Quick Game Comments: 49ers at Bears 10/31/21

In the novel Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”

That’s one of the most cynical things I’ve ever read. But there are times when circumstances make me wonder if there isn’t a whole lot of truth in it.

Before their blow out loss to the Buccaneers last week, Bears head coach Matt Nagy held a team meeting to discuss the state of the team. Its one of many that Nagy has had over the years, especially when things aren’t going well, and many of them are to ask the players what they want him to do differently in terms of how the offense or the defense is being run.

“Big picture, I think sometimes as a coach you’ve got to have a feel and pulse as to where your guys are at,” Nagy said Sunday after the game. “Every now and then you’ve got to pull together and have a good talk with the guys where it’s open and it’s everybody. I just thought it was a good opportunity right there to speak from the heart a little bit from where I’m at as the head coach and where we’re at as a team. You can’t have those every week, but sometimes you’ve got to have some that are real conversations and mean a lot. That’s what we did.”

“The question was something about ‘Are you concerned after this type of loss of losing your locker room, losing your team?’ That’s why I responded the way I did. I’m not because I know the feedback I got after that talk. To have that feedback from your players feels good.”

There’s no doubt that Nagy’s players love him. He is easily the most players coach of all the players coaches that I’ve seen anywhere near the Bears. And it’s good to work to get a feeling for how the men in your locker room are feeling. But you have to wonder if all of this is the best thing for the team.

In many ways this is the least disciplined Bears team that I’ve ever seen. Against the Buccaneers, defensive lineman Bilal Nichols was ejected for throwing a punch. Add this to some damaging penalties of a similar nature by Mario Edwards and to the incidents last year involving Anthony Miller and Javon Wims and you have some serious problems with player self-control.

Perhaps the worst thing about these incidents is that Nichols, Miller and Wims were all warned that their opponents were known instigators and not to engage. And they did it anyway.

“We’ve discussed a similar situation like last year with a player that [the Saints] had with a player who was out there today — you know, it was loud and clear …” Nagy said after the Nichols incident. “But our guys understand, they know that every action has a reaction. What we need to do is continue to keep emphasizing it like we are, and guys gotta follow up by not falling into that trap.”

Nagy and his coaching staff have been talking to the team about things like this for an extremely long time now. If they were going to learn from it they would’ve done it by now. The message is evidently not being received. Or, more likely, it is being ignored.

Let’s add in another curious incident that has happened within the last couple weeks. Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson was fined for being late to a meeting. No big deal. Stuff like that happens all of the time in the NFL. But Johnson felt compelled to take a snap shot of the notice he received on Instagram adding the comment, “This shii crazy bruh. walked in as it turned 8:16 and they tax me like this.”

Can you imagine a player on the New England Patriots ever doing something like that? But it happens on Nagy’s Bears among players that regularly express their love for him. Why? Because the players don’t respect the authority of those in charge and don’t fear the repercussions of their actions.

I was struck in this context by a recent comment from well-known sports writer Dave Hyde at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Hyde was asked about whether Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ unlikable personality contributed to their recent lack of success.

“Look at Bill Belichick. He isn’t liked by his players,” Hyde said. “There is a difference between like and respect.

“What do players want? They want answers. They want ‘here’s how we’re going to be better.’ [If a player asks] a question in a meeting and the coach has the right answer… That’s what players want.”

Does that sound like Matt Nagy? The guy who calls meetings and asks the players what they want? Who asks them what he should do?

Players don’t want to have to tell the head coach that they should be using the downhill running game, as Nagy’s offensive line men have told him (twice if you count last year). They think they do but they really don’t. Players want structure. And they want the coaches to tell them how to be better not the other way around. What they want is for the coach to tell them what the right thing to do is and to have it work.

Nagy is well liked by his players and the good news is that he is unlikely to lose the locker room, something that coaches like Flores always risk.

But when you look at the lack of discipline on this Bears team, and especially when you look at the fact that players are warned not to do certain things and to respond to certain actions and they do it anyway, you wonder how much they respect Nagy. And you wonder how that lack of respect leads to their poor execution on the field as they fail to make improvements without fear of consequences stemming from a coach who so wants to be loved.

