The Chicago Bears lost their third straight game on Sunday, falling to the Atlanta Falcons by a 27-24 score. It marks the third consecutive game in which Chicago has lost by less than three points and failed to do anything with their final offensive possession. In the last three games, the Bears have made identical mistakes, which have played contributing roles in the outcomes.
Chicago Is Committing The Same Errors Which Are leading to the Same Outcomes
The last month of the 2022 season has been eerily similar to the 1993 comedy movie “Groundhog Day” featuring acting legend Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. The film involves weatherman Phil Connors, who is stuck repeating the day of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Although Phil’s day is different, he wakes up in the same spot every morning, stuck in Punxsutawney, as everyone around him re-lives and repeats the actions of February 2nd.
Over the past three weeks, the Bears’ have faced different opponents but keep having the same outcome occur due to events repeating themselves. Quarterback Justin Fields has recorded five straight starts in which he has thrown and rushed for a touchdown. Despite the offensive success, Chicago’s defense has lost a seven-point or more lead in the last three games. The Bears’ have lost those games by three points or less, with their special teams factoring into the outcome of each loss.
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Against the Dolphins in Week 9, Miami blocked and returned a punt by Bears’ punter Trenton Gill for a touchdown. Last week against the Detroit Lions, kicker Cairo Santos missed an extra point in the fourth quarter as Chicago would later lose 31-30. Against the Falcons on Sunday, Chicago allowed a kickoff return touchdown to Atlanta’s Cordarrelle Patterson while Santos came up just short on a 56-yard field goal attempt.
Even more disturbing is how Chicago has both begun and ended each game on offense. Fields and the Bears’ offense have scored either a field goal or touchdown on the first possession of each start the last three weeks and have failed to pick up a first down on the final possessions of those games. Although averaging 29 points on offense the past three weeks, Chicago’s offense has failed to score on the last two possessions of those games.
Although most of 2022 has been a rebuilding season for Chicago, the growth of the Fields at the quarterback position is the sole focus for the remainder of the year. A troubling trend is developing as the Bears’ second-year quarterback has had a record-breaking stretch of games but is failing to make plays late in games, with a chance to secure the outcome in Chicago’s favor. Fields and the Bears’ offense has not been able to score late to secure a victory, as each final possession against the last three opponents has ended with a turnover on downs or interception.
Fields is proving to be an elite-level talent but is failing to make significant gains as a passer in late-game moments, despite being given the opportunity repeatedly. In Sunday’s game against the Falcons, Chicago’s final offensive drive began with two quarterback-design runs before Atlanta’s defense sealed the outcome with an interception on the next play. Luke Getsy’s game plan was immensely criticized as the Fields only passed for 150 yards against the league’s worst passing offense.
Fields and The Bears Need To Fix Their Mistakes In order To Move On To The Next Day
Like in Groundhog’s Day, Fields and the Bears need to resolve their repetitive mistakes to finally be victorious and break the time loop they appear to be stuck in. For Chicago’s second-year quarterback, he must beat an opponent through the air and not with his legs. The Falcons’ defense did a tremendous job in containing Fields on Sunday and held him to under 100 yards rushing. Atlanta avoided allowing a rush of over 20 yards as their defenders deployed a contain scheme, which allowed the Bears’ quarterback to scramble for yards, but nothing significant.
Fields, depending on how much time he will miss time due to his left-shoulder injury, and Getsy need to understand that moving forward, opposing defenses will give the Bears’ quarterback room to run, knowing he can’t pass the ball. Chicago’s quarterback and offense have to demonstrate that they can throw the ball in late-game situations, as accomplishing the feat will provide an element to the offensive scheme that will make it truly unpredictable.
For the Bears’ defense and special teams, the units need to stop making costly mistakes resulting in game-deciding points. Chicago’s defense has allowed their opponent to score immediately following a second-half touchdown by their offense. Against the Lions and Falcons, the Bears’ defense allowed their opponents to have either a game-winning touchdown or a field goal.
Chicago’s special teams’ play hasn’t been an issue for most of the 2022 season, but one error in each of the last three games has factored into the outcome. A clean game on special teams by the Bears could be the deciding factor in whether or not the team wins. The Bears’ roster isn’t equipped with quality talent where they can overcome a mistake in any of the three football phases. In the last three weeks, the Bears special teams have contributed to plays that have resulted in 17 points, as Chicago has lost by a combined seven points in that span.
The character of Phil in Groundhog Day couldn’t move on to February 3rd until he fixed all his flaws as a person. With the Bears, the roster’s flaws can’t be adjusted week-by-week, but the self-inflicted mistakes can be resolved. Fields’ production as a passer and ability to win games late can be fixed before the season and must be to ensure his growth as a quarterback is on the right track heading into 2023.