The Bears sit at 2-3 after the loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, third place in the division. But I have to admit that I stayed glued to the TV the entire time. When I look back at the entire regular season so far, all the games have been close. The offense has been very difficult to watch at times, but zooming out, looking at the big picture, the Bears have hung with all their opponents so far this year. The Green Bay game was the largest deficit, 17 points, but with a better spot for Justin Fields QB keeper at the goal line, that game could have turned out much differently.
In fact, the Bears played the Giants (12-20 loss) and the Vikings (22-29 loss) much better than the Packers. The Packers only scored 7 against the Vikings (lost by 14) and the Giants scored 27 on the Packers this week. As a young team, the Bears will make mistakes that lose games and that seems to be happening almost on a weekly basis (see Imhir Smith-Marsette stay in bounds for a couple more yards and then fumbling). Chicago is really just a couple of plays away from a 4-1 record. Looking at the schedule ahead, and the play of the Vikings and Packers, there is no reason the Bears can’t be competitive in the NFC North. Unlike last year, where games were completely unwatchable, the Bears are weirdly entertaining.
Last week, we set up certain goals for the Chicago Bears to hopefully push ourselves in the right direction. Let’s see how we did.
Justin Fields Continues to Look Better
Justin Fields continues to inch forward as a quarterback. The 71% completion rate, 15-21, was by far his most efficient game of the season. 208 yards passing was also a season high, breaking his season high from just last week. For the second week in a row, no interceptions and for the first time all year, no turnovers at all. More importantly, for the first time in four games, Fields had a passing touchdown. Sure, it was a little shuttle pass to Velus Jones, but the ball was thrown forward and it is not like Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have at least five of those a year. He could have had a second one to Darnell Mooney but let the ball go a half second too late and let the Vikings back in the play after Mooney had created some space. For the third game in a row, Fields rushed for around 50 yards (47, 52, 47 in the last three games) at about 6 to 7 yards a carry. If the passing volume could continue to increase, these are the kind of numbers that win ball games.
The main Achilles of the offense is the lack of touchdowns. Against the Vikings, the Bears scored two touchdowns for the second time this year. There continues to be an invisible barrier around the opponents 35-yard line that keeps the Bears to field goals. In many cases, just turning one of those field goals to a touchdown could turn a few of the Bears’ losses to wins.
How did Justin Fields do with his goals this week.
Goal 1: 30% conversion rate from the redzone.
Complete. The Bears don’t get to the redzone that often, but they scored both times they were there.
Goal 2: 2:1 Field goal to touchdown ration.
Complete. 3 Field goals and two touchdowns. All field goals were from 40 yards plus. When the Bears break that barrier, they got into the endzone.
Goal 3: 200 yards passing.
Complete 208 yards passing.
New Goals for Week 6: 225 yards passing and three offensive touchdowns.
Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet
Darnell Mooney’s catch will continue to be shown on highlight reels for the rest of the year, at least until he makes another amazing catch. However, his efficiency remained at 20%, 2 catches on 5 targets, and his yardage was down (52, which isn’t bad given 2 catches). There is just really no way he can get to WR1 type of numbers with the volume of passing the Bears execute.
Cole Kmet had a very solid day with four catches on four targets for 45 yards. Solid tight end numbers and probably the floor of where we would like him to be. If Kmet would have 50 yards receiving a game, the Bears offense will continue to move the chains and increase their third down conversion rate.
Last week’s goals:
Goal 4: 6 receivers with a reception.
Complete. David Montgomery, Mooney, Kmet, Equanimeous St. Brown, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Velus Jones, and Ryan Griffin all had a catch.
Goal 5. Cole Kmet touchdown.
Incomplete. Not just yet.
Goal 6: Mooney with five receptions.
Incomplete. With the low volume of targets it is hard to see how Mooney can get this many receptions. However, Mooney is seeing around 20% of Fields’ target share which is WR1 territory.
New Goals for Week 6: A WR or TE with four catches; someone with 100 yards receiving, Kmet touchdown.
Run Bears Run
The Bears had their first clunker in their run game. Montgomery averaged 1.7 yards a carry which turned into 20 yards in total and Khalil Herbert averaged 2.8 yards which turned into 11 yards. With Montgomery back, he was potent as a receiver with 4 catches and 62 yards, which was a weapon we missed while he was out. It doesn’t really matter where the yards come from, receiving or passing, but this was a forgettable day for the Bears run offense.
Goal 7: One rushing touchdown.
Complete. Montgomery got into the endzone.
New Goals for Week 6: 150 yards form scrimmage for the Bears running backs.
Run Opponents Run
Dalvin Cook ran for 94 yards with a 5.2 average, but it really wasn’t the blood bath that the Bears’ rushing defense has allowed the last several weeks. Justin Jefferson torched the Bears for 12 catches and 154 yards, even when he was triple covered. But most of the damage that Cousins and Jefferson inflicted was in the first quarter, definitely the first half, and the Bears defense clamped down in the second half as they typically do. The Vikings only scored eight points in the second half (a drive that took 17 plays and 7 minutes off the clock). The field goal that brought the game into winning distance was off a Kindle Vildor interception. The tackling was much better. Lead tacklers consistently held up ball carriers until help arrived. Eddie Jackson, Jaylon Jones, Kyler Gordon, Nicholas Morrow, and Roquan Smith all had 8 or more tackles.
Goal 8: Give up less than 150 yards rushing.
Complete. Cook and Alexander Mattison combined for 113 yards.
Goal 9: 2 sacks.
Incomplete. Justin Jones had the lone sack.
Goals for Week 6: Commanders with less than 150 yards rushing; two sacks; two turnovers.
The Bears are close. I am not sure if they are going to the Super Bowl but given their schedule and their week-by-week improvements, there is no reason they can’t be competitive in the NFC North. There are certain offensive benchmarks for a team to be successful. Certain amount of passing attempts, completion percentage, yards from scrimmage, third down conversions, redzone conversions and others. The Bears are not hitting those metrics, somewhat due to a lack of sheer number of offensive plays. The Bears have the playmakers, they need to turn up the volume, literally.