Last week, the Chicago Bears got a better game from quarterback Justin Fields but it was not enough to overcome offensive line issues and an early deficit forcing abandonment of the run game and they lost 41-10.
Week 4 saw the offense put up 21 points in the first half, take a 28-7 lead in the third quarter, and Fields log the first 300-yard passing game of his career only to end up with a 31-28 loss to the now 1-3 Denver Broncos.
And even a cursory glance at the grades from Pro Football Focus shows one side letting down.
Pro Football Focus Grades Bears Defense Harshly in Week 4
Bears Young Secondary Surprises
First, no unit on the offense received lower than the offensive line’s 65.5 grade in Week 4, per PFF. Not one unit on the defense was able to reach even that mark, with the coverage units, perhaps surprisingly, grading out as the best unit with a 63.1 mark. That group was down three starters, including safety Eddie Jackson.
But two of the five highest grades on defense went to those fill-in defensive backs. The top spot went to nickelback Greg Stroman.
Rookies Tyrique Stevenson and Terrell Smith were the others.
There were several breakdowns in the second half, namely the fourth quarter with Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson bucking his trend and hitting receivers for gains of 25 yards and 48 yards on drives that led to scores.
It was in those situations that the absence of Jackson, Jaylon Johnson, and Kyler Gordon – who is on injured reserve – were felt the most.
Defensive Line Falls Flat Again
Of course, while the secondary largely did its job, the pass rush was once again mostly a no-show. Chicago recorded just one sack on Wilson with four total hits. Starting EDGE rushers Yannick Ngakoue and DeMarcus Walker averaged out to a 53.6 grade at getting to the quarterback.
Their best performers were defensive tackles Andrew Billings, Gervon Dexter Sr., and Zacch Pickens each of whom received grades of 63.7 (Dexter) with Picken leading the way with a 69.0.
But only Billings and Walker played the run well – no other linemen received higher than a 59.9 grade (Ngakoue).
The Bears invested a lot of resources in this side of the ball and the results have not followed.
Health has played a factor, but not in the front seven where the Bears have had everyone healthy and available since Week 1. Perhaps they need to get their backend back in order to buy their rush an additional hitch by the quarterback.
Bears Spent Big at Linebacker This Offseason
No linebacker graded out higher than Jack Sanborn’s 52.2 which is an issue if only because the Bears spent big money to bring in linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards to help solidify the middle of the field.
This is not to say that they played particularly poorly in Week 4, despite their grades.
— Clocker Sports (@ClockerSports) October 2, 2023
Edwards led the team with seven solo tackles while Edmunds had six. The former also recorded two of the Bears’ four hits on Wilson while the latter logged a tackle for loss. But, since neither player is particularly adept at creating takeaways, their impact has not stood out as it otherwise might.