Another week and another loss for the winless Chicago Bears, in yet another ugly game in which the team never held a lead against the Dallas Cowboys.
The 0-3 Bears are a club decimated by injuries yet every NFL team is banged up, so the excuse game is wearing thin.
This week, the Bears will look for their first win of the season and will be out of the spotlight with a noon start at home against the 1-2 Lions. With a win, the Bears will take over third place in the NFC North due to tie-breakers but, barring a massive turnaround, it looks like another disappointing season for the City of Chicago.
The 2016 campaign marks the second year of head coach John Fox’s tenure, and also marks the second season in which his team has started 0-3.
With more youthful players expected to see the field, it’s time to start looking at development for future seasons. Here are five things to watch for in Week 4.
After leaving midway through the third quarter in Week 2 with a sprained right thumb, Jay Cutler sat out Sunday night’s matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. In his place was 32-year-old veteran Brian Hoyer, who wasn’t anything special. He threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns on 49 passing attempts, but the majority of that came in garbage time.
When Fox was asked if Cutler would remain the team’s starter when healthy, his response caught some off guard.
“I don't think there are any givens and that's not an indictment on anybody," Fox said. "This is a day-to-day, week-to-week, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league and so we’re just trying to get the best 11 guys out there regardless of the position, to where we can play a full 60 minutes and get a victory.”
While this isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for Cutler’s future in Chicago, it’s also key not to read too much into Fox's comments, especially when his only other viable starting option is Hoyer.
Cutler is officially doubtful for Sunday, meaning Hoyer will very likely make his second straight start. He'll need a much more consistent performance this week if the Bears are going to pick up their first victory of the season.
Going into just his fourth professional game, White has incrementally improved throughout the year, yet the high-end production is still lacking.
Against the Cowboys, he had 6 catches for 62 yards on a team high 14 targets. He showed speed to get behind the defense and the ability to win 50/50 balls down the field.
With Hoyer under center, White saw a barrage of deep balls in the second half, including an impressive one-handed catch. While his route running still needs more work, his deep-ball prowess is definitely growing, so expect coordinator Dowell Loggains to increase his downfield targets this weekend. If he can secure a few of these deep passes, the offense might be able to keep pace with the Lions.
One of the biggest points of emphasis throughout each of Fox's head-coach tenures has been his ability to consistently run the ball and stay committed to that philosophy.
Through three games of bad offensive football, Loggains has run the ball just 44 percent of the time, with just 15 total attempts in 64 offensive snaps last Sunday night. The Bears currently rank dead last in the NFL with just 53 rushing attempts through three weeks.
They averaged 4.9 yards per carry last week, so they did have some success running the ball, but the offensive line lacked consistency.
Jeremy Langford is on the shelf for 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain, while Ka’Deem Carey’s is doubtful with a nagging hamstring injury.
Fifth-round rookie Jordan Howard will get the majority of the carries moving forward and possibly even after Langford comes back.
Behind Howard will be practice squad call-up Raheem Mostert and recently signed bruiser Joique Bell. The depth at the running back position has been depleted but don’t be surprised if Howard is the team’s first 100-yard rusher since Matt Forte in Week 1 last year.
Prized free-agent acquisition Danny Trevathan sat out last week's contest after having hand surgery and is expected to miss another week or two. In his place, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio mixed and matched at inside linebacker, primarily with fourth-round rookie Nick Kwiatkoski in base 3-4 sets, and versatile linebacker Christian Jones on passing downs.
Trevathan is officially listed as doubtful, so expect Kwiatkoski and Jones to again get extended looks opposite Jerrell Freeman.
While Jones provides versatility and quality depth, there’s a reason the team decided to remove him as a starter coming into 2016. At the same time, Kwiatoski needs to better fight off blocks in the run game. Both players must raise their level of play to keep Detroit's high-powered offense out of the end zone.
What do Von Miller, Everson Griffen and Kerry Hyder all have in common? All three have as many or more sacks than the entire Bears defensive unit through three games.
There have been many issues for this team to start the season but the lack of pass rush is one of the larger concerns. Outside linebacker once looked like a position of strength but with Pernell McPhee on PUP and Lamarr Houston on IR, the depth is gone and Fangio has never been a proponent of calling numerous exotic blitzes to pressure the quarterback.
McPhee is still weeks away from returning and with no viable free-agent pass rushers on the market, the onus falls on Leonard Floyd and Willie Young, as well as Sam Acho, to win their one-on-one matchups and collapse the pocket. The trio has combined for just three total sacks through three games, which just won't cut it going forward, including this week against the Lions.
-CB Jacoby Glenn struggled in coverage in Week 3 and was burned repeatedly by Cowboys receivers Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. As such, is it time to give fourth-round rookie Deiondre Hall a chance to win the job?
-Time for a change at safety? Adrian Amos has been a steady presence on the back end of the defense but Harold Jones-Quartey is questionable with a concussion and Chris Prosinski lacks playmaking ability. Could rookie Deon Bush get a look soon?
-After Chicago's offense line allowed a combined eight sacks through the first two games, they gave up just one QB hit and no sacks against the Cowboys. The Lions will be without Ziggy Ansah (ankle) again this week, so a similar performance from the Bears front five could be possible.null