Perhaps Nagy would be better off if he stopped worrying so much about how his players perceive him. Perhaps instead of asking the players what he should do, he should start coming up with his own solutions. Therein lies the path to respect for his authority and the improved team discipline and performance that comes with that.

And if he can’t do those things, then he’s the wrong guy for the job he currently holds.


  • What struck me about the 49ers offense is how much it looks like what the Bears are trying to do. A lot of tight ends to help the offensive line, a good running game and play action off of it. They really didn’t start to execute until the second half but this was what the Bears offense could be.
  • One reason it didn’t get going until the second half was the fact that the 49ers had such a hard time catching the ball. There must have been at least four damaging dropped passes in the first 30 minutes and probably more.
  • Another reason was Jimmy Garoppolo’s poor accuracy. Almost all of his passes were at least a little bit off and most were a lot more difficult than they should have been to catch. Garappolo was much better in the second half and that helped spur the offense.
  • But what really hurt the Bears defense was their inability to stop the run. They gave up 467 yards of total offense and 145 of that was rushing. they ripped off some very long, damaging runs against the vaunted Bears defensive front for an average of 6.4 yards per carry before the kneel downs at the end. The defense essentially allowed the 49ers to run out the fourth quarter. This is something that the Bears will surely need to clean up.
  • Eddie Jackson went down with a bad right hamstring early in the game and he was replaced by Teez Tabor, who didn’t play badly to my eye.
  • Deebo Samuel is a man. He led the 49ers in receiving yards with 171 on 6 catches and there were times early on when it felt like he was the only thing keeping them in the game.
  • Not to be forgotten is the effect of not having Khalil Mack in the line up today. The bears struggled to get pressure on Garoppolo all game and had 0 sacks. If they even had a pressure, I didn’t see it. In fairness, the 49ers were keeping in a lot of guys to help. But I still think that we should be able to expect better. Definitely not a good day for the Bears front 7.


  • The Bears tried to run their usual offense with a lot of run heavy sets and play action off of that. There were times when it had moderate success. And let’s be honest. Twenty-two points against anyone for this team is an improvement. Entering the game the Bears were averaging 14.4 points per game, 30th in the NFL and ahead of only the Houston Texans (13.9) and New York Jets (13.3).
  • The Bears had the worst passing offense in the league before playing today at 871 net passing yards, the fewest through seven games in the NFL in 15 years. Today’s total of 148 won’t help that much. the Bears continue to struggle to get the ball to their wide receivers (11 catches for 117 yards), though we did see more life from the tight ends again today. Jesse James had 3 catches for 38 yards and a nice touchdown and Cole Kmet had 3 for 21 yards.
  • Khalil Herbert looked good and the Bears ran for 176 yards (4.9 yards per rush). Herbert’s low center of gravity makes him very difficult to bring down. They had more success in the first half then in the second, where it was obvious that they if they stopped the run and made Fields play quarterback, they’d have more success. they adjusted accordingly.
  • Having said that, Justin Fields accounted for 103 of those yards. He was noticeably more apt to run early when receivers weren’t open rather than holding the ball and the 49ers didn’t do as good of a job of keeping him in the pocket as, for instance, the Packers did. The Bears also put Fields on the move more often with designed runs and, especially, with roll outs off of play action. As a result, Fields looked more comfortable more often today.
  • Fields wasn’t exactly inaccurate but I did notice a tendency to throw high over receivers heads that I haven’t seen before. There were times during this game when he looked a little more tightly wound than usual. You wonder if the frustration with losing isn’t building a bit.
  • We say a little bit of Damien Williams early in the game but he wasn’t having much success and the Bears shut him down. On wonders about the lingering effects of COVID on him.
  • As usual, whenever I saw Fields in the shotgun with a 5 man protection scheme, I held my breath. Rookie Larry Borom, fresh off of IR in his first start, wasn’t bad. But the offensive line as a whole just isn’t good enough to protect Fields in obvious passing situations without help.
  • One positive. The Bears were 8 of 15 on third down which isn’t bad. At one point in the first half they were 5 of 6.


