With the Chicago Bears losing a fourth consecutive game, it’s time to wrap up week nine and look ahead to week 10.
1) The Bears lost Justin Fields a very winnable game. 12 penalties isn’t going to help a team win a football game. The Bears are lucky to have scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and Fields heroics kept Chicago in the game. The 11th overall pick found a rhythm towards the end of the first half and never looked back.
2) Speaking of Fields, the Bears rookie had his best game as a starter in week nine. Going 17-for-29, averaging 10.0 yards per pass attempt, along with one touchdown doesn’t tell the full story of FIelds performance. Fields was sharp all evening, completing seven passes beyond 15 yards, including one touchdown.
3) Talk about needing a big game from pass catchers and the Bears delivered. Cole Kmet, Allen Robinson, and Darnell Mooney combined for 13 receptions for 196 total yards as the Bears averaged 17.1 yards per reception. Such a significant increase shows Fields is getting more comfortable with his playmakers as time progresses.
4) The Bears need to get Eddie Jackson back and healthy quickly. Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the secondary all evening. Two straight games without Jackson roaming the defensive backfield shows Jackson’s importance in coverage for an already weak secondary.
5) Something you can’t deny when looking back at Monday night’s Bears loss: Justin Fields, Khalil Herbert, and Larry Borom have become instant impact players. Another phenomenal job scouting talent by Ryan Pace and the front office. Pace’s knack for scouting and finding talent on day three of the NFL Draft is yet another reason the much-criticized general manager continues to be employed.
6) Louis Riddick summed up the Bears perfectly on Monday night as players met at midfield for postgame handshakes: “Matt Nagy and Justin Fields can walk out of here with their heads held high.” Riddick isn’t wrong. Fields progress was apparent and the McCaskey family is seeing the difference a good QB can make in games.
7) Let’s talk about Robert Quinn. Chicago is seeing some returns on Quinn, who’s a $70M investment but Quinn’s crucial offsides penalty on the Steelers’ final drive cost the Bears big time. Chicago can’t afford to lose any momentum in critical situations and Quinn shot the Bears in the foot twice in the fourth quarter. A second penalty was on a third-and-seven from the Steelers 41-yard line.
8) In his postgame presser, linebacker Roquan Smith said the defense let the offense down. Smith, who talks to the media after nearly game is conveying one message: The Bears defense didn’t get the job done on Monday but the offense did. Here’s the significance of such a comment: It’s the defense that lost the game, not the offense. The Bears offense is also on the rise and the defense sees that.
9) Let’s talk about the Bears newest running back duo: David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. With 17 total carries and 76 rushing yards, Nagy failed to figure out how to utilize both players effectively. The Steelers defense keyed in on both running backs all evening but with the identity of the Bears offense being the run, Chicago needs to feature more two-back sets with Montgomery and Herbert being mismatch weapons.
10) Let’s give some love to Cairo Santos. The Bears kicker has been automatic this season and has stabilized the position that was once the only weakness on the Bears roster back in 2019. Touchdowns should be the goal but field goals with a consistent kicker figure to get the job done at times too.
Bears Bye Week: What have we learned?
Through the first nine games of the Bears season, we’ve learned a lot about what to expect during the second half of the season. The Bears offense has developed an identity through the run game but the most significant change that defined the first half of the season was Nagy relinquishing playcalling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
Between weeks nine and 10, Chicago has started to develop more into a pass-first offense. Fields’ development as a passer has been noticeable, with the 11th overall pick processing quicker and completing short and intermediate throws. This comes as a result of improved decision-making and Fields’ willingness to take what the defense gives him.
What we’ve also learned is the Bears’ defense is significantly worse without star pass rusher Khalil Mack, who’s been nursing a foot injury over the last few weeks. While the Bears totaled four sacks in week nine, Mack’s presence would’ve slowed down the Steelers’ offense and forced Roethlisberger to get rid of the ball quicker.
Two objectives need to be accomplished during the bye week for Chicago: Getting healthy and then shuffling the offensive line while figuring out how to cater gameplans to further develop Fields. With eight games left, the Bears can still turn around a tumultuous season.