Oct 1, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell (14) throws a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Young quarterbacks guide hungry Bears, Commanders into battle

Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell enters Thursday’s visit from the Bears with five career starts, 24 fewer than Chicago counterpart Justin Fields.

On the surface, that appears to be a considerable gulf. Hearing Howell’s teammates discuss his maturity, though, suggests that he can measure up when the teams meet in Landover, Md., in Week 5.

Howell exhibited expert decision-making in Sunday’s 34-31 overtime loss at Philadelphia, going 29-for-41 passing for 290 yards and a touchdown to Jahan Dotson on the final play of regulation. It was a notable turnaround from a four-interception effort in a lopsided loss to Buffalo in Week 3.

Make no mistake, making adjustments remains Howell’s mantra.

“That’s what he does, honestly,” Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “Because he’s such a student of the game, he’s a quick learner. He learns from his mistakes … It’s really cool to see his maturation process game after game.”

Washington (2-2) and Chicago (0-4) are both in desperate need of a feel-good victory. That goes double — or arguably greater — for the Bears, who squandered a 21-point lead on the way to a 31-28 home loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Chicago has lost 14 straight games dating back to Week 8 of last season, allowing at least 25 points each time.

The bright side? Fields enjoyed his best statistical showing of the season against Denver, passing for a career-best 335 yards and four scores while completing 28 of 35 passes, including his first 16.

A fourth-quarter strip sack of Fields produced the game-tying touchdown, however, and Fields was intercepted on the team’s final possession.

“To be honest, I’d rather throw for 50 yards with three picks and we still win the game than what happened this past Sunday,” Fields said. “At this point, winning is just the No. 1 thing on my mind, so I’d rather do that than accomplish any individual goal or individual statistic that there is. I’m just trying to get a dub.”

Winless since Oct. 24, 2022, the Bears will aim for their first victory with a banged-up secondary. Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) and Eddie Jackson (foot) didn’t participate in early-week practices. However, Jackson said, “I’m feeling a lot better,” and his plan is to return against Washington.

Dotson (ankle) and fellow wide receiver Curtis Samuel (quad) were among four Commanders players limited at Tuesday’s practice.

McLaurin was the Commanders’ top target in Philadelphia with eight catches for 86 yards.

DJ Moore caught eight passes for 131 yards and a touchdown for Chicago, while Cole Kmet had seven receptions for 85 yards and two scores.

Wideout Chase Claypool won’t travel with the Bears, missing his second straight game. After telling reporters during the week of the Broncos game that he wasn’t being put to optimal use, the team again asked Claypool to stay home.

The Commanders edged the Bears 12-7 in Week 6 of last season, a Thursday night game played in Chicago.

Brian Robinson Jr. scored on a 1-yard run with 7:21 remaining to capitalize on a turnover two plays earlier, and Joey Slye connected on two field goals for Washington.

A 39-yard Fields run put the Bears at the Washington 5 late in the contest, but Chicago was unable to score a game-winning touchdown. A fourth-and-goal completion to Darnell Mooney was inches short of the goal line in the closing seconds.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos charge back to hand Bears 14th straight loss

Wil Lutz converted a 51-yard field goal with 1:46 left to cap the Denver Broncos’ comeback from a 21-point third-quarter deficit, edging the host Chicago Bears 31-28 Sunday in a battle of previously winless teams.

In earning Sean Payton his first win as their coach, the Broncos scored 24 unanswered points to end the game. They tied the score at 28 with 6:55 left when Jonathon Cooper scooped up a fumble by Justin Fields and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

That was the first of three big plays for a defense that allowed 70 points last week in a 50-point loss at Miami. The Broncos stopped Khalil Herbert for no gain on fourth-and-1 at the Denver 18 with 2:52 left and then sealed the outcome when Kareem Jackson picked off Fields at the Broncos’ 36 with 32 seconds remaining.

Russell Wilson completed 21 of 28 passes for 223 yards and three scores for Denver (1-3). He connected on a 48-yard pass to Marvin Mims Jr. that set up Lutz’s go-ahead kick.

The Bears (0-4) wasted a big day from Fields, who was 28-of-35 for 335 yards and four touchdowns. They lost their 14th straight game dating to October 2022.

Denver struck first with Wilson’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Jaleel McLaughlin at the 5:08 mark of the first quarter, capping an 84-yard drive that used up more than six minutes. The rest of the half’s remainder was all Chicago.

Fields tied the game on the first play of the second quarter, finding DJ Moore for a 29-yard strike. He then cashed in a short field by hitting Cole Kmet on a 22-yard touchdown pass with 11:44 left in the half. The margin grew to 21-7 when he found Kmet again on a 3-yard scoring strike with 6:08 remaining.

