The Chicago Bears squandered yet another opportunity to deliver a game-winning drive late in the 4th quarter. Each time something different seems to trip them up. It was a fumble by Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Then it was a drop by Equanimeous St. Brown. Last week it was the offensive line missing multiple blocks. This time it appeared to be the coaches that caused the meltdown through some baffling play calls. It started with a designed QB that got Justin Fields knocked out of bounds, injuring his left shoulder in the process. Then, bizarrely, it appeared they called a second QB run on 2nd and 9. It was nonsensical to everybody watching. At last, head coach Matt Eberflus offered some clarity.
While the first quarterback run was intentional, the second turned out to be an accident. The initial call was for David Montgomery to run a draw out of the shotgun. There was a miscommunication between Fields and his running back during the play. It looked like Montgomery expected the ball, but Fields kept it.
People will question the decision to run at all. This is fair, given the circumstances. There was some logic to it, though. Atlanta only had five defenders in the box. Calling a run when everybody expected pass made sense with the Bears having two timeouts. The clock wasn’t a huge concern yet. If Montgomery picks up five yards, it puts the offense in a far more manageable 3rd down situation.
Matt Eberflus explanation sends a clear message.
It isn’t hard to see why the Bears approached the final drive that way. They didn’t trust the pass protection. Michael Schofield and Riley Reiff had been abused by Atlanta’s pass rush most of the afternoon. Fields was already sacked four times in the game by that point. There was no reason to believe they’d hold up any better during that final drive. This forced offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to take a more conservative approach, trying to stay ahead of the chains in hopes of creating advantageous situations.
Sadly a young quarterback misread the call and opened himself up to another rough hit after already being in pain. That may have affected his final throw on 3rd down. While the ball was catchable for David Montgomery, it came in a bit high. It was further proof this offense has a ways to go. They need more talent and they need more experience. That goes for Matt Eberflus and the other coaches too.