  • Cairo Santos missed an extra point today. That’s his first miss of any kind this year.
  • The 49ers had a dismal day for drops. I lost count at about 4 in the first half. They seemed to clean it up later in the game but Garoppolo’s accuracy also got better then. Kmet dropped a touchdown but it would have been a good catch.
  • Both of these teams really lack discipline and it showed itself in the number of penalties. Statistically the 49ers had 7 for 55 yards and the Bears had only 4 for 30 yards. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. This was a very sloppy game with penalties at the worst times for both teams, especially for the 49ers and the only reason that both teams didn’t have a lot more was because the penalties were often declined because taking the play was preferable.
  • An interesting anomaly, the Bears actually dominated time of possession this game. the held the ball for just over 37 minutes.
  • I would be severely remiss if I didn’t mention Justin Fields wonderful 22 yard touchdown run in the second half. Fields ran right and then, under duress and finding no room, broke several tackles and ran back around the left end and into the end zone. Seeing him reverse field like that brought back vivid memories of Devin Hester kick returns of yore. Here’s hoping its the first of many for Fields.
  • Hey, did you hear that there’s world series game tonight? Because I don’t think FOX telling me a dozen times was nearly enough.

Quick Game Comments: Packers at Bears 10/17/21

Ex-Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

Lombardi was a jerk.

OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. Winning is always the goal. But it’s not the only thing. In fact, it’s not even the most important thing. Ex-rugby great Martin Johnson found that out after he retired and expressed the sentiment in perhaps the best terms I’ve heard.

“You hear a lot of people talk at the end of their careers about wins and losses. They are great and special days but it is more about the togetherness of trying to achieve. People say, ‘You won X, Y and Z’ but I played in all the competitions far more times than I won them.

“If you are in something where you have a purpose and fighting for it, that is what you want.”

Or perhaps, if you want it expressed more succinctly, you can look at a recent Russell Wilson tweet which stated simply, “I love adversity.”

If winning was all there was to sport, the NFL would have 31 miserable fan bases at the end of every year. If being a billionaire was the only thing, 99.9% of human life on earth wouldn’t be worth living. Instead, fighting to overcome adversity is what it’s all about, pulling together to overcome the little lows to produce the little highs day by day, week by week, year by year.

Adversity can bring out the best in all of us. It forces us to evolve and can make us different, better people.

We can., I hope, expect that will be the case as the Bears emerge from yet another loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Bears head coach Matt Nagy is no 1-10 against the Packers and this was a pretty decisive win.

The Bears just can’t seem to solve the puzzle that the Packers present. It isn’t just the presence of Rodgers. There was a lot of good effort out on the field today and it looked to me like the players were up and ready to play. The Bears have their won growing young star quarterback in Justin Fields, who just isn’t quite ready yet. But despite this, the Packers, as usual, seemed to be just a little bit better disciplined, a little bit better coached, and a little bit better.

The Packers present a challenge year after year that the Bears must continue to work harder and harder to match.

And they will. They will fight. And we will watch. Because we know that it’s not the win, itself, that is the whole story and that they and, through their example, we, will all be better for it.


  • The Bears ranked seventh in points allowed (20 ppg) going into this game and the 24 that they gave up wasn’t that far off of that. But they needed better with an offense that struggled to come from behind. That was the story here.
  • The plan was to try to confuse Rodgers with the typical blurry looks that Vic Fangio has brought to the league
  • “He definitely runs the show,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said earlier this week. “You can see being out there on the field how he changes the offense, how he changes routes, how he changes calls, how he really just dissects the defense and really sees what you’re in and once he really understands what you’re in he molds the offense to beat what you’re in. It’s really just about changing up disguises, not giving him too much pre-snap indicators of what we’re doing. So it’s really just about being able to mix it up and give good disguises.”

    Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was having none of it. He completed 17 passes on 23 attempts for 195 yards and didn’t seem to let much of anything bother him today.

