Quick Game Comments: Bears at Falcons 9/27/20


  • The Bears came out with 3 TEs and you thought that they might try to establish the run in the first half. Indeed, they were running the ball well. But they failed to take advantage as they repeatedly missed shots down field.
  • On the same note, it was obvious that, despite missing a starter at both cornerback and safety, the Falcons had no fear that the Bears would burn them deep. On one series in the second quarter the bears had 3rd and 5 and Atlanta had 10 defenders on the line of scrimmage with only a single high safety. The Bears have to be able to take advantage of single coverage on the outside in those situations and stretch the field.
  • Allen Robinson had a better game today after a subpar game last week. But he appears to be Mitch Trubisky’s only really reliable target right now with the possible exception of Darnell Mooney.
  • Matt Nagy came out feeding the tight ends and, indeed, Jimmy Graham had a better game today with some good catches including two touch down catches.
  • The Falcons got good pressure on Trubisky today with the blitz. The run blitz was also effective at stopping the Bears run.
  • Having said that I don’t have a lot of problem with how the Bears offensive line performed again. I thought they were fine under the circumstances and at least some of the problem was that the Bears receivers weren’t getting open.
  • Robinson had an end zone catch in the third quarter one-on-one with Darqueze Dennard also holding on to the ball. Honestly the call could have gone either way. Eventually the ball was awarded to Dennard. It was that kind of day.
  • Nick Foles didn’t look particularly accurate to me and his timing was definitely off today. He was, of course, coming in cold. I thought it got better as the half wore on.
  • I really like the way David Montgomery runs. We’re really starting to see some of that contact balance and pass catching ability that we heard about when the Bears drafted him.


  • The Falcons ripped off a lot of big plays for huge chunks of yardage against the Bears defense. It was like they never heard of this Calvin Ridley guy. The very first play of the game was a pass to Ridley with Eddie Jackson apparently one-on-one with him for 62 yards to the 2 yard line.
  • Matt Ryan really picked the Bears apart whenever they were in zone.
  • The Falcons opened up the run with those deep chunk plays and it may defending them very difficult.
  • Todd Gurley really looks like he’s lumbering out there. The Falcons are trying to use him as a power back. He had some decent runs but I really think he’s about at the end of his career.
  • I thought the pass rush was pretty good today. The blitz was especially effective. Though I didn’t hear Robert Quinn’s name much, Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack both had good games. That was one of the few really good signs.


  • Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma and Shannon Spake were your announcers. Albert is a pro. I liked Vilma better today that I did when he did the Lions game, perhaps because he was more comfortable with Albert, his usual partner. I thought he made a lot of good points and I found myself thinking right along with him for much of the game. Though she didn’t get a chance to say much, I’m a Shannon Spake fan.
  • Cairo Santos missed a 46 yard field goal at the end of the Bears first drive and it seems he’s going to be unreliable on thee medium to long range kicks. He made a 35 yarder later in the half. Patterson had a nice kick return in the third quarter to about the Bears 43 yard line.
  • The Bears had a litany of damaging penalties in this game. Charles Leno had a holding call in the first quarter which admittedly looked like a bad call. But Mario Edwards’ roughing the passer call as Matt Ryan went down eliminated a Khalil Mack sack-fumble. An offside on Mack kept a drive going where the Falcons scored on a 35 yard Brian Hill run on the next play. Akiem Hicks had a roughing the passer call at the start of the half to keep the Falcons first drive going. They eventually scored a touchdown.
  • On the other hand, the Falcons had 6 penalties in the fourth quarter which helped the Bears come back. It was ugly.
  • Graham dropped a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Anthony Miller dropped one immediately afterwards. I never actually saw a view where I was convinced that the ball hit the ground but evidently it did. The Bears didn’t argue much. Later in the quarter, Robinson dropped one a big play.
  • Trubisky was picked off in Bears Bears territory in the third quarter. Vilma pointed out that the coverage was zone disguised as man and that resulted in Trubisky throwing the ball to the wrong spot. It resulted in an Atlanta field goal after a good stand by the Bears defense. Nick Foles took over immediately afterward. Foles also threw an interception but it was the result of a tough call in the end zone as documented above. And then, of course, Tashaun Gipson came up with a huge interception with less than two minute left.
  • Tarik Cohen sustained a injury right after signing an contract extension. It looked serious.
  • The time management at the end of the first half was again an issue. The Bears scored with less than 2 minutes to play. The defense held the Falcons, who punted it back to the Bears. The Bears offense then ran off a grand total of 16 seconds to lay the defense out to dry again with 54 seconds left. This has to get better.
  • I would say that for four quarters the Bears played like a team that knew they were 2-0 against a desperate team that was 0-2. Up until the fourth quarter, the Falcons played well because they had to. The offense was clicking and the defensive backfield, down two starters, played well in single coverage on the outside and simply beat the Bears receivers. The Bears were a sloppy mess. They committed far too many penalties, dropped touchdowns, missed on big plays and made way too many mistakes. That’s the NFL sometimes. The Bears are extremely lucky.
  • There was a time in the fourth quarter when FOX cut to Falcons head coach Dan Quinn on the sideline. The Falcons were still up 10 points and he was yelling through his mask, apparently at no one. And right then I thought of former Bears head coach Dave Wanstedt. He used to have that same look and his players would, much later, talk about how they could feel their collars constrict when they looked at him. And it really make you wonder.

Quick Game Comments: Giants at Bears 9/20/20


  • The Bears came out with one TE. The Giants snuck an extra guy sup in the box at the last minute. The Giants were obviously focused on stopping the run and making Mitch Trubisky beat them. That’s the way I would have played it, too. They looked like they were particularly ready for Cordarrelle Patterson. They keyed on him whenever he appeared in the back field.
  • Color man Charles Davis rightly pointed out in the fourth quarter that Patterson still doesn’t have the kind of vision that you’d like as a running back. But I think he’s getting better.
  • To Matt Nagy’s credit he stopped with the run despite the Giants’ determination to stop it. They did a decent job of running it to my eye as well.
  • Loved the pass to David Montgomery for a touchdown in the first quarter. We’ve heard for more than a year now about how he can catch a pass. He got it and ran with good vision to dodge defenders and get across the goal line. I’d love to see more of that and see what happens. Hicks looked healthy.
  • Khalil Mack also looked healthy today. Perhaps he was energized by the presence of a competent pass rusher on the other side in Robert Quinn.
  • There’s a good part of me that thinks the Bears are more likely to call designed runs for Trubisky because they have Nick Foles backing him up in case of injury.
  • Trubisky looked more accurate to me today in the first half. I’m no expert but to my eye his footwork looked better as well. That’s probably not a coincidence and I think its a bit encouraging. His second half was rougher as the Giants cleaned up the coverage underneath.
  • Speaking of that, I thought the Bears should have gone down field more with the ball. They were set up to take advantage of the play action and it seemed to me like there should have been more there.
  • I know Trubisky spread it around today but he still looked to me like he was occasionally forcing it to Allen Robinson. He needs to prove that the other receivers can really burn the opponent first. Until then, Robinson will get all of the attention.
  • Three sacks for the Giants in the first half. The offensive line looked to me like they did a good job in the run game but the protection looked like it left something to be desired.
  • Trubisky almost gave me a start on the second touchdown. He held the ball and kept the play alive but if he’d taken a sack to take them out of field goal range, I’d have been apoplectic. As it was, OK. It worked.
  • Anthony Miller had a rough day with a couple big drops. Both passes hit him in the hands. That’s disappointing.
  • I expected more production from the tight ends. Without it the offense is going to struggle.


