The Chicago Bears‘ 2021 season started in the worst way possible as the team was blown out by the Los Angeles Rams in primetime, losing 34-14. The main reason for the terrible loss was the failure of the Bears’ defense to defend against the Rams’ passing attack. Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford connected on two +50 yard touchdown passes as Chicago’s upcoming schedule is filled with elite quarterbacks capable of taking advantage of poor defenses.



The Bears Will Play A Lot of Quarterbacks With Proven Deep Ball Accuracy

The 34-14 loss should have been much closer, but due to the two scores allowed by blown coverage in the Bears’ defensive secondary, the Rams scored quickly. All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson was beaten on both deep ball touchdowns by Stafford. The Rams quarterback passed for 321 yards on 20 completions while averaging 16 yards per completion. Each Los Angeles player that caught a pass Sunday night had at least one reception of 15 yards or longer.

The Bears’ defense will have to regroup before hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in the home opener in week two. Bengals’ second-year quarterback Joe Burrow is coming off an impressive week one victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Burrow passed for 261 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Cincinnati’s quarterback is similar to Stafford as both excel with deep-ball accuracy, just as five of the six next opposing quarterbacks the Bears defense will face.

Following the Bengals game against Burrow, the Bears will face Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady all before week 8. Rodgers and Brady are future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, while Carr has passed for over 4,000 yards in the last three consecutive seasons. Mayfield passed for 371 yards on Sunday in a 33-29 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Facing these quarterbacks is the worse possible scenario for the Bears’ defense following their embarrassing loss to the Rams. All of these quarterbacks are more than capable of taking advantage of inexperienced and struggling pass defense. Burrow and Mayfield can connect on +40 yard throws with ease. Rogers, Brady, and Carr are some of the best quarterbacks in the league that can pick opposing defenses apart, finding the open man regardless of talent level.

Chicago’s Pass Rush Needs To Help The Struggling Secondary

One of the only ways that the Bears’ defense will slow opposing quarterbacks’ ability to throw deep accurately will be an increased pass-rush. On Sunday, Chicago’s defense sacked Stafford only once, but it was difference-making as it came on second down, deep in Rams’ territory. The sack was the only time Los Angeles’ quarterback was under noticeable pressure as he worked with a clean pocket the remainder of the night. The clean pocket generated by the Rams’ offensive line put the Bears’ secondary in a bad position as it allowed Rams receivers to get down-field and gain separation.

Although Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn combined for a sack on Sunday night, Chicago did not get pressure for the remainder of the defense, including All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack. Against the Bengals, the Bears’ pass rush should be better as the team could see the return of defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, who will serve as the anchor of the defensive line freeing up Hicks, Quinn, and Mack.

If Chicago cannot generate pass-rush pressure, their secondary will be in significant trouble given the inexperience at the cornerback position. Starting cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor have less than two years of experience in the NFL as neither has recorded an interception. Chicago safeties Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gibson are experienced, but multiple blown coverages against the Rams is troubling and concerning with the lack of talent and experience in the secondary.

With no pass rush or an ability to force interceptions, the Bears’ defense could be in significant trouble given the quarterbacks they will face coming up. Burrow, Mayfield, Brady, and Carr passed for over 250 yards in week one, with several of them throwing touchdowns on pass plays longer than 50 yards. The Bears’ offense may not be capable of keeping up with opposing offenses if the defense is unable to defend against the pass.

Although many Bears fans believe that the team should start rookie quarterback Justin Fields over current starter Andy Dalton, it will not matter if the defense cannot stop opposing offenses. Sunday’s loss wasn’t as ugly due to extended offensive drives by the Bears’ offense, which limited the amount of time the Rams’ offense had to score. The same may not happen in upcoming games, which will lead to more points by opposing quarterbacks resulting in losses for Chicago.

 

Steve Pusch
Eastern Illinois University graduate, Steve earned a Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in sports. While at EIU, Steve co-hosted a weekly radio sports talk show focused on Chicago.