All posts by Josh Buckhalter

Josh Buckhalter covers the Chicago Bears for Clocker Sports. He also covers the NBA for Heavy Sports with a focus on the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks for FanSided at Soaring Down South. Follow him on Twitter/Instagram: @JoshGBuck and reach him via email:

Bears OC Downplays Comparison of Justin Fields’ Comments

The Chicago Bears tried to get back on top of a news-heavy day on Wednesday with multiple figures speaking including general manager Ryan Poles and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

Getsy’s offense has been a prominent topic. Both for quarterback Justin Fields’ comments and because Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David said after his defense knew what play was coming on Fields’ interception that Shaq Barrett returned for a touchdown.

Asked if Fields’ comments were in a similar vein as his comments after a Week 6 loss to the Washington Commanders last season, Getsy said the two instances are completely different. He also pointed to the task ahead.

“I don’t think it has anything similar to that at all,” Getsy said. “Justin is a passionate guy. He wants to win as much as anybody in this building. And, I think it’s just we’re on to the next step, we’re in a new phase, we’re in a new part of our partnership now than we were a year ago then, too. So, I feel really confident about what we have going.”

Bears OC in ‘New Phase’ With Justin Fields

Justin Fields Speaking Out Affects Change for Bears

The Bears fell versus the Commanders 12-7 at home on Thursday Night Football. After the game, Fields was asked how he motivates the team through amid their offensive woes.

His answer sparked the Bears’ offensive turnaround in the latter parts of the season.

“We always get told that we’re almost there, almost there,” Fields said last season. “Me, personally, I’m tired of being almost there. I’m tired of being just this close. Feel like I been hearing it for so long now. But at the end of the day all you can do is get back to work.”

The Bears still did not win, getting their next game against the New England Patriots before losing their final 10 contests. But they seemed to figure out how to use Fields. They went from averaging 15.5 points per game over those first six games to 21.1 points over their final 11 contests. That would have been the difference between being the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense and its 19th in 2022.

Even if there are no similarities in the eyes of Getsy, fans have to hope this sparks some positivity like last time.

GM Ryan Poles Backs Justin Fields, Coaching Staff After Chaotic Day

As is his job as general manager of the Bears, Poles also met with the media on Wednesday and presented a demeanor as calm as one could imagine in the face of such turmoil within the organization.

On top of the team’s slow start and various injuries on both sides of the ball, Fields voiced his frustrations about trying to fit his game into the instructions he’s been given leading to some overthinking, and the resignation of defensive coordinator Alan Williams stole headlines on the first practice of Week 3.

“First and foremost, to hit it straight on, we have adversity right now, “ Poles said. “Slow start, 0-2, not where you want to be.

“We’ve dealt with life issues, We’ve dealt with injuries and that’s all real.”

The Bears already had two starters – Kyler Gordon and Teven Jenkins – on injured reserve coming into Week 3. They placed left tackle Braxton Jones on the list with a neck ailment leaving arguably the most critical unit in flux.

“That’s a part of what we do, and what we gotta deal with,” Poles continued. “The beautiful thing about our philosophy here, our organization, is we’re solution-oriented. We work together to find these solutions and solve our problems to get everything back on track. … No one in our building is panicking. No one’s flinching at any situations.”

Poles re-iterated his faith in head coach Matt Eberflus as a leader and as a defensive play-caller.

He did not elaborate on Williams’ sudden resignation but did shoot down rumors of a raid.

Bears’ HC Avoids Notion Justin Fields Needed More Preseason Reps

In an eye-opening first press conference of the week, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields offered a telling assessment of what has hindered his progress to this point in his third NFL season. His answer, while rooted in self-reflection and a renewed vow to get back to playing “his game”.

Asked whether or not they could have worked through the offense’s issues or Fields’ comfort within the offense in the preseason, Matt Eberflus says they are instead looking forward.

“I just think we’re in the present. We’re right here, right now. So I just think that we’re listening to the players, we’re getting feedback – like we always do,” Eberflus said ahead of Wednesday’s practice. “Like I said, we respect the partnership. That’s where it is right now and we’re going to focus on this Wednesday.”

Bears ‘In The Present’ on Lack of Preseason Reps for Justin Fields

Justin Fields: Bears Coaches ‘Could Be’ at Root of Early Struggles

Fields noted that he had voiced his concerns to his coaches and, while both sides declined to divulge the content of their discussion, they characterized it as “good”.