  • The Giants really looked determined to run today. Daniel Jones didn’t look great and perhaps that had something to do with it. The loss of Saquon Barkley to injury in the second quarter didn’t help that but they still kept at it and had some success.
  • What a move by Akiem Hicks to get around the offensive tackle to penetrate and stop the run.
  • Perhaps is a huge compliment to Jaylon Johnson, the Giants started the game off passing to Kyle Fuller’s side. Fuller was on top of it and they eventually got smart and went more at Johnson.
  • Danny Trevathan was caught trailing in coverage again in the second quarter on a pass for a big gain midway through the second quarter. I’m surprised it took them that long to test him and they really should have done it more.
  • The Bears were playing off coverage late in the third quarter and allowed the Giants to drive from their own 5 yard line to a touchdown. That’s mighty early to be concentrating on protecting a lead.
  • Jones showed some mobility to avoid what looked like a much improved Bears pass rush. I also thought he was smart with the ball, throwing it away when he had to.
  • There was some sloppy tackling late in the game on the last drive. That should be cleaned up. They looked tired.


  • Ian Eagle, Charles Davis, and Evan Washburn were your announcers. I’m not Davis’s biggest fan but I think he was fine today. Nothing special but certainly more than solid. Ian Eagle is a pro. These guys were better than most of what we’ll see this year at noon.
  • The more CBS tries to mimic realistic crowd noise, the more irritating it gets. I don’t’ know why.
  • The Bears looked like they were very aware of returner Jabrill Pepper’s ability in the return game. The Giants were equally aware of Patterson as they popped up a kick in the fourth quarter rather than kick it to him. Cairo Santos missed a 50 yard field goal wide left that the bear really needed with 2 minutes left in the game. The Bears were leading by four points.
  • Eddie Jackson got called for a critical pass interference call in the fourth quarter that called back a pick six. Personally I thought he was just going for the ball. Tough break. It was a ten point turn as the drive eventually resulted in a field goal. Germain Ifedi got called for a chop block in the fourth quarter that called back a big Montgomery run making it first and 25.
  • Anthony Miller dropped a pass that landed in his hands in the first quarter that would have resulted in a big gain. He dropped another first down in the third quarter in Giants territory that killed a drive. Darius Slay dropped a badly needed first down for the Giants in the third quarter to kill a drive in Bears territory. The Giants settled for a field goal.
  • Robert Quinn signing paid immediate dividends in his first start as he caused a Daniel Jones fumble on the very first Giants possession. The Bears recovered and got a field goal out of it. It was a tough day for Jones. He didn’t see Deon Bush and threw him an interception in Bears territory in the second quarter. The offense did nothing with it. Trubisky threw a damaging interception early in the second half after trying to force it to a bracketed Robinson one too many times. He threw another critical interception in the fourth quarter with the Bears up by only 7 points while trying to get it again in to Robinson. The following Giants drive resulted in a field goal.
  • This was a tale of two halves as the offense had a good first half but not a good second half. I think the Giants made some good adjustments and played some good defense but the Bears also failed to make plays when they had to and made some boneheaded mistakes with untimely penalties, drops and turnovers. This is what bad teams do. The defense held up and played well but that Giants offense isn’t exactly the Chiefs, especially without Saquon Barkley, who left with what turned out to be a torn ACL. The Bears won and they’ll take it. But they aren’t a good team right now.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Lions 9/13/20


  • The Bears came out running with 3 straight runs for a three and out. They got zero push on a quarterback sneak on the third play. It wasn’t a great start and it was pretty representative of how the day was going to go.

  • The Bears seemed to be rotating their running backs with David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen and Cordarrelle Patterson all getting playing time. All looked reasonably good.

  • Mitch Trubisky was obviously looking for Allen Robinson first on most plays and is still relying on him too much, I think. He’s got to find consistent success with another receiver. His first attempt to Anthony Miller went wide on a obvious miscommunication though he did have some catches late and a touchdown. He found some success throwing to Darnell Mooney. He has to do more of that earlier in games.

  • Despite all the talk about improving footwork in the off season, Trubisky was still throwing off balance with what was poor footwork even to my own inexperienced eye. His accuracy was off early on largely as a result. This is a bad sign.

  • I thought we might see more outside zone runs from the Bears this year but it wasn’t evident to me today that was happening. The Lions did a good job defending whenever the Bears tried to run outside. That may have had something to do with it. They had more luck up the middle.>

  • There was a lot of talk about no changes to the personnel offensive line after they under performed last year. To my eye, they were a lot better today under new coach Juan Castillo. The Bears running game was productive and Trubisky got good p protection most of the time.

  • As advertised, David Montgomery looks quicker this year. Some of that contact balance showed up today as he did a good job of breaking some tackles as well. He still didn’t get a pass thrown in his direction.

  • Despite a lot of offseason talk the Bears struggled to integrate the tight ends into the offense until late in the game. Jimmy Graham did catch a touchdown as he towered over Lions cornerback Tracy Walker in an obvious mismatch.


  • The Bears badly missed Robert Quinn. It allowed the Lions to concentrate more on stopping Kahlil Mack on the other side. Unlike last year, Mack will had Akiem Hicks next to him on the line to help. Nevertheless, one team sack. The Bears need to get more pressure with Quinn out.
  • If the Lions were picking on Jaylon Johnson, it wasn’t evident to me. When the Lions did throw outside, they did go to Johnson’s side, though. Johnson made some rookie mistakes. There was some poor tacking and a holding call. But so far so good.

  • Adrian Peterson still runs hard and age certainly hasn’t reduced his vision.

  • I thought Matthew Stafford looked good today. He’s moving well in the picket and creating time and his passes were reasonably accurate. Still got a cannon for an arm.

  • I thought the Lions did a good job of pushing the ball downfield and moving against a very good Bears defense. But they stalled in the red zone as the Bears stiffened and did a great job.

  • The Lions came out running with some success in the second half. It was a good move as the Bears were probably expecting more of the passes that burned them at the end of the half. They executed well.

  • The Bears, on the other hand, looked flat after the half. Despite some words from Mack on the sideline, there just didn’t seem to be much there. The Lions had the ball for most of the third quarter.


  • Dick Stockton, Jonathan Vilma, and Shannon Spake were you announcers. Stockton isn’t the best play-by-play man in the business but I’ve never had the problems with him that many others seem to have. He was definitely rusty today as he stepped in at the last minute for Kenny Albert. Vilma didn’t teach me very much. He was as kind as he could be when talking about Trubisky, who is under siege nationally. For the typical male Bears fan, Spake was the best thing about this game.

  • Special teams – It was notable that Matt Nagy passed on what would have been about a 52 yard field goal earlier in the quarter to go for it on fourth and seven. The Lions seemed to me to have too many good kick off returns.

  • Jamie Collins ducked his head and hit an official with his helmet in one of the dumbest penalties I’ve ever seen a player commit. Every play surely knows that you can’t touch a referee, let alone with his helmet.

  • A interception by Kyle Fuller in Lions territory in the fourth quarter gave the Bears life with just over two minutes left in the game. Huge play in the game.

  • Deandre Swift dropped the go ahead touchdown for the Lions with 10 seconds left. Those are the kinds of plays that kill games.

  • The first half ended in a miserable, demoralizing way for the Bears defense. They held the Lions offense with just over 2 minutes left and the Bears for the ball back with a minute and twelve remaining. The Bears did nothing and handed the ball back to the Lions with about 50 seconds left almost at mid field. The Lions marched down and scored a touchdown.

  • Final statistic: Bears third down conversion rate = 2/11. This must get better.

  • Final statistic: 5.3 yards per rush, a good indication that maybe the Bears will be able to run the ball better this year.

  • Final statistic: A miserable 5.8 yards per pass. Despite talking all offseason about pushing the ball down field, the passing game was still a mess for much of the day. This is bad news.

  • Trubisky really disappointed me today. It was evident, especially early, that he has not taken the step forward in the offseason that the Bears hoped that competition from Nick Foles would bring. His footwork still stinks and he’s missing passes that this offense simply can’t afford to miss. We heard all offseason that they needed a running game to help him out. They had one today and it didn’t make any difference. They struggled to throw the ball down field most of the game and even Trubisky’s completions were off target.

  • Having said that, kudos to Trubisky for his fourth quarter. He’s always had that kind of last minute magic in him. The problem is that the team usually fails to put it away. This time they did.

