INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The Bears have some serious issues, and the quarterback is the least of them right now.
While Andy Dalton’s Bears debut was uninspiring, it was the Bears’ defensive effort that failed them most in a 34-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
The Rams opened the game with a 67-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Matthew Stafford to receiver Van Jefferson on their third offensive play.
The strikes just kept coming.
The Rams scored three touchdowns on drives that were shorter than three minutes of playing time. In addition to Jefferson’s 67-yard touchdown, receiver Cooper Kupp scored on a 56-yard strike. Several times throughout the game, it appeared the Bears defense broke down in coverage.
On Kupp’s touchdown, there wasn’t a defender within 10 yards of him. Defensive back Marqui Christian was in coverage on Kupp, but stopped abruptly. It’s unclear if the mistake was on him or his safeties, Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson.
Regardless, it was that kind of night for the Bears defense.
“I’ve got to get with Sean [Desai] and watch the tape and see the why, see who it was, because they had too many,” head coach Matt Nagy said. “You can’t give those big plays up for touchdowns. They’ve got a good quarterback back there.”
Their old division foe Stafford sliced them up for 321 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-26 passing. The Rams carved up the Bears without much of a run game to complement the passing attack.
With Desai, the Bears first-year defensive coordinator, at the reigns, this was supposed to be the return to the Vic Fangio era. This was supposed to be a return to peak performance for Jackson and pass rushers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn. Instead, all three of those guys had quiet games. Mack didn’t have a tackle until late in the fourth quarter.
Desai and his defense are going to have a lot to parse through on the tape this week.
“First couple plays put them in the position that they were in,” linebacker Roquan Smith said. “We’ve got to come out and get better. We know what hurt us, it’s about addressing it.”
On the other side, the offensive tackles were a question coming into the season, and they appear to be an even bigger question now. Both starting left tackle Jason Peters (quad) and backup Larry Borom (ankle) suffered injuries. The Bears were down to their third option, Elijah Wilkinson, at left tackle for a large portion of the second half.
Initially, the Bears looked like they were in for a big night when Khalil Herbert took the opening kickoff 50 yards and running back David Montgomery broke free for a 41-yard run moments later. But the opening drive ended unceremoniously when Dalton was picked off in the end zone.
“Those are the kind of starts you want to start off in a game, but it’s really about capitalizing on those opportunities,” Montgomery said.
Overall, Dalton played OK after the interception. He finished 27-for-38 passing for 206 yards with an interception.
The Bears wasted no time throwing their rookie quarterback into the fire. Justin Fields made his debut, entering the game for a handful of plays. He scored a 3-yard touchdown run in the second half.
Running back David Montgomery might’ve been the lone bright spot for the Bears’ offense. Montgomery ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. The interior of the Bears’ offensive line kept giving Montgomery holes, and he kept taking advantage of them.
But it was little to get excited about for Bears fans. For the third year in a row, the Rams bested the Bears in California.