The Chicago Bears still haven't gotten off the runway offensively, and after a disastrous outing in Cleveland on Sunday dropped the Bears to 1-2, all options must be in play.
Bears coach Matt Nagy told reporters Monday his team has yet to determine who will play quarterback in Chicago's Week 4 meeting with Detroit, citing ongoing health situations to monitor with rookie Justin Fields (hand) and veteran Andy Dalton (knee).
"They're all three under consideration right now in regard to where they're at," Nagy said. "We'll just have to see the next couple days where they're all at. We know where Nick (Foles is) at, health-wise, but we just want to keep an eye on Justin and Andy and for us to just stay on that and make sure that we have a plan for any of those."
Dalton remains week-to-week with his knee injury, Nagy said, while X-rays on Fields' hand came back negative. The latter will be a matter of monitoring for any potential swelling and pain as the week progresses, per Nagy.
On paper, the Bears entered 2021 appearing about as well-equipped as any franchise to deal with turmoil under center. Dalton arrived as a stopgap veteran capable of handling starting reps, while Fields is the heir apparent. Behind both of them is Foles, a signal-caller with a known history for rising to the occasion when called upon (though not always, as last year told us).
So far, it's produced little more than a whimper offensively. Chicago failed to keep pace with the Rams in Week 1, needed its defense to find the end zone to beat the Bengals, then finished with a grand total of 47 total yards of offense in Sunday's 26-6 loss.
In Fields' first start, the quarterback completed just 6 of 20 passes for 68 yards. He finished with a net of 1 passing yard due to the nine -- yes, nine -- sacks he took at the hands of the Browns' ferocious pass rush. Schematically, the Bears didn't give Fields much of a chance, failing to move the pocket for the mobile passer and leaving him to sit behind a leaky offensive line. Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and Co. were free to feast, and feast they did.
Fields also struggled to deliver the ball on time in certain situations, including one play in which Darnell Mooney was wide open downfield. Fields spotted him too late, launching a pass that was intercepted by Browns safety John Johnson, but nullified by a pass interference penalty. After failing to reach the end zone from the Browns' 4-yard line, Nagy settled for a field goal to make it a 13-6 game.
It would be the last time the Bears sniffed the red zone.
"There was a combination with these plays that goes into it," Nagy said when asked why it appeared Fields didn't have much of a chance to make a play Sunday. "Sometimes it could be a breakdown in protection, sometimes it could be the ball's not out on time, sometimes it could be good coverage by the defense. Or sometimes it could be a bad play call. So there's four things that it could be when you go through the game, there was probably a combination of all that yesterday."
That combination produced Chicago's ugliest loss of the season by a wide margin. It might also lead to a change in play-caller before long.
"Again, just to keep it super simple, everything's on the table," Nagy said. "And I think that's probably the easiest way to put it -- the evaluation part, everything."
Nagy has to be feeling like he's experiencing some deja vu. Just last year, he was answering similar questions about who would play between Foles and Mitchell Trubisky. Nagy tried his hand with both, ultimately reverting to Trubisky and sneaking into the playoffs.
At this rate, these Bears don't seem worthy of the postseason. The only silver lining Sunday came in the Bears' defensive play, which managed to force two turnovers on downs via sacks of Baker Mayfield, but couldn't carry the offense's water along with the massive Gatorade jug strapped to Khalil Mack's back.
If this is the recipe going forward, the Bears might be in for a rough go. A date with the 0-3 Lions seems like the perfect medicine for whatever ails Chicago at this point, but Detroit isn't a guaranteed win. The Ravens needed a record-breaking field goal to beat the Lions, who also played competitively in half of their first two games of the season as well.
Chicago's offense will have to be better. The mercury in the thermometer attached to Nagy's seat is already rising.