The Chicago Bears, like in many seasons prior, are struggling to develop an aerial attack.
Through three games, the team is ranked last in the NFL in passing, averaging 78.3 yards per game through the air, while Justin Fields also has the worst passing grade (38.0) among all 32 starting quarterbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
Khalil Herbert has 240 yards rushing and three scores (80 yards per game average, 7.3 yards per carry), while David Montgomery has 159 yards (53.0 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry). The Bears also currently have the second-worst receiving grade in the league (59.0), per PFF, and their leading receiver, Equanimeous St. Brown, has a total of 77 yards.
“This isn’t a winning formula in today’s NFL,” Heavy’s NFL insider Matt Lombardo wrote on September 26, before urging the Bears to add another wideout, stat.
Lombardo: Bears Need Reliable WR to Help Fields
The Bears’ offensive line was a primary concern heading into the season, but that unit has held up, doing its part more often than not.
Chicago’s group of wide receivers, though, have been lackluster to say the least. The team’s top wideout heading into the season, Darnell Mooney, has four catches on 11 targets for 27 yards so far, and that simply won’t cut it. The Bears also saw receiver Byron Pringle go down with a calf injury Week 3, and Lombardo thinks they should be looking to add a WR soon if they want to get a more accurate read on their second-year quarterback.
“It is difficult to determine just how effective Fields is at this level,” Lombardo noted. “Especially with a receiving corps that through three weeks produced just 23 receptions. Perhaps more worrisome, the Bears’ receiving first down percentage is just 40%. That’s 1.5% higher than the league-worst New York Giants.”
Bears Are Winning, But for How Long?
The Bears are sitting at 2-1 after beating the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans, losing to the Green Bay Packers Week 2. Their defense bailed them out Week 3 when linebacker Roquan Smith intercepted Texans QB Davis Mills and returned the ball to Houston’s 10-yard line, allowing kicker Cairo Santos to drill a 30-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.
Not every game will be carried by the defense, however, and not every opponent is as beatable as the winless Texans. But is winning more important than seeing what they have in their young QB? That’s a question only the Bears can answer. Still, general manager Ryan Poles and company should do everything in their power to help Fields by adding another weapon or two — they owe it to the 23-year-old quarterback.
“If Fields is to make any strides as a potential franchise quarterback — or a new regime is going to be able to evaluate whether he is the answer to build around — Chicago has to add some veteran receiver help either via free agency or a trade,” Lombardo pointed out.
The Bears surely want to see what they have in Fields, and the injury to Pringle may force the team’s hand even more. CBS Sports insider Jonathan Jones reported on September 25 that Chicago was set to be “active” in the wide receiver market before the trade deadline on November 1 — and that was before Pringle went down — so it will be interesting to see where Poles looks for help.
Regardless, he has to be looking. Anything else at this point would be negligence.