Offense gets bullied, Chicago Bears lose to Rams 24-10
The Bears faced a daunting task Monday night in Inglewood, California. Their shaky offensive line would have to deal with the NFL's most dominant defensive tackle, Aaron Donald.
Consider the mission a failure. The Bears' offense could muster only a field goal, the defense wore down without much help, and the Los Angeles Rams rolled to a 24-10 victory at an empty Sofi Stadium.
The prevailing image from this game was Rams defenders celebrating deliriously after yet another fourth-down stop or interception.
"The offense, we've got to get stuff figured out," Bears head coach Matt Nagy said. "It's not good enough, and to be outscored by your defense is unacceptable too.
"This is hard. I've never been a part of this before. It's a situation where for all of us it's very frustrating trying to figure out answers."
The Bears' only touchdown was delivered by the defense, with Robert Quinn forcing a fumble and Eddie Jackson returning it 8 yards into the end zone with 7:30 left in the fourth quarter.
As lopsided as this one was at times, had the Bears converted on their two trips inside the Rams' 10, this might have gone down to the wire. Even with 2 field goals, it would have been a one-possession game at the end.
Quarterback Nick Foles faced plenty of pressure and didn't have much success. He did complete the Bears' two longest pass plays of the season, but also tossed a pair of interceptions. Foles finished the night hitting 28 of 40 passes for 261 yards, with 4 sacks, and there was never any sign of Mitch Trubisky warming up in the bullpen.
"The good teams really find a way to get through this in a positive way and improve," Foles said. "I've said this from the moment I got here, I really like our locker room. I know this is a locker room that can take this and turn it into a positive."
Foles' worst decision was a baffling throw to the back of the end zone for Darnell Mooney, who was well-covered by cornerback Troy Hill. The pass was tipped by Hill and intercepted by safety Taylor Rapp. On second-and-4 at the 9, it was a pass that had no chance to succeed while the Bears trailed 17-3 in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth, the Bears got back inside the 10 and couldn't score. They called a run for no gain to David Montgomery (14 carries, 48 yards) on second down, then Foles was sacked on fourth down.
"You've got to run the ball in this league," Nagy said. "We're trying to figure out ways to do it. Something is obviously off. Until we start running the ball, we can't be one-dimensional."
Nagy also pointed to some untimely penalties. A promising first drive was ruined by a holding penalty on right guard Germain Ifedi. Later, the Bears appeared to convert a fourth-and-inches at their own 20, but left guard Rashaad Coward was flagged for a false start, forcing a punt.
"You've got to start fast," Nagy said. "When you come out and all of a sudden you get a penalty, it just kills a drive. You cannot have penalties early in the game."
Bad field position was another issue. Between Johnny Hekker's quality punts and Ted Ginn Jr.'s refusal to catch the ball, the Bears started inside their own 10 five times.
The Rams confounded the Bears' defense with a quick passing game, featuring plenty of short routes and bootlegs. The thing is, it was a blueprint for what the Bears needed to do themselves.
The Bears weren't going to have much success running the ball, and Foles sitting back in the pocket was a recipe for disaster, since the offensive line couldn't hold back the pass rush for more than a few seconds.
The Bears finally made some progress when rookie tight end Cole Kmet reached over linebacker Justin Hollins to make an impressive catch for a 38-yard gain. It was the Bears' longest play of the season at the time, later eclipsed by a 42-yard completion to Allen Robinson.
"That was a great job by Nick throwing that ball to him," Nagy said of the St. Viator High School grad. "He wasn't open. He's covered, but he made a play and that's a credit to Cole.
"Cole Kmet's going to start playing more in this offense. He's deserved it, he earns it. I'm really proud of the way he's playing. We have to be aware of that, understand that and start using him more."
There was an injury concern for the Bears. Center Cody Whitehair limped off the field late in the third quarter and didn't return. His replacement was undrafted rookie Sam Mustipher. Nagy said after the game he thought Whitehair would be OK.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls