Chicago Bears: Week 11 takeaways, quick tidbits, and more

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Currently, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Chicago Bears now look ahead to week 12 for a Thanksgiving Day matchup against the Detroit Lions. But first, let’s recap week 11.

1) There are two players of the game in this one, both on defense. Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith kept the Bears in this one, especially with the defense missing Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Eddie Jackson. Props to Quinn for turning in such a monstrous performance with 3.5 sacks, five tackles, three TFL, and four QB hits. Smith had 17 tackles on the afternoon, the most by a Bears linebacker since 2009.

2) Regarding Justin Fields, who has bruised ribs, the Bears have a decision to make. If it were in Fields hands, he’d be dressing up on Thursday afternoon against the Lions. Ultimately, with seven games remaining, the Bears should play it safe with Fields and sit him in a meaningless game. Give the future of the franchise a little over 10 days to get right before the Arizona Cardinals come to town on December 5th. It’s better for the Bears to have Fields healthy for the final six games of the season, a stretch that includes playing the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Minnesota Vikings (twice).

3) The Bears got away from the running game early in this one and it showed. Khalil Herbert had just one carry for zero yards while David Montgomery had 14 carries for 58 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Keeping the ball out of the Ravens’ hand should’ve been a goal of the Bears but Chicago failed to do so consistently throughout the afternoon. The Bears coaching staff needs to realize that neither Fields nor Andy Dalton can fully the offense, which means knowing your limitations of what skill position players can and can’t do is vital when it comes to offensive philosophy.

4) At times, it may not have looked like it but wide receiver Darnell Mooney had a game. Mooney’s quickly establishing a reputation as a big-play threat in the Bears offense. With five receptions for 121 receiving yards, averaging 24.2 yards per reception, the second-year wide receiver made his presence felt all afternoon, especially on a 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Dalton.

5) This was what you could consider the Marquise Goodwin breakout game. Goodwin added to the Bears’ explosiveness on offense, with four receptions for 104 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Bears the lead late in the fourth quarter. This game needs to serve as an example of how the Bears can continue to utilize Goodwin moving forward.

6) The Bears struggled to execute consistently but another issue is playing good situational football. Matt Nagy needs to understand the Bears aren’t getting the job done right now and much of it is due to coaches being able to react in situations. An example of this is when the Bears burned a timeout with 1:41 left to go in the fourth quarter after failing to convert a two-point conversion.

7) The Bears also struggled to get off the field on third down in this game. Baltimore was 7-for-16 on Sunday afternoon, with the game’s biggest play coming on a 3rd-and-12 where Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley hit wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 29-yard gain with just 0:33 left in the fourth quarter. The Bears defense has struggled to consistently get off the field on third down this season and it’s only going to get harder over the final seven weeks of the season with Mack being out.

8) Speaking of giving up a big gain on 3rd-and-12, guess what? The Bears’ secondary isn’t very good without Eddie Jackson but Jaylon Johnson had a nice showing. Second-year CB Kindle Vildor got rocked all afternoon while Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson were beaten as a result of miscommunication. The entire unit needs an overhaul in 2021 with just Jackson and Johnson guaranteed to start.

9) What does this loss mean for the Bears? Well, Chicago’s final seven games are against NFC North opponents. But understand the Bears were on the outside looking playoff-wise heading into week 11. This latest loss digs the Bears even deeper into a hole that’s getting harder to get out of.

10) For the rest of the season, nothing matters for the Bears except seeing what sticks on the wall for 2022 and beyond. Essentially, for the Bears, 2022 has already started despite 2021 not being over yet. The Bears’ future is already on the roster in Fields but the front office needs to figure out who’s staying in 2022 in an effort to build around Fields. That means taking a hard look at players and more importantly coaches.

Chicago Bears: Losing streak now at five games after latest loss

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What seemed to be a relatively competitive game for the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon got away very quickly in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. After failing to score on the first six possessions, the Bears finally managed to get on the board after wide receiver Darnell Mooney scored a 60-yard touchdown with just 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.

With rookie quarterback Justin Fields leaving the game due to an injury and then being ruled out, the Bears were forced to turn to veteran Andy Dalton, who tossed two second-half touchdowns, including a 49-yard pass touchdown to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on 4th-and-11.

Veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn, who is in the second year of a five-year $70M contract signed in 2020 made an impact all afternoon. With Khalil Mack sidelined for the remainder of the year due to a foot injury, Quinn totaled five tackles, 3.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, and four quarterback hits, making his presence felt from the beginning.

Currently, in the middle of a five-game losing streak, the Bears’ final seven opponents will be against NFC teams. However, this latest loss to the Ravens stings merely because Chicago seemed to be in the game until the very final possession when Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley connected with wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 29-yard gain with just 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. From there, running back Devonta Freeman scored a three-yard rushing touchdown to give Baltimore the lead.

Despite being shorthanded with no Allen Robinson, Eddie Jackson, or Akiem Hicks, the Bears did all a three-win team could to try and stay competitive but ultimately, a missed field goal in the first half by kicker Cairo Santos and an inability to execute in key situations made the difference in the Bears latest loss. With the Bears scheduled to play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, the opportunity to snap a five-game losing streak presents itself.

Chicago Bears: How can the Bears win in week 11?

Currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the second half of the Chicago Bears season will begin on Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Ravens come to town. The Bears, who have won two straight games against Baltimore dating back to 2013 will have another opportunity to get in the win column.

On paper and on the field, the Ravens are just as good as advertised. Led by MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, the offense features a number of weapons, including wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. On defense, Baltimore is one of the most talented in the NFL, a unit that features defensive lineman Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, LB Patrick Queen, and defensive backs Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Anthony Averett.

To slow the Ravens down, the Bears will need to slow Jackson down. That means consistently blitzing Jackson while also having a linebacker spy him at all times. The Bears could be forced to turn to reinforcements, as Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Eddie Jackson did not practice on Wednesday due to injuries. However, luckily for the Bears, Baltimore is coming off a loss to the Miami Dolphins, with a template for how to slow down Jackson and the Ravens offense.

“Give them different looks and get pressure, said CB Jaylon Johnson via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “I thought they did that pretty much all game was sending constant pressure making the ball come out high, making them really go through their route progression. I mean it’s kind of hard to do that when you got six and seven people coming so I mean it, really they just I mean had a good game plan the Ravens didn’t adjust.”

What’s noteworthy is the Bears haven’t won a game out of the bye week dating back to at least 2013. Being 0-3 under head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t bode well either for a HC who’s fighting for his job at this point. The Bears will need to complement the defense’s game plan by being able to consistently move the ball efficiently on offense in order to have a chance on Sunday afternoon.

Chicago Bears: Week 9 takeaways, quick tidbits, and bye week preview

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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.

High standards are the key for Eddie Jackson heading into 2021

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Entering 2021, expectations for the Chicago Bears is that safety Eddie Jackson has a bit of a bounceback season. After two years where production declined, Chicago has a new defensive coordinator in Sean Desai who is expected to implement more single-high safety looks, allowing Jackson to freely roam the field.

When Chicago opted to revamp the secondary by releasing cornerback Kyle Fuller, Jackson quickly became the team’s only starter at defensive back leftover from the 2018 season. The same season, Jackson would have six interceptions but since then, his interception total has been just two since 2019.

Entering year five, Jackson’s standards remain the same as when the former fourth-round pick entered the league in 2017: Be the best possible defensive back on the field, making quarterbacks account for his presence on every play.

“Me personally, I hold myself to a high standard,” Jackson said via the Bears official YouTube channel. “Everyone here does the same. Even though they took away the touchdowns, I feel like there was some things I could’ve did better and capitalized better than just sitting up, tripping over two touchdowns that got called back.”

After signing a four-year extension at the start of the 2020 offseason, Jackson is set to be on the Bears through the 2024 season, giving the former Alabama product at least four more years to prove himself and continue to play safety at a high level.

“If you’re a great one, you’re gonna find a way to make a play,” said Jackson referring to advice that Bears star pass rusher Khalil Mack said regarding Jackson.

Jackson is looking to bounceback in 2021 and while Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai will continue to put Jackson in positions to succeed, something that should benefit the fifth-year veteran throughout the 2021 season. Great players in any sport know how to impact the game consistently at a high level and Jackson, who falls in the same category is hoping to do so consistently in 2021.

The Chicago Bears defense is feeling rejuvenated going into 2021

After attending my first official Chicago Bears training camp practice this offseason, one major takeaway regarding the Bears defense is the whole unit feeling rejuvenated heading into 2021. Watching from the sidelines at Halas Hall, energy was apparent for a unit that has regressed over the last two seasons.

Chicago knows that heading into 2021, the defense will once again need to perform at a high level as the Bears offense develops an identity. When general manager Ryan Pace called the Bears defense “the strength of our roster”, he was referring to marquee players such as Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, Roquan Smith, and Akiem Hicks.

