Over the next few days, the Chicago Bears will spend a lot of time searching for answers and trying to better explain and interpret everything that went haywire at SoFi Stadium on Sunday. They study film, attend meetings, and push for as many corrections and corrections as possible. But in doing so, they’ll also look in the mirror and see what the rest of the football world saw on the “Sunday Night Football” stage in Week 8, namely an inconsistent and error-prone team that couldn’t stay competitive and was defeated by Los Angeles Chargers throttled from start to finish.
The final score on Sunday was 30-13. But it wasn’t that close, as the Chargers finally took the lead midway through the first quarter, extended their lead to 17 points by halftime and continued to play until the second half.
In the locker room of a dejected visitor, the Bears had to deal with their disappointment again. It wasn’t just that they suffered their sixth loss in eight games this season and haven’t won consecutive games at any point in the Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus era. And it’s not just that Sunday night’s embarrassment was far too familiar – the Bears have now lost seven straight Sunday night games by an average score of 31-15.
Above all, the whole evening was a mishap full of sloppy penalties, dropped passes, missed tackles and costly turnovers.
Spin the wheel. Where would you like to start?
With Tyson Bagent’s second-quarter interception on a pass to left that sailed over Darnell Mooney’s head in live action but never made it near intended receiver DJ Moore? It turns out that Moore, the intended target, had an option in his path due to the coverage the Chargers were displaying and made the right decision to move his pattern deeper to the sideline even though his quarterback was throwing in anticipation that he would make a mistake.
“A little miscommunication,” Bagent said. “But that was entirely up to me. I just have to get off this (path) and continue to pursue my progress.”
Something happens, right? And some nights the stuff is everywhere.
Shall we turn to the Chargers’ third and final touchdown of an explosive first half, which came with four seconds left when Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert found tight end Donald Parham Jr. underneath? The Bears were able to suppress that play, tripping Parham and forcing the Chargers to settle for a field goal. Instead, rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson missed a tackle and veteran linebacker TJ Edwards did the same.
That’s how the Chargers capped off a 75-yard touchdown drive and a first half in which they scored on all four possessions.
“I need to get back out there this week and work on tackling to get better,” Stevenson said. “That definitely bothered me.”
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds added: “That hurt. Especially because they knew they would get the ball again in the second half with the opportunity to double-dip. That was a worst-case scenario.”
Maybe we get close to the 40-yard touchdown catch that Velus Jones Jr. should have made, only to lose his footing, fall, then juggle and drop the football in the end zone.
“I was looking for the ball,” Jones said. “(It was) a little underrated. So I started moving towards the ball as I was running, trying to chase it, and I lost my footing – because I ran back at an angle to the ball and almost ran past it. So I tried to stop and I slipped.”
Jones shook his head in disbelief.
“That’s not an excuse,” he added. “It was a catchable ball. And I mean, I had it. It’s really devastating. When you prepare in practice all week long and put in the extra work you need to do, and after practice you catch a ball like that 100 times, it’s like this little window of time where you can show what you can do, and you don’t happen for you.”
Sure, the Bears still got a touchdown out of that possession. But it was another example of the sloppiness that has plagued this team in another disheartening loss, another moment where the Bears couldn’t keep up.
Bagent’s second interception wasn’t nearly as egregious, a fourth-and-3 shot to Mooney over the middle in the fourth quarter. That pass hit Mooney’s hands but flew into the air as it was immediately blocked by Chargers safety Alohi Gilman. Derwin James was there to collect the Bears’ turnover, and Mooney stayed behind after the game to collect his thoughts on the sequence.
“Did you feel like I dropped that?” he asked a group of reporters at his locker. “I saw the safety come down and I felt like I grabbed it. But it was just a bang-bang game.”
Mooney promised to provide a more detailed review after studying the video.
“I’m looking for answers,” he said. “So when it looked like I dropped it, then… I felt like I had it and as soon as I got it, boom.”
These are the last bears at the moment, still shaking, still swaying and still haunted by this whole experience. So much for the momentum that seemed to be building during the Las Vegas Raiders’ Week 7 loss. The team that got that win at Soldier Field certainly didn’t appear to be the one that played near Los Angeles on Sunday.
The Bears struggled to establish a running game, finishing the game with just 73 yards on 25 attempts, leaving tight end Cole Kmet wondering why there wasn’t a winning level of nastiness in that department.
“I just didn’t have the same feeling I had last week against the Raiders,” Kmet said. “I know it was a really good performance. But that advantage we normally have in the run game? I didn’t feel like it was there this week.”
The Bears’ defense, meanwhile, had no answer for Herbert, who dished out 31 completions to eight pass catchers on his way to 298 yards and three touchdowns. Herbert was never fired and was only beaten twice. And his first incompletion didn’t come until 8:55 into the first half, after he had already hit his first 15 pass attempts. By that point, the Chargers were within touching distance of converting Cameron Dicker’s first of three field goals into a commanding 17-0 lead.
“(Herbert) made a lot of plays today,” Stevenson said. “It’s just his arm strength, man. He’s an excellent quarterback who makes all the throws he’s supposed to.”
Edwards added: “This is a guy who has been a really good player in this league for a while. That wasn’t too surprising. He reads everything correctly. He’s a really strong guy. And we have to find a better way to make plays when they come to us.”
That didn’t happen on Sunday, as the Chargers used their first two drives for touchdowns while only conceding two third downs.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the Bears played without starters Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson on Sunday, leaving Elijah Hicks and Duron Harmon to man the back end of the defense. Brisker was left at home in Chicago in what the team described as an illness-related absence. And although Jackson was officially active on Sunday, his nagging left foot injury meant he was only technically fit for emergency use.
Adding to the woes, Edmunds suffered a right knee injury early in the second half that will require additional medical tests Monday and could potentially sideline him for several games. If so, it would be another crucial loss for a team that continues to be haunted by a cloud of misfortune.
The Bears, now 2-6 and once again staring into the abyss of irrelevance, will play two more games in the next 11 days. You will continue to search for answers, consistency, and a winning formula. But given Sunday night’s sobering reminder, there’s still no guarantee they’ll find any of it.