LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears were riding high after a stunning win over San Francisco in a rain-soaked season opener at Soldier Field, only to be blown away again by Aaron Rodgers and the rival Green Bay Packers.
They will try to bounce back when Lovie Smith – their former coach – and the winless Houston Texans visit on Sunday.
Both teams have shown their frustration. The Bears (1-1) have some major issues in their running game, while the Texans (0-1-1) are simply looking for ways to win after completing the first two weeks.
Houston settled for a 20-20 tie in the opener against Indianapolis after blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Texans also led going into last week’s quarter against Denver, only to lose 16-9.
As frustrating as those two games were, the Texans see encouraging signs coming off a 4-13 season.
“Absolutely,” receiver Brandin Cooks said. “Like I said, I think early on we do a great job of moving the ball and getting those details right, so I’m definitely encouraging that aspect. It’s time for that next step take to be able to turn these Blades into W really is.”
The Bears lost their game in a 27-10 loss at Green Bay. But when it comes to passing, they are not getting much.
Justin Fields, in his second season, is 15 of 28 for 191 yards. He has the fewest attempts in the NFL among qualifiers. Dallas’ Dak Prescott has fewer completions and yards, and missed last week’s game after thumb surgery.
While Fields obviously wants to open up the running game more, he said his job is to execute the game plan.
“If our offensive coordinator thinks the plays he’s giving me are going to help us win games, that’s all I care about,” he said.
Smith had nothing good to say about his time in Chicago.
“Exactly. I get the opportunity to have my dream job here based on starting there,” he said. “Many times very big, we still have a house there, my friends. My wife is from Chicago. Everything positive, grateful for everything that happened there during my time there.”
Smith led the Bears to an 81-63 record and a Super Bowl appearance from 2004-12. He was fired after a 10 win season.
The Bears have just one winning record and two playoff appearances since letting him go. They are also on their fourth coach since then, with Matt Eberflus in his first season.
Bears receiver Darnell Mooney isn’t ready to panic about his slow start.
“It’s Week 2, so don’t worry too much,” he said. “The team believes in me. Players believe in me, so whenever I get my chance, I’ll take it.”
Mooney has just two receptions for 4 yards and has been targeted five times. It’s not what he or the Bears envisioned after he threw for 1,055 yards last season – his second.
Chicago also needs tight end Cole Kmet. He has zero receptions.
While the Texans struggled to finish, one player who had no problem doing so was rookie running back Dameon Pierce. Smith and Cooks were excited this week about the ability of the fourth-round pick to finish.
“We as a football team have to finish. I haven’t said much to Dameon,” Smith said. “He finishes plays … that intensity, that extra effort, all the things you talk about, that’s exactly what we see from him every time he gets the ball.”
Cooks added: “From the moment he walked into the building, that’s what he’s been up to. Even in practice finishing runs, even when it’s not touched, even when it’s tough out there. It’s a mindset.”
Pierce had 15 carries for 69 yards and was solid in pass protection a week after managing 33 yards on 11 carries in his NFL debut. His rushing yards last week were the most by a Houston rookie since 2017.
Chicago’s ground game started last week.
The Bears rushed for 180 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per attempt against Green Bay. David Montgomery played a big part in that with 122 yards on 15 rushes, after managing 26 yards on 17 carries in a rain-soaked season-opening win over San Francisco. Khalil Herbert threw 38 yards on four attempts.
The Texans are without center Justin Britt after he was placed on the non-football injured list this week. Britt started 11 games last season in his first year in Houston and started in the opener before leaving the team for personal reasons, Smith said.
Smith would not give any details about why Britt was out this week. Scott Quessenberry, who started against the Broncos, will fill in at center.
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