CHICAGO -- So much for the goodwill generated in Week 1.
Seven days after a competitive showing vs. Green Bay, the John Fox-led Bears regressed in a 48-23 loss to Arizona that exposed serious flaws in all three phases of the game.
On offense, Jimmy Clausen deserves some, but not all of the blame. Clausen struggled in relief of Jay Cutler (pulled hamstring), but why is Clausen throwing the football on three consecutive downs on first-and-10 from the Arizona 22-yard line? Why is he later throwing the ball on first and second down when Chicago had the ball inside the Cardinals’ 15-yard line?
So for the second straight game the Bears had questionable play calling inside the red zone. That is a stunner with such a respected coaching staff, led by Fox and Adam Gase.
Another surprise is the lack of discipline. The Bears tied a franchise record Sunday with 170 yards' worth of penalties on 14 infractions. That is the most penalty yards for any NFL team since the Houston Texans were penalized 177 yards in Week 14 of 2013.
“Downfield penalties were a huge problem -- 170 yards worth of them,” Fox said. “I think it’s something we need to improve obviously. If you look at that game statistically, it doesn’t speak to the score. I think kicking-game exchanges were a factor. But a lot of things we need to clean up and fix.”
Former special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis took a lot of heat last year despite being forced to coach up a ton of inexperienced players. Jeff Rodgers isn’t off to a much better start. Is there anything worse than special teams allowing a 108-yard kickoff return to begin a game?
However, the special-teams miscues pale in comparison to the problems Kyle Fuller experienced on Sunday.
The 2014 first-round pick has been a massive disappointment in the early going of Year 2. Not only did Fuller get penalized for a costly downfield pass-interference penalty that set up an Arizona score, he routinely got beaten by crafty veteran Larry Fitzgerald all afternoon.
Fox even benched Fuller late in the game in favor of Terrance Mitchell.
“Of course it’s tough,” Fuller said. “But you just have to go back to work. I still feel good. I know what we can do. We just have to go out there and do it.”
That’s easier said than done. The Bears have to travel to Seattle in Week 3, potentially without Cutler, to play in one of the most hostile stadiums in the NFL.
Another blowout defeat would make the Bears virtually irrelevant in Chicago by October.
Jared Allen, who is near the end of his career, desperately wants to avoid that.
“It’s frustrating,” Allen said. “Eventually you have to make the decision that you’re tired of losing and you’re just not going to accept it. It’s frustrating. It’s disheartening and needs to be corrected.”