Bears don’t look like Super Bowl contenders after 5 games, 24-21 loss to Raiders
“I feel like we’re playing good enough to win,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said, “but we’re also playing bad enough to lose.’’ That’s how you go 10-6, and the Bears want more than that this season.
LONDON — The Bears’ opening act was a dud.
Not only in their 24-21 loss to the Raiders in London on Sunday, when their first half was as flavorless and forgettable as the food here, but also the first month of their season. They’ve fallen dreadfully short of their roaring expectations.
They believe they can be contenders. Reality has argued otherwise thus far.
“Nobody on the team would say they’re pleased with it,” running back Tarik Cohen said. “We have such a high ceiling for ourselves. We just want to be [great] in every phase of the game.”
The Bears lived up to that ambition for one quarter against the Raiders, and it was almost enough.
They outscored Oakland 21-0 in the third quarter, rallying from a 17-0 hole with a series of haymakers. It was an explosive burst of greatness, but it was all they had.
This isn’t about picking apart the Bears’ 3-2 record, which on its own is fine. The meaningful question is whether they’re headed the right way.
The Bears haven’t put forth convincing evidence to legitimize their Super Bowl aspirations, and this level of play isn’t going to hold up against heavyweights.
“I feel like we’re playing good enough to win, but we’re also playing bad enough to lose,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said.
That’s the path to 10-6.
That’s respectable, by the way, but there’s elite talent here, and 10-6 would be underachieving.
“We’re still growing,” Amukamara said. “We’re not content or complacent, whatsoever. I feel like you’re going to see a stronger team after the bye week.”
Most teams wouldn’t want their bye this early, but it’s perfect timing for the Bears. They need a hard reset.
The offense is the chief concern — starting at quarterback, as always. Mitch Trubisky was barely getting by, and Chase Daniel isn’t an upgrade.
The Bears got Grade A backup work out of Daniel last week against the Vikings, but he’d probably be a starter somewhere if he could do it every week.
He was quarter-to-quarter Sunday: A 138.8 passer rating in that electric third, then 54.0 in the fourth as he threw away an opportunity for a game-tying field goal with an interception.
Coach Matt Nagy is thought to be an offensive architect, and he has already scaled back his grand blueprint to make it manageable for Trubisky. They’re one step away from an all out ground-and-pound approach, which honestly doesn’t sound so terrible at the moment.
Even then, the offensive line didn’t inspire much confidence that it could lead the way.
Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. struggled to the point that he seemed distraught. He got flagged for holding twice, one of which he thought was “some [expletive]” and had a false start.
“I’m gonna go to this bye week and do some real deep searching and see how I can get better,” he said. “If I’m not doing my job, I’m hurting the offense and we can’t get going.”
The Bears committed too much money — upward of $131 million over various years — to this starting five to have them be so unpredictable. The inconsistency is part of why they’re averaging 80.3 yards rushing per game, including 42 on Sunday.
That doesn’t seem right with live wires like Cohen and David Montgomery running behind them.
“It’s frustrating when you don’t see those guys get yards,” wide receiver Allen Robinson said. “They’re more than talented. Those guys are going to make plays.”
Unlocking those weapons is their best chance at getting something going when they resume. But that’s one of several things that needs to change if the Bears are still serious about chasing a title.
“That’s still our hope,” Robinson said. “There’s still a ton of football to play.”
It is early, but they won’t be able to say that much longer. And everyone has seen enough to know that this isn’t the way to get where the Bears want to be.