(670 The Score) The Bears have now lost a dozen straight games after falling 27-17 to the Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Here are the observations from the Bears’ latest disheartening performance, which dropped them to 0-2.
Make it a dozen
Any way you look at it, the Bears' organizational fall is unacceptable and historically bad. A franchise that was founded 104 years ago has never suffered a series of consecutive defeats like it has in this losing streak.
The Bears have surrendered at least 25 points in each contest in their 12-game losing streak, which marks the longest such streak in NFL history. They surpassed a mark set by the Browns in 2016, when Cleveland went 1-15. The Bears also haven't scored more than 20 points in eight straight games.
Coach Matt Eberflus, who claimed he saw progress in the loss Sunday, is now 3-16 in his Chicago tenure and owns the lowest winning percentage of any head coach in Bears history. Chicago would need a four-game winning streak for Eberflus to vault over Abe Gibron (.274) for second-to-last on the leaderboard.
Quarterback Justin Fields, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft who was billed as a rising star, has started 27 career games and lost 22 of those. His progression has halted, and one could make the case that he's regressing.
The Bears have lost by one possession just once in their last eight games, a 25-20 setback to the Eagles last Dec. 18. Chicago hasn't won since last Oct. 24.
Set aside the prize of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft for a minute. The Bears can't claim they're setting the foundation for success as feats of infamy pile up.
The Bears also are falling short of second-year general manager Ryan Poles publicly stated goal for 2023. He didn’t mince words when asked what should be used to measure the franchise in 2023.
“Win more games,” Poles said.
Meanwhile, Eberflus is touting the “improvement” that he saw from the Bears’ first loss of the season to this second loss. He seems to be inviting the narrative that his team is still in a developmental mode, which runs counter to Poles’ hopes of a winning turnaround.
The Bears are staring an 0-3 start in the face, as they visit the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (1-1) next Sunday. Since the NFL’s division realignment in 2002, only one team – the Texans in 2018 – has overcome an 0-3 start to reach the playoffs.
I previously set the goal for this Bears team to be what the Jaguars were in 2022, when Jacksonville showcased organizational growth in quarterback Trevor Lawrence's development and coach Doug Pederson's ability to instill a culture. The Jaguars were 3-14 in 2021, then went 9-8 to win a weak AFC South in 2022.
Jacksonville started 2-1 last season before losing six of its next seven games to fall to 3-7. Perhaps only Lawrence and Pederson could’ve envisioned the Jaguars winning six of the final seven games to claim the division title and earn a win on wild-card weekend, but that's exactly what they did.
That's a reminder to the Bears that two games don’t define a season and that their goals are still on the table.
But the change needs to begin soon. Rebuilds that drag on into a third year are typically failing ones, so the Bears can't keep being a bottom-dweller that pushes back the goal posts on the hopes for contention.
As Poles said, win more games.
Fields' struggles continue
When Fields lined up the Bears at their own 7-yard line late in the game Sunday, with their backs to the end zone and staring at 93 yards to take the lead, only the most glowing optimist could’ve imagined a triumphant touchdown drive.
That's because it hasn’t happened yet for Fields as the Bears keep coming up short in such scenarios. This time, it went as poorly as ever. On a perplexing middle screen play call from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, Fields' pass was intercepted by Buccaneers pass rusher Shaq Barrett, who pushed his way into the end zone for a pick-six that sealed Tampa Bay's win.
Fields and the Bears snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once again.
There are layers to why Fields hasn't progressed in his third NFL season. Blame can be traced to the coaching of Eberflus and Getsy, the offensive line's poor protection, the often-underwhelming support cast or even the work from the Ryan Pace-Matt Nagy regime previously. But it all starts with the 24-year-old Fields and his own disappointing performance.
With 27 NFL starts to his name, Fields still isn't properly processing reads from the pocket. He's missing open receivers – such as running back Roschon Johnson on a vertical route that became an internet meme Sunday – and far too often settling for the checkdown. Those are the mistakes of a rookie quarterback. At this point, it feels unlikely that Fields will overcome these miscues.
“We just want to see consistency with that,” Eberflus said. “Take what the defense gives you. You know, if that long ball is there, the shot is there, the in-cut is there, whatever that route might be and if it's not there, then work down your progression. So, it's just about consistency. That's really what it is.”
Fields was 16-of-29 for 211 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions Sunday. He was hardly utilized as a rusher, carrying four times for three yards. The Buccaneers’ aggressive defensive front got to him six times for a sack.
Fields and top receiver DJ Moore connected six times for 104 yards, including on a pair of strikes on the scripted opening drive. Fields found receiver Chase Claypool on a tight spiral that split a pair of Buccaneers defenders for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. There were positive moments that reminded of the talent that Fields possess, plays that underscored how the Bears have failed in his development.
But there have been many more misfires, poor reads and wrong decisions on display from Fields. That's how it was in the offseason program and training camp, and the trend has continued in the first two games.
Sunday felt like the day when Fields’ struggles became clear for all to see.
Defense is down
The Bears have recorded just one sack (by edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue in the opener) and zero takeaways in their first two games.
Eberflus’ defensive identity is still completely lacking. A defense that was expected to showcase improvement hasn't produced any game-changing plays.
The Bears rank 31st in scoring defense and 29th in yardage. They face star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs next.
-- Eberflus claimed the Bears are improving, but he doesn’t seem to have evidence of it. He certainly doesn’t have the victories to show for it. The first two games have just been so discouraging.
-- Second-year safety Jaquan Brisker battled through dehydration Sunday and got himself back on the field for the second half. He hopes to emerge as a leader and key figure for the Bears, and he's willing to fight for his team.
-- Eberflus called the initial prognosis on safety Eddie Jackson's injured left foot "positive." Jackson, who suffered a Lisfranc injury last November on that same foot, left on a cart in the first quarter Sunday.
-- On the first play from scrimmage, Fields connected to Moore for a 33-yard completion. More of those, please.
-- Bears special teams coordinator Richard Hightower’s unit stepped up on a blocked field goal from defensive lineman Rasheem Green. Those are the types of positive plays that the Bears need to change a game.
-- Buccaneers star receiver Mike Evans gave Bears rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson his “welcome to the NFL” moment Sunday.
-- When Getsy called the middle screen late with the Bears backed up to their end zone, he was showing his lack of faith in Fields and the offensive line's protection.
-- The Bears had lost their previous three games at Raymond James Stadium by scores of 36-10, 29-7 and 38-3, so they can claim improvement in only losing by 10.
-- There are still 15 games left for the Bears this season. Take that information as you will.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.