Jared Goff had maybe the worst game of his career on Sunday night against the Bears, putting up just 180 passing yards on 44 attempts and tossing three non–Hail Mary interceptions and zero touchdowns in L.A.’s 15-6 loss. For a Rams team that had scored at least 29 points in each of its past six games, including 54 against the Chiefs a few weeks ago on Monday Night Football, the complete stifling of the offense by Chicago was a bit of a wake-up call, and definitely raises some questions about a group that had mostly looked to be in cruise control heading into the postseason.
A certain amount of destruction by Chicago’s pass rush was not unexpected, given what we’ve seen from them already this season. But from beginning to end, the Bears controlled the game in a way that few defensive units ever do, inflicting massive humiliation on an offense that’s normally incredibly effective. For starters, here’s Khalil Mack doing what he does and just fucking shit up to force a field goal on the Rams’ opening drive.
While the Bears’ defensive line looked appropriately fearsome throughout the night, the numbers themselves don’t quite do the dominance justice. Throughout this season, Goff’s average time to throw has been 2.97 seconds, among the best in the league, and bizarrely, that’s exactly the average amount of time he got on his throws against the Bears. The Rams are also one of the better teams at protecting the QB from getting hit, only allowing 60 in 14 games this season. The Bears got an above-average seven QB hits on Sunday, but it’s not like the Rams’ O-Line entirely laid an egg.
What’s especially amazing about Chicago’s performance on Sunday was how the Bears were able to consistently get big defensive plays by using four-man rushes that still overwhelmed the Rams’ protection. Here’s a play where Goff had plenty of time but threw a pick because he was bumped by the shrinking pocket as he throws:
According to numbers from Pro Football Focus, Goff had 48 dropbacks and was pressured on 25 of them, but the Bears only blitzed nine times. In total this year, the Bears have blitzed on 21.1 percent of snaps, which puts them in the bottom third of the league. However, their 40 sacks on the year—to use one measure of success—is tied for fourth-best in the NFL. This is a quartet that cannot be contained.
What you’ll notice on most of these plays is that Goff ostensibly has a chance to complete a pass with the time he has in the pocket. But with the front four allowing the Bears the luxury of seven players in pass protection, he’s stuck holding the ball when the pocket finally does collapse. Goff had at least four seconds to get rid of the ball on this crucial fourth down, but couldn’t find anywhere to put it:
And on this game-ending pick, the Rams didn’t have an answer for the Bears despite a two-man advantage in the trenches:
Goff was optimistic in the postgame (as he should be as the quarterback of an 11-2 team), noting that previous offensive performances may have raised expectations to unrealistic levels, and the team has bounced back from bad games against NFC North squads before. But on the other hand, even if they likely won’t get home-field advantage in the playoffs against the Saints or the Rams, the Bears announced themselves on Sunday as a team that can disrupt even the best of NFL offenses, and showed how they can win big games comfortably even when their own offense isn’t up to par.
There remain plenty of reasons for the Rams not to panic, however. Goff gets the gift of facing the broken Eagles secondary next week, followed by the Cardinals and the 49ers to end the season. That should be all he needs to get back on track.