LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) — The Bears visit the Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, looking to snap their 12-game losing streak in a matchup against the defending Super Bowl champions.
Here are the three storylines to follow in the game.
1. Can the Bears overcome their turmoil?
In the NFL, teams make a point to insulate themselves from external distractions. But when they emerge internally, distractions become impossible to avoid.
The Bears are a team in turmoil in the wake of defensive coordinator Alan Williams' sudden resignation, key injuries and quarterback Justin Fields’ comments about the coaching staff that created a stir, all of which marked a tumultuous week at Halas Hall.
Players haven't publicly speculated on Williams’ departure, and there has been no divide apparent following Fields' headline-generating press conference Wednesday. But the locker room is certainly aware of all the noise.
"You just got to continue to put your head down and keep working,” Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds said.
The Bears have scuffled in an 0-2 start, with both losses coming by double-digits. A season that opened with such high hopes now carries a grim feeling. Kickoff back on Sept. 10 already seems like it was years ago.
Early in his second season leading the Bears, coach Matt Eberflus faces the challenge of keeping his team focused and committed. Maintaining the buy-in of the group will be a tall task.
That was the case before a turbulent week at Halas Hall, and it certainly is now.
"We are steadfast, we are straightforward and we are all in this together as coaches and players,” Eberflus said.
2. 'Free' Justin Fields
Asked this week to summarize his performance in the Bears' 27-17 loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday, Fields shared a revealing answer.
“I felt like I wasn’t necessarily playing my game,” Fields said. “I felt like I was robotic and not playing like myself. So, my goal this week is to say, ‘F it’ and just go out there and play football how I know how to play football. That includes thinking less and going out there and playing off of instincts rather than just off so much info in my head, data in my head.
“Going back to (how) it’s a game and that’s it. Because, that’s when I play my best, is when I’m just out there free and being myself. Just kind of bump all (of) what I should do, this and that, pocket stuff. I’m going to go out there and be me.
As the conversation intensified about Fields calling out his coaches through the media, he clarified his remarks and took personal accountability. But early this week, Fields also met with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and voiced his hope to ignite the struggling Bears offense.
Getsy and the Bears understand what Fields wants in the scheme as he seeks to emerge as a playmaker. On Sunday, the Bears should unveil an offense that gives Fields more freedom as a rusher and more opportunities downfield.
3. Mahomes, Nagy vs. uncoordinated defense
When Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes played the Bears late in the 2019 season, he counted to 10 on his fingers after throwing a touchdown pass, a gesture that served as a reminder to Chicago’s brass that the organization passed him up in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bears drafted quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall before the Chiefs selected Mahomes at No. 10.
Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy was the Bears’ head coach in 2019 and is currently calling plays for Mahomes and Kansas City’s offense. This time around, will it be Nagy joining Mahomes in getting even with the Bears?
Nagy was fired by the Bears in January 2022 after leading the team for four years as head coach. He was replaced by Eberflus, who's now leading a team under fire – and a defense that’s struggling considerably.
When Mahomes and the Chiefs are on the field against the Bears’ defense, it will be Nagy squaring off against Eberflus tactically, as Eberflus is set to serve as the play-caller following Williams' resignation.
There’s no good time to face Mahomes and the Chiefs, but the timing of this matchup could really underscore a difficult week for the Bears.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.