Bears can't measure up to Brady, Bucs
Any given Sunday. That's the theory, anyway.
On any given Sunday any team can beat any other team in the NFL.
It happened in Tennessee as the Titans obliterated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, 27-3.
It happened in New York as the offensively-challenged Giants throttled the Panthers, 25-3.
It happened in Baltimore where the Bengals hung 41 on the Ravens and rolled to a 24-point victory.
It nearly happened in Los Angeles as the laughable Lions stuck with the Rams until the very end.
So the same thing was certainly possible in Tampa Bay when the Bears took on Tom Brady and the Bucs, right?
Ha. Good one.
The Bears simply aren't ready to ace that kind of test.
This was evident on the first series, when Justin Fields fumbled as he was being sacked. It was evident on Tampa Bay's first series, when the Bucs needed just 3 plays to make it 7-0.
It was evident during the rest of the first quarter, the first half and during the entire 60 minutes in which the Bears (3-4) suffered a character-testing 38-3 setback to the Bucs (6-1).
The lone bright spot for Matt Nagy's squad was the inspired play of sixth-round rookie running back Khalil Herbert, who ran for 100 yards on 18 carries and added 33 yards on 5 receptions.
One would think a solid passing game would emerge when a RB is tearing through a defense like that. But that wasn't the case two weeks ago against Green Bay and it wasn't the case against the Bucs as Justin Fields threw 3 picks and lost 2 fumbles.
Fields' most egregious throw came on the Bears' third drive when he airmailed a pass to an open Allen Robinson. The floater was easily picked off by Dee Delaney, and 2½ minutes later it was 14-0 Bucs when Tom Brady threw the first of 4 touchdown passes. That's twice as many TD passes as Fields has in five full games.
Before we heap too much blame on Fields and the offensive line, however, let's be clear: This was a colossal collapse by the entire team.
The defense allowed Leonard Fournette (15 carries, 81 yards) and Ronald Jones (10-63) to run roughshod into the second level time and time again. Brady misfired at times, but still hit Chris Godwin (8-111) and Mike Evans (6-76, 3 TDs) a combined 14 times for 187 yards.
And it could have been worse for the Bears. Far worse.
"We left a lot of points out there," Brady said. "We'll learn from it."
The Bears have a long, long way to go before they can hope to compete against teams like the Bucs. The offensive line, while doing a solid job run blocking, doesn't have what it takes to give Fields enough time in the pocket. GM Ryan Pace must finally fix that next season.
Still, Fields needs to learn to trust his receivers more often because 'open' in the NFL is a lot different from 'open' at Ohio State. One step is all a guy needs. Zip it in there without hesitation. Throw to spots where only Robinson can catch it. Keep going to the tight ends. Use your feet to buy time or bolt from the pocket.
You hope he learns this as the weeks go by because right now he looks awfully lost. It's up to the coaching staff to guide him down the right path before his confidence really begins to sag.
In the big picture, this mess will be forgotten by the time the Bears host San Francisco next Sunday. A win over the 49ers means back to .500 and back in the playoff hunt.
One baby step at a time. That's just where the Bears are right now.
Just maybe, once on any given Sunday, Nagy's Bears will challenge or maybe even squeak by a superior team.
It can't happen soon enough.