December 02, 2021


Hub Arkush: Bears offense sinks to new lows in loss to Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the greatest quarterback of all time and the best passing game in the NFL.

The Bears knew they’d need a Herculean performance from their defense Sunday just to stay in the game.

But watching them take the field without Robert Quinn, Akiem Hicks and Tashaun Gipson in Tampa, that wasn’t gong to happen.

The Bears’ injuries were no excuse for losing or shaming themselves in what proved to be a 38-3 embarrassment of the worst kind. It’s just the reason they had no chance to handle Tom Brady and company.

They were going to lose regardless Sunday because the Bucs are a far superior team, unless the offense showed noticeable improvement and did enough to at least keep them in the game past the first half.

Instead, they went to the locker room trailing, 35-3, at the half. On the day, the offense contributed five turnovers, four sacks allowed and another 2 of 11 third-down performance that included going 0 for 7 in the first half and the second successful conversion not coming until the 2:00 warning at the end of the game. The offense took a giant step backwards to that awful day in Cleveland four weeks ago.

For the second week in a row there was one bright star as Khalil Herbert pounded out 100 yards on 18 carries against Tampa’s far-and-away top-rated run defense in the league, and he even added five catches for 33 more yards.

But Herbert providing 42.8% of the Bears total offense just shined the light that much stronger on how pathetic the rest of his guys on that side of the ball were.

Yes, the offensive line struggled again, particularly on the right side where their second string right tackle, Elijah Wilkinson, was a late add to the reserve/COVID-19 list and they started third stringer, Lachavious Simmons, who was so bad he had to be replaced by Alex Bars before halftime.

But for all the ugliness and shame, the worst part was there no hiding from the simple fact that Justin Fields was the biggest culprit of all. It should be lost on no one the Bucs entered the game with the NFL’s 27th ranked pass defense and were 27th in QB sack percentage.

All five Bears turnovers came off Fields’ right arm and he was saved from his sixth when Herbert made a great play on the second play of the game to recover Fields’ first of three fumbles after Herbert missed his block on a blitzing Antoine Winfield Jr., who caused it.

Fields again had a few plays that were special and available only to an athlete of his rare abilities, but he consistently failed to read properly and see what was available to him. He was noticeably less accurate than he’s been in recent weeks.

It was the first time since Fields became the starter that there is no argument to be made that he was better than last week or even close to as good to what was also a failing performance.

Certainly the pressure he was under contributed a lot, but one of the main reasons he’s out there is he’s supposed to offer those unique tools to allow him to at least beat some of it.

It almost felt like Matt Nagy was conceding when after winning the coin toss he took the ball instead of deferring.

If you couldn’t hear the screams for Nagy’s job by the end of the third quarter, you certainly could feel them coming.

But that makes no sense right now either, not heading into week 8.

There are no assistants on the staff and obviously no coaches on the street that are going to give Nagy’s team, offense or young quarterback prodigy a better chance in the next few weeks.

We have seen the Bears here before just months ago, on the heels of a losing streak that stretched to six games, and Nagy did find some answers.

In spite of playing poorly in Tampa, Fields still is an excellent young QB prospect, and there are a handful of ways this season can still be salvaged.

But Sunday was ugly enough to justify asking if the current regime gives them any chance at all?

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media