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The Bears’ Offensive Woes Were On Full Display Against Tennessee

Head coach Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears talks with quarterback Nick Foles #9 during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on November 08, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Do you remember when the Chicago Bears were undefeated? The date was Oct. 4, and the Bears were about to host the Indianapolis Colts while rocking a 3-0 record. It is now Nov. 8, and the Bears are 5-4, a record that flatters a team with the worst offense among the league’s supposed playoff contenders. Heading into Sunday, that offense was the fifth-worst in the league at scoring points, ahead of just the lowly New York teams, Washington, and the Patriots, all teams that will presumably not make the playoffs this season.

The latest defenders to feast on Chicago’s offensive malpractice were the Tennessee Titans, who held the Bears to just a pair of garbage-time touchdown passes en route to a dominant 24-17 victory that never felt that close. Despite facing the eighth-worst yardage defense in the league, Chicago was only able to get the aforementioned fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Nick Foles to Ryan Nall and Jimmy Graham, as well as a Cairo Santos field goal that broke the shutout with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. Before those three late tallies, the Bears never entered the red zone, and so they couldn’t take advantage of the third-worst red zone defense in the NFL.

The Bears were especially putrid running the ball. For the game, Chicago managed 56 yards on 20 carries, while starter David Montgomery also fumbled away the ball to Desmond King, who returned it 63 yards for a touchdown:

Foles ended the day with a respectable-looking stat-line of 334 yards and two TDs, though it took him a whopping 52 attempts to get there, for a hapless 6.4 yards per attempt. He was also sacked three times, as the offensive line let Tennessee boss them around both in pass and run protection.

Though the Bears still have one of the best defenses in football, Ryan Tannehill and Co. didn’t need a big day to secure the win. The Titans quarterback threw for just 158 yards on 10-of-21 passing, though two of those completions went for touchdowns. The Titans also did not turn the ball over, raising their turnover differential to +10 on the season. It probably helped Tennessee that Chicago’s third-quarter woes continued: For the season, they have scored a total of seven points in the period right after halftime, easily the worst in the league:

(That final sentence in the tweet above was overly optimistic; the Titans answered Santos’s field goal with a two-yard touchdown pass to Jonnu Smith to bump the lead to an insurmountable 21.)

The Titans aren’t a particularly stout defense, allowing 26.3 points per contest heading into Sunday, but they looked like the Dolphins’ league-leading unit against the Bears’ incompetence, at least until everyone mentally checked out for Chicago’s three scoring drives (in between the touchdowns to Nall and Graham, Chicago did manage to turn the ball over again, on a fumble by Anthony Miller).

The mirage of the 3-0 start made the Bears seem like a veritable playoff challenger, though even then, the higher point totals notched in those victories came against the weak defenses of Detroit (27) and Atlanta (30); the Giants held them to 17 points in the other win. With four losses in six games, Chicago has seemingly found its level as a team that can only win if their defense plays out of its mind. That defense was merely good on Sunday, and they could not make up for Chicago’s offense once again, garbage-time points notwithstanding.