Bears Takeaways: Fields on Fire

Could the Bears be the most exciting team to watch right now? They are definitely in the top 5. For the second week in a row a Bears game had an over of 67 points. For the third week in a row, a Bears game had an over of 46. And an over of 46 in the last four of five games. High scoring games are fun, entertaining and exciting. Sunday’s loss to Miami came right down to the end to make it an actual thriller.

With how little the passing game has to do with the Bear’s offense, it is amazing that the game came down to a dropped pass and pass interference calls. I haven’t had to get angry at refs during a Bears game in years because it really doesn’t matter when you really don’t have a chance to win. Eddie Jackson’s 40+ yard pass interference (don’t get me started on how ludicrous it is to give a team 40 yards on a penalty but it happens all the time, even worse is when they get the ball on the 1) was not a penalty, he was going for the ball, he was turned toward the ball, and they bumped into each other in the air. Chase Claypool was completed wrapped up by the Miami defender on a non-call. One call led to a Miami touchdown, and one stole an opportunity for the Bears. 

As we have been saying the last few weeks, the Bears are just a couple of plays from winning these games. The conversation has switched from talking about an inept offense to a Swiss cheese defense.

And for my next trick, I’ll break an NFL record.

As far as mobility and quarterback rushing goes, Justin Fields has put himself in the category of Kyle Murray, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Lamar Jackson. The designed runs are a thing of beauty and his improvisations, especially on third down, are highlight reels every week. The Bears were 62% on third down and it seemed many times it was Fields getting there with his legs.  There is only one guy who has rushed for 178 yards in a regular season game and that is Justin Fields. Just three yards shy of Colin Kaepernick’s stat line in the playoffs. On the 61-yard touchdown run, he looked like a 230 pound Tyreek Hill he was moving so fast. According to NextGen Stats, Fields is tied with Travis Etienne with the most runs over 20 mph since Week 7.

Of course, the passing game could still use some fine tuning.  On the plus side, Fields approached 30 pass attempts (28) and he completed passes when he needed to, in the red zone, for three touchdowns. His 60% efficiency on pass attempts wasn’t bad and 7 yards per completion is OK. Especially in the first half, most passes were screens to the various receivers and running backs. Fields’ deep passes are still sailing on him and he seems to break them out at odd times (throwing for 40 yards on third and five doesn’t feel like the right decision).

Most importantly, when the Bears need to move the ball quickly – end of the half/end of the game – that is not something in the toolbox right now. To get quick, chunk, passing plays is not something that the offense is truly capable of just yet. But there is no reason it can’t happen. In fact, it will happen. Like everything with Fields this year (accuracy, red zone effectiveness, etc.), just give him a little time and he will figure it out along with Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy.

The Receivers

As usual, with only 17 completions no receiver is going to have a huge day but there were very good days. Darnell Mooney caught 7 of his 8 targets and a touchdown (which is another circus catch for Mooney). Only 43 yards (again, a lack of chunk plays), but a solid day. Cole Kmet caught 5 of 6 targets for 2 touchdowns and 41 yards. The last two weeks we have seen the Cole Kmet we have wanted all along. High volume, good safety valve, and a beast in the red zone. Kudos to Getsy and Kmet for making this happen.

Claypool caught his two screen passes and the other four targets were pretty far off the mark and he had a drop. You can see he is a tough receiver to bring down and demands help over the top from the safeties which should further benefit Mooney and Kmet.

Run Bears Run

The Bears were over 240 yards again this week (mostly Fields) which is some sort of rushing record not seen since the 1970’s Steelers. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert were basically shutout on Sunday, running for 36 (14 carries) and 23 yards (7 carries) respectively. As Miami was waiting for those players to run, it opened up the short passes for the Bears and, clearly, opened the lane for Fields. Montgomery only had one catch which isn’t what we want either.

Defensively Clutch

The defense continued on the same trend from the Dallas game in Week 8. Tua Tagovailoa sliced the Bears secondary for the entire game, same as Dak Prescott. Miami scored whenever they wanted, and I don’t think they punted until the fourth quarter. Miami scored 35 points in their first 7 possessions. In fairness, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle torch everyone. But, with no pass rush – the Bears had no sacks – and not much pressure, Tua averaged 14 yards a completion.

Miami was 50% on third down conversions which is about average for the Bears, and the Bears didn’t force any turnovers. However, when the Bears need some defensive play, they delivered. Miami did not score in the fourth quarter, giving the red hot offense a chance. The defense did have two turnovers on downs, especially late in the fourth quarter. If not for the dropped pass and the poor pass interference call, those stops might have given the Bears a good chance.

Right now, the defense will have to provide some creativity from a scheme perspective (which is supposed to be Head Coach Matt Eberflus’ expertise) to help control opponents’ passing strategies. The run defense wasn’t bad last week, giving up only 77 yards.

Bottom Line

The Bears have some relief coming up in the next couple of weeks with Detroit (who just beat the Packers) and Atlanta. The Jets are beatable, then again they just beat the Bills, and we get the Packers before our Week 14 bye week. This would be a good opportunity to beat Rodgers.

Author

  • Larry Goldman

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

Leave a Reply