  • Among the things that didn’t bother him was the Bears pass rush, which was pretty good. The Bears entered this week as the NFL leaders in sacks with 18. They added three more today, one by Khalil Mack, one by Robert Quinn and one by Akiem Hicks. The Bears defensive line played well with their typical stunts and games up front in a losing effort.
    But once it became evident that they were running amuchk early, Green Bay adjusted and Rodgers went to shorter passes to get the ball out. After that it was just a matter of execution and Green Bay did a good job of working their way down field on some long drives that ultimately were the difference in the game.
  • The Bears had a difficult time with tight ends a year ago, allowing 12 touchdown receptions to them, Green Bay accounted for four of those. That continued today as Green Bay distributed the ball among Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, and Josiah Degara for some damaging yardage.
  • The Bears had more than the usual amount of trouble stuffing the run today, allowing 154 yards rushing on 31 carries (5.0 ypc). Many of those were short but some long runs by Aaron Jones (13 carries, 76 yards) and A.J. Dillon (11 carries, 59 yards) made a big difference in the game. The defnese needed to be more consistent here.
  • I was dissatisfied with the way that the Bears decided to handle Devante Adams (4 receptions, 89 yards) this game. They had Jayon Johnson, their best corner, travel with him around the field. i would have rather seen the Bears double Adams and put Johnson on whoever they decided the second best receiver was.


  • There was a thought going into this game that the Bears might have to open the offense up a little bit. I wasn’t buying it because the Packers have an ordinary run defense and my gut was telling me that they were probably perfectly willing to make Fields beat them with his arm. More on that below.
  • Here’s how Lazor responded to a follow-up about the offense looking “confining” in Las Vegas last week: “I felt that after the game, but I just blame me for that. Seriously. When the game is going that way, that’s just how we thought to win the game. I’d rather have 500 yards, but winning’s more important.”

    In any case, it did look to me like there were hints of a more open offense at the beginning of the game. The Bears had a 50:50 run-pass ration at halftime. When they came out of halftime, it looked like they recommitted to the run and stayed with it for as long as they could. Eventually they had to play from behind and throw the ball around and they just couldn’t do it.

  • The Packers aren’t a great run defense and they weren’t great today. The Bears ran 26 times for 140 yards (5.4 ypc) and I can’t get past the idea that if they’d done it just a little more in the first half this would have been a differnt game.
  • The Packers defense has been absolutely dreadful inside the red zone and that also held up today as the Bears scored both times they were in the red zone. But they were only in the red zone two times so…
  • Jimmy Graham had no catches but the Bears did get Cole Kmet far more involved today. this was probably Kmet’s best day as a Bear as he had 4 catches for 49 yards and looked pretty good doing it. They finally sent a tight end down the seam in the second half and found success. Here’s hoping they do more of it.
  • Justin Fields constantly amazes me with his accuracy because it was something that you just didn’t hear anything about as he came out of Ohio State. But its really elite.
  • Fields really struggled today at times because the Packers worked very hard to keep him from escaping the pocket. The result was 4 sacks and a lot of pressure throws, some of which were good and some of which weren’t. It would have helped Fields tremendously if the Bears had stuck to the plan of helping out the offensive line with protection by keeping in more tight ends to block. They were still doing it but not nearly as much, especially late in the game. Far too often Green Bay got pressure as the Bears tried to protect Fields with five linemen on long developing plays that he didn’t have time to make. They simply aren’t good enough to do that.
  • But Fields has to bear some responsibility as well. Rodgers should serve as a great example on tape of how it is done. When pressure is arriving that quickly you have to get the ball out fast. You can’t hold the ball and wait for a play to open up. Good defenses will keep you in the pocket and, though you may extend the occasional play, as Fields did today, it will never be enough.

    The offense needs work or its never going to be able to stand up against a decent defense that is playing well, as Green Bay did today.

  • I’ve been looking for the Bears to start throwing to the running backs out of the back field and Khalil Herbert has a reputation for being able to catch passes. But I didn’t see many if any throws to Herbert on pass routes in the same way that, say, the bears might use Tarik Cohen. I’d like to see them try this.
  • Nevertheless, Herbert ran for 97 yards on 19 carries and had a good game.


