While Matt Nagy’s offense was the focus after the Bears’ 24-10 loss to the Rams on Monday night at SoFi Stadium, coordinator Chuck Pagano’s defense took its lumps, as well.
A number of uncharacteristic misplays doomed the Bears to a tough night. They allowed 371 yards, including 161 rushing yards. The Rams scored three touchdowns and 24 points in the first three quarters.
A short pass to Rams tight end Johnny Mundt that turned into a 34-yard gain in the second quarter typified the sloppy performance. Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan missed a tackle at the 37-yard line that allowed Mundt to gain 25 additional yards to the 12. Mundt’s long gain in three NFL seasons before that play was nine yards. He came in with one reception this season and five in his career.
Besides the missed tackle, no other Bears defender touched Mundt until Kyle Fuller tackled him at the 12. Safety Eddie Jackson backed off, assuming Trevathan would make the play at the 37.
“You can’t ever assume that your guy is going to get him on the ground,” Pagano said. “The expectation — and our standard is the standard . . . they all said the same thing: It was a poor play on our part from an effort standpoint, a tackling standpoint.
“They catch it — so what? Tackle it. Staple it to the ground, and we move on to live another down. We talked about that one for a long time. It was definitely out of character for us. It’s my job to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Pagano didn’t let himself off the hook, either. The Rams outfoxed the Bears with their motion and outplayed them in the run game. The 161 rushing yards are the most against the Bears this season.
“They executed really well,” Pagano said. “Going into it, we knew it was gonna be tough — the tempo and efficiency; the jet sweep stuff; the motion; the bumping; the gap fits; things like that. They just did a great job of executing, and we didn’t. I didn’t do a good enough [job] getting our guys ready.”
Pagano was kicking himself for a bad play call that led to the Rams’ first touchdown, a four-yard pass from Jared Goff to Josh Reynolds in which the Rams “quick-pitched” the Bears by rushing to the line at the end of the play clock, catching Buster Skrine out of position.
“I just put them in a bad call,” Pagano said. “I’d love to have that one back.”
It was one of those nights for the Bears. Defensive end Akiem Hicks was called for four penalties, though two were declined and one went for zero yards — an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for jumping on the pile when running back Malcolm Brown drove a scrum 12 yards to the 1-yard line.
Pagano disputed that call, claiming officials should have blown the play dead long before Hicks piled on.
“I don’t know why they don’t blow it dead,” he said. “The forward progress is done, but they don’t. So they’re pushing. He’s like a kid in Pop Warner, jumping on the pile having fun. The guy throws a flag like he just hit a quarterback in the head.”
Pagano caught himself before he treaded too far into criticizing the officials — “I better stop there” — and transitioned back to Hicks’ roughing-the-passer penalty in the third quarter.
“He got the body weight on the quarterback,” Pagano said. “You gotta slide to the side. We gotta get that fixed, too. The run defense and the penalties — we gotta get better.”