It’s difficult to decide which is scarier for the Bears: fearing that their offensive line simply doesn’t have the personnel to do its job or that the coaching staff seems to be unable to scheme around that problem.
While there were many problems in the Bears’ 26-6 loss Sunday to the Browns, the offensive line failures glared brightest.
‘‘I’ve been in the league for a long time, and we’ve had bad days,’’ Bears offensive line coach Juan Castillo said Monday. ‘‘The best remedy for that is to come back and work hard.
‘‘The nice thing is, it’s only Week 3. We will get better.’’
There’s no guarantee of that. The Bears have been promising that about their offensive line for three years.
It’s important to remember they went into this season with no experienced left tackles — Plan A was Teven Jenkins, a second-round draft pick who played right tackle — and confidently writing in Germain Ifedi at right tackle. The Bears can’t be stunned by their poor line play when that was their starting point.
But a coach’s job is to find solutions, and Matt Nagy certainly didn’t. Rookie quarterback Justin Fields got hit on 15 of his 29 dropbacks, and Browns defensive end Myles Garrett told NBC his team was pleasantly surprised that Nagy didn’t get Fields and his elite mobility out of the pocket.
‘‘We settled in and saw how they planned to use the flow of the game,’’ Garrett said. ‘‘It came to us easily after the second possession, and [we] figured out what they were going to do and how we were going to adjust to that.’’
While the Browns shifted their strategy, Nagy never did. And the Bears paid for it by losing 67 yards on nine sacks:
Clowney strikes first
The Bears moved the ball well on their first drive, starting with a 16-yard run by David Montgomery and ending with a 47-yard field goal by Cairo Santos, but the Browns broke through on the first snap of the next possession.
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney went inside on Ifedi and was way too fast for him. Ifedi barely got his hands on Clowney as he raced to drop Fields before he had a chance to do anything.
Garrett’s three in a row
On his way to a franchise-record 4œ sacks, Garrett had 2œ in a span of seven plays in the second quarter.
On the first, with 11:47 left in the first half, Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah blitzed from Fields’ left and no one picked him up. He was in quickly, and Garrett muscled tight end Cole Kmet backward to help out.
Garrett got past Jason Peters on the next play when Peters’ attempt to cut-block him failed. Fields still had a chance to escape the pocket on that one, but he recognized the pressure a hair late.
The pressure continued throughout the game, and with 3:48 left until halftime, Ifedi made things worse by committing a false start on third-and-one.
‘‘The thing now is we don’t let it happen again,’’ Castillo said. ‘‘If it . . . doesn’t happen for the rest of the year or in the playoffs, I’ll take that.’’
Ifedi has three false starts this season and six in his last nine games (counting playoffs).
His penalty forced the Bears into an obvious passing situation, and the Browns quickly closed in on Fields. He tried to step up and look downfield, but Garrett got through right guard James Daniels to sack him.
More trouble for Ifedi
The Bears opened the third quarter trailing 10-3 and had the ball, but there was little indication they had a chance at coming back.
After Fields opened with two incomplete passes, Ifedi couldn’t stop Takk McKinley — even while holding him. As McKinley went by him, Ifedi had an arm across his chest, to no avail.
Garrett is elite
While most of the Browns’ sacks seemed to be the result of poor line play, the idea of shutting out Garrett is unlikely. He’s one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and he’s bound to make some incredible plays.
He came through with one at the 8:45 mark of the third quarter. Garrett went inside against Daniels again, ended up in a crowd in the backfield and burst free from it to take down Fields as he was on the brink of getting into the open field.
No one saw Browns safety Ronnie Harrison’s sack with 3:13 left in the third quarter coming.
The Bears ran a play-action with Montgomery, and once he left the backfield, there was no one left to help Fields. Kmet ran right by Harrison on a right-to-left passing route, and Harrison sprinted in unobstructed. It was the fastest sack of the day at 3.4 seconds.
Garrett, Clowney close out
The game was decided when Garrett took down Fields with 10:08 left and the Browns leading 23-6. On third-and-nine, the Browns immediately sent Fields on the run, and Garrett rushed past Peters for the sack.
To close it, Clowney dropped Fields for a 14-yard loss on fourth-and-10 at the Bears’ 35. Garrett beat Peters again and chased Fields right into Clowney for the sack.