They also both acknowledged it’s on everyone to do a better job moving forward.

“My goal this week is to just say, ‘F it’ and just go out there and play football how I know how to play football,” Fields said, taking the podium before his head coach. “That includes thinking less and just going out there and playing off of instincts rather than just so much … info in my head, data in my head and literally going out there and playing football.”

Asked what the root for his hesitancy might have been, Fields offered up as clear of an answer as one could without throwing anyone under the bus.

Buccaneers ‘Knew’ Bears’ Play-Call on Justin Fields’ Interception

Fields noted that his internal clock needs to be faster in the pocket and that he wants more rhythm.

“Just going back to ‘it’s a game’ and that’s it,” Fields said. “Because that’s when I play my best, is when I’m just out there playing free and being myself. I’m gonna say just, kind of, bump all the ‘what I should do’, this and that, pocket stuff. I’m gonna go out there and be me.”

It was a very similar tone to the one he took following the team’s loss to the Washington Commanders in Week 7 of last season when he noted he was “tired of the offense getting close”, sparking an offensive turnaround.

Fields has completed 60.6% of his passes for 427 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The yardage and completion percentage are both up from this time last season, though he has thrown one more interception and fumbled the ball three times compared to once in 2022.

His rushing attempts are down from 19 in 2022 to 13 this season. But he has roughly 14 more yards on those carries.

Bears OL Takes Big Blow

The Bears are still without starting left guard Teven Jenkins for another two weeks. But Eberflus announced on Wednesday that they will also be without left tackle Braxton Jones who was placed on injured reserve with a neck injury. Jones has struggled in the early going this season – just as the rest of the team has. But he was a pleasant surprise last season as a fifth-round rookie. He started every game at one of the most crucial positions.

Eberflus named third-year tackle Larry Borom and second-year guard Ja’Tyre Carter as possible replacements.

Fields and the Bears travel to Kansas City to face Chirs Jones, Patrick Mahomes, and the Chiefs in Week 3. They will do so without Alan Williams once again as his future remains nebulous.

Buccaneers ‘Knew’ Bears’ Play-Call on Justin Fields’ Interception

Charges that the Chicago Bears offense is predictable have some validation.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David explained how Shaq Barrett’s pick-six came to following his team’s 27-17 victory in Week 2.

“Big play. They called a screen, it was the same formation. Everybody knew what was coming,” David said, via Greg Auman of Fox Sports on September 18. “[Barrett] just made a big play. Playmakers make plays, and his number was called and he made a play.”

Bucs’ Lavonte David: Bears Ran ‘Same Formation’

Luke Getsy’s Offense Under Fire

That interception was a backbreaker, putting Tamapa up by 10 points with just over two minutes to go. Fields would follow it with another on the ensuing drive – again on a screen, this time to Chase Claypool. The sequences led to some outright questioning of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s play-calling by former Bears running back Matt Forte.

The Bears lined up in the same formation three times in a row on that fateful possession.

Their first attempt was blown dead when Barrett jumped the snap too early, drawing an offsides penalty. It was as fortuitous as the final interception was disastrous. Fields, trying to avoid a sack and safety, heaved a pass in desperation out of the endzone. That ball found the hands of second-year cornerback Zyon McCollum but Barrett’s penalty negated the play.

On the second try, they switched tight end Cole Kmet’s direction of motion and flipped Claypool and fellow wide receiver DJ Moore only to have Claypool tagged for pass interference.

One week after being called out for his poor effort on blocks, the big-bodied pass catcher gets whistled for blocking too soon. He did have a bounce-back day, however, with three receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown.

And, of course, Barrett read the Bears’ third attempt to line up in the same formation – 11 personnel with two receivers high – to perfection, leading to the dagger score.

Bears Defense Allows Bucs Offense to Have Banner Day

The Bucs prepared for the Bears’ offense by having wide receiver Cephus Jones play the role of Fields in practice, according to defensive tackle Vita Vea via Auman. But it was wide receiver Mike Evans who made the biggest impact on the field on Sunday, notching six grabs for 171 yards with 117 of it coming after the catch.

Chicago’s defense has been picked apart so far and injuries are piling up.

The Bears were already without starting cornerback Kyler Gordon going into the game. They lost safety Eddie Jackson to a foot injury during it. Fellow safety Jaquan Brisker missed a chunk of time with what head coach Matt Eberflus said was dehydration. Chicago was without both of its starting guards on offense.

Through the Week 2 Sunday slate, the Bears have allowed the third-most total yards in the NFL, ranking 18th against the run and 27th against the pass.

They have also committed the sixth-most penalties putting a real strain on the H.I.T.S. principle Eberflus has tried to instill. A trip to noisy Arrowhead Stadium to face the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs is up next. It seems inevitable things get worse before they improve.

That is why they play the game, though.

Former RB Matt Forte Questions Bears’ Play-Calling in Week 2 Loss

Early in the Chicago Bears’ eventual 27-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, former running back Matt Forte posted an explanation, teetering on support for offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s play-calling. By the end of the game, though, Forte’s messaging had turned to questioning.

“Y’all know what 3rd down quick screens mean?…… no trust in the O-Line,” exclaimed Forte in a post on September 17. “Rightfully so I guess with the sacks given up today already.”

Ex-Bears RB Questions OC’s Play-Calling in Week 2 Loss vs. Buccaneers

Matt Forte to Bears OC: ‘Why Throw Another Screen?’

Quarterback Justin Fields finished with 211 passing yards, two interceptions, and one touchdown on 55% completion. One of his interceptions returned for a touchdown for the second week in a row. It was the play call that warranted Forte’s next post, though.

“Why throw another screen tho,” Forte posted after the final pick.

Getsy’s overreliance on the screen game was noted during the game, especially on that final play.

Justin Fields Struggles Behind Shaky Protection

Fields absorbed six sacks on Sunday, bringing his season total through two games to 10 and putting him on pace for more than 80 sacks this season. That is assuming he can stay healthy with the beating he is taking behind an offensive line that was without starting right guard Nate Davis.

Young tackles Braxton Jones and Darnell Wright also continued to struggle with EDGE rushers.

Fields also fumbled twice, though he did not lose either fumble. But his internal clock in the pocket continued to be slower than needed leading to several early sacks including on the drive to end the first half.

The quarterback noted after the loss in Week 1 that the game plan called for short passes. He said that he had to be more aggressive going forward later in the week, though.

Bears HC Puts Emphasis on Justin Fields to Fix Passing Game

It will be interesting to hear the message after they review the tape this week. They have another, even more challenging test awaiting them in Week 3 in the form of the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs. Kansas City got both tight end Travis Kelce and All-Pro defensive lineman Chris Jones back this week.

The Bears last won in Kansas City in 2015 but have only played once and in Chicago since.

This was the Bears’ 12th consecutive loss going back to last season, and they have not posted a winning record since 2018. They have the NFL’s eighth-worst record in that span and are coming off having the worst record in the league at 3-14.

Two weeks into the regular season if far from time to panic. But alarm bells should be ringing at Halas Hall as the search for answers continues.

Other Notable Decisions

The Bears were also berated for making wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown a healthy scratch. This is despite Fields referring to him as a “leader” in the room. St. Brown was also brought in in part because of his knowledge of Getsy’s system and is arguably the team’s best run blocker among their top wideouts.

He was not the only notable scratch, however. Running back D’Onta Foreman was also a healthy scratch. Foreman spoke in the locker room during the week about what it would take to crack Tampa’s stout defense.

Foreman had 118 yards in his first meeting against the Bucs while still a member of the Carolina Panthers last season.

He was held to just 35 yards in the second meeting, perhaps lessening the glow of the first.

Still, it was one of many notable decisions made by the coaching staff – and general manager Ryan Poles who Getsy said earlier in the week was a part of the decision-making regarding who is and is not active on game day.

Bear Downs: 4 Things to Watch for vs Buccaneers in Week 2

The Chicago Bears are looking to bounce back in Week 2 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But they will have to overcome some late-developing hurdles to get a much-needed win before having to face the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

Keep an eye on these four key situations that will have a significant impact on how this week versus Tampa turns out.

4 Bears Things to Watch for in Week 2 vs. Buccaneers

Injuries Piling Up

The Bears have dealt with injuries all offseason, just as most teams have. They got healthy in time for the season opener but have regressed with several players now dealing with ailments including two starters: Teven Jenkins who will be out for at least another two weeks after suffering a calf strain and Kyler Gordon who suffered a broken hand in the opener.

Gordon’s hand required surgery which he underwent this week.

Jenkins donned a boot immediately after suffering the injury that he has since shed and says that he is feeling “good”, though he and Gordon are on injured reserve. Cornerback Josh Blackwell is also out for this game.

That will push practice squad call-up Greg Stroman into the nickelback role on Sunday. But it’s not just injuries keeping key players and personnel out.

Matt Eberflus’ Playcalling

Defensive coordinator Alan Williams is away from the team for personal reasons with no timeline for return. His absences will leave play-calling duties to head coach Matt Eberflus who did so for four years with the Indianapolis Colts before coming to helm the Bears before last season.

Williams’ defense came under heavy fire for a lack of pressure on Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love in the opener.

It will be interesting to see how different Eberflus’ approach is from Williams’, if at all. The two were in Indianapolis together, and it’s hard to suggest that it’s Williams’ scheme any more than it is Eberflus’

The Buccaneers’ offensive line is not as strong as the Packers’.

Justin Fields’ Protection

Quarterback Justin Fields took four sacks in Week 1. After tying for the league lead in 2022, it was an inauspicious start for him and the offensive line. The Bears re-tooled the front five, shifting Jenking from the right side, moving Cody Whitehair back to center, and adding Nate Davis and Darnell Wright and right guard and right tackle, respectively.

However, Davis could miss Sunday’s contest as he deals with a death in the family, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The matter has led to his previous absences this preseason, per Courtney Cronin of ESPN.

Bears’ Braxton Jones ‘Super Confident’ Going Into Week 2

Chicago has utility interior lineman Dan Feeney on hand in the event Davis is out.

Still, with Jenkins – who was their best offensive lineman when healthy last season – already out, and their top offensive free agent in jeopardy of missing the game, too, it’s another challenge for the remaining linemen and Fields to overcome.

Chase Claypool’s Effort

Last week saw the re-emergence of negative narratives about wide receiver Chase Claypool after his lack of effort on several blocking plays was plainly visible during the game. He failed to catch either of his two targets on a day when the offense’s inability to sustain anything wasted a 10-point first-half effort by the defense.

Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert assumed some responsibility for getting Claypool back on track.

And Fields noted he will be looking in Claypool and DJ Moore’s direction more often. But the Bears are still looking for a return on their hefty investment to land the talented pass-catcher from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Perhaps an outing against a banged-up Bucs defense is the perfect remedy for this offense.

Prediction: Bears 24 Buccaneers 21

Buccaneers HC Reveals Strategy vs. Bears’ Justin Fields in Week 2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowls spoke candidly about his defensive game plan for Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears in Week 2.

“It’s tough. Fast as he is, he’s faster than most of our guys so [we’ve] gotta rally to the ball and try to hustle,” Bowles said on September 15, via BucsGameday on September 15. “Obviously containing the quarterback. They got a great running game, they can throw the ball down the field. So it’s a little bit of everything. We just gotta play smart, sound football.”

Bears’ Justin Fields ‘Faster Than Most’ Buccaneers Defenders, HC Says

Justin Fields to be More Aggressive vs. Buccaneers

Fields was admittedly “a bit too conservative” in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

He has vowed to take more shots down the field, particularly to wide receivers Chase Claypool and DJ Moore. The pass-catching dup combined for 25 yards on two receptions – all by Moore – garnering just four total targets.

Fields initially said the game plan called for short passes but head Matt Eberflus hedged.

“I don’t think it’s a schematic thing,” Eberflus said on Wednesday. “I just think it’s when you’re taking your shots down the field on a 50/50-ball, you gotta let it ride. If the guy’s really high on top of the guy – which I think was the case a couple times – so then it’s just the discernment of the quarterback. If he’s really high on him, then you just go head and go to your next read.”

The Bears will face a similar zone blitzing scheme as the one they saw from the Packers in Week 1, which could present some challenges for the offensive line and Fields.

Bears’ Braxton Jones ‘Super Confident’ Going Into Week 2

Fields finished the game with 219 yards on 64.8% completion with one touchdown and one interception. He also led the ground attack with 59 yards on nine carries. However, he took four sacks, fumbling on one of them, and the interception was returned for a touchdown.

But he could have an easier time in Week 2 than initially thought.

Bears Catch Break As Bucs Set to be Without Multiple Defenders

When the Bears take on the Buccaneers on Sunday, they could do so against a short-handed secondary. Davis led the Bucs’ defense in snaps in their Week 1 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

“Carlton’s probably going to be out this game,” Bowles said. “He’s gotta pass a few tests, so we’ll see.”

The 6-foot, sixth-year veteran has not practiced this week after suffering a toe injury in the season-opener, according to Bowles. His status appears to be doubtful at best heading into a big matchup for the Bears. Second-year corner Zyon McCollum would be the next in line if Davis is indeed unable to suit up on Sunday.

McCollum is a long, rangy corner at 6-foot-4. A former fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft, Bowles noted that they have liked what they’ve seen out of the youngster going back to OTAs.

It’s still a potentially significant blow to a tough defense.

Rookie first-round pick Calijah Kancey is also out after not practcing this week after just 11 snaps in Week 1 against the Vikings.

“He’s ready to play,” Bowles said about McCollum. “We got all the confidence in the world in him. He had a great summer, had a great spring, he’s practicing good. We don’t have a problem playing him.”

The Bears will be without cornerback Kyler Gordon who is on injured reserve for at least the next four weeks with a hand injury.

Compounding matters for the Bears, Gordon’s projected fill-in, Josh Blackwell, missed practice on Thursday and Friday with a hamstring injury leaving his status in doubt. There was a chance that rookie Tyrique Stevenson could slide inside to the nickel if Blackwell cannot go, but Eberflus said on Friday that it would be Greg Stroman in the slot in that event.

They called Stroman up from the practice squad this on Thursday.

Bears’ Braxton Jones ‘Super Confident’ Going Into Week 2

The season opener was rough for the Chicago Bears, and things don’t figure to get much easier in Week 2 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I feel good [about the matchup],” Bears left tackle Braxton Jones said after practice on Thursday. “It’s in my preparation: make sure I’m watching film. Seeing some tells, seeing if I can get some keys on certain pressures. See if I can see certain guys dropping or not.”

Bears’ Braxton Jones Looking for ‘Tells’ in Bucs’ Defense for Week 2

Braxton Jones, Bears Ready to Bounce Back

Despite a rough go in the opener in which he was tagged with two false starts and two holding calls, Jones is unphased going into the next game.

“I feel super confident going into this next week. Obviously, fix the penalties and stuff from last week,” Jones said. “I just was trying to get a jump on the ball [on the false starts]. Not necessarily trying to jump offsides, obviously. But I was just trying to get a good play, trying to get a good jump. That’s all that was.”

Jones has always been honest, including about his own performance.

A former fifth-round pick out of Southern Utah, Jones started every game as a rookie and was very open about working to deal with the bull rush better to using his hands more in pass protection.

Amid a sea of injuries around him, has remained a stalwart throughout the summer and preseason into the regular season, and will look to continue that in Week 2.

“Go out there and play hard, show my identity, do everything I can to get a win,” he said.

Chicago struggled with Green Bay’s zone blitzes, leaving quarterback Justin Fields under pressure on more than 53% of his dropbacks in the season opener. They will see a similar approach from the Bucs. Tampa recorded the second-highest blitz rate in Week 1 versus the Minnesota Vikings, per Pro Football Reference.

And their cornerbacks were primarily in zone coverage in the 20-17 victory, per Pro Football Focus.

Bears’ D’Onta Foreman Cites Bucs’ Chemistry, Tackling

“They play hard,” Bears running back D’Onta Foreman said. “They really got a lot of good tacklers on they defense, a lot of guys that’s been playing together for a while. So their chemistry on the field, and then the way they fly around to the ball is definitely what makes them tough.”

Foreman faced Tampa Bay twice last year as a member of the Carolina Panthers.

He found success to the tune of 118 yards on 15 carries and also caught two passes for 27 yards, showcasing his seldom-utilized ability as a threat out of the backfield. But the Bucs bottled him up in the second meeting, holding Foreman to 35 yards on the 13 carries.

Still, he believes you have to take the fight to that defense to be successful.