  • In the mean time I heard all offseason from Lions fans that their team was better than their record last year. They lost a bunch of games in the fourth quarter, they caught bad breaks, etc… They should know as well as Bears fans that that’s what bad teams do.

Some Things to Watch as the Bears Play the Lions on Sunday

Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic provides us with a viewer’s guide to Sunday’s matchup.

“In Nagy’s season openers with the Bears, the first drive has turned out to be prescient.

“Let’s go back to September 2018 at Lambeau Field. Curiosity was the sentiment at the time, as we wondered what Nagy’s offense would look like. It began in the T-formation and ended with a Trubisky touchdown run. It resembled nothing seen in Chicago in the John Fox era. The rest of the season, the offense wasn’t great, and often not even good, but it was adept enough for a 12-4 mark.

“If 2018 was about curiosity, 2019 was about confidence. We heard about taking the offense from 101 to 202. All the starters but one returned. This would be Trubisky’s finest hour.

“With the country watching as the Bears kicked off the league’s 100th season, the opening play was a fumble. The drive resulted in a punt. The offense sputtered all night, and then all season.”

Fishbain goes on to identify a number of other differnt things to watch and they’re all good points. The article is worth reading.

Having said that, I thought I’d provide some other things that I will be watching that aren’t specifically called out or emphasized.

  1. Watch the yards per carry and the yards per attempt.

In particular, the yards per attempt is perhaps the best indication of how well an offense is operating. Not coincidentally, quarterback Mitch Trubisky was last in the league in this department in 2019 at 6.1 yards.

The heart of any good scoring offense is completions in the 10-20 yard range, close enough to make a connection realistic most of the time yet far enough to represent a good chunk of yardage. These are the bread and butter plays that you see executed over and over in sustained drives by good offenses like that of the Kansas City Chiefs. Its not a great signs that reports indicate that Bears quarterbacks struggled with these throws in a pandemic shortened camp. What the yards per attempt is at half time will be a huge indicator of where they are at.

Similarly, the Bears struggles in the running game were well documented last year. They are going nowhere unless this imporoves.

  1. Watch Tarik Cohen.

Cohen was the heart of much of what the Bears did in 2018. He was a match up nightmare for defenses and what he did with the ball after the catch was a big part of the offense, such as it was. Last year with no good tight ends like the 2018 version of Trey Burton to worry the opposing linbackers and safeties, teams focused entirely on stopping Cohen. It had a major effect on the offense.

The Bears evidently have high hopes that their current tight ends, Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet and Demetrius Harris, will produce more in the offense this year. If they are even just decent, as Burton was in 2018, perhaps the biggest observable effect will be that things will loosen up again for Cohen.

  1. Watch Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine.

Although the Fishbain did highlight Johnson’s role and the importance that he perform as a rookie, I’ll be interested in seeing if the Bears only play him in nickel situations. It’s entirely possible that nickel back Buster Skrine will be moved outside in the base defense.

If that happens, how the relatively undersized Skrine performs will be important. Similarly, how quickly the Bears gain or lose confidence in Johnson will be very evident in how much he plays as the game wears on and how he holds up when the Lions test him (which they undoubtedly will).

  1. Watch Khalil Mack.

This isn’t a revelation but how much the Lions can afford to concentrate on stopping Mack will go a long way towards telling you how this game went. Last year teams literally triple teamed him with an offenseive tackle and a tight end to his side and a running back kept in specifically to concentrate on making sure he never got loose. They could do this because Akiem Hicks was injured and the Bears literally got nothing from the one-on-one matchups that Leonard Floyd consistently got on the other side.

Whether new pass rusher Robert Quinn plays or not will be a big factor here. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday with an ankle injury. But even with Quinn out, the presence of Hicks should make a big difference. If it doesn’t, I would say that fans shouldn’t get too carried away with their optimism for the season.

Some Unique Thoughts on the Bears 53 Man Roster

Like many writers this morning, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts on the 53 man roster. I’ll concentrate upon the position groups where I think I can offer a unique thought rather than going through them all one-by-one.