The Bears upped their lead to 28-7 with a drive of nearly 9 1/2 minutes on their first possession of the third quarter, Fields throwing to Khalil Herbert for a 2-yard touchdown.

Denver started its rally on its next drive as Brandon Johnson caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Wilson. The quarterback hit Courtland Sutton for a 13-yard TD strike early in the fourth quarter.

Herbert rushed for 103 yards on 18 carries for Chicago and Moore finished with eight receptions for 131 yards in defeat.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool (10) warms up against the Kansas City Chiefs prior to a game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bears WR Chase Claypool inactive vs. Broncos

Chicago Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool was made a healthy scratch prior to Sunday’s game against the visiting Denver Broncos.

The move comes on the heels of Claypool venting his frustration with how he is being used in the offense.

Claypool, acquired in a trade last November with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has just four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown in three games this season. He is playing in the final season of his rookie contract.

The 2020 second-round pick has 171 catches for 2,235 yards and 13 touchdowns in 49 games (32 starts) with the Steelers and Bears.

Bears wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was listed as active for the first time this season.

In addition to Claypool, the Bears (0-3) made the following players inactive for Sunday’s game: running back D’Onta Foreman, defensive backs Eddie Jackson and Jaylon Johnson and quarterback Nathan Peterman.

As for the Broncos (0-3), safeties Justin Simmons and JL Skinner, linebackers Frank Clark and Josey Jewell, defensive end Ronnie Perkins, defensive tackle Mike Purcell and center Alex Forsyth were ruled inactive.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Joshua Williams (2) celebrates with quarterback Justin Fields (1) after scoring against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bears, Broncos clash hoping to end early-season struggles

The Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos are tied for the fewest victories in the NFL since Week 14 of the 2021 season, as each team has won just five of their last 24 regular-season games.

On Sunday, the Bears will host the Broncos for a chance to come at least temporarily unshackled from that prolonged futility.

Many oddsmakers are giving Denver (0-3) the nod despite the Bears’ home-field advantage and the recency of the Broncos’ 70-20 road loss to Miami in Week 3. At any rate, both sides are struggling and are in dire need of a victory.

For one, Chicago (0-3) has lost 13 straight games dating back to last season, surrendering at least 25 points in each contest.

“That’s where we’re talking about the fight, right?” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “There’s going to be a moment in the game in the second half that we got to do it, right? And we’ve got to pull together and get that done. It’s going to be done through execution.”

Broncos coach Sean Payton delivered a similar message to his players.

“You’ve got to work your way out of this, and it starts with getting the first win,” Payton said. “The next week can’t come quick enough.”

Chicago is coming off a 41-10 loss at Kansas City that saw quarterback Justin Fields and the offense continue to sputter. The Bears trailed by 41 before they cracked the scoreboard in the fourth quarter as Fields struggled again in his development as a pocket passer.

He finished 11-for-22 for 99 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and his dual-threat ability didn’t feature.

Subtract a 17-yard scramble, and Fields gained 30 yards on 10 carries. Many of them were necessitated by a banged-up offensive line’s struggles to protect him.

Denver lost its first two games of the season — home matchups against the Raiders and Commanders — by a combined three points before ultimately allowing the second-most points by a team in NFL history. Washington put up 72 points in a win over the Giants in 1966.

“It definitely feels bigger than one game,” Broncos safety Kareem Jackson said. “Any time you lose the way we lost (Sunday), (expletive) is embarrassing. Absolutely embarrassing. … We didn’t do anything we put in place.”

Compared to the Bears, however, the Broncos at least moved the ball. Russell Wilson passed for 306 yards with a touchdown and an interception and has eclipsed the 300-yard mark in back-to-back games.

The Bears’ banged up secondary is preparing to face a Denver receiving corps led by Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, who both had at least five catches for 81 yards last week.

Chicago defensive backs Josh Blackwell (hamstring), Eddie Jackson (foot) and Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday.

The Bears will be looking to apply more pressure to opposing quarterbacks, as they have only one sack through the first three games.

“We’ve gotten home some and we’ve missed some sacks in the pocket,” Eberflus said. “We have to do a better job with that, making sure we do a good job of getting the guys down when we do have pressure.”

Eberflus confirmed that he will call defensive plays for the rest of the season. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned on Sept. 20.

Linebackers Frank Clark and Josey Jewell didn’t practice for Denver on Wednesday due to hip injuries. Nose tackle Mike Purcell (ribs) was also out, while Jeudy (knee) was limited.

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus watches play against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bears HC Matt Eberflus to call defensive plays rest of season

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus announced Wednesday that he’ll remain the team’s defensive play-caller for the rest of the season.

