November 26, 2021


Bears News

Justin Fields: ‘No matter how many L’s we take, I’m gonna keep going’

Turnovers, Tom Brady make it a long afternoon for the Bears

TAMPA, Fla. – It all started with optimism.

After winning the coin toss, Bears coach Matt Nagy elected to receive the opening kickoff. Put points on the board first, force Tom Brady to respond. That was the goal, anyway.

That’s not what happened. Instead, pretty much everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.

The Bears turned the ball over five times and Brady and the Buccaneers took advantage of it in a Tampa Bay victory, 38-3, on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Brady threw four touchdown passes. In the process, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 600 career touchdown passes. Receiver Mike Evans caught three Brady touchdown passes, while Chris Godwin caught the other.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball away twice. The Bucs pass rush found its way to Fields early and often. They sacked him four times, with outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul recording two of them.

“Times like this, times when you get blown out, you got two choices — you can either say [expletive] it, I’m gonna stop, I’m gonna stop working, I’m going to stop playing,’” Fields said. “Or you can go the other route and say, ‘I’m gonna keep working.’ And I know me, myself, no matter how many picks I throw, no matter how many L’s we take, I’m gonna keep going.”

A barrage of first-half turnovers gave the Bucs an easy path to the end zone. They started three of their first four possessions inside Bears territory. Brady needed to lead the Bears on touchdown drives of 32 yards, 40 yards and 35 yards to put his team ahead, 21-0, in the first quarter.

The 35-point loss was the largest of Matt Nagy’s tenure. He said he’s confident that he is the right coach to turn this offense and this team around.

“Yeah, I am,” Nagy said. “And I’m confident that our coaches and our players can get this better. We know any time you’re not scoring – we’re not running from that. We understand it. We know that we want to be better and it’s all of us included.”

The Bears’ trip to Florida took an ominous turn before the game even started. Two players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday morning, hours before kick off. The Bears have placed five players on the COVID-19 list in the span of 10 days.

The latest starter to go out was right tackle Elijah Wilkinson, who had been starting in place of injured Germain Ifedi. Without Wilkinson, Lachavious Simmons earned the start at right tackle. Simmons didn’t make it through half the game before Nagy pulled him in favor of Alex Bars.

On defense, the Bears were forced to play without outside linebacker Robert Quinn, who is second on the team with 5.5 sacks. Quinn went on the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week. The pass rush suffered because of it. It was also playing without Akiem Hicks, who was sidelined by a groin injury. The Bears defense recorded just one quarterback hit. Brady left the field with a sparkling clean jersey.

But the absences can’t be an excuse. Every NFL team is missing players at this point in the season. Tampa Bay was without receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Rob Gronkowski, two huge pieces of their passing attack.

The Bucs showed the Bears exactly what it takes to play with the big boys. Once again, Nagy and the Bears were reminded just how far they have to go.

This much is clear: There are no concerns within the Bears locker room about how their rookie quarterback is going to respond.

“I have a lot of confidence in the guy,” said linebacker Roquan Smith, who led the Bears with 13 tackles. “It’s not his fault the way this game went. It’s just about all of us looking ourselves in the mirror and just getting better.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.