Bears host Texans in bid to snap 6-game skid
The result did little to stem the overall tide for Chicago, but the Bears found some needed glimmers of hope in their loss to the Detroit Lions last Sunday, baby steps that yielded optimism.
Chicago (5-7) will lug a debilitating, six-game losing skid into its inter-conference matchup with the Houston Texans (4-8) on Sunday at Soldier Field, a woeful streak that has thoroughly muted the enthusiasm that accompanied the Bears’ surprising and galvanizing 5-1 start to the season.
It is on the offensive side of the ball where the Bears have languished, with their inability to build momentum — first behind Mitch Trubisky, then with Nick Foles at the controls, and then back to Trubisky — central to most discussions of what ails Chicago. The Bears rank 28th in scoring offense with 246 points and 30th in offense at 312.3 yards per game, totals that underscore their issues.
But in their 34-30 setback to the Lions, Chicago not only matched its season-high point total, the 389 yards compiled were second only to the 437 yards the Bears amassed in their 30-26 Week 3 win at Atlanta.
For a unit looking for any way out of the doldrums, that effort marked a start.
“It’s growth for us, and I know as frustrating and as difficult as this season has been for us offensively, we felt like that game there was an identity,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “And when you have that it just builds a little bit of momentum. And to tell you the truth, the Green Bay game (a 41-25 loss in Week 12), even though we got behind so early, we still felt like with the run game early on, with being able to move the sticks … there were times in that game where we could feel it.
“We got some continuity on the O-line, and we had that O-line repeated last week. There’s some confidence on that side of the ball that maybe wasn’t there as much before. We want to keep that.”
The Texans are seeking the same continuity, albeit from a micro perspective.
With their receiving corps decimated by suspension (Will Fuller V), injury (Randall Cobb) and — in hindsight — the untimely release of Kenny Stills, Houston entered its AFC South game against the Indianapolis Colts deprived of complementary weapons for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Surprisingly, the Texans unearthed a pair of capable contributors in Keke Coutee, who was chained to the doghouse of deposed coach Bill O’Brien, and Chad Hansen, a midweek addition from the practice squad. Both recorded 100-yard games in the 26-20 loss to the Colts, providing the Texans reason to anticipate more of the same on Sunday.
“Any time somebody’s got to throw the ball, somebody’s got to catch the ball,” Texans interim coach Romeo Crennel said. “Then they have to be on the same page to find an open spot in the zone or somebody’s got to beat man-to-man coverage. The quarterback’s got to anticipate and then make the throw, so they have to work together to make it successful. Hopefully, that will continue.”
Said Watson: “Both of those guys have been improving. They’ve just been keeping their heads down and learning from all the older guys and then their opportunities came and they were ready for that. We’re going to continue to pass the ball and do what we do and try to get yards but try to get points on the board also.”
Coutee (knee) and WR Brandin Cooks (foot/neck) were limited in practice Wednesday. The Texans had four players who did not practice: TE Pharaoh Brown (concussion), CB Keion Crossen (foot), CB Phillip Gaines (knee/shoulder), and John Reid (neck).
Linebacker Khalil Mack (shoulder) was among seven Bears who didn’t practice Wednesday, though four were for rest or personal. Wide receiver Allen Robinson (knee) was limited.
–Field Level Media