By Nate Johnson
Another slow start doomed the Chicago Bears as they fell to the Minnesota Vikings 38-17 on Sunday, their third straight loss.
Much like in the previous week’s meeting with Washington, Chicago allowed the Vikings to take their first possession straight down the field.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater capped the 93-yard drive by finding receiver Stefon Diggs for a touchdown that gave Minnesota a lead they would never relinquish.
“He didn’t do anything great,” linebacker Pernell McPhee said. “He just made a lot of crossing routes and completed passes and we really didn’t tackle good today. That made him look really good. But he’s a good quarterback. He’s still learning. But I don’t think he just went out there and was slinging the ball across the field.”
“We just didn’t execute,” said coach John Fox. “Obviously, [when] you have one of their leading receivers kind of going unnoticed across the whole field, it’s not by design. There were a number of those types of plays today where we didn’t execute very well defensively.”
While Bridgewater played with surgical focus, completing 17 of his 20 pass attempts without a turnover and accounting for all five of the team’s touchdowns (four passing, one running), the same could not be said about Jay Cutler.
Cutler was sacked five times and turned the ball over twice (one fumble, one interception).
Cutler did throw for two touchdowns, hitting Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery for scores, but the offensive line struggled in protection and the running game was never really able to find their legs, amassing just 93 lines between Forte and Jeremy Langford.
Injuries have plagued the team on both sides of the ball this season and this week was no different. Linebacker Shea McClellin has to go through the NFL’s concussion protocol after exhibiting symptoms following Sunday’s game, and Jeffery was hampered by hamstring problems that held him to one catch on the afternoon.
“I’m not good at the blame game,” Fox said. “To me, it’s all of us. It’s coaching, it’s playing, it’s executing. Ultimately, we’re all in it together. I would say I’m disappointed in our record and kinda really leave it at that because that’s kinda what we’re measured on.”
“We played awful,” said guard Matt Slauson. “We didn’t execute. We’ve got to block. We’ve got to catch. We’ve got to run. We’ve got to throw. We can’t have penalties. It was just a bad day.”
“These are more like job interviews moving forward,” right tackle Kyle Long said after Sunday’s loss, “because it’s going to be a competitive place to keep a spot.”
The loss leaves the Bears at 5-9 and sets up the remaining two games as mostly exhibitions for players to make their case for a 2016 roster spot and possibly for members of the coaching staff to audition for spots higher up the ladder elsewhere.
Both of the team’s new coordinators, OC Adam Gase and DC Vic Fangio, have been rumored to be in high demand for head positions going into the coming offseason.
“As we’ve talked about our record, it’s disappointing,” Fox said Monday. “I think it’s disappointing probably to our fans. I know it is to us in this building, whether you’re a player or a coach or administrator.”
The Bears will travel to Tampa this week to face the 6-8 Buccaneers and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston (along with former coach Lovie Smith) before coming home to host the Detroit Lions in the season wrap on January 3.
Chicago promoted defensive tackle D’Anthony Smith from the practice squad Tuesday, waiving running back Antone Smith to make room. The former Jaguars and Seahawks player last played an NFL down in 2013.
The Bears also added cornerback De’Vante Bausby and defensive lineman Davon Coleman to the practice squad.