Wed, 25 Nov 2020

Inside Slant: Foles addresses Bears' offensive issues

Chicago Bears
29 Oct 2020, 00:37 GMT+10

Nathan Smith

There was no sugarcoating the Bears' offensive performance against the Los Angeles Rams, so quarterback Nick Foles didn't try to do that.

Foles completed 28 of 40 passes for 261 yards, marking a nine-game streak without a Bears quarterback crossing 300 passing yards. However, four sacks and two costly interceptions highlighted the Bears' struggles in the passing game.

"Ultimately, I gotta play better and help our team out in these situations," said Foles, "and we have to figure out how to run the ball effectively. I think the big thing is finding a rhythm of who we want to be. We've gotta continue to work."

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Both interceptions came when it appeared that the Bears might be able to pull off some of the magic that marked comeback wins against the Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Instead, the drives became an emblem of the team's struggles to put together one complete drive in four quarters of football.

Foles' first interception came just as it appeared that the offense was finding its rhythm in the third quarter, marching down the field to the Rams' 9-yard line. However, Foles threw into double coverage in the end zone, and Rams safety Taylor Rapp came down with a tipped ball.

The second came minutes after safety Eddie Jackson scored on a fumble return, and the defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession. Foles overthrew tight end Jimmy Graham, right into the arms of cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

"They take away our first read, so I was trying to get it to [Darnell] Mooney in the back of the end zone," said Foles. "They made a nice play on it. That was unfortunate. And then the second one, they were bringing an extra guy to the left. There was a guy coming off the edge. We had a double move on. I just didn't have enough time because of the nickel pressure to, like, really step and throw it. I actually had to throw it right when he's starting his break. I let it go because they did a really nice job on that play disguising the blitz."

The loss leaves the Bears in a familiar situation: a sputtering offense that can't capitalize on the play of a star-studded defense. While these issues pre-date Foles' arrival in Chicago, they are now his problem to solve.

Since taking over as the starting quarterback, Foles has thrown for 1,139 yards and completed 64.1 percent of his passes. With his performance Monday night, he has now thrown as many interceptions as he has touchdowns: six.

"I mean if I had the answer right now in this moment," said Foles, "we probably wouldn't be talking about it. I think it's just, you know, keeping it real. This is where you test your culture. This is where you test the people you work with-whether it's the coaches and players. Like, who are we going to be? Are we going to be in together? Or are we going to go against each other? That's really the crossroads."

The Bears will have to find a way to piece things together with an offensive line facing injury issues: center Cody Whitehair left the game with a calf injury, and guard James Daniels is out for the season with a pectoral injury.

"We've really got to assess who we want to be and find that identity," said Foles, "and when we find the identity of what we want to be, that's when we'll take off. But that's where we're at right now. But we have the people here to do it. And it goes back, once again, to believing in one another and continue to go to work every single day for the person next to you."

The Bears have some leeway to figure things out on the run. With five wins already and several one-win teams remaining on the schedule, the team will have a good chance of making the expanded playoff field. However, earning respect around the league will likely be contingent on better play from the offense.

"We're very fortunate to be at 5-2," said Foles. "Everything is in front of us. [The] season's not over. I think that's important to remind every single person, not only in the locker room but out there. The season is not over. We have to continue to work through this. Conversations are important, and then, obviously, implementing it. That's something the coaching staff and the players, everything, we have to continue to look at ourselves in the mirror."

After the game, Jackson emphasized that the defense would not lose confidence in the offense and that the locker room's culture would win out in the end. Foles agreed with Jackson's sentiments.

"I know someday when I'm done playing this game," said Foles, "I'll look back and miss these moments in the sense that, 'Wow, that's where those special relationships were made.' In the tough times. Because I look back on some special years, and there were some games in some special seasons that sucked, where you got to the locker room, and it was tough, it hurt. But the good teams really find a way to get through this in a positive way and improve."

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