  • Jakeem Grant was electric on returns today and he’s bound to break one soon.
  • Teh Bears dropped at least 4 balls and probably more today and they were all catches that they needed as they tried to work their way down field. They have to clean that up.
  • Similarly they had 7 penalties for 54 yards in a game that wasn’t very well officiated. Fiedls threw an interception on what he thought was a free throw after the Packers jumped offsides. The penalty wasn’t called. The Packers lost a Equanimeous St. Brown touchdown on a poor pass interference call.
  • Nevertheless the Bears had plenty of damaging legitimate penalties including yet another stupid one for Mario Edwards as he was taunting Rodgers after a play.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Raiders 10-10-21

In the sixth century, Pope Gregory the Great devised the list that we now know as the “Seven Deadly Sins”: pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. But the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas added what is, in my mind, the most important observation about the list: that before a person could lust like a rabbit or go green with envy, he first had to commit the sin of pride. This made pride not only the deadliest of sins, but “the beginning of all sin.”

When it comes to football, there flat out is not deadlier sin than pride. Players and coaches have to ruthlessly suppress their egos to come together to be the best team that they can be. And that goes doubly for head coaches.

Giving up play calling might be the hardest thing that Matt Nagy has ever done in his life. I’d say the odds are extremely good that its the hardest thing he’s ever had to do in football. Play calling was part of his identity. It was “his thing”, something he took great pride in. He’s had difficulty even talking about it.

But two weeks ago, Nagy realized that for the good of the team, he had to give up play calling. The Cleveland Browns destroyed the Bears offensive line, which gave up 9 sacks and Nagy realized that he had quite simply failed to adjust his game plan to accommodate the fact that the line needed help.

Its hard to do, calling plays on the side line where the head coach has to reside. Its chaos, really, with the action constantly swirling around you. Its hard to stay cool and concentrate, especially when all of the other responsibilities that come with being a head coach are weighing on you. So Nagy handed over play calling to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in the booth for the Lions game last week. The results have been positive.

“That’s the one thing I like,” quarterback Justin Fields said. “Coach [Nagy], it’s hard for him to be calm if he has to focus on the defense, focus on special teams. [Lazor’s] voice is calm. He’s up there in the box seeing the field well and he did a great job calling plays today.”

Nagy suppressed his pride for the good of the team and, I firmly believe, for his own good as well. He now can concentrate more fully on his head coaching duties. And free of having to constantly think about the next play call, he can take a broader view of the offense and see more clearly what has to be adjusted in game to make it more successful.

Pride truly is the greatest of all sins and it has no place in a team game. To Nagy’s credit, he knows it and lives it and avoidance of it has benefited all.


  • The Bears came out running the same offense that they ran against the Lions. A lot of help for the offensive line in the form of tight ends and running backs blocking and a heavy reliance on the ground game (37 carried for 143 yards). The Bears ran 57 offensive plays in the game, and Fields was under center for 31 with 26 snaps coming in shotgun formation. It looked like roughly the same proportion this week. There was a sense that the Bears would have to do more against a much better Raiders defense than they did against the Lions. But the plan worked well enough with a good defensive effort to hold the score down and the Bears prevailed.
  • Unfortunately the Bears did not use the middle of the field again this game intil the fourth quarter. NOt coincidentally, those throws were among the most successful of the game at a time when the Bears offense had really stalled out. Going into the game they were 29th in the NFL in passes between the hashes with 8 (they were 29th in 2020). They need to do more over the middle if they expect to have success against good teams in the future.
  • Though the loss of David Montgomery’s power and contact balance stings, happily running backs Damien Williams (64 yards on 16 carries) and Khalil Herbert (75 yards on 18 carries) did a good job of taking up the slack this game.
  • The tight ends got slightly more involved today. Jasper Horstead caught a touchdown pass and Cole Kmet had two receptions. Of the two “speed receivers” that the Bears were going to use to such good effect this year, Marquis Goodwin had one catch and Damiere Byrd didn’t make the stat sheet. Jimmy graham didn’t make the stat sheet either. So I’d say that the offseason plans that the Bears made aren’t coming to fruition.
  • I’d say that Justin Fields is making some progress. Fields expressed a desire to not repeat mistakes during the week. “You just have to learn from those mistakes and try not to make those mistakes twice,” Fields said. “Every snap I get I’m going to see what I could have done better and try not to make those mistakes twice.” He was partially successful. If he was holding the ball too long again this week, it wasn’t evident as he escaped the pocket and got on the move fairly regularly. But he’s still missing blitzing defensive backs as the Raiders occasionally brought late blitzers to take advantage, especially early in the game.
  • The Bears still aren’t moving Fields around a lot, though there were a few roll outs that weren’t present last week. In fact, the touchdown pass to Horstead was on a rollout. One thing to note, Field nearly always rolls to his right. I’m sure defenses will pick up on that if he doesn’t vary it.
  • There were also a few designed runs for Fields that I’m sure made the whole city of Chicago a little nervous. Fields took a lot more hits this game than anyone would like. Here’s hoping this colms down or he wont’ stay healthy.

