LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos have a chance for a reprieve when they meet in a matchup of reeling and winless teams on Sunday.
The question is: Who is more tired of losing?
“You make excuses. You blame this, you blame that, you blame injury, you blame circumstance, you blame all these things," Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. "You can’t do that. You got to own up to what you’ve done. The circumstance is the circumstance. You’ve got to execute and do what you’re supposed to do. Do your job every single day. You never know when it’s right around the corner. That’s our attitude. We’re determined.”
The Bears (0-3) have lost 13 straight since a Monday night surprise at New England in Week 7 last season. They're coming off a 41-10 beating by Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs that capped a chaotic week.
Quarterback Justin Fields turned some heads with comments about his “robotic” play. He indicated the coaches might be feeding him too much information while also blaming himself for his struggles. Fields later said those comments were taken out of context.
The same day, defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned, saying he needed to “take care of my health and my family.”
The Bears could have rallied with an inspired performance at Kansas City. Instead, they fell behind 41-0.
Then again, things could have gone worse. Just look at the Broncos (0-3).
Denver got crushed 70-20 at Miami and allowed 726 yards of offense in the franchise’s second-worst blowout of the Super Bowl era, behind only a 51-0 loss to the Raiders in 1967. The Broncos lost their first two games against Las Vegas and Washington by a combined three points.
“The reality is we have a couple of games we felt like we should have won," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "That’s the truth. The last game we didn’t play our best but the reality is that we’ll get to go again on Sunday. We get to strap on our pads and do what we love to do and hopefully put on a show.”
This would be a good time for Fields to have a breakout performance.
He comes in with a 5-23 record as an NFL starter, and a 67.7 passer rating this season that ranks among the league's worst. He also has just 109 yards rushing after running for 1,143 last season. The Broncos rank last both in total defense and stopping the run.
Wilson is playing a lot better than last year, at least statistically, but the Broncos aren’t capitalizing on his rebound from a horrid 2022 season in which he threw for 16 touchdowns and 3,524 yards. This season, Wilson is on pace to throw for 34 TDs and a career-high 4,482 yards. But Wilson is just 4-14 in a Broncos uniform after compiling a record of 104-53-1 in Seattle.
“I think there’s some great things we’re doing but there are some things we’ve got to get better at,” Wilson said.
The Bears have a league-low one sack after finishing last in the NFL a year ago with 20. By contrast, the Pittsburgh Steelers lead the league with 13.
Though Mahomes had all the time he needed last week, the Bears insist the opportunities for sacks are there. They’re just not finishing plays.
“We have a lot of quarterback hits, a lot of quarterback hurries. We just have to finish and maximize on those opportunities and bringing the quarterback down,” defensive end Yannick Ngakoue said.
The Broncos have had 11, eight and 24 missed tackles in their losses, according to Pro Football Focus.
“It’s a will thing, you know guys in the NFL are good, so it’s not even just one-on-one tackling, it’s 11 guys getting there to where if one guy does miss, we’ve got three or four guys right behind him backing him up," linebacker Alex Singleton said.
Eberflus reiterated he plans to call defensive plays for the remainder of the season.
He's been doing it the past two games in the absence of Williams. Eberflus was Indianapolis' defensive coordinator prior to taking the Bears' head coaching job last year.
AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this report.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl