Andy Dalton threw just two passes that traveled more than 10 yards through the air, and the Bears averaged just 7.4 yards per completion.
The Bears loaded their wide receiver room with as much speed as they could find, even picking up Lions castoff Breshad Perriman right before the season started, only to dink and dunk against the Rams in a 34-14 loss.
It wasn’t a fun game to watch or play.
Quarterback Andy Dalton threw just two passes that traveled more than 10 yards through the air — one was incomplete, the other intercepted in the end zone — and he finished 27 of 38 for 206 yards with no touchdowns for a 72.9 passer rating.
Everything in coach Matt Nagy’s game plan was geared toward getting the ball out quickly, often on screen passes and short slants, out of concern about Aaron Donald and the Rams’ pass rush, as well as doubts about how well the Bears’ offensive line would hold up.
Dalton threw the ball in an average of 2.1 seconds in the first half. That strategy was mostly effective in keeping the Rams out of the pocket, but made the night very easy for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who had nine tackles, including two for loss, and a pass breakup.
“He’s a unique player, all-pro, Pro Bowler, instinctive,” Bears wide receiver Marquise Goodwin said. “Especially in short spaces and [with] us not running past 10 yards, that fell right into his hand, I feel like.”
Goodwin, the fastest player on the roster, led the team with 45 yards on four catches. Allen Robinson averaged just 5.8 yards per catch, and Darnell Mooney averaged 5.2.
Nagy pointed back to Donald’s impact Monday when asked why the passing attack was so limited.
“But it doesn’t mean that you can’t still get explosive [plays],” Nagy said. “That’s where we want to make sure that we are stretching the field vertically, and we weren’t able to get that as much. And we kinda knew going into it, it was gonna be one of those types of games.
“That’s just one of those deals where we want to, moving forward, try to do everything we can to keep defenses honest going downfield. But [it was] nothing to do with Andy as much as it was more of the scheme.”
Goodwin said he “got used the best way that Coach wanted to use me,” and while he stopped well short of directly criticizing Nagy, it was clear he’d like to get more downfield opportunities.
“It’s challenging, but you’ve just gotta work with what you’re getting,” he said. “I don’t control the plays that are called. I don’t control anything but just going out there and doing my job and I just do it the best that I know how: fast.”