Bears News: Matt Eberflus: Turnovers were “the story of the day” in loss to Saints

Bears News: Matt Eberflus: Turnovers were “the story of the day” in loss to Saints

by - Correspondent -

NEW ORLEANS, LA - It’s hard to know what is more disappointing for fans - a loss where you were dominated, like the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, or a loss where you had numerous opportunities to win the game, but kept turning the ball over like the Bears most recent loss against the New Orleans Saints.

In total, the Bears had five turnovers, three of them coming in the fourth quarter. Even after the first four turnovers, Chicago had a chance to win the game following a doinked 47-yard field goal by the Saints. The fifth turnover is what sealed the deal.

Head coach Matt Eberflus attributed the loss to that turnover margin.

“The story of the day is just takeaways. It’s hard to win, the league’s pretty even in most spots, and it’s hard to win when you have minus five and again, that’s a whole team thing,” Eberflus said. “It’s us protecting it, us protecting the quarterback, us getting it on defense, and us doing a better job taking it away on (defense). So, that’s really where the story was.”

Three of those turnovers were a result of interceptions thrown by rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent. Bagent, who threw two interceptions in the loss to the Chargers, now has five interceptions over the last two games. New Orleans was playing in man coverage, and Bagent seemed to want to fit the ball in very tight windows.

That is part of what Eberflus says contributed to these turnovers.

“They played man coverage,” Eberflus said. “That’s what they do, they’re (in) tight coverage right there, and we were throwing it into tight windows, and we got to do a good job with our decision-making and accuracy, and that’s where it is.”

Still, there were a number of bright spots in Bagent’s performance. For starters, he had 70 rushing yards this game. In the previous three combined, he only had 27 rushing yards. In the first three quarters, the Bears were able to get the ball downfield. They also started fast on offense, allowing them to carry some momentum into the later quarters. Overall, the mistakes made in this game are learning opportunities for Bagent that he can build on going forward in his career.

“In terms of his operation, knowing the offense and operating the huddle, in and out of the huddle. For a guy to come in there as a rookie like that was pretty impressive, if you think about it,” Eberflus said. “I think he’s had really good moments in the starts that he’s had and he’s going to build off of it. He’s got to learn. The most important thing Tyson can do now … is to learn from his performance and to get better.”

D’Onta Foreman also had a good day running the ball with 20 carries for 83 yards. In total, the Bears had 156 rushing yards.

Running the ball has always been a staple of the Chicago Bears, and that is something that Eberflus is trying to get back to, as well as being dominant on defense.

“Running the ball was a big goal for us today, and I felt we accomplished that goal. Stopping the ball was also a big goal and I felt like we did that as well,” Eberflus said. “When you look at the third downs in the first half for the defense, it wasn’t good. We were five of six, didn’t do a good enough goal in that. But we came back in the second half, and they end up 7 of 14. But we did a good job with that, adjusting and the players did a good job of executing to give ourselves a chance to win in that situation.”

One thing that does not help running the ball - when one on your backs gets injured. Running back Khari Blasingame is in concussion protocol. While he is not one of the primary backs, he is yet another running back that has gotten injured this season for Chicago.

You could count quarterback Justin Fields in that category. He has shown that he is a dual-threat player who can cause a defense a lot of problems running the ball. Last season, he led the NFL in yards per attempt with 7.1. There seemed to be a clear effort this season to minimize Fields’s rushing attempts to prevent injuries. However, that does not appear to have worked.

The Bears have a quick turnaround going into their next game against the Carolina Panthers this Thursday (8:15 p.m./Prime Video). Thus, Fields is still a large question mark with a dislocated thumb for that game. If Fields is unable to play, Bagent will again be the starting quarterback. But, Fields’s status seems to have improved since he is now considered “day-to-day.”

Another injury concern for Thursday is rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson. Stevenson has started every game this season but sustained a “lower-leg injury” in this loss. Eberflus did not provide any more information beyond that.

One person not in question for Thursday is edge rusher Montez Sweat. Sweat, who just signed a four-year, $100 million-dollar contract extension, was limited in his snaps in this game as he has not had a lot of time to learn the playbook and the plays.

However, Eberflus says that when Sweat was on the field, he was doing some good things.

“I thought he had a couple good pressures there. He’s getting his feet wet, different style of defense, a little bit different terminology,” Eberflus said. “So for him to come in here and play that many plays, it was cool.”

Carolina has allowed 29 sacks so far this season. Thus, this should give Sweat and the rest of the Bears defense an opportunity to get more pressure on rookie quarterback Bryce Young and get back to being the Monsters of the Midway they once were.

One promising sign - the last time Chicago played on Thursday Night Football, they had five sacks, and that was without Sweat. Perhaps the Bears can have another electrifying Thursday Night Football performance.

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