Arkush: Bears were their own worst enemy vs. Rams
Sunday was Week One of the 2021 NFL season but for the Chicago Bears it was mostly just déjà vu all over again.
The Los Angeles Rams were for the most part the better team, that's why they won the game, but they weren't a more talented team.
They just played smarter than the Bears and didn't make the same ridiculous mistakes the Bears did both on the field and on the sidelines.
And yet in spite of that it was a game the Bears still had a chance to win -- even though they continually shot themselves in the foot.
With 10:01 to play and trailing 27-14, Matt Nagy decided not to attempt a 47-yard field goal and instead let his offense go for it on 4th and 15. Nagy then watched Andy Dalton throw a 13-yard sideline route to Darnell Mooney.
It was the third time Nagy went for it on fourth down and the first two were both 4th and four, far from gimmes. And it was the third time the Bears failed -- with the first two tries setting up Rams field goals and the last being the straw that broke his team's back.
The Rams followed with a 14-play, 70-yard drive that took seven minutes off the clock and set up the final 34-14 score.
The reason the Bears still had a chance to win prior to that last fourth down screw up is their offense was actually more efficient and more productive despite what showed on the scoreboard.
For the most part it was three plays that were the difference and they were all amateur mistakes.
The Bears came out on fire after rookie Khalil Herbert returned the opening kickoff to their own 43, marching 49 yards mainly on the back of David Montgomery to the Rams 8-yard line to set up a third and six.
But then Dalton threw a pick in the end zone that would be easy to excuse him for since Kenny Young tipped it before David Long intercepted it. But the reason Young was able to tip it was because Dalton eyeballed Darnell Mooney from the second he got the snap.
Three plays later the Bears secondary blew a coverage allowing Van Jefferson to run free on a deep post and after Jefferson fell at about the 18 catching the ball both Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson ran right by him allowing him to get up and trot to the end zone.
Blown coverages happen, veteran safeties not touching down receivers shouldn't.
Instead of the Bears exploding to a 7-0 lead, they trailed 7-0 less than 5 minutes into the game.
The Bears defense bowed their back a bit from there though. David Montgomery was easily the best player on the field in the first half and they went to the locker room trailing just 13-7.
But coming out for the second half after just one minute and three plays, one of Jackson, Gipson or Marquis Christian completely blew a coverage again and allowed Cooper Kupp to run untouched off the line of scrimmage for another deep post and a 44-yard touchdown to make it 20-7.
Even at that 10-minute mark in the fourth quarter the Bears had a two-to-one time of possession advantage.
Other than the pick Dalton actually played well and while all the talk will return to Justin Fields now, that is not what was wrong with the Bears in L.A.
While everyone will start grilling Nagy again on why Fields isn't playing, the real question should be if Nagy was managing the game and focusing on being the head coach instead of burying his head in his play sheet to call plays.
His play calling wasn't bad but his game management was awful.
There were things to build on. The running game was great and the defense -- when it wasn't forgetting assignments -- showed its speed and athleticism.
But with a chance to take the pressure off himself and the focus off his quarterbacks and put it on his team, all Nagy did Sunday night was turn up the heat.
• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush