2021 Chicago Bears Mid Season Grades

The numbers just don’t lie.

Perhaps the most surprising thing this season is the fact the Bears won at Las Vegas, and lost at home to the 49ers.

Their three wins are against Cincinnati, Detroit, and the aforementioned Raiders.

Simply put, this team is just plain bad. In some respects, it’s surprising they’re not giving the Jets and Lions a run for their money as one of the worst teams in the league. Then again, Justin Fields, whose timetable for insertion into the starting lineup got pushed up due to an injury to Andy Dalton, had one of his best outings of his young career. He led a comeback against the Steelers that was only usurped by Ben Roethlisberger, who led a comeback of his own.

So let’s take a look at some team stats.

Passing: The Bears overall passing rating is an atrocious 72.6. Second worst in the league. Total passing yards are 1552, placing the Bears in DFL. That’s “Dead ____ Last” (fill in the adjective/expletive). The five touchdown passes are the league’s fewest. Chicago is also one of four teams, Panthers, Jets, and Texans who have the dubious distinction of throwing more interceptions than TD passes. Justin is very, very raw. He has a long way to go, not always making the best decisions. The good news, he can only get better. Hopefully that will happen without him getting hurt from a vicious hit.

Grade: D

Rushing: The team is slightly better in the run game, ranking 25th with 1229 yards. Injuries haven’t helped matters. Tarik Cohen hasn’t returned from last year’s ACL surgery, and David Montgomery missed three games due to injury. That gave rookie Khalil Herbert a chance to step up and show what he could do. The duo of Montgomery and Herbert are 29th and 31st in rushing yards respectively. Fields’ 288 yards are fourth best among scrambling quarterbacks.

Grade B-

Offensive line. The Bears spent a second round draft choice on Tevin Jenkins, who has yet to play a down for this team. This porous line has given up 33 sacks, most in the NFL. Untimely penalties, miscommunications, wasted timeouts. It’s a wonder the Bears aren’t four or five deep into backup QB’s. Mitch Trubisky, now with the Bills, is saving himself a fortune in physical and mental therapy bills.

Grade F

Defense: The only thing that kept the Bears in the game the past few years was the defense. A team built on a hard hitting, stifling defense is a shade of it’s old self. Former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio departed for Denver, and this defense hasn’t been the same. A front line that used to be nearly impossible to run on is now the 20th best in the NFL. Ironically, the Swiss cheese pass defense has improved to the point that it’s given up the seventh fewest passing yards. However, at 24.9 points per game given up, the Bears D ranks just 22nd in the league. One positive, Robert Quinn is finally showing why he was brought to town.

Grade C+

Special Teams: Perhaps the only bright spot of the season. Kicker Cairo Santos was signed to a 3-year deal with options for 2024 and 2025. Until he tried and missed a 65-yard attempt in the final seconds of the Steelers game, Santos had the longest streak of made field goals in the league. In a stadium that is notoriously rough on kickers, Santos has been nothing but solid. Punter Pat O’Donnell, at 6′ 4″ and 223 pounds is big enough to be a wide receiver. He can boom kicks and had been a mainstay on fourth and long for eight years.

Grade A-

Coaching staff: Matt Nagy’s offensive play calling was abysmal. He finally handed the reigns to Bill Lazor. What is utterly amazing is how this staff has yet to figure out how to maximize the tools in the arsenal here. When your offensive line is this weak, the objective should to move the quarterback out of the pocket, and utilize a lot of short passes and screens. Just look at film of Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray, or any mobile QB. That’s the goal here. Then you can lull the defense to sleep and throw the deep ball. That’s ostensibly what ended Trubisky’s tenure in town. Sure, he wasn’t the most gifted passer, but no one ever called plays that took advantage of what talents he did posses. On defense, this team is giving opposing quarterbacks way too much time in the pocket. I will say this until I’m blue in the face. If I were coaching this defense, or any defense. I would rush at least one extra defender on every play, switching between linebackers and defensive backs. A passer under pressure is way more likely to make a mistake. Once again Nagy said at his Monday press conference, “We got to get better at stopping the run.” One does not have to be Sherlock Holmes to realize that is the understatement of the season. And it’s an oft repeated statement here. It’s an oft repeated statement here. (ha ha).This staff at times has looked like the Keystone Cops.

Grade C-

The remainder of the schedule has the Bears facing the Ravens, Cardinals, Seahawks, Lions, Giants and the Vikings (twice). This team will be lucky to win three, maybe four more games. Then ownership is going to have to decide if there is anything more this staff can do, if the Bears finish 6-11 or 7 -10.