Eberflus has bore the responsibility the past two weeks, first with ex-defensive coordinator Alan Williams out for “personal reasons” and then this past Sunday in the aftermath of Williams’ resignation last week.

“We’ve talked about different things but that’s the plan right now,” Eberflus said Wednesday.

Through three games, the Bears (0-3) are allowing 35.3 points and 407.3 yards per game. They have just one sack. They are mired in a 13-game losing streak dating back to last season.

The Bears play the equally woeful Denver Broncos (0-3) on Sunday.

Williams resigned last week, citing health and family as the reasons. However, ESPN reported over the weekend that “inappropriate activity” led to his resignation. It’s not clear what it was, though it wasn’t criminal, per the report.

Eberflus was the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts from 2018-21 before becoming the head coach of the Bears.

–Field Level Media

Aug 11, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams (33) walks onto the field before a preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Bears sign CB Joejuan Williams

The Chicago Bears signed cornerback Joejuan Williams off Minnesota’s practice squad on Wednesday.

Williams, 25, was a second-round pick by New England in 2019 and played in 36 games (one start) for the Patriots from 2019-21. He recorded 44 tackles and eight passes defensed.

Williams missed the entire 2022 season with a shoulder injury and signed as a free agent with the Vikings in April.

Members of the winless Bears’ banged-up secondary include cornerbacks Kyler Gordon (injured reserve, hand), Jaylon Johnson (hamstring) and Tyrique Stevenson (concussion).

–Field Level Media

Sep 24, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon (1) celebrates after scoring against the Chicago Bears during the first half at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs crush Bears 41-10

Patrick Mahomes passed for 272 yards and three touchdowns and Isiah Pacheco rushed for 62 yards and a score as the host Kansas City Chiefs routed the skidding Chicago Bears 41-10 on Sunday.

Kansas City (2-1) scored the first 41 points of the game. Mahomes led the way, going 24-of-33 passing while hooking up with Jerick McKinnon for two touchdowns.

Chicago (0-3) has lost 13 in a row dating to last season, yielding at least 25 points in each game.

Mahomes tweaked his ankle late in the first half but appeared to be all right as he returned for the third quarter. Blaine Gabbert entered in relief with the Chiefs leading 41-0 late in the third quarter.

Chicago intercepted Gabbert twice. The Bears avoided a shutout when Cairo Santos made a 21-yard field goal with 13:34 to go. Fields found DJ Moore for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 4:20 left.

Justin Fields was 11-for-22 passing for 99 yards with a touchdown and interception. Fields also was the team’s leading rusher with 47 yards.

The Chiefs’ Travis Kelce had seven catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Kansas City rolled to a 34-0 halftime lead, outgaining Chicago 312-85 in the first 30 minutes. The Chiefs had 22 first downs in the first half compared to four for Chicago, which ran just four plays in Kansas City territory over that span.

After punting the ball away on their first drive, the Chiefs scored on their next six possessions before halftime while nearly eclipsing their combined point production from the first two games of the season — 37.

Kansas City’s surge included the team’s first first-quarter points of the season. The first scoring connection between Mahomes and McKinnon capped a six-play, 59-yard touchdown drive.

Mistakes and missed execution from the Bears helped the Chiefs collect 13 points in the final 1:51 of the second quarter.

Chicago running back Khalil Herbert’s fumble led to a 41-yard Harrison Butker field goal. Fields was intercepted on the ensuing possession, one play after Moore dropped what would have been a long gain down the sideline. Kansas City took over at the Chicago 26-yard line and scored three plays later on Pacheco’s 1-yard TD run.

The Bears possessed the ball for just 31 seconds before punting again. Butker kicked a 38-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus was the defensive play-caller for the team for the second straight week. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned on Wednesday, citing health and family reasons.

–Field Level Media

Aug 26, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams on the sidelines during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Report: ‘Inappropriate activity’ led Bears DC to resign

Alan Williams left his job as Chicago Bears defensive coordinator in part because of “inappropriate activity,” ESPN reported Sunday.

Williams abruptly resigned Wednesday.

ESPN said there was no suspicion that he had committed a crime. Instead, the team’s human resources staff was involved in the issue.

Williams, 53, missed last week’s game at Tampa Bay for what the team said was personal reasons. On Wednesday, he issued a statement that said he was resigning to take “a step back to take care of my health and family.”

ESPN said a digital forensic search was done on the team’s behalf in conjunction with Williams’ resignation.

Head coach Matt Eberflus will call the plays on defense for the Bears (0-2), who play the Chiefs (1-1) in Kansas City on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles looks on before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Bears GM Ryan Poles: ‘No one is panicking’

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles presented a poised and unified picture of the franchise on Thursday less than 24 hours after a bizarre news cycle blended with rumors hinted at a complete unraveling of the 0-2 team.

