CHICAGO -- At 0-2, the Chicago Bears are scraping for answers.
The Bears made big headlines with the resignation of defensive coordinator Alan Williams on Wednesday and double media sessions with quarterback Justin Fields, who suggested coaching had, at least in part, led him to "robotic" play.
Like it or not, the Bears have distractions that come with the territory for some struggling organizations, just usually not as early as Week 3 and leading into a matchup against the defending Super Bowl champions. The road game against the Kansas City Chiefs today is another painful reminder of what could have been when the Bears had their choice of quarterbacks in the 2017 draft and went with Mitch Trubisky instead of Patrick Mahomes.
"There are a lot of great quarterbacks in the class, and I feel like a lot of us are real close," Mahomes told me a couple of hours after a private workout he had with the Bears on the Texas Tech campus in the pre-draft process. "But I just feel like I can do a lot of things that other quarterbacks can't do."
Mahomes does a lot of things better than nearly every quarterback who has played the game. The Bears' blunder, which has been well-chronicled, has set the franchise back as far as the Chiefs' stroke of genius to trade up and select him with the No. 10 pick has elevated that franchise. The Chiefs have won two Super Bowls since. The Bears are on their third head coach and fourth offensive coordinator since choosing Trubisky and have finished 30th, 21st, 29th, 26th, 24th and 28th in total offense since that fateful draft.
The Chiefs (1-1) enter the matchup trying to iron out some problems. They've scored only 37 points, the running game hasn't been particularly efficient and Mahomes, the NFL's reigning MVP, still is trying to develop timing with his wide receivers. Kadarius Toney leads Chiefs wideouts with six receptions and has been an injury-prone drop machine. We call those first-world problems.
Which brings us back to the Bears, who are desperate to find some momentum on offense with Fields and flip the script. General Manager Ryan Poles met with reporters Thursday morning in an effort to reset the tone and express faith in the coaches and Fields.
"You've got a young quarterback trying to figure it out," Poles said. "You have a guy who hasn't had the cleanest start to his career who last year had to put the team on his back, do some unbelievable things athletically. Now he gets talent around him and has to figure out and balance when to do those cool things athletically, when to lean on others and that is sometimes a gray place to live in. That takes time."
The Bears need to develop consistency on offense and create a plan that gives Fields a chance to find success, something he suggested will come if he can get back to playing with his own style and without thinking too much about coaching points that have been drilled since the spring. This isn't a quick-fix project, and Fields is unlikely to all of a sudden begin deciphering defenses post-snap and look like a polished pocket passer.
Fields continues to struggle when forced into clear passing situations, something that has been apparent throughout his career. Eight of his 24 interceptions have come with less than three minutes to play. Defenses are forcing him to stay in the pocket. Opponents are not taking the bait in situations in which he wiggled out and created huge off-schedule plays in 2022.
With the Bears needing to adjust -- and quickly -- here are four ideas to consider:
1.) Have specific designed runs for Fields. If the first two games have proved anything, it's that opponents spent a lot of time this offseason studying ways to keep him from torching their defenses with his electric running ability in the open field.
The Green Bay Packers had an edge defender mirroring Fields on bootlegs in the opener. On zone reads, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive ends stood square to the line of scrimmage waiting for Fields and basically telling him the only play was to hand off to a running back. The ends were not crashing to add numbers against Khalil Herbert or Roschon Johnson plowing up the middle.
To take advantage of Fields' speed, power and elusiveness, the Bears need to have set run plays for him -- power, counter and draws. It's going to expose him to hits. It's going to put more pressure on Fields physically, but he's so capable of explosive plays as a runner, it's a must.
2.) Add more run-pass options to the game plan. They didn't use a lot of RPOs in the first two games. This is marrying a run with a pass play and having Fields react based on what the front is showing him. There's one defined read, which makes it easy for Fields. This is basic stuff, but that is where the Bears are, and Fields won't have to overthink it.
3.) Schemed shot plays. Max protect Fields and give him a high-to-low read downfield with a check-down. This will aid in protection and at least two of these a game will create opportunities for explosive plays. Fields has the arm talent to make any throw on the field and has a beautiful deep ball. It would be a great way to get Darnell Mooney involved.
4.) Get the running game going with the right side of the line. The Bears believe they can win with physical play up front. Start pounding the ball with Herbert and Johnson and marry some of those run plays with play-action to take the top off the defense and, again, give Fields clear and defined reads.
Fields is capable of explosive plays, and the Bears need more of them. They need to be able to utilize their skill talent on a regular basis, not a few times in the first quarter and then again on a lone possession in the fourth quarter.
Otherwise, the Bears will have even more blame to go around by the end of the season.