It was another disappointing week for the Chicago Bears, only this time the scoreboard may have been the least of their concerns.
Eight players were injured in Monday night's 29-14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, including quarterback Jay Cutler, who is expected to miss multiple weeks. Lamarr Houston has a torn ACL and is done for the year, Eddie Goldman’s high ankle sprain will keep him out roughly four weeks and Danny Trevathan had hand surgery, although he could wear a club and be back within a few weeks. Other injuries included concussions for starting defensive backs Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan and a hamstring injury to running back Ka’Deem Carey.
The home loss to the Eagles was quite possibly a season-altering game for the Bears. Second year head coach John Fox is now 1-8 at Soldier Field the past two seasons. Luckily for them, the Bears will be back on the road this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys. Yet the Cowboys were two points away from being 2-0 last week, led by another standout rookie quarterback in Dak Prescott, so this will be another tough test for the Bears.
Here are five things to watch for in Week 3, with the Bears look for their first win of the 2016 season.
Much like last week, the Bears’ offense line was a major problem. Through two games the front five has given up 8 total sacks and 18 quarterback hits.
Pass protection has been a massive issue but so has the team’s inability to run the ball, especially with RB Jeremy Langford. The Bears rank 19th in the NFL with 3.6 yards per carry and have yet to total more than 100 rushing yards in a game.
Kyle Long is playing through a labrum injury, while Josh Sitton has struggled to find chemistry with his new teammates. Yet the bigger issues are on the edges, namely Bobby Massie, who signed this off-season to a three-year/$18 million deal and is currently rated last (67th) in Pro Football Focus’ player grades at the tackle position.
It’s worth noting that after Brian Hoyer took over in the third quarter, the sacks stopped. It could be a complete coincidence but it’s worth monitoring Sunday night.
Starting running back Jeremy Langford has 85 rushing yards through two games, averaging a meager 3.0 yards per carry.
Simply put, this isn’t going to cut it, especially for a team that was expected to be a “run first” offense and will now have Hoyer as their starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Although it was only three carries last week, fifth-round pick Jordan Howard was impressive gaining 22 yards and providing an overall spark for the offense, adding two catches for 9 yards.
Carey hasn't practiced this week and is unlikely to play, so don’t be surprised if the Bears look to the rookie Howard early and often in Week 3.
Since arriving in Chicago in 2009, Cutler has only started and played all 16 games in a season just once. This year will be no different for Cutler and the Bears.
Enter Hoyer, who provides the Bears with something they haven’t had since Josh McCown in 2013: A backup with quality starting experience.
While he's not perfect, Hoyer has the ability to keep the team’s season afloat. He took over the offense midway through the third quarter in Monday’s game and while he didn’t throw a touchdown, he was 9-of-12 for 78 yard and, most importantly, no turnovers.
If the Bears truly view themselves as contenders, Hoyer is going to have a lot on his shoulders to get this team out of the hole they dug themselves.
Amidst the pile of injuries the Bears sustained Monday night are S Adrian Amos and CB Bryce Callahan, both of whom are in the concussion protocol.
With heightened awareness of head injuries in today's NFL, it's unlikely either will suit up for Sunday’s nightcap.
With a starting safety and nickel corner in doubt, who will step up?
Chris Prosinski is best suited for special teams but saw the majority of the snaps in Amos’ place, while special teams ace Sherrick McManis took over nickel duties in Callahan’s absence.
With more time to prepare, there's a chance fourth-round rookie Deon Bush will get a look at safety.
Cre’Von LeBlanc may also get some run at nickel back, even if he has been inactive the past two games. LeBlanc claimed off waivers from the Patriots before the start of the season and is well suited for the slot.
While we are at it, will Kyle Fuller finally be ready to come back from arthroscopic knee surgery and if so, will he even start? My guess is no, unless they want to slide him inside to replace Callahan.
No matter how it shakes out, the Bears will be dependent on even more young players to fill the spots of two second-year starters.
With Cutler expected to be on the shelf for the next few weeks, will the offensive play-calling change?
Hoyer has a far different skill set from Cutler. He's at his best executing high-percentage passes in a run-heavy attack, which is essentially what the Bears did last year under former coordinator Adam Gase.
Dialing down the offense and reducing Hoyer's time in the pocket may better suit this struggling offense.
Week 2 was the second straight game coordinator Dowell Loggains went pass heavy and the Bears now rank 30th in points scored, 31st in total offense, 25th in passing and 29th in rushing.
Look for a change in offensive philosophy from Loggains, which may ultimately better help Cutler when he returns from his thumb sprain.
- After reviewing the Week 2 disaster, it's clear Cutler did not trust WR Kevin White, who was open a number of times but ignored. Could this change with Hoyer under center?
- Jacoby Glenn or Deiondre Hall at starting cornerback? Both have looked good but Hall saw more snaps down the stretch in Week 2.
- Leaning on the return game? Eddie Royal has been a revelation so far as a punt returner for the team, which includes a return TD last week. Yet KR Deonte Thompson is struggling and the recent promotion of practice squad running back Raheem Mostert could make for an interesting position battle this weekend, especially if Thompson has another rough start.