THE DRIVE TO LV: Getting in the endzone a necessity for the Bears’ red zone offense

Bear Blitz

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JANUARY 03: Mitchell Trubisky #10 of the Chicago Bears calls out a formation against the Green Bay Packer defense at Soldier Field on January 03, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 35-16. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST – When it comes to playing a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, leaving points on the field isn’t an option.

The Bears did that over the course of four quarters on Sunday afternoon in their regular season finale. Three times they drove inside Green Bay’s 20-yard line after an opening drive touchdown, but each time had to settle for field goals.

While those 12 points left on the field wouldn’t have made up the final deficit (35-16), it would have allowed them to go blow-for-blow for 60 minutes with their rivals and NFC North champions.

It’s been a problem for the Bears all year, just another that the team has tried to fix through the year with varying success. In the 2020 regular season, the Bears have a 56.3% success rate on scoring touchdowns in the red zone, which is 23rd in the league.

Luckily, the team had a record season from kicker Cairo Santos, who has made a Bears’ record 26-straight kicks to get points in a number of the drives. He hit all three of the kicks to set the franchise mark against the Packers, but more was needed.

Matt Nagy knows this as his team now approaches their NFC Wild Card game against the second-seeded Saints late Sunday afternoon. New Orleans offense, despite injuries to some key players, is fifth in the NFL in points scored with 30 per game.

Drew Brees is healthy after suffering 11 broken ribs and a collapsed lung in November, 2019 offensive player of the year Michael Thomas is back after an ankle injury took him off the field most of the year. Alvin Kamara is expected to be activated in time for Sunday’s game as he works through NFL health protocols after testing to positive for COVID-19.

Getting field goals won’t cut it against that team, and Nagy knows it has to improve, or else the stay in the playoffs will be quick.

“You have these quarterbacks you’re going up against and these offenses that are producing a lot of points at a high rate, you have to be able to match that,” said Nagy when asked about the red zone offense. “With our offense, other than yesterday (Sunday), we’ve done a good job of building into an identity and scoring points.

“Again, the biggest thing yesterday, we just didn’t perform. Again, field goals aren’t going to win you games against the Packers.”

It won’t against the Saints, either.

See more on the Bears on the Chicago Football Special on Friday at 7 PM along with Chicago Football Weekly on Saturday at 6 PM on WGN-TV.

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