And I love seeing him go out on pass routes. He led the team with 3 catches for 54 yards).
  • Color man Daryl Johnston thought that Fields was holding his hamstring in the fourth quarter. It’s entirely possible. They were working on Fields legs on the sideline in the third quarter and certainly he looked hesitant to take off and run. This will be something to keep an eye on. Much though I loved what Montgomery did today, without Fields’ legs the Bears have very little offense.


  • Kicker Cairo Santos was coming off of a miserable game where he missed an extra point that arguably cost the Bears the game against the Lions last week. He recovered nicely by hitting a 41 yard field goal in the second quarter. He barely missed a 55 yard field goal near the end of the first half which, of course, you can’t really blame him for.
  • Eberflus will be criticized for going for that 55 yard field goal near the end of the half. The miss left the Falcons in good field position and they took advantage to kick a field goal to tie the ball game. But I kind of like the call. I think being aggressive there with this team leaves you with very little to lose. Let’s be honest. If you can’t be aggressive when the season is basically done and there’s not much on the line with a young team, you can’t be aggressive at all. I was OK with it.
  • Velus Jones was back as a kick returner and started the game with a nice 43 yard return.
  • Special teams also had another big play in the first quarter when they knocked the ball loose on a punt return at the very end of the period. They then ruined it by allowing Cordarrelle Patterson to score a touchdown on a kick return right before halftime.
  • The bears won the turnover battle by recovering two fumbles. Field threw an interception late in the game trying to make a play to get into a position to tie i
  • But the big difference, and the one that most disappointing, came in the area of penalties. The Falcons were penalized only two times for 13 yards. The Bears, on the other hand, were penalized 7 times for 56 yards and those penalties came at very damaging times, constantly setting the Bears back or helping the Falcons keep drives alive..
  • This was a frustrating game to watch. Ordinarily at this point I would say something to the effect of that the Bears got beat by a better team. Because most of the time that’s true this year. But in this case I’m not so sure, even with the poor Bears defensive line.

    This was a game where the Bears really beat themselves and that was something that I simply did not expect them to be doing this year with the new coaching staff.

    I really thought that the Bears would be in games that they had no business being in simply because they were better disciplined. But that was certainly not true today. The Bears had many bone headed penalties and showed a real lack of discipline that burned them in big spots throughout the game. Third and long was common due in part to penalties and in part due to Fields going down on sacks that weren’t picked up. These were given up to a team that was 31st in the league at sacking the quarterback coming into the game. The defense wan’t better, extending drives with penalties and poor discipline.

    The losses don’t concern me. The way that the Bears are losing does.

Velus Jones Needs to Put the Cart Behind the Horse

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune says that wide receiver Velus Jones
has no specific goals in mind for the final seven games of the season.

“Just to be available,” he said. “When my name is called, make a play and help this team win.”

For any ordinary receiver this would be the right response. But I kind of wonder if it is in Jones’s case.

My impression is that Jones is the kind of guy that wants to hit a home run every time he gets on the field. He has a big play in mind every single time the ball comes his way. Ordinarily that’s what you want in a player but in Jones’s case it leads to critical mistakes.

Jones was the punt returner for the first six games of the season but was benched after muffing a punt against the Washington Commanders. He had previously muffed a punt against the Giants in week four.

Something tells me that what the Bears really need, at least at first, is for Jones to just do his job. Perhaps he should be concentrating first on that rather than “making a play”. Perhaps if he just concentrates on catching the ball, big plays will naturally come his way as the opportunity arises. In any case, I suspect that he just needs do the minimum first and then see if he can build upon that to make big plays. It’s possible that Jones needs to crawl before he can walk.

Was Jack Sanborn a Reason the Bears Traded Roquan Smith?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears head coach Matt Eberflus on Jack Sanborn.

“If you go back and look at the preseason, you saw what kind of player he was,” Eberflus said. “He’s very instinctual, makes a lot of plays on the ball, always reads his keys. He’s always on it that way. We’re pleased with where he’s going.”

I was listening to a podcast the other day where the hosts stated that they were worried because the Bears had “once again” not identified a player early in the season and failed to put them into the games until later than it should’ve happened.

I don’t think this is the case with Sanborn. A spot at linebacker was opened up when the Bears traded Roquan Smith. I would say it’s likely that one of the reasons the Bears felt comfortable trading Smith was the fact that Sanborn was behind him and was developing into what looked like a decent linebacker.

Is Sanborn a decent linebacker? We really don’t know yet. But he led the team in tackles his first 2 games with 19. Sixteen of those were solo and 2 were for loss. He has 2 sacks.

If the Bears had Sanborn in mind when they let Smith go, I’d say that the indications are that it was a good call.

The Bears Defense May Lack Talent But They Should Be Better Than They Are

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune
talks about the Bears substandard defense.

It’s jarring to see the lowly Lions come in and move up and down the field and not have issues in the red zone, but Poles can make some major offseason moves to begin plugging the many holes on defense while also trying to shore up things around Fields. The Bears will be flush with more than $100 million in salary-cap space, and the loss moved them to No. 6 in the projected draft order by At least two teams ahead of the Bears — the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers — could be hunting for a quarterback.

