Buccaneers 27, Bears 17: Nothing about Bears’ plan looks right as season sinks to 0-2

No part of this is as advertised, and the Bears look further away from being viable than GM Ryan Poles imagined.

SHARE Buccaneers 27, Bears 17: Nothing about Bears’ plan looks right as season sinks to 0-2
Justin Fields getting sacked by the Buccaneers.

The Bears can’t protect Justin Fields, but there’s no certainty he’d thrive even if they could.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. — The condensation dripping from the overhead pipes was the loudest noise in the offensive side of the Bears’ locker room at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. There wasn’t even a light undercurrent of side conversations.

Quarterback Justin Fields stared, stone-faced from a folding chair, still in full uniform. He didn’t even have his phone. He was lost in thought after a 27-17 loss to the Buccaneers in which he had buried the Bears with a pick-six at the end.

Nearby, wide receiver DJ Moore sat with a towel draped over his head, and Darnell Mooney stuffed his gear into a duffle bag without a word.

They knew what everyone else knows: The plan that looked so optimistic for the Bears is springing leaks in every direction, and their season is sinking fast. In two double-digit losses, nothing has looked cohesive or promising.

After months of buildup and sparkling additions that the Bears hoped would vault them from the bottom of the NFL to at least the fringe of playoff contention, how has it gone so wrong?

“I have no clue,” Moore said. “One team executes well, the other team has a few mistakes. And that’s how it goes.”

Very little of this has been as it was advertised, and it looks like the payoff for the miserable tank season everyone endured is further away than anyone anticipated.

The Bears lost to a team that simply isn’t good. The Bucs have a stopgap quarterback in Baker Mayfield and had plenty of their own malfunctions and maladies, but they still outplayed the Bears.

A heavyweight opponent would have knocked them out early. And one is coming. At 0-2, the Bears’ next game is a visit to the defending champion Chiefs. They’ll be a two-touchdown underdog.

“In this position, you can ... just throw in the towel and say whatever, but I don’t think anybody on the team’s like that,” Fields said. “It’s my job, it’s the coaches’ job to keep everybody going, keep everybody’s morale up.

“It is a long season, but we definitely have a lot to fix. Definitely have a lot to get better at, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

General manager Ryan Poles surely didn’t think we’d be having this conversation this soon.

When he was pressed before the season to gauge what portion of his rebuilding to-do list was done, he estimated 75%-80%. But he wisely left some margin, adding that the number could go up or down once the Bears tested this roster against real competition during the regular season. Almost everybody looks good in training camp. The games always reveal how much of that is real. He needs to adjust that estimate. Putting it at 50% feels generous after two games.

And it’s not only the players. Coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy need to rethink their plan.

Fields led a touchdown drive to open the game, but the Bears quickly reverted to their typical meandering: run plays headed nowhere, hopeless screen passes on third-and-a-million and a scrambling Fields always on the brink of another turnover.

He led another good touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, then threw a pick-six from his own end zone.

Fields went 16-for-29 for 211 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions for a 61.1 passer rating, and ran four times for three yards and a touchdown. He was sacked six times, at least half of which appeared to be the result of taking too long to decide where to throw.

The Bears aren’t protecting him, they aren’t scheming an offense that suits his skills and there’s no certainty that he’d thrive even if they did. Nothing about the Bears indicates growth, and if it stays like this, it’s going to be another lost season. The difference is this time they’re trying.

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