Assigning blame for Chicago Bears offensive woes

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears on the sidelines during the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears on the sidelines during the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears’ offense was abysmal. Everyone is going to pick their favorite person or reason to blame and to be honest, they are all probably correct. Still, it is easy just to say it was awful, but our job is to find out why it went so bad, not what happened.

With that in mind, we will look at a drive-by-drive analysis and find out which plays ruined each drive, and how the blame should be divided.

Chicago Bears First Drive

Key Play: Third and 2 from Cleveland 29

Assigning Blame:

Matt Nagy

This one is going to go on Matt Nagy. A run play for David Montgomery when your team is in field goal range is not the worst third downplay. However, a toss makes no sense there. To start, Montgomery is better between the tackles than he is beating men one-on-one in space. He can hit the holes and gain a yard or two, but asking him to stretch outside is not his game. Beyond that, it is asking a lot of 39-year old Jason Peters who now has to get out on the move. A nice drive ended with a field goal because of the play call.

Chicago Bears Second Drive

Key Play: First and 10 from Chicago 31

Assigning Blame:

Germain Ifedi 

This drive ended before it began. On the very first play, Germain Ifedi has bad feet and Jadeveon Clowney is wrecking Justin Fields. All of a sudden it is second and 20 for the rookie’s second career drive. Getting that far behind the sticks is tough for any offense. The Bears picked up 11 yards from there but had to punt after a ten-yard sack.

Chicago Bears Third Drive

Key Play: 2nd and 9 from Chicago 24

Assigning Blame:

Justin Fields

Justin Fields was blasted by Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on a sack. This was a delayed blitz where JOK saw an opening and shot a gap. This was an issue that we noted back at Ohio State for Justin Fields where he would often tune out rushers that he did not anticipate pre-snap.

The sack set up a loss of five and put the Bears in a third and long situation. Again, it is tough for any offense to overcome this, and this one was on Fields.

Chicago Bears Fourth Drive

Key Play: 3rd and 1 from Chicago 43 

Assigning Blame: Germain Ifedi 

The Bears are driving, they are in 3rd and 1 and can surely convert. That is, until Germain Ifedi gets a false start. The flow is disrupted and a good thing turns into a tougher third down. It made it easier for the Browns to rush Fields, anticipating the pass, and he was sacked on the ensuing play.

Chicago Bears Fifth Drive

Key Play: 1st and 2nd down 

Assigning Blame: Matt Nagy

Nagy did not have a terrible first half, but his second half was very bland. He came out with curls across the board on first down and no one got space. On second down he ran slants across the board. The idea is to avoid these third and longs, and Nagy had no creativity, no play-action, no boot game, or anything on this drive. Most drives in the first half had more movement than some fans will realize, but this one was a joke from a creativity standpoint.

Chicago Bears Sixth Drive

Key Play: Third and 8 from Chicago 26

Assigning Blame: Cleveland Defense

At some point, you have to acknowledge that the Browns got after it. This one is hard to blame anyone in particular.

On first down, Nagy called a read option, but David Montgomery got two yards after being stuffed by Myles Garrett. He rolled out Fields out on second down, but all three options to his side were locked up. He forced a pass into a shutdown Marqise Goodwin against Greg Newsome. On third down, Myles Garett beat Jason Peters for a sack. You can say that Matt Nagy put Peters on an island, but he gave help to his right tackle with an extra blocker after his poor half.

The right tackle, left tackle, lack of separation, QB forcing a pass, OL getting no push, all of it factored in, but this can also be time to say, Newsome, Garrett, JOK, and company were all over the place.

Chicago Bears Seventh Drive

Key Play: 2nd and 5 from Cleveland 7

Assigning Blame: Justin Fields 

It is hard to completely blame Justin Fields, but on second and five the Bears had their best drive going. They got five on the first down and were in a good spot. Nagy rolled out his mobile quarterback who slipped and fell before being touched down for an eight-yard loss. Third and 13 is tough to overcome, and the Bears settled for three.

Chicago Bears Eighth Drive

Key Play: Third and 6

Assigning Blame: Cole Kmet 

This is another tough one to call. On first down, you could argue it was not the best play call, but Justin Fields had an open Darnell Mooney, he just overthrew him. On second down, he rolled Fields out, who picked up four after looking to pass. You would like better than third and six, but Nagy called a play to get Fields a look at Cole Kmet to move the sticks.

Check out the play below.

The pass could have led Kmet more outside, but Kmet has to run a better route here. He has to be able to beat his man and move the sticks in the fourth quarter of a game his team is trailing in. I am not going to criticize Matt Nagy for dialing one up for his second-round tight end with a chance to move the chains.

Is it time to blow it up. dark. Next

Chicago Bears Ninth Drive

Key Play: 2nd and 9 from Chicago 26 

Assigning Blame: Matt Nagy

On first down, Matt Nagy ran a draw play, not a terrible play, but ineffective, especially considering it was 23-6 in the fourth quarter. On second down, he runs slant/flat on both sides. Fields did not have PA or roll out, and he stood in the pocket and stared down Allen Robinson on a slant route. Robinson did not win the route, but there was no creativity, and Fields was limited in the pocket.

On third down, Garrett teed off on Jason Peters. Peters gets some blame, Robinson could have got better separation, but the first and second down play calls were uninspiring.

Chicago Bears Tenth Drive

Key Play: All Four Plays

Assigning Blame: The Entire Offense

The final drive may have been the entire encapsulation of the Bears offense.

First down Justin Fields had an open wideout over the middle but checked down, and looked hesitant of what he was seeing. On second down, Cody Whitehair was blown up clean and the play was dead ASAP. On third down, Fields bailed a clean pocket and threw into coverage, just trying to make a play on third and nine late in the fourth quarter. Then, Peters gets blown up on fourth down and Myles Garrett finishes the game.

The poor offensive line, predictable passes, a rookie quarterback with issues, and Clowney and Garrett to clean up the mess.

It is easy to blame Matt Nagy, and I dinged him for three, or four of the big reasons of blame out of ten drives. That is about 35% blame. Justin Fields is about 20% of the blame, the offensive line about 25% Cole Kmet and the pass catchers get 10%, and the Browns defense gets their 10% as well.

When you add that up you have 100% of a bad day.