The Sun-Times’ weekly film review breaks down a rough day for Foles (with a bright spot that could indicate he’ll get better), a stagnant Anthony Miller and the pass rush going quiet on third downs.
New Bears starting quarterback Nick Foles was nowhere near the upgrade the team hoped he’d be — or that most of Chicago thought he’d be after lighting up the Falcons a week earlier — in its 19-11 loss to the Colts on Sunday.
Foles finished 27 of 42 for 249 yards with a touchdown and an interception. While that yardage total is actually decent by Bears standards, the 5.9 yards per attempt marked the 12th-lowest by one of their quarterbacks since Matt Nagy took over in 2018. Foles also has two of the worst completion percentages over the last three seasons at 55.2 against the Falcons and 61.9 on Sunday.
But there was a spark in the second quarter that was reason for optimism. Foles’ best stretch by far was leading a nine-play, 84-yard drive from his own 7-yard line to set the Bears up for a field goal.
He completed 5 of 6 passes, and all five completions were accurately thrown. His only miss, a big one, was throwing well behind tight end Demetrius Harris on third-and-5 at the Colts’ 9-yard line.
The most encouraging part of that drive for the Bears was Foles’ accuracy on deep balls. He opened with a 33-yard shot to Darnell Mooney down the left sideline on a pass that was placed right where Mooney could use his body to hold back Colts all-pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
One factor in the quarterback change was that Nagy grew tired of Mitch Trubisky not seeing or misfiring on opportunities down the field. Foles not only helped create a big play with a perfect throw to Mooney, but he quickly located Allen Robinson open over the middle for 27 yards on his next pass.
It was five beautiful minutes for Foles and the Bears. And that was pretty much it.
Aside from the early field-goal drive, Foles posted a 67.7 passer rating. Overall, film review showed 27 of his 42 passes were accurate after closing with eight consecutive good throws when the Colts were playing prevent defense. His last pass was a touchdown pass to Allen Robinson that cut the Colts’ lead to 19-9, and Nagy was not impressed by that drive.
“Getting a free touchdown at the end of the half [when the Colts are playing] Cover 2 the whole way down the field is not enough,” he said.
Nagy made similar comments about Trubisky leading late drives against the Saints last season to make a 36-10 game look slightly better with a 36-25 final score. He called it “garbage time” and said essentially those stats didn’t count. So at least he’s being fair.
While Foles’ comeback against the Falcons was a revelation, the way he played against the Colts was a continuation of the performance that got Trubisky benched. Foles’ 64% throwing accuracy was barely better than Trubisky’s 61% through three games. Both quarterbacks have completed 59% of their passes, and Foles has averaged 6.2 yards per attempt compared to Trubisky’s 6.5.
Blame game on interception
The most brutal sequence for the Bears was Foles’ interception at the Colts’ 7-yard line early in the fourth quarter, followed by the Colts draining 7:12 on a 66-yard drive for a field goal. Instead of the Bears cutting the deficit to 16-10 with plenty of time left, they got the ball back down 19-3 with 3:47 remaining.
The interception came on a throw across the middle to Anthony Miller for about 20 yards, and it’s in dispute whether Foles threw a bad pass or an NFL receiver should make that play. Robinson, for example, probably would’ve caught it.
“I’ve got to be more accurate,” Foles said. “I’ve got to help him out. I was trying to lead him out of the break to have him split the safeties, and it was probably about 6 inches too far.”
Any quarterback would say that, regardless of whether it was the receiver’s fault, but Nagy agreed that the pass was “just a little bit off.”
That said, Miller isn’t totally blameless. This wasn’t a case of barely being able to get a finger on a high throw; the ball appeared to hit Miller’s hands.
The Colts game, by the way, was the third in a row that fifth-round pick Darnell Mooney played more than Miller. His playing time has dipped from 64% of the snaps last season to 52% in this one. Coaches play the players they trust.
And quarterbacks throw to them. Foles targeted Mooney nine times versus just five for Miller. For the season Mooney has caught 13 of 20 targets, while Miller has just 9 of 19. Their production is similar with Mooney putting up 145 yards and a touchdown and Miller going for 133 and two scores.
The Bears’ pass rush absolutely wiped out third downs against the Falcons in Week 3, holding Matt Ryan to 3-for-9 passing and sacking him twice. That’s masterful work.
They weren’t nearly as effective against Philip Rivers as the Colts converted 9 of 19 third downs and cleaned up one of their shortfalls with a fourth-down conversion. Rivers completed 9 of 14 passes for 118 yards (a 114.6 passer rating) and was sacked once. The Bears put significant pressure on him on just half those plays.