Chicago Bears: The good and the bad from the Arizona Cardinals loss

Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) runs with the football in the second half against Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery (32) runs with the football in the second half against Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bears had to play a near-perfect game if they hoped to pull off a shocking victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Like most games this season, the Bears did not even come close to anything resembling perfection against the team with the NFL’s best record.

Andy Dalton threw four interceptions as the Bears lost 33-22 to the Cardinals at Soldier Field. The Cardinals scored 24 points off of Dalton’s miscues.

Kyler Murray returned from his injury to throw two touchdown passes and he rushed for another two scores. DeAndre Hopkins also returned from injury to catch one of Murray’s touchdowns throws. Murray was efficient from his layoff, completing 11 of 15 passes for just 123 yards and rushing for 59 yards on 10 attempts.

Things are mostly bad for the Chicago Bears with a few weeks left to go.

The Chicago Bears have lost six of their last seven games and four-straight home games. In Matt Nagy’s first year as head coach in 2018, the Chicago Bears went 7-1 at home in the regular season. Over the last three seasons, the Chicago Bears are 9-13 at Soldier Field.

Even more stunning is the Chicago Bears are now 5-13 in games coming off a bye or an extended break.

The silver lining was the Chicago Bears were not expected to win this game. There were a few good performances but also one bad one to take a look at:

David Montgomery played great.

Montgomery was a beast. He ran for 90 yards on 21 carries. He also caught a team-high eight passes for 51 yards. He busted a nice 24-yard gain on the Chicago Bears’ first touchdown drive and then rewarded himself a few plays later by scoring the Bears’ first touchdown.

Despite missing four games with a knee injury, Montgomery has gained 566 yards on the season with a 4.2 yards per carry average. He ran particularly hard in the rainy conditions. He seemed to take the loss in stride.

The running back still would have rather not gained a yard and had a win:

"“I’ll be way more happy if I had 12 yards averaging 0.1 yards per carry [and] we got the win. I [couldn’t] care less about individual stats because the feeling that you get when you win is completely different than having good stats when you lose."

The Bears won the time of possession battle thanks in part to Montgomery’s running and play-making ability. He almost had another touchdown but was ruled down at the one-yard. The offense continued to have its struggles while the running back continued to shine. It harkens back to another era where a running back was the entire Chicago Bears’ offense.

Jakeem Grant was good on offense.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded a draft pick to the Miami Dolphins this season to acquire Jakeem Grant. He was brought in to return punts and kicks but lately, he has started to become an intriguing offensive weapon. He caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. His longest reception was 34 yards off a trick play.

He came up with a key fourth-down reception in the Chicago Bears’ first touchdown drive to keep the drive going.

He has been pressed into wide receiver duty because of injuries to Allen Robinson and Marquise Goodwin. He has done well enough to earn more looks over the rest of the season to see if he can contribute as a weapon long-term.

Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn played well on defense.

Roquan Smith continued to play at an all-pro level with eight tackles. He was playing on a bad hamstring but it still did not stop him from flying around all over the field making plays.

Robert Quinn resumed his comeback from his terrible 2020 campaign. He had a sack on the Cardinals’ opening drive along with a big tackle for loss on the Bears’ goal-line stance in the fourth quarter.

Andy Dalton was bad at quarterback.

The Red Rifle misfired badly. He was bad. There is no other way to put it. His four interceptions were pretty much game, set, and match.

You have to go back to Matt Barkley for the last time a Bears quarterback threw away a game with a bunch of interceptions.

His second interception was not his fault, though, as Cole Kmet dropped the pass. As he was going to the ground the ball popped up and into Budda Baker’s hands.

The other three picks were Dalton’s fault. On the first interception, he threw behind his target. On the third interception, Dalton threw too low which allowed the ball to be tipped at the line. His final interception came when Dalton tried to be too cute on a screen pass and threw it right to Zach Allan.

Dalton’s final line was completing 26 of 41 passes for 229 yards and along with a touchdown pass. He had a quarterback rating of 54.9.

Remember Bears fans, Dalton was Pace and Nagy’s solution to the quarterback problem coming into the season. This was before the Bears got lucky and had Justin Fields fall into their laps on draft day.

Even after trading up to get Fields, Nagy still thought Dalton gave the Bears the best chance to win. This game was Exhibit A. as evidence of how wrong Nagy was.

The narrative is the Bears gain yards with Dalton as the quarterback. Yet, Dalton did not attempt a pass beyond 20 yards.

The reality is the Bears do not score points with Dalton as the quarterback. This game’s 22 points were the most the Bears scored with Dalton under center. The only reason the Bears got to 22 was a late garbage-time touchdown. When the game mattered, the Bears scored 14.

The Bears have scored just 63 points in the 16 quarters Dalton has been under center. This was a loss that falls squarely on Dalton’s shoulders. He did his defense no favors.

The defense was not that bad despite giving up 33 points. The Cardinals only had 257 total yards. When they constantly had to play in their territory against Murray, preventing touchdowns was a tough ask of the Chicago Bears defense.

Fields is hopefully set to return from his rib injury for the Bears’ next game at Green Bay. Then Bears fans can be spared from hopefully never seeing Dalton play quarterback for Chicago again.

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