So maybe those who want to see the offense continue to put up points in exciting games that ultimately end in a Bears defeat to enhance draft positioning are happy. I know there’s a segment of the fan base that thinks this way. But it’s frustrating for those involved and many watching to see the defense appear so inept.

Well, everyone likes to see a better draft position. But I agree with Biggs that it’s frustrating to watch the defense, not because they’re not very good but because of the reason they’re not very good.

I, like everyone else, totally understand that the Bears don’t have very much talent on the defensive side of the ball. I can live with losing for that reason in a rebuilding year. But what worries me is that is not always the case.

Biggs use the word “inept”. That’s part what I’m seeing. I’m seeing guys that aren’t doing their jobs and making a lot of mistakes.

The Bears defense at times looks poorly coached. I did not expect that with Matt Eberflus at the helm. Based upon his history I expect the defense to go out there and play at least to their abilities if not above their abilities. That is what Eberflus did with some consistency in Indianapolis. I expected the Bears to beat other teams with superior discipline. That simply hasn’t been the case, especially last Sunday when they committed 8 penalties to the Lions 2 and lost the turnover battle.

That is not happening here.

The Bears have work to do to make their defense better. They have to eliminate the mistakes. They have to start staying in their gaps in the run game and the broken coverages in the pass defense need to end. And tthey have to cut out the penalties that they’re committing at critical times.

Hopefully that will come together and they will show up better later in the year. In the meantime, Eberflus has reportedly been spending time with the quarterbacks in meetings. That’s good. But perhaps it’s time for him to spend more time with the defense that is his expertise. Evidently, they could use it.

Quick Comments: Lions at Bears 11/13/22


  • It’s very evident that at least part of the Bears game plan was to run the ball as much as possible. The first 6 plays were runs of one type or another. Ultimately they ran 35 times for 258 yards.
  • Quarterback Justin Fields was under a lot of pressure from the lions. They seem determined to blitz and put pressure on the offense. Fields was 12 for 20 for 168 yards and a passer rating of 99.4.
  • Once again, Justin Fields legs was the most potent part of the offense. He ran 13 times for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns. He made some mighty tough runs, not the least of which was the first touchdown run, where he slammed into two Lions players to get into the end zone. Fields has me holding my breath constantly after every hit. The 50 yard touchdown run for his second touchdown was breath taking as well.
  • However, once again, Fields was not the only contributor. David Montgomery wasn’t bad (9 runs for 37 yards) but Khalil Herbert got the bulk of the carries and had a very good day (10 runs for 57 yards).
  • I’m trying to be patient, but I really wish that Fields would get rid of the ball more quickly. He holds it awfully long and I know he can get away with it because he can scramble with the ball. But eventually he’s got to develop into a better passer.
  • One of the things I’ve noticed is that Fields is getting everyone lined up, but he’s waiting until fairly late. In the play. Clock countdown to snap the ball. I think he’s waiting to see if the defense performs any late shifts. This is something new and it sounds like a pretty good idea.
  • Really nice job by Cole Kmet adjusting to the ball on his second touchdown of the day late in the third quarter. That was a tough catch even though he was wide-open. Fields threw the ball far behind him. Heck of a play. I’m finally starting to think that they might have something in Kmet. In the end Kmet had 4 receptions for 47 yards and 2 touchdowns.
  • Byron Pringle had a good day, his first game back from injured reserve. Fields seemed to be looking for him.
  • The Bears were 6 of 11 on third down and 0 for 1 on fourth down.


  • It looked like Detroit’s plan was to run the ball against the Bears. They did do a nice job of mixing in short quick passes. But my impression was that they thought they could run on the Bears on the early downs. They ran 31 times for 95 yards for a below average 3.1 yards per carry in the end.
  • As poor as the Bears defensive line, is it getting pressure with their front four, I will say that they did a bit of a better job of getting penetration against the run this game. There were a few tackles for loss from the defense from players like Armon Watts, Justin Jones and Jack Sanborn.
  • The Bears seemed to blitz Jared Goff, quite a bit more than is their want. Evidently, they realized they had to get pressure on him to succeed in this game. Blitzing was the only way to do it. The defensive line is very rough for the Bears and they just cannot get pressure otherwise. In the end they still only sacked Jared Goff twice.
  • On a related note, I might add that they were right to do everything that they could to pressure Goff. Anytime Goff had time, he ripped up the Bear is secondary. The Lions had a good day passing the ball (19 for 26 for 228 yards)..
  • I do not think that I have to add that Goff did this by throwing away from Bears quarterback, Jaylon Johnson. Jaylon Jones saw a lot of action to his side until he was replaced by Lamar Jackson, who immediately committed a pass interference in the end zone. Golf picked on Kyler Gordon, and the safeties as well.
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown had himself a day. My guess is that he was wound up and ready to compete with his brother who is a Bears wide receiver. He came out and performed. He had 10 catches for 119 yards.
  • Jack Sanborn was all over the place. He had another good day. He had 12 tackles (2 for loss) , two sacks, and he should’ve had an interception that was taken away for a hands to the face penalty.
  • The first Lions touchdown was really a nice play. The tight end slipped out unnoticed after making a fairly good fake block down on the defensive end. Goff needed plenty of time to pull it off, but he got it and it was a very smooth play to a wide-open receiver.
  • The Lions were five for 11 on third down and one for one on fourth down. A comparable day to the Bears.


  • Kevin Kugler, former Bears quarterback Mark Sanchez and Laura Okmin were your announcers. I have to say that I’ve never been a big fan of Sanchez. His charm is lost on me. But he surprised me and I thought he did a very good job in this game. Sanchez did a nice job of bringing in replays to point out good teaching points on the plays as the game progressed. It was good work.
  • The broadcast was not helped by some lousy audio work. There was a microphone somewhere, possibly down on the field, that was making a lot of background noise and it made it very hard to hear Kugler, Sanchez and Okmin at times in the second and third quarters. That was some poor work.
  • On special teams, Herbert had a nice kick return in the first quarter. He took it 50 yards. Cairo Santos has a rough day. He kicked a kickoff out of bounds to set the Lions up in good field position in the third quarter. Then as Fields ran for a magnificent touchdown to put the Bears ahead, he missed an extra point to keep it at a six point game. It ultimately cost the Bears the game.
  • The Bears were very undisciplined today (9 penalties for 86 yards). They had some bad penalties that killed a fair number of drives. For instance:
    • one holding call in the red zone on Braxton Jones brought them back 10 yards to second and 14. The Bears settled for a field goal.
    • Jones had another holding penalty on the second drive that killed it.
    • On another drive a facemask penalty from Cole Kmet set them back 15 yards.
    • Jaylon Jones had a pass interference in the end zone that contributed to the Lions first touchdown drive.
    • An unnecessary roughness penalty when Jaquan Brisker shoved Goff out of bounds, helped along an important Lions drive in the fourth quarter. That drive was also helped by a holding call on Johnson. The unnecessary roughness penalty was borderline, but still dumb.
    • A hands to the face penalty on Johnson eliminated a Sanborn interception and kept a Lions drive going in the fourth quarter. Detroit scored a touchdown instead.

    Neither their offense nor their defense is good enough to make up for deficits like this.

  • I’d say that turnovers weren’t a big part of this game. Fields interception in the fourth quarter hurt but he was under pressure, and it was not unusual. The Lions had no turnovers.
  • This was a bit of a bad loss for the Bears as losses this year ago. The year was never about wins, but this one hurt because of the way it came about. Way, way too many penalties with the Lions getting almost none. The Fields interception was the only turnover.To be outplayed by the Lions, who played a very clean game, did not make for a great afternoon.

    I suppose ultimately the good news is that Fields continues to develop, and the rest of the team continues to develop around him. But it seems like they have a long way to go, especially the defense. Lots and lots of mistakes were made and these have to be corrected and some talent upgrades have to be made for the Bears are going to be able to play defense like a competent NFL team.

Riley Reiff Is Not What the Bears Are Looking for at Right Tackle. Alex Leatherwood and Larry Borum Might Be.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

Do you think Alex Leatherwood has a place on this O-line in the future? I am hoping he can be the right tackle at some point this season if he performs well. — @iammars25

There’s no way to answer that question without seeing Leatherwood play. As I wrote Friday, it’s a really good idea to give Leatherwood a stretch of games as a starter before the season ends to determine if he should be in the mix to compete for a starting job in 2023. That could happen at right tackle, but veteran Riley Reiff has played well the last two weeks and I doubt the Bears are ready to make a switch right away. Time is remaining, but I’m definitely in the camp that believes Leatherwood needs to be evaluated before the end of the season.

So a couple of things here.

When Leatherwood was acquired, it was fairly evident to me that the Bears thought that he was a project. When you watched him on video, his technique was completely shot. The guess here is that the plan is for offensive line coach Chris Morgan to completely tear Leatherwood down to the studs and then rebuild both his technique and his confidence from the ground up. That’s going to take time. And the fact that Leatherwood started his Bears career by becoming injured set him back even farther.

We probably will see Leatherwood at some point toward the end of the season, particularly if it continues to look like the Bears will be eliminated from the playoffs sooner rather than later. But my guess is that the Bears acquired Leatherwood more for 2023 and that it’s not a big deal if he doesn’t make it onto the field in 2022.

Second, and this is the second or third time I’ve heard Biggs say it this week, veteran Riley Reiff is playing well but not that well. There’s a reason why Reiff has been a journeyman throughout his NFL career. He’s known as an excellent pass blocker, but his run blocking is amongst the poorest in the league.

Ultimately the Bears need an all-around guy who can do both at right tackle. Larry Borum is a young player who shows some signs that he could do that. And playing and developing the young players is what this season is about, not playing veterans that you already know aren’t good enough.

My guess – and it is only a guess – is that the Bears were a little bit hesitant to put Borum in right away coming off of his concussion with very little practice time. However, it would not surprise me in the least if he was starting at right tackle over Reiff this week.