“Just wearing them down,” he said about being physical against Tampa. “Attack them and run at them. Make them have to tackle you. I feel like that’ll be really beneficial.”

Foreman carried the ball just five times in Week 1, gaining 16 yards as the Bears’ offense struggled to sustain drives for much of the afternoon. He finished third in snaps behind Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert. But the blowout nature of this game in the second half may have contributed to that.

He could still be a bit of a closer for games in which the Bears have a lead and need to churn out some tough first downs to keep the clock moving. Or at least when they get down to the opposing goal line and need some power.

Whatever his role ultimately becomes, Foreman says they are looking forward to next week.

“[We’re] very excited,” Foreman said. “Just want to put last week behind us, and go out there and put our best foot forward this week. Show everybody that we’re a better football team than that. That we can go out there and win some games, and this not the Bears team that you’re used to seeing.”

Bears Face Tough Road Trip

Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, Foreman, Jones, and the rest of the Bears will get their next chance to do just that.

With a matchup against the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs looming in Week 3, Sunday won’t be a must-win contest for the Bears. It may feel like one, though, if it unfolds as the season opener did.

Bears Place Kyler Gordon on IR, Sign Practice Squad DB to Roster

The Chicago Bears placed starting cornerback Kyler Gordon on injured reserve on Thursday with a hand injury, signing defensive back Greg Stroman off the practice squad to take his place on the roster.

Gordon will have to miss at least the next four weeks. The earliest that he can return will be in Week 6. That’s when the Bears will host the division rival Minnesota Vikings.

Bears Make Roster Move After Placing Kyler Goron on IR

Kyler Gordon Out, Greg Stroman In

The second-year man out of Washington was one of the few bright spots on the defense last season. And while the group was revamped this offseason, Gordon still remained one of its budding stars with his instincts, ball skills, and fearless aggression which sometimes got him into trouble as a rookie.

Gordon received the third-highest grade of any Bears corner in Week 1, per Pro Football Focus.

Last season, Gordon was the 15th-most targeted defender in the league, per Pro Football Reference, an honor that figured to go to rookie Tyrique Stevenson this season. Now, it figures to be former undrafted free agent Josh Blackwell until Gordon’s return.

Blackwell took 117 snaps at the position for the Bears last season. He finished the campaign with 23 tackles, one forced fumble, and one recovery.

Jaylon Jones is also a possibility after logging 45 snaps at nickelback in 2022. But opposing passers completed between 76% and 82% of their passes against Gordon last season, depending on the stats provider. But he was credited with being targeted at most twice in Week 1 versus the Green Bay Packers, allowing one catch for 16 yards.

Stroman, 27, is a fourth-year man out of Virginia Tech.

He has spent time with the Washington Commanders. Most of Stroman’s snaps have come on defense, not special teams, including last year with Chicago. That will make who plays where and how much something to watch in Week 2 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Watch for Buccaneers’ Strategy vs. Banged-Up Bears Secondary

Green Bay attacked the Bears linebackers more than they did the secondary.

That may shift now, though, with Gordon out and a largely unproven player stepping into his role for the next few weeks. Gordon did miss three weeks last season.

The Bears lost all three of those games but their 3-14 record makes it difficult to draw any conclusions. This season also got off to such a rocky start that it’s hard to see how this will play out for the Bears who are in need of a bounce-back performance after such a demoralizing loss in Week 1 to their arch nemesis.

Bears HC Puts Emphasis on Justin Fields to Fix Passing Game

After Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields said that the gameplan was for short passes.

On Wednesday, he sang a different tune and head coach Matt Eberflus set the stage.

Eberflus met with the media first, addressing a number of issues, noting that cornerback Kyler Gordon is dealing with a hand injury and will not participate in the first practice of the week. He also made it clear that there were opportunities for Fields to take more shots downfield.

“I don’t think it’s a schematic thing,” Eberflus said. “I just think it’s when you’re taking your shots down the field on a 50/50-ball, you gotta let it ride. If the guy’s really high on top of the guy – which I think was the case a couple times – so then it’s just the discernment of the quarterback. If he’s really high on him, then you just go head and go to your next read.”

Bears’ Matt Eberflus to Justin Fields: ‘You Gotta Let It Ride’

Justin Fields Play it Too Safe

Fields completed 64% of his passes for 216 yards and one touchdown, adding 59 yards on nine carries.

