The Bears’ 24-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday in London was a textbook example of what happens to an NFL team when it shows up ill-prepared to play and the other club simply wants it more – apparently, a lot more.
Yes, it did appear the Bears’ alarm clocks finally went off at halftime, leading to a spirited third-quarter comeback in which they scored 21 consecutive points to seize a 21-17 lead, but by any objective analysis, even that was far more a gift from the Raiders than a display of grit and guts from the Bears.
On the Raiders’ second play of the second half, Derek Carr called an audible at the line of scrimmage that Josh Jacobs either missed or didn’t understand, and Carr pitched the ball to no one with the Bears recovering at Oakland’s 14-yard line, leading to their first touchdown.
The Bears’ offense had one solid drive all game, 12 plays for 89 yards that ended in their second score.
It was aided by a miraculous 32-yard grab by Anthony Miller on third-and-2 that took them to the Raiders’ 9-yard line, a ball that almost certainly shouldn’t have been thrown, as it was most likely to end with Chase Daniel’s fourth interception of the game.
Daniel finished with only two picks on the score sheet because Miller saved him on that one, and another pick that was made by Oakland’s Daryl Worley early in the fourth quarter at the Bears’ 34 after they’d taken the lead was overturned by another of those questionable roughing-the-passer calls we’ve seen so many of, this one on Maurice Hurst.
All three of the picks Daniel did throw were of the absolutely awful variety that you look at on tape and scream, “What could he possibly have seen or thought?”
But even with that, although Daniel clearly is not a better option than Mitch Trubisky, he also is not the reason the Bears got beat.
The Bears lost to the Raiders because Oakland absolutely dominated them on both sides of the line of scrimmage, a physical beating that seemed impossible after the way the Bears did the same thing to the Vikings a week ago.
However, the truth is that happens to every team in the league eventually, making coach Matt Nagy and company’s job now to figure out which parts of the London embarrassment were just one of those things, and which are problems that must be fixed.
Immediately after the game Nagy started with this:
“You know, in this game, it usually starts up front – we know that. We preach it; we talk it.
“We understand that, and we just, throughout the game, weren’t real successful offensively with running the football. It’s been an issue this year, and so we need to figure out why.”
Actually, there were two things wrong with the run game Sunday: The Bears just couldn’t, and their No. 1-ranked run defense allowed the Raiders to rush 39 times for 169 yards.
All you have to do is look back to last week against Minnesota to know the run defense can and will be fixed.
As to the Bears’ ground game and offense as a whole, Nagy said, “Not good enough.”
The process of fixing that offense will start with a long and very unpleasant flight back across the pond Monday.
On it, players and coaches will come to realize everything they hoped and still hope to accomplish this season still is in front of them.
Then, over what will now be a long and painful bye week, they will have to search for those answers in the mirror and discover whether they are in fact built for this or not.
• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.