“To hit it straight on, we have adversity right now,” Poles said of the state of the Bears, who visit the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

“To make it really, really clear, I know the outside noise — but no one in our building is panicking, no one is flinching at any situations. Not our owner, not our president, not our head coach, not myself. None of our players. Everyone’s focused on solving the issues that we have so that we can be a be a better team.”

Poles clarified those issues don’t involve any FBI search or operative stings, as was reported Wednesday before defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned citing “health and family” concerns.

“I don’t have many details to add there. Halas Hall being raided is completely false. Don’t know where that came from. We’ve worked with Kevin (Warren, team president) and George (McCaskey) and all our leadership to make sure we were handling it the right way, and everything concluded yesterday.”

Head coach Matt Eberflus, formerly defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts, will call defensive plays.

“Got a ton of faith in Flus. He’s a leader. He’s done a great job. And then as a defensive play-caller as well, got a ton of faith there,” Poles said.

There are obvious and undeniable concerns from Warren, Poles and Eberflus around the staggered start from quarterback Justin Fields and Chicago’s offense. The Bears have four turnovers and four touchdowns in two games, losses to the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which they were outscored 65-37.

Fields, asked Wednesday to explain his statement that he was thinking too much and needed to play free, said “it could be coaching.” He apologized to coaches when some media reports claimed he said only “coaching,” without what Fields felt was proper context. Fields then held a brief post-practice session with media at Halas Hall to further explain he wants the blame for “everything.”

Poles said at present, Fields is learning how to rely on the new level of talent around him — No. 1 wide receiver DJ Moore, for example — and letting go of his habit of making every play himself.

“Now he gets talent around him and has to figure and balance when to do those cool things athletically, when to lean on others,” Poles said. “And that is sometimes a gray place to live in, and that takes time.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) throws an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Bears visit Chiefs with plenty of problems to fix

Lacking the offensive explosiveness that has become their calling card, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs might be finding salve in the form of their schedule.

Kansas City will face the visiting Chicago Bears on Sunday in a matchup of the league’s top and bottom teams from a season ago.

What’s more, the Bears (0-2) are currently in turmoil following the midweek resignation of defensive coordinator Alan Williams and renewed unrest under center.

The Chiefs (1-1) hope to come untracked against Chicago after managing just 20 and 17 points in their first two games. The Bears have lost 12 games in a row dating back to last season while surrendering at least 25 points in each setback.

Kansas City defeated host Jacksonville 17-9 in Week 2 as the offense navigated around three early turnovers. Patrick Mahomes threw for two scores, with one going to tight end Travis Kelce, who missed the season opener with a knee injury.

“You play bad and win, it’s a lot better than playing bad and losing,” Mahomes said. “So I was glad we were able to find a way to get a win at the end of the day, but a lot of stuff that we have to be better at.”

Chicago drove for a touchdown on its opening possession last Sunday but was otherwise less than spectacular on offense during a 27-17 road loss to Tampa Bay.

Justin Fields, who is attempting to hone his pocket-passing ability this season, has been inconsistent. He has passed for 427 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, two of which have been returned for scores.

“I need to play better,” Fields said. “That’s it, point blank.”

Fields has also lost a fumble and been sacked 10 times. He’ll be behind a shuffling offensive line once more in Week 3, as the Bears placed left tackle Braxton Jones (neck) on injured reserve on Wednesday.

While the Bears’ offensive struggles remain well-documented, the defense is trying to find its footing, too.

Chicago enters Sunday with just one sack while allowing opponents to convert 54.8 percent of their third downs, the second-highest rate in the league.

There’s also the matter of Williams, who was away from the team in Week 2 due to personal reasons. Head coach Matt Eberflus called defensive plays against Tampa Bay and said before the franchise announced Williams’ resignation that he would be in line to do so again versus Kansas City.

Williams said in a statement that he was stepping aside to “take care of my health and my family.” A team spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that there had been no police activity related to Williams at the team’s practice facility.

Bears cornerback Josh Blackwell (hamstring) was limited at practice on Wednesday, while safety Eddie Jackson (foot) did not participate.

The Chiefs are hopeful their health can improve, too. Linebackers Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. didn’t practice on Wednesday as they are dealing with ankle and quad injuries, respectively. Running back Isiah Pacheco (hamstring) and receivers Kadarius Toney (toe) and Richie James (knee) were also non-participants.

Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed was limited due to a knee injury.

Kansas City coach Andy Reid said each player is day-to-day apart from James, who “might be a little longer.”

–Field Level Media