The Chicago Bears lost on the road to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card round on Sunday night, January 10th, to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bears lost 21-9 in an embarrassing outing from the Bears’ offense. Check out the Bears and Saints game recap below.
The Bears could not get anything going on offense until the final play of the game, where Jimmy Graham made an athletic, one-handed grab in the endzone as time expired. They had just 239 yards of total offense, 11 first downs (Saints had 27), and had the ball for just over 21 minutes.
The Bears’ loss was not unexpected coming from a well-rounded New Orleans’ Saints team. But, the way they lost was unimaginable. Considering the Bears’ offense had been hot (30+ points per game weeks 13-16), it was difficult to understand their poor performance on Sunday.
Check out the key points from Sunday’s Bears @ Saints game below. Don’t forget to take a look at the preview of the game here.
Penalties: The penalties that the Bears had in this game were costly. The Bears suffered nine penalties for 50 yards.
One of the bigger penalties came from rookie tight end, Cole Kmet. Kmet committed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after sharing words with Malcolm Jenkins and tossing the referee the ball. That penalty put them back 15-yards while the Bears were in the Red Zone. This forced the Bears to fail to convert 3rd & 20, and kick a field goal.
The other impactful penalty came from Anthony Miller in an altercation with C.J Gardner-Johnson. A violent punch to the helmet got Anthony Miller ejected from the game.
Bears Coach Matt Nagy said, “the team spent 15 minutes Wednesday showing clips of C.J Gardner-Johnson and to remind them to not get involved with him.”
Discipline: There were many moments in the game that Nagy failed to coach his team to stay disciplined. The Anthony Miller situation was a huge slip-up and demonstrated a lack of discipline from Nagy’s end. But, even on his end, near the end of the half, Nagy decided to run out the clock with almost two minutes to go while holding two timeouts.
Moreover, the Javon Wims dropped touchdown catch was a missed opportunity to swing the game early on. While this is tough to relate to discipline, it’s as if the Bears’ attitude with their mistakes were lackadaisical. We knew coming into this one that Javon Wims was undisciplined, seeing as he was the one to fight Gardner-Johnson in the last meeting between these teams.
The biggest disciplinary impact for the Bears came in their third-down opportunities. The Bears went an astounding 1/10 on third-down conversions. Between the bad play-calling and the lack of a fight, the Bears lacked the accountability to get things done.
Run Game/Play-Calling: The Bears knew coming into this game that the Saints have one of the better rushing defenses in the league. But, they seemed to abandon the run entirely from their previous games leading up to the playoffs.
As a team, the Bears ran the ball just 19 times for 48 total yards and a 2.5 yard per attempt average. Nobody from the Bears rushed for a touchdown.
David Montgomery had seen nearly 19 touches per game in the backfield in the last six weeks but was left with 12 in this one for 31 yards. He averaged just 2.6 yards per attempt in this one. But, it is hard to discredit him, considering he was limited in touches.
Most of the game, it looked as if Nagy had taken the play-calling back from Bill Lazor. Whether it was keeping the ball away from David Montgomery or running a predictable reverse bootleg to Cole Kmet, the playcalling failed this part of the offense.
D-Line Pressure: Right when the Bears needed it the most, the Bears put some pressure on Drew Brees in the backfield with its defense.
As a team, the Bears ended with one sack, five tackles for loss, six quarterback hits, and one fumble recovery on a mad blitz from the defense. Led by Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack, the defensive line got the job done in the pass rush.
The Bears’ defensive line stepped up big in this one to give Drew Brees a hard time. He ended with 265 yards, two touchdowns, and a QBR of 57.1. At least Brees didn’t ball out.
Alvin Kamara: While the Bears did well in the pass rush, they did not do so well in the run game. Alvin Kamara is a notable player for the Saints, and the Bears could hardly contain him.
He ran the ball 23 times for 99 yards and one touchdown and averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. Kamara also put up two catches for 17 yards in the passing game.
The Bears failed to put a stop to the Saints’ best player. While difficult, the Bears allowed him to have many first downs on the run. This may be the fault of Chuck Pagano for not stacking the box, but the Bears still failed with this.
Overall Defense: The Bears defense stepped up quite well in this game. They were facing one of the better offenses in the NFL, and they allowed them just 21 points.
Unimpressively, the Bears let the Saints have nearly 400 yards of offense, 27 first downs, and convert 11/17 third downs. But, there is a lot to blame for this, especially the offense.
The offense had the ball for just over 21 minutes in the game, giving the ball back to Brees and the Saints constantly. Even with the best defenses, it would be difficult to produce when they’re always on the field.
The Bears lost their second wild card game in the last three seasons under Nagy’s regime. However, in that same span, the Bears never had a losing season. But, many questions remain for the future of the organization.
Who is on the hot seat? Here are just a few names: Matt Nagy, Chuck Pagano, Ryan Pace, Ted Phillips, and Mitch Trubisky.
The future of the Bears’ organization is in a bind. While there have been no firings the day after the Bears playoff loss, there will be some to come in the future. The radio station 670 the score reported that “deep discussions” have been happening within the organization.