But he also had a bad pick-six and coughed up the ball twice, losing one fumble.

Critiques arose around the gameplan, with Fields’ initial comments lending credence to the idea that the Bears’ plan of attack was not aggressive enough. But subsequent film breakdowns have highlighted numerous examples of yards being left on the field by the third-year passer in Week 1.

“We certainly have some guys that can get some 50/50 balls. If you feel good about where the location is of the corner, we’re going to go on and send it up. …That just all part of the read, when we’re talking about taking shots down the field. … And we’re always coaching that.”

Eberflus would not say whether or not Fields’ anticipation was the issue. But he did say that they are still working on the “rhythm and timing” of the passing game.

Justin Fields Owns Conservative Passing Attack in Loss to GB

“I was maybe a bit too conservative during the game,” Fields said. “Definitely with guys like Chase [Claypool] and DJ [Moore] on the outside. If we have 1-on-1 on the outside, potentially throwing it up and seeing what happens. They’re great playmakers, and they can, most likely, come up with the 50/50 balls. Definitely want to give them more chances deep down the field.”

Fields’ passing chart looks like the plan was to attack Green Bay short.

But his admission suggests that we will see some of those missed opportunities become chunk plays – and maybe even touchdowns like his throw to Darnell Mooney in the endzone – down the road.

Bears Hitting Road Next 2 Weeks

That road includes trips to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 and a visit to the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

Chicago was 1-7 away from Soldier Field last season.

If they really want to show marked improvement over last season, finding a way to get a bounce-back win over the Bucs – who got a big win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1 – is a great way to start. From there, they can hope to have figured out their offensive woes enough to give Kansas City trouble the following week.

Bears’ Roschon Johnson Balances Promising Debut With Dismal Loss

Week 1 in the NFL can be a time of supreme joy or never-ending sorrow with little in between.

Chicago Bears rookie running back Roschon Johnson may have settled into that middle ground during Sunday’s 38-20 loss to the rival Green Bay Packers. It was as hyped as any matchup between the two teams in recent memory with the overwhelming sentiments in the Bears’ locker room being that it was their time only for the team to fall well short of their Week 1 goal.

Not all was lost, though, as Johnson – the No. 115 overall pick in this year’s draft – provided a glimpse of what he can do when it counts including catching passes out of the backfield and, of course, punching in his first NFL touchdown. He spoke after the game of balancing his encouraging debut with the reality of the outcome.

“My objective is to win,” Johnson said. “If we’re not doing that, then I’m not doing my job to the standard that it needs to be. Ultimately, I gotta bring everybody with me. We just gotta learn from it and grow from it.”

Roschon Johnson: Bears Must ‘Grow’ From Loss to Packers

Roschon Johnson ‘Definitely’ Got Into Endzone on First Try

Johnson finished the game with 20 yards on five carries. His 4.0 yards per carry would have tied for the 19th-highest mark in the league last season but it led the day for the Bears’ backs.

They combined for 63 of their 122 yards between Johnson, Khalil Herbert, and D’Onta Foreman.

He recorded his first score with the game already out of hand, and many of the Packers’ starters had earned the rest of the day off. Still, Johnson ripped off solid gains of five, six, and eight yards on his first three carries of the game. It took him two tries to get into the endzone, though he said after the game that he got into the endzone the first time “for sure”.

“It feels good [to score],” Johnson said. “I’m blessed to be able to score in this league. But I’m trying to win, so.”

There was an outside belief that Johnson could challenge for lead-back duties or at least cut into Foreman’s workload substantially. On Sunday, Johnson finished with 29 snaps to Herbert’s 27 and 21 for Foreman, though his first touch did not come until the third quarter.

Herbert caught three passes for 37 yards while Johnson needed six to reach 37 yards. Foreman caught two balls for eight yards.

Bears Need to Get Rushing Attack Back on Track

The Bears boasted the NFL’s best rushing attack last season and they rank eighth this season despite the tough day from the backs thanks to Justin Fields. But if they are going to carry the load in a similar fashion as last season, they need the backs to assert themselves. Johnson did that and he has been impressive since arriving in April.

It will be interesting to see what an encore performance could do to the snap counts that game-script already hasn’t.

But Foreman is on just a one-year contract while Herbert is in year three of a four-year pact.