On a dreary afternoon, after the Chicago Bears’ fifth consecutive loss, the vibe inside the visiting locker room at MetLife Stadium felt predictably glum. For starters, a 31-10 pummeling by the New York Jets triggered a different kind of disappointment within a last-place team that had lost eight times before Sunday.
“I thought we got our asses kicked, honestly,” tight end Cole Kmet said.
But there was much more to this latest dejection: the anguish that comes with watching team leaders fall by the wayside. Safety Eddie Jackson hobbled out of the locker room with a walking boot on his left foot. He was hurt in the second quarter, his foot giving out as he tried to cut on what turned out to be a 54-yard Jets touchdown pass.
Almost immediately, Jackson’s absence was felt.
“He’s a (bleeping) leader, bro,” defensive tackle Justin Jones said. “He’s a hell of a player. I hope he’s OK and I hope he can come back soon. Because we need him on defense. We really do.”
Added linebacker Nicholas Morrow: “It’s hard to replace a guy like that.”
In the third quarter, receiver Darnell Mooney exited with a left ankle injury, his day ending when Jets safety Jordan Whitehead landed on the back of his leg as Mooney engaged in a block during a David Montgomery run.
Mooney couldn’t put an ounce of weight on his leg as he was assisted to the locker room. His exit also hit teammates hard.
“It stinks,” quarterback Trevor Siemian said. “As a player, (losing him) is terrible. But if you’ve spent any time with Darnell, he’s one of the best dudes in our locker room. That’s the part of the game that stinks.”
Added Kmet: “You hate to see a guy like Moon go down. He’s just a bright, vibrant guy in the huddle and obviously a big playmaker. When you lose him, it’s tough for sure.”
From the look of things, it would be stunning if either Jackson or Mooney is available for next Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Until more is known about the specifics of either injury, the prospect of one or both players landing on injured reserve can’t be ruled out.
NFL Network reported Sunday night that Mooney likely will require season-ending surgery.
“When you lose the production of those guys, number one, that always hurts,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “But then also it’s the leadership part. Those guys have been great in the locker room. They’re great teammates.”
For the Bears, Sunday will go into the books as one of the worst days in a rough season. In addition to the injuries to Jackson and Mooney, right tackle Riley Reiff left with a shoulder issue and his replacement, Larry Borom, also was unable to finish because of an injury the team didn’t disclose. Reserve safety Dane Cruikshank suffered a hamstring injury.
Rookie defensive backfield starters Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker were inactive because of concussions suffered a week earlier in Atlanta. So, yes, the Bears were significantly short-handed in their attempt to sidestep a winless November.
About the only good to come out of Sunday was the team’s decision to keep starting quarterback Justin Fields inactive with a separated left shoulder. Fields, who wasn’t formally ruled out until 90 minutes before kickoff, never gained clearance to play from the Bears medical staff.
Even after that call was made and Siemian got the green light to start, he, too, had his own hard luck, straining an oblique muscle during pregame warmups.
Yep, you read that correctly. The backup quarterback strained an oblique — in warmups.
That triggered the Bears to announce that Nathan Peterman would start. Until Siemian received some pain-relieving aid, fought through his discomfort and got clearance to play less than 15 minutes before kickoff.
“Honestly, I’m more embarrassed,” Siemian said. “You’ve got a room full of guys in there playing in Week 12, going through hell, and I have a non-contact thing show up. Yeah, not ideal.”
As for Sunday’s game, the Bears’ fifth consecutive loss was their most lopsided this season, both in margin of defeat and competitive fight shown. Jets quarterback Mike White, making his first start of the year, threw for 315 yards with three touchdown passes and a 149.3 passer rating. At times he looked like Aaron Rodgers, operating calmly from the pocket, finding completions, then mixing in a flurry of timely big plays.
Garrett Wilson (five catches, 95 yards) caught two of White’s touchdown passes, the first after breaking free from a hold by Bears cornerback Kindle Vildor.
The Jets also got a 32-yard touchdown run from backup running back Ty Johnson that came with at least three Bears defenders — linebacker Jack Sanborn and safeties DeAndre Houston-Carson and Elijah Hicks — failing to finish fairly routine tackle attempts.
The Jets averaged 7.5 yards per play as the Bears defense failed to come up with a takeaway while producing only one sack.
“I know we probably had a lot of guys playing who were surprised to be in there,” Jones said. “But we have to make sure those guys are ready.”
Without Fields, meanwhile, the Bears offense lacked any significant pop. They scored 10 points on their first two possessions, then went scoreless for the final 44 minutes, 20 seconds.
The offense’s 292 total yards marked the fifth time this season that unit failed to reach 300. Over the final three quarters, the Bears managed only 156 yards and eight first downs.
Eberflus couldn’t even lean on his team’s competitive tenacity as a bright spot.
“No excuses, no explanations,” he said. “It just wasn’t good enough. I told the guys in the locker room, ‘We’re better than that.’”
Right now, though, the 3-9 Bears aren’t better than many teams. The only team with fewer wins is the 1-9-1 Houston Texans.
Still, five games remain. And with the losses and injuries piling up, the Bears have to find extra reserves to retain their focus and commitment through the finish line.
“It comes down to the individual,” Eberflus said. “We have men of character in that locker room. They’ve been battling the whole way. And we’re going to continue to rely on that for sure. And then it comes down to daily practice and daily habits. What are you doing every single day to get better?”
At this point, the Bears’ “get better” demands include a worrisome list of notable players working to recover from significant injuries.
Source: Berkshire mont
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