Bears film study: Why was the offense so awful against the Colts?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears receiver Anthony Miller was only targeted 5 times Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

    Chicago Bears receiver Anthony Miller was only targeted 5 times Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Mark Busc/mbusch@shawmedia.com

 
 
Updated 10/6/2020 7:19 PM

No, it wasn't a pleasant experience, but the film study needed to be done. Here's the long list of what went wrong in the Bears' Week 4 loss to the Colts:

1. Why was the offense so awful?

 

The simple answer is twofold: No one was open and there was no room to run.

Let's start with the passing game. If you read our film review of the 2019 offense, you know this is an old issue. Whether it's a lack of speed or moves, the Bears receivers often have trouble getting open.

When that's the case, they usually resort to two options, dumping it short or just throwing a jump ball to Allen Robinson, since he's pretty good at making contested catches.

I'll suggest a third option: Look for Anthony Miller more often. He's the best they have when it comes to the speed/route combo, and he was frustratingly open during a lot of Nick Foles' incompletes. Miller ended up with 3 catches for 16 yards on 5 targets. The full target list was Robinson 10, Darnell Mooney 9, David Montgomery 6, Jimmy Graham 5, Miller 5.

The Colts offered a couple examples in how to get guys open creatively. They ran a rub route for their only touchdown. While tight end Mo Alie-Cox crossed over the middle with Kyle Fuller in pursuit, WR Zach Pascal came across from the other side and threw a block on LB Danny Trevathan. The goal was to create an obstacle for Fuller to avoid. Alie-Cox got a couple steps, made the catch and scored from 13 yards out.

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The Colts set up the TD with a 36-yard pass to Pascal. Philip Rivers took a deep drop, allowing Pascal to change direction three times on CB Jaylon Johnson, and Rivers dropped a perfect pass over the top.

2. How much of this was Foles' fault?

Definitely some of it. Looking at the early part of the third quarter when the Bears trailed 13-3, Foles missed a couple of chances to get the Bears back in it.

The Bears' first offensive play of the third quarter was a sack. On 2nd-and-18, Foles went deep and missed Mooney. This play was a big miss. Foles could have gone to Miller, who was wide open near the first-down line. Then Mooney had inside leverage on the cornerback, so if Foles threw to Mooney's inside shoulder, this play might have been a touchdown, because there was no safety help. Instead, it went well over Mooney's outside shoulder with no chance of a completion.

On their second drive of the third quarter, the Bears picked up a couple first downs, but on 3rd-and-4 near midfield, Foles rolled out and had Demetrius Harris wide open over the middle for an easy first down. Instead he went deeper and toward the sideline for Mooney, who was also open, but the throw sailed wide, no chance for a catch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

3. What about the run game?

This was really ugly. Remember when Montgomery was averaging 5 yards per carry on the season? Against the Colts, he had one run of more than 5 yards. The Bears finished with 28 rushing yards on 16 carries, which obviously is awful.

The first two runs of the game were all you needed to watch. The Bears offensive line typically slants one way or the other, hoping to open some cutback lanes. So on the opening snap, Montgomery looked for the cutback, which could have been open. But Graham tried to put a lazy roll block on Colts DE Justin Houston. It accomplished nothing and Houston swallowed Montgomery for 2 yards.

The next run went to Cordarrelle Patterson. Stop the video one second after the handoff and it looks like this play might go for a touchdown. The Bears have a blocker on every Colts defender in the box and there's plenty of green grass in the distance.

What happened in the next second was Colts defensive lineman DeForest Buckner literally threw Germain Ifedi to the ground and dropped Patterson for a 2-yard gain.

Simply put, the Bears offensive line was manhandled by the Colts' front seven. The Bears' O-line held its own in the first three games, but this was a different kind of matchup.

Bad play of the game:

Plenty to choose from, but let's go with the first play of the fourth quarter, a 3rd-and-1 at the Bears' 26. They trail 16-3 at the time, so a touchdown puts them back in the game.

Before the snap, Foles motions a receiver three different times, first Mooney, then Miller, then Mooney again. Were they trying to make the Colts nervous about a jet sweep? It didn't work. Patterson took the handoff and ran straight into the backs of blockers Cody Whitehair and James Daniels, who had been pushed into the backfield, with two linebackers behind them closing in. Loss of one, punt.

Bright spot:

LB Roquan Smith finished with 11 solo tackles. Not much to complain about with the defense unless you were counting on more than 1 tackle every two weeks from free-agent addition Robert Quinn.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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