Bears Film Study: Did any backups excel against Jets?
SSome might say there was no useful information to be pulled from last Sunday's Bears loss to the New York Jets.
Those people are mostly correct, but let's take a look and see what we can find.
It was a good chance to evaluate backup quarterback Trevor Siemian, a relic of the days when Northwestern excelled at the position. The Bears annoucned Friday he'll miss the rest of the season with an oblique injury, so this was his chance to make an impression for next season.
There were actually a few things QB Justin Fields could learn from Siemian. On the Bears' first drive of the game, he showed some patience in the pocket and waited for RB Darrynton Evans to pop out of the line for an easy check down and 33-yard gain. Had the officials been less lenient with Jets cornerback's Sauce Gardner's grabby hands, that play might have set up a touchdown.
Should the Bears look for a backup QB with more running skills, to fit the mold set by Fields? Well, that's easier said than done. Siemian executed the bootleg pass a couple of times, so he can run this style of offense.
Siemian's best play was probably the touchdown pass to WR Byron Pringle.
No one was open on the play, but Siemian confidently sent the ball toward Pringle, who was basically operating in the same space as Jets defender D.J. Reed, but made the play. Siemian hit another tight-window pass to Pringle on the final drive, but threw his lone interception on the next play.
The pick wasn't a terrible decision. Jets linebacker C.J. Mosely made a nice play to jump in front of tight end Cole Kmet and the Bears seemed to have botched a route somewhere since Pringle was running at Kmet when the ball was in the air.
Siemian's worst play was the failed third-and-one in the second quarter. The Bears led 10-7 at the time, Evans had run for 9 yards on two carries, so this was a chance to sustain a drive and build some momentum. Siemian executed a nice QB sneak earlier in the game, but this time tried to bounce it outside and got buried. He should have at least slid behind offensive lineman Larry Borom and tried to push forward.
Overall, the Bears played fairly well in the first half, then seemed to get demoralized as the game went on, which is understandable. The lack of a pass rush, missing players and in-game injuries took a toll.
The momentum changed quickly after Siemian's failed third-and-1 run. The Bears made a coverage mistake on the Jets' third-and-2 play. Linebacker Jack Sanborn went for the play fake and approached RB Ty Johnson to make a tackle, then backed off. Jets QB Mike White dumped a pass to the wide-open Johnson for a 16-yard gain.
The next play was the 54-yard touchdown to wide receiver Garrett Wilson, which put the Jets ahead to stay. The Bears blitzed two linebackers but couldn't get home. Wilson put a nice juke on cornerback Kindle Vildor to get open, then had a clear path to the end zone when safety Eddie Jackson hit the turf with the noncontact leg injury.
Once the Bears had both rookie free agent cornerback Jaylon Jones and rookie seventh-round pick safety Elijah Hicks in the defensive backfield, the Jets put the game away.
Defensive tackle Armon Watts' first sack of the season was a pleasant surprise, but otherwise the Bears didn't get any pressure on White. That's obviously the No. 1 task for the offseason.
LB Nicholas Morrow continues to be a solid free-agent find for the Bears. He never started more than 11 games in four seasons with the Raiders, then missed all of 2021 with an injury. ... There were some coverage issues Sunday, but Jack Sanborn's 36 tackles in the last three games are impressive. Linebacker Roquan Smith had a three-game run of 37 tackles earlier this season. ... WR Velus Jones Jr. had a nice kickoff return in Atlanta, but looked like he didn't want the ball on the two jet sweeps that picked up just 6 yards against New York.