TAMPA, Fla. — The Bears talked all week about needing to clean up the execution after their Week 1 flop against the Green Bay Packers.
They wanted to eliminate the negative plays on offense, be more aggressive in the passing game, and get off the field on third down on defense.
None of that happened Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bears showed more fight against the Buccaneers than they did in Week 1, but the result was the same as the Bears fell 27-17 in Tampa.
The Bears’ defense was torched on third down by the Bucs and a banged-up secondary made Baker Mayfield look like Dan Marino.
On offense, quarterback Justin Fields and the offense came out hot before reverting to their old habits. Fields held the ball too long, didn’t see wide-open receivers, and his game-winning drive attempt ended when he was picked off by Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett on a middle screen to Khalil Herbert.
Fields finished the day 16-for-29 for 211 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Here’s what we learned in the Bears’ 27-17 loss in Tampa:
Tough losses and a day to forget
The Bears ‘secondary entered the game without starting nickelback Kyler Gordon and quickly lost two more key members of their backend.
Second-year safety Jaquan Brisker left the game in the first quarter with an illness, and veteran safety Eddie Jackson exited on the same drive with a left foot injury.
Jackson went into the medical tent and was carted to the locker room with his left foot covered. The left foot is the same one that Jackson had the lisfranc injury on last season.
The Bears ruled Jackson out for the rest of the game, but Brisker eventually returned early in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, rookie cornerback Tyrqiue Stevenson had a brutal day at the office.
The Bucs went at Stevenson repeatedly on Sunday, and the rookie cornerback was no match for Evans, who racked up 171 yards on six catches, most of which came against Stevenson.
We have issues
The Bears’ offense opened the game with a six-play, 75-yard drive that featured completions to DJ Moore of 33 and 31 yards.
Fields capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Bears an early 7-3 lead. The playcalling on the opening drive looked a lot like the offense the Bears tapped into last season starting in Week 7 and not the ineffective attack they trotted out in Week 1.
But they quickly reverted back as they gained just 39 total yards in the rest of the first half. Fields was sacked four times in the first half. The third-year quarterback held the ball too long and once again either didn’t see or turned down open throws.
The Bears’ offense was stuck in the mud for most of the second half, but Fields finally got something going midway through the fourth quarter when he led an eight-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that he capped off with a 20-yard scoring strike to Chase Claypool to cut the deficit to 20-17.
Fields went a perfect 6-for-6 on the drive, including a 22-yard completion to DJ Moore on third-and-10.
After the Bears’ defense forced a punt, Fields and the offense had a chance to erase a bad day at the office with a game-winning drive.
That wasn’t in the cards.
An offensive pass interference call on Claypool backed the Bears’ up to their own 6-yard line and Fields’ screen pass to Herbert was picked off by Barrett and the linebacker plunged into the end zone to send the Bears to an 0-2 start.
Outside of two drives, Fields and the offense were downright abysmal. They were unable to run the football, didn’t execute the quick blitz-beaters to combat the Bucs’ aggressive defense, were too predictable, lacked attention to detail, gave up six sacks, and Fields showed many of the same bad habits that were prevalent last season.
The Bears’ offense is in complete disarray, and I don’t think there’s an easy fix.
Can’t get off the field
The Bears’ defense talked all week about the need to get better on third down after the Packers went 9-for-16 in Week 1.
Well, that didn’t happen.
The Bucs went 5-for-8 on third down in the first half, including a 4-yard touchdown run from Rachaad White on third-and-goal. Luke Goedeke cleared out Justin Jones, and White barrelled his way into the end zone to give the Bucs a 10-7 lead.
But the back-breaker came on the Bucs’ opening possession of the third quarter.
Trailing by three, the Bears’ defense could have easily swung momentum back in their favor with a stop. Instead, the Bears’ defense allowed a 12-play, 89-yard drive that saw the Bucs convert a third-and-1, a fourth-and-2, and a third-and-14, with Mayfield hitting Evans for a 32-yard touchdown on the latter to give Tampa a 10-point lead.
The Bucs finished the day 8-for-15 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down.
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