Offensive linemen (9): Charles Leno, Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Bobby Massie, Germain Ifedi, Rashaad Coward, Jason Spriggs, Alex Bars, Arlington Hambright.

The fact that Hambright made this roster was a mild surprise. I thihnk most had targeted him for the practice squad. Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune offered the opinion that Hambright’s place is only temporary that the he’d be the first one voted off the island once the Bears started picking up players that other teams had released. I’m not so sure.

Most believe that the Bears released kicker Cairo Santos with the idea of bringing him back onto the practice squad. They can’t put kicker Eddy Pineiro onto IR and bring him back whenever they want unless they keep him on the initial roster. The plan on Monday would be to do that and to promote Santos.

The guess here is that Jason Spriggs is in the same situation. The Bears had to carry him through until Monday before putting him on IR. Hambright is probably your swing tackle until Spriggs is healthy.

Running backs (4): David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Ryan Nall.

Nall makes the roster over undrafted rookie Artavis Pierce. It’s a good bet that special teams may have played a part here. Pierce is also a rookie and the Bears may not be able to trust him to do things like block, yet.

Cohen and Patterson are thought to be gadget players and it will be interesting to see how snaps are split. Nall is arguably the only healthy, all-around back on the roster as long as Montgomery is hurt with a groin injury.   I say “arguably” because Patterson has only been practicing with the running backs since training camp began and we don’t know how he has progressed.

Physically Patterson could be a Montgomery replacement. He has the size, the speed and quickness and the ability to catch the football that would allow him to perform in all aspects of the position. But because he was a wide receiver who was only used as a piece in isolated spots last year, he never really moved like a running back. He didn’t have the vision to spot a hole and burst through it. Like Pierce, we also don’t know if he can block.

This will be an interstesting situation to keep an eye on.

Defensive linemen (5): Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, Roy Robertson-Harris, John Jenkins, Brent Urban.

The Bears probably planned to have Jenkins as a reserve on the practice squad when they signed him.  This is what they did with him in 2018. But when Eddie Goldman opted out, Jenkins because an essential peice of the puzzle. I expect to see him at nosetackle when the Bears are in a three man front. Nichols will replace Goldman in the nickle.

Inside linebackers (4): Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Josh Woods.

This position worries me. The Bears lost Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis in free agency and they may have lost their depth along with them.  Iyiegbuniwe is a core special teamer. But we really don’t know if either he or Woods can play in the defense. Historically this has been a position where starters have been lost for games for the Bears. So we may find out the hard way.

Safeties (5): Eddie Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Sherrick McManis.

I was always amused at the memebers of the media who immediately assumed that Gipson would be starting opposite Jackson the minute he was signed. For one thing, if you follow the money, Gipson is being paid like he was on the bubble and I’d guess that he was. He was released 1 year into a 3 year contract in Houston. Whe you find out why that was, you will probably als find out why he’s not the player everyone thinks he was.

Cornerbacks (5): Kyle Fuller, Buster Skrine, Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Duke Shelley.

Like everyone else, I was surprised when the Bears released Kevin Toliver here. As Biggs pointed out, this arguably leaves them with Fuller, Johnson and three nickelbacks, two of which, Skrine and Shelly, are only 5-9. Most seem theh think the Bears will be in theh market for a veteran corner.

I’m not so sure, thought. For one thing they still could bring back Toliver.  For another, veteran cornerbacks don’t play special teams. I’m also not so sure that the Bears feel that they need help at the position as much as the media apparently does.

Skrine has played outside corner before and he reportedly was lining up there in practice and holding his own. Vildor, who is 5-11, also reportedly got time at the position. And let’s not forget McManis, a core special teamer who is classified as a safety but who played cornerback for many years.

The guess here is that the Bears will line Skrine up on the outside and move him in to nickle when they go to 5 defensive backs. At that point, they’ll move one of the others in outside. Who that is probably depnds on how comfortable they are with the rookie Johnson. The whole plan will probably also vary depending on the matchups with bigger corners covering bigger receivers.