As the Bears prepare for the 2021 regular season, first-year defensive coordinator Sean Desai has earned praise from players like Mack and Smith, generating excitement about how good the Bears can be in 2021.

“He has some of those same qualities like Vic (Fangio),” Mack said via the Bears official YouTube page. “Like just understanding the players’ strengths and understanding how the simpler, the better.”

As the Bears continue to prepare for the 2021 regular season, the goal isn’t just to play at a high level each week but to best the unit in the NFL, especially considering much of the same core was on the roster in 2018, when Chicago led the NFL in nearly every defensive category.

“What you can control is what you can control,” Mack said. “But what you bring to the table, we gotta bring it all to the table and be what we know we can be. And that’s a great defense. Of course we’re not satisfied with the result last year, so it’s work to be done.”

Through three days of training camp, it’s become clear that the Bears defense is set to have a big turnaround in 2021, one that will start due to Desai’s ability to connect with players while putting players in a position to succeed.

31 questions for Chicago Bears camp: How good can Jackson/Gipson be?

With the calendar officially having turned to July, we are just weeks away from the Chicago Bears reporting to Halas Hall for training camp. Chicago’s defense will have its third defensive coordinator in four seasons, with Sean Desai set to take the reigns. Desai, who’s mainly been a secondary coach his entire career, is set to have veterans Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson manning the backend of the defense.

With 2021 marking the first time since 2018 that Jackson will have an opportunity to play alongside the same safety for the second consecutive season, many wonder what Gipson and Jackson will accomplish in 2021.

Last season, both safeties combined for 148 tackles and two interceptions in what many considered to be a less aggressive defensive scheme.

“It’s huge, it’s huge, I haven’t played with a safety two years in a row since Adrian Amos,” Jackson said via the Bears official YouTube page. “So to come back and have that chemistry, it’s huge, especially back there. I’m in his head, he’s in my head and the type of athlete that Gip he brings a lot of stuff we can use, me and him together.”

Desai’s scheme will allow both Gipson and Jackson to take a more aggressive approach to the game, giving each player the opportunity to fly around and make plays at will. Expect to see a variety of different defensive coverages and disguises, making life more difficult for opposing quarterbacks.

“The good thing about our teaching philosophies is that we try and make sure guys know multiple spots,” Desai said via the Bears official Youtube page. “That helps us on gameday with the depth and that’s been a philosophy of mine and our defensive staff since the beginning. Those two guys’ relationship is going to grow. For us, that’s what’s going to help us in the backend, when Gip and Bojack are back there and they’re communicating and handling all the coverage assignments, that helps because now they know how each other play.”

Under Desai, it’s fair to expect Chicago to have one of the top safety tandems in the NFL, something that will be needed, especially since Chicago moved on from cornerback Kyle Fuller this offseason, leaving a void in the secondary that will need to be filled by Jackson and Gipson.

 

Eddie Jackson sees similarities between Vic Fangio and Sean Desai

Entering his fifth NFL season, Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson has become a key part of the Bears defense. After a breakout season in 2018 that saw Jackson with six interceptions, Jackson has just two interceptions over the last two seasons, including none in 2020. Jackson wasn’t just successful in 2018 because he was a talented player, the former fourth-round pick was successful because then-Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio put Jackson in a position to succeed on every single player, utilizing the free safety to his strengths.

Entering 2021, questions revolve around whether Jackson can really be as dominant as he was in terms of production just three seasons ago. New defensive coordinator Sean Desai, the Bears third in four seasons under head coach Matt Nagy, is a former Fangio disciple, which Jackson sees as positive.

“Just the scheme-wise, you know, just the scheme-wise, he likes to do a lot of different things,” Jackson said via the Bears official YouTube channel. “I don’t want to put too much stuff out there. He does a lot of different things. He emphasizes the same things that Coach Vic emphasized on with disguise purposes. Just challenging us, coming in everyday and just challenging us on and off the field, being better players and teammates.”

Heading into 2020, Jackson’s running mate, strong safety Tashaun Gipson is also expected to return, marking the first time since the 2018 season that Jackson will have the same safety starting to him for the second consecutive season.

“It’s huge, it’s huge, I haven’t played with a safety two years in a row since Adrian Amos,” said Jackson. “So to come back and have that chemistry, it’s huge, especially back there. I’m in his head, he’s in my head. The type of athlete Gip is, he brings a lot of stuff that we can use, me and him together and also for the defense that Sean can for disguise purposes.”

Jackson could have a major year as the Bears continue to prepare for the 2021 season but the free safety’s confidence in his new defensive coordinator showcases that there could be a bit of a revival under Desai in 2021.