The Seahawks host the Bears on Sunday at Lumen Field in a battle of 2020 playoff teams that have both endured disappointing seasons. While the Bears (4-10) have been eliminated from the playoffs, and the Seahawks (5-9) are ensured of their first losing season in a decade, both teams are still looking to finish the season on a high note over the next three weeks, starting with Sunday's game. To learn more about the Bears, Seahawks.com reached out to Kevin Fishbain, the Bears beat writer for the Athletic, with five questions about this week's opponent:
What has gone wrong this year for a Bears franchise that made the playoffs in two of the past three years to now be 4-10 having lost eight of their last nine games?
Fishbain: It starts with the offense, which has been an absolute mess. Justin Fields has had his rookie struggles to be sure, but the Bears have not been able to construct an offense that fits his skill set — and lack of experience — properly or consistently. When the run game has done well, the passing game can't pick it up. And the couple times the offense did figure things out (San Francisco, Pittsburgh), the defense let the Bears down. Injuries have hurt the defense, and teams have attacked the Bears' lack of depth at corner.
Clearly the season hasn't gone as well as the Bears or their fans would have hoped, but how much has the emergence of rookie quarterback Justin Fields helped create optimism for the future, or is there still any uncertainty about his status as the QB of the future?
Fishbain: There's certainly hope about Fields, but also some concern. It wouldn't be the first time the Bears drafted a quarterback who showed promise but didn't pan out. It's way too early to say that about Fields, but it's hard to ignore some of the numbers, especially the turnovers and the sacks, as well as the lack of production. This is different from 2014, the last time the Bears entered an offseason that seemed destined to have massive change, when the quarterback was Jay Cutler. Fields still has potential, but the excitement today is nowhere close to what it was on draft night.
Probably stating the obvious here, but how big of a factor have turnovers been for the Bears, who have committed 25 this season, including three or more in three straight games?
Fishbain: It's been a major problem, but almost more so on defense that they haven't been able to create takeaways. Turnovers on offense were to be expected with a rookie quarterback, a below-average offensive line and a system that hasn't produced points. The savior for the Bears has generally been the defense, and this one has only 12 takeaways this season.
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What player/position group needs to step up on Sunday for the Bears to get a win on the road?
Fishbain: The wide receivers and tight ends. As much as Fields has to keep working to elevate his game, the pass catchers didn't help him out enough against the Vikings with a few critical drops. The Seahawks have given up a lot of passing yards this season, so the Bears have to try and take advantage.
What are a couple of the matchups you're most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?
Fishbain: I'll be interested to see how the Bears handle DK Metcalf. If cornerback Jaylon Johnson is off the reserve/COVID-19 list, he'd be the obvious answer and could follow Metcalf. Last week, rookie Thomas Graham Jr. had an outstanding game in his NFL debut. Does he get another chance to start? The secondary has been a weak link, but it played inspired football last week against Justin Jefferson and the Vikings (well, except for losing him on a touchdown catch). I know there's no such thing as a quarterback vs. quarterback matchup, but I am interested to see how Fields handles the elements of playing in Seattle on the opposite sideline of someone he has looked up to and been compared to. Fields hasn't shown a ton this season to validate some of the Wilson comparisons, which we heard from Jimmy Graham, but maybe he can have a strong performance against a below-average Seahawks defense and give Bears fans hope that the Wilson comps aren't too far-fetched.
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Chicago Bears for Week 16 of the 2021 season, the 17th regular season meeting between the two teams. Take a look back at some of their previous matchups.