Bears seek answers for offense as they stumble into bye

NFL

CHICAGO (AP)The Chicago Bears switched quarterbacks early in the season and changed who calls plays last week, all in an effort to spark the one of the NFL’s worst offenses.

So far, nothing’s worked.

They can’t pass, can’t run, can’t block. Above all else, they’re not getting the touchdowns they need from their anemic offense.

It’s all added up to four straight losses heading into their bye, and no relief in sight.

”At some point, something has to click,” coach Matt Nagy said. ”At some point. You would think. There’s two choices, you either quit or you fight. I know what we’re going to do. I don’t think I have to say it.”

Chicago (5-5) boasts a top 10 defense led by three-time All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack and a locker room culture Nagy thinks will keep the team together. But safety Eddie Jackson is seeing too many hanging heads on both sides of the ball. And he let his feelings be known when he addressed the team following the Bears’ ugly 19-13 loss to Minnesota on Monday night.

”We got a lot of guys on both sides of the ball that can speak up, that (have a) powerful voice, but I feel like kind of afraid to use it,” Jackson said. ”You can’t be afraid to use your voice. … You see guys coming off the field, their head down, no one says nothing to them. That has to change.”

But the biggest issue facing the Bears is their broken offense. They’ve been searching for solutions since the season kicked off and they’re not finding answers.

Actually, their offense has been a problem the past two years. The changes they made in the offseason – overhauling the assistants and bringing in quarterback Nick Foles to push Mitchell Trubisky, among other moves – have not panned out.

Nagy handed the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor last week, only to watch that unit hit a new low against Minnesota. The Bears amassed 149 yards for their lowest total since 2017, and failed to score a touchdown on offense for the second time in four games. They also matched their worst skid since Nagy was hired in 2018.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Foles was taken from the field on a cart near the end of the game. He was driven to the ground as he threw the ball away and suffered a hip and glute injury that wasn’t as serious as the Bears feared.

Nagy said this week he doesn’t think Foles will have to go on injured reserve. The Bears’ next game is against Aaron Rodgers and the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 29. And if Foles isn’t available, Trubisky might be.

The No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft, he was benched for Foles during the Bears’ comeback win at Atlanta in Week 3. On his only snap since then, Trubisky suffered a right shoulder injury when he was tackled running the ball against New Orleans in Week 8.

Whether it’s Trubisky or Foles at quarterback, or Nagy or Lazor calling plays, the Bears simply aren’t getting the production from their offense. They lack playmakers other than receiver Allen Robinson, and their line wasn’t really holding its ground even before injuries and COVID-19 issues took hold.

It’s added up to an offense that ranks 31st overall and last in the league in rushing.

Against Minnesota, the Bears’ lone touchdown came on Cordarrelle Patterson’s club-record 104-yard kickoff return to start the second half. The offense failed to score a touchdown for the second time in four games. And the Bears also had minus-2 yards in the third quarter.

”We’re not good enough right now,” Patterson said. ”Everybody sees that. It’s no secret the offense isn’t good enough. Just have to keep stepping up, just playing better. Because the defense, they’re playing lights out each and every week. They’re setting us up each and every time to score points and get the win, but we’re just not coming out at the top.”

Even when Chicago was 5-1, there were all sorts of red flags.

The Bears had to rally from 17 down to win the opener at Detroit, then nearly blew a 17-point lead in a win over the New York Giants. In Week 3 at Atlanta, Foles rallied them from 16 down.

Those three teams are combined 10-18. And among them, the Lions have the most wins: four.

”We just have to stick together,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. ”We can’t be pointing figures or listen to the outside noise. We just gotta get tighter, stick together and focus on doing our job better, and if we do that, things will take care of itself.”

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