LAKE FOREST, Ill. — There was one thing that Justin Fields wanted to give to those around him and watching at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon — that was an apology.
The Bears quarterback offered that up towards the end of his news conference after a 38-20 drubbing at the hands of the rival Packers in front of a crowd that was just as frustrated as the players.
“I mean, it definitely hurts. Not only because it’s the first game of the season, it’s a loss, but it’s a loss to them. So, I want to say sorry to teammates, all the fans that were rooting for us,” said Fields. “Yeah, we’ll bounce back. We’ll be good.”
If there is some skepticism, it’s hard to blame after the first 60 minutes of the Bears season on Sunday. The passing game, led by Fields with coordinator Luke Getsy making the calls, couldn’t push the ball upfield as D.J. Moore was only targeted twice the entire afternoon, with the Bears getting 216 yards through the air.
Fields had a fumble along with a “pick six” late that sealed the Bears’ fate, as the performance and playcalling did little to make people feel better after passing improvement was an emphasis this offseason.
“I mean, yeah, it sucks. It sucks. Rivalry, week one, going against the Packers. It sucks. I mean,
nobody’s in good spirits,” said Fields when asked how deflating the loss is. “I mean, this one hurts. I’m not going to lie to you. So it definitely sucks. In the grand scheme of things, you have to look at the bigger picture. It’s week one. We have 16 games to go in the regular season.
“We have a lot of room to improve, a lot of room to grow. I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
While they held their own in the first half, the defense broke in the second as Jordan Love looked the part of a Packers’ quarterback against the Bears. He threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns, with Green Bay pulling away by as many as 24 points in the second half.
“Just a lot of mishaps,” said safety Eddie Jackson of the Bears’ defense’s performance where they surrendered 31 points and 329 yards. “Not being in our gap, giving up plays. I gave up a touchdown, got to keep my leverage, things like that.
“You just got to let this one soak in, as much as it hurts, as bad as it feels. There’s still 16 more games left, we can’t dwell on it, we’ve got 24 hours. Come in tomorrow, look at the film, and get the corrections in. Just have that on our mindset that we can never let this happen again.”
Like the offense, it wasn’t the best of signs even if it is just one game into the season, considering the investments made on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason.
“I think we have to get back to the drawing board,” said cornerback Jaylon Johnson. “We came out and weren’t who we thought we were and we have to go back and continue to get better.”
It won’t make people feel better at the moment as the Buccaneers await next Sunday in Tampa Bay with the Chiefs looming the next week. Head coach Matt Eberflus will move his team on after the loss to the Packers in the first of 17 games, even if that one stung a little more than the others.
“To play this game, you have to have passion and you have to have emotion. So, yeah, this hurts,” said Eberflus. “It’s an emotional thing. You got to have passion to do it the right way. We’ll take away the good things we did out there today and we’ll correct the ones we need to improve on.”
There’s a lot of that after a most difficult start to the 2023 season.