The Chicago Bears were feeling good about themselves following a surprising, rain-soaked victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field to start coach Matt Eberflus’ first season.
Leave it to Aaron Rodgers and the rival Green Bay Packers to bring them down a peg, this time 27-10 at Lambeau Field on Sunday night. The Bears will try to bounce back next Sunday when they host Lovie Smith and the Houston Texans (0-1-1).
Rodgers gave them headaches, as usual, throwing for 234 yards and two touchdowns, and the Packers improved to 24-5 in games he has started against Chicago. The Bears couldn’t stop Aaron Jones, who went off for 132 yards and a rushing touchdown. He also caught a scoring pass.
Chicago at least got its ground game going. But when it came to passing, well, it was a different story. Quarterback Justin Fields had another difficult time, and receiver Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet were nonfactors.
“We need to highlight our skill,” Eberflus said Monday. “We know that. We know that. So we’re going to try to do a better job of that. We will do a better job. Like I said last night, we got great coaches. Those guys are smart. They know how to get it done and we will get it done.”
The Bears ran for 180 yards and 6.7 per attempt. It was a big improvement coming off Week 1, when Chicago had 99 on 37 carries. David Montgomery finished with 122 yards on 15 attempts, and Khalil Herbert carried four times for 38 yards.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Bears ranked last in the NFL in passing through Sunday. Fields has completed just 15 of 28 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. That reads like one bad game. That it’s over two makes it look even worse. Fields was 7 of 11 for 70 yards against the Packers, and the Bears can’t blame that on the weather.
Coming off a tough opener, Montgomery looked more like the 1,000-yard rusher he was in 2020 than the guy who ran for 849 yards last season and averaged 3.8 per attempt. The 122 yards were the most since he had a career-high 146 in a win at Minnesota on Dec. 20, 2020. Montgomery, who ran for just 26 yards in Week 1, had 38 on a 71-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter that gave Chicago a 7-3 lead over Green Bay. The big question is why the Bears didn’t give him the ball on fourth down and less than 1 yard at the goal line with the Packers up 24-10 in the fourth. Fields lined up in the shotgun, and officials ruled that Preston Smith and Jarran Reed stopped him just short of the end zone.
Cornerback Kyler Gordon can chalk this up as a learning experience. Rodgers opted to pick on the rookie, as expected, rather than go after star Jaylon Johnson, and it added up to a difficult night. Sammy Watkins beat Gordon on a 55-yard catch and finished with 93 yards receiving.
DB Dane Cruikshank hurt his hamstring in the first half. … Rookie WR Velus Jones Jr. (hamstring) missed his second game.
2 — Through two games, Mooney has just two receptions for four yards. He has been targeted five times. The Bears clearly need to get Mooney more involved after he had 1,055 yards last season — his second. On the plus side … he has two more receptions than Kmet.
The Bears host Smith and the Texans. Smith, who led the Bears from 2004 to 2012 and guided the 2006 team to the Super Bowl, is 0-2 against his former team. The Bears beat Tampa Bay when he was coaching the Buccaneers in 2014 at Soldier Field and in 2015 at Raymond James Stadium. Smith also coached Illinois to a loss against South Florida on the lakefront in 2018.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL