Bears Takeaways: Week 1 Thoughts and Musings

The Bears are in first place in the NFC North and the Green Bay Packers are in last place. It is a good day/good week all around. While the Bears put up a valiant fight in defeating the 49ers, Green Bay was absolutely destroyed by the Minnesota Vikings 23-7. Of course, last year, the Packers were blown out in Week 1 and won the NFC North. However, on September 13, the Bears are in first place and the Packers are not.

Yes, it was ugly weather in Chicago so there was sloppy field conditions and the slippery football made it difficult for both teams to execute their game plan.  However, we won and that is all that matters in the standings.

Here are my five big thoughts from the Bears performance in Week 1.

Justin Fields Didn’t Necessarily Win the Game, but He Definitely Didn’t Lose

As always, Justin Fields got off to a slow start which really needs to stop really soon.  Completing three passes for 19 yards in the first half, with no scores, is typically not going to get it done. He completed a fourth pass but that was to a 49ers player so doesn’t really count in his stats.

But in the second half, Fields did come alive with two touchdown passes and put his legs to work to generate almost 30 yards. In the end, Fields will go 8/17 for 127 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a pick. He took 2 sacks but used his legs to turn disaster into positive yardage plays. Fields isn’t winning anybody their Fantasy League with these numbers. He kept his composure and brought the Bears back in the second half for the win.

And it wasn’t the Darnell Mooney show. Both teams had trouble throwing and catching the ball and Mooney only had three targets and one catch. Instead, Dante Pettis and Equanimeous St. Brown each had one catch and one touchdown. Unfortunately, Cole Kmet had one target and zero catches. Not getting Kmet into the game is a big mistake.

The Bears Have Great Running Backs

David Montgomery is already a bona fide baller. Last year, Khalil Herbert definitely won our attention with some great games last year, but now he looks like a veteran ready to do damage. Ala Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, the Bears have some lightening and thunder of their own. In this specific situation, Khalil Herbert was more effective with the rain-soaked field as he simply ran over defenders or dragged them for extra yardage. He averaged five yards a carry for 45 yards and his touchdown was the dagger that had Bears fans celebrating and sending the 49ers to the locker room.

David Montgomery had a terrible day (17 carries for 26 yards – 1.5 per carry) but he stayed uninjured, unlike Elijah Mitchell on San Francisco, and will live to fight another day. He did lead the Bears in receptions with 3 and added 24 yards to his stat total. It would be nice to see Montgomery be a little more effective early in the season and not just when the Bears play the Lions.

No Hard Feelings with Roquan

Roquan Smith showed up to play football at a high level on Sunday. Amidst really tough contract negotiations over the summer that never finished successfully, Smith, like Lamar Jackson, put the nasty business behind him and started to play football. As always, Smith seemed to be in on every defensive play, he had .5 sacks, and lead the team in tackles. Playing with several new players, especially rookies, Smith looked like the two-time All-Pro general of a shutdown defense against the 49ers.

The Defense Was the Story and Will Be the Story

The defensive effort was extraordinary on a day where the weather was against everyone. With an opponent with an extremely athletic quarterback in Trey Lance and one of the most fearsome offensive players in the business in Deebo Samuel, the Bears defense pushed back and won the day.

Trey Lance was under 50% completions, 13/28 for a measly 164 yards and no touchdowns. Deebo was held to 2 receptions for 14 yards. Jauan Jennings led San Francisco with 62 yards receiving. The rushing game was a little more impactful against the Bears defense.  Trey Lance and Deebo had over 50 yards rushing and Deebo found the endzone. Mitchell had 40 yards before he left the game and Mitchell and Samuels averaged over 6.5 yards per carry. My guess is that rushing defense will be an agenda item in meetings this week.

But the takeaways, always the staple of a good Bears defense, won the day. Forcing a fumble on Samuels (recovered by Bears rookie Jaquan Brisker) in the red zone got the Bears out of a jam. Eddie Jackson’s interception, great start by the way for Eddie Jackson, resulted in Herbert’s touchdown which closed the door on San Francisco’s hopes. Due to the offensive woes in the first half, the defense constantly found themselves with a short field, but only gave up seven points in the half—and only three points in the second half.

Rookies, Rookies, and Rookies

Without adding too many impact players on defense through free agency, the Bears put much faith in their draft this year. For Week 1, the rookies show up in a big way. Just a few stats include:

  • Defensive End, Dominique Robinson had 1.5 sacks and 7 tackles.
  • Safety, Jaquan Brisker had the fumble recovery and a tackle for loss.
  • Cornerback, Kyler Gordon had six tackles, one for loss.
  • Left tackle Braxton Jones protected Justin Fields and didn’t give up a sack.

The Bears are in first place and in case there is a playoff tie with the 49ers, they own the tiebreaker. Enjoy this week while it lasts. On to Green Bay.

Author

  • Larry Goldman

    Larry spends his nights and days watching, researching, and writing about sports in Chicago and the national conversation.

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