  • Kudos to the offensive line for playing better on the road this week than it did against Los Angeles and Cleveland? The Bears ran for 3.9 ypc and Justin Fields was sacked twice, both times by Yannick Ngakoue. They got a lot of help. But they also got a lot of good push at the line of scimmage. It was a good day.


  • The Bears defense did a good job of stopping a good Raiders offense today. Coming into the game tThe Raiders ranked fifth with 406.5 yards per game, including 326 passing yards per game, second only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They didn’t play particularly well. There was some sloppy execution, a lot of penalties and some bad dropped passes. But give the Bears defense credit. They played well.
  • A good part of the reason that the defense played well was because of the pressure that the defense put on Derek Carr. The Bears had 3 sacks, one each by Khalil Mack, Tashaun Gipson and Trevis Gipson.
  • The Raiders offensive line has been in flux. It was completely rebuilt in the offseason and is missing veteran guard Richie Incognito. First-round pick Alex Leatherwood had been practicing at right guard after playing right tackle the first four weeks. He missed a block on a stunt that resulted in a Khalil Mack sack.

    The game plan that the Raiders laid looked an awful lot like the Bears to compensate. Although the plan wasn’t quite so conservative nor quite so protective of the line, there was generally no shortage of tight ends and running backs to help them.

  • Although he didn’t have a sack, Robert Quinn had another good game, getting a lot of penetration into the Raiders defensive back field.
  • The Bears once again had a couple instances of broken coverage when it looked like communication was an issue. Darren Waller was left uncovered in the first half and Bryan Edwards dropped a long pass when he was completley uncovered later in the game. This needs to be fixed.
  • Tight end Darren Waller, possibly the Raiders best receiver, was held to 4 catches for 45 yards, and did not play up to his usual standard.
  • No Akiem Hicks, no problem. Well, maybe that’s going to far but the Bears held the Raiders to 3.2 yards per rush with a rotation involving a lot of defensive tackles. Its probably the deepest unit on the team.


  • I’d say that Jakeem Grant showed his usual dynamism in the return game although it didn’t result in anything spectacular. He definitely moves better than anyone else the Bears have had doing the job this year. One thing to note about Grant. He had a great deal of trouble hanging on to the ball when he was with the Dolphins, which is probably the reason he is no longer there. He’ll get you points in the return game. But he’ll cost you points too. The over all result can be frustrating.
  • Cairo Santos was 2 for 2 very valuable field goals that help secure the win in the fourth quarter. He has not missed a field goal in a game in more than a year for a streak of 34 made field goals now.

  • drops
  • I was sorry to see Germaine Ifedi injured but I have to say here that the guy is a penalty machine. He jumped again for a false start on the second play of the game.
  • The Bears were clean in the turnover department, which was a major reason for the victory. But there were 8 penalties for 70 yards, which is really too many. Fortunately teh Raiders were worse with 10 penalties for a damaging 82 yards.
  • Bears fans didn’t out number the Raiders fans but they were definitely heard as the crowd was basically dead for most of the game. Nice job.

Quick Game Comments: Lions at Bears 10/3/21

Robin Lopez when discussing the lessons he learned as an NBA basketball player once said, “Steve Nash, Grant Hill, