Second verse, same as the first, but a whole lot louder and a whole lot worse. Ok, it’s maybe unfair to call the Bears’ loss to the Buccaneers “worse” than their Week 1 flop against the Packers, but it was undoubtedly disappointing. The Bears needed a big response in Week 2 to show 2023 might be different from 2022. But after a first-drive touchdown, the Bears offense fell flat again for most of the day. On defense, several injuries in the secondary clearly hurt against the Bucs’ talented wide receiver corps. The pressure was better up front, but the Bears still couldn’t finish for sacks against Baker Mayfield. Here’s who played best, and who will want to improve next week.
The Bears needed someone, anyone, to step up and generate some pressure on opposing QBs after letting Jordan Love slice and dice their secondary in Week 1. Green was that guy on a couple of occasions. Green won his one-on-one matchups, which is an imperative in Matt Eberflus’ defense, and forced Baker Mayfield to speed up the play, which resulted in some incompletions. Green came through with a huge field goal block on an easy 40-yard attempt to keep points off the board, too.
With Kyler Gordon, Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker all down by game’s end, Johnson was left as the lone proven veteran in the Bears secondary against the Bucs. Johnson wasn’t challenged much, because Mayfield opted to challenge the Bears’ younger defensive backs more often, but when he was he made plays. Johnson appeared to only give up one reception on the day, on backyard pitch-and-catch to between Mayfield and Mike Evans on a broken play. He did well to deny a touchdown to Chris Godwin in the first half. Johnson could’ve had a role turning the tide with a big forced fumble in the third quarter– but the Bears weren’t able to jump on the ball and the Bucs later scored a touchdown. Still, that’s the playmaking ability the Bears want from him this season.
Moore looked every bit the part of WR1 in Week 2. He got open early and often and played a huge role in the team’s two touchdown drives. Moore showed off his separation skills to get wide open for chunk gains, and showed off elusiveness to gain valuable yards after the catch. Moore was also an important outlet for Fields on a 3rd-and-10 conversion to sustain the team’s fourth quarter touchdown drive. It’s no mistake that when Moore was involved a lot the Bears scored, and when he wasn’t they didn’t.
The progress we’ve heard about, and thought we saw early in training camp, isn’t showing up on Sunday. Fields held onto the ball too long, too many times, and played a big part in the six sacks he took. Further, it looked like Fields missed wide open receivers, or simply turned down open throws for the second week in a row. The throw to Chase Claypool was special. He threw a dart in a tight window and gave the team hope late in the game, but it was too little, too late. The pick-six was ugly, but maybe not entirely his fault. It appeared Luke Getsy dialed up one too many screens, and Shaq Barrett was ready for the play. The second interception wasn’t his fault at all. Still, if Fields doesn’t improve and make special throws like the one to Claypool more often, questions about whether or not he’s really the guy to lead the team moving forward are going to get louder and louder.
Jones held himself accountable after multiple mistakes in Week 1. He’ll have to hold himself accountable again after more mistakes in Week 2. Jones’ roughest stretch came at the start of the second half when he was flagged for a false start, then gave up a big sack on back-to-back plays. Jones was also flagged for a holding that was ultimately declined because Fields took a sack anyways. Jones has looked really good for chunks of the game, but mistakes like that are drive killers.
Stevenson had a great debut against the Packers, but the Bucs picked on him early and often in Week 2. It’s hard to tell exactly who’s at fault with coverage miscommunications, but Stevenson was involved in some bad handoffs in zones that led to big gains for Bucs receivers. Evans in particular bullied Stevenson. The worst moment was a 3rd-and-14 play when Evans blew right by Stevenson for a touchdown. Playing corner is not easy for rookies, so days like today aren’t unexpected as Stevenson develops, but the Bears will hope for more Week 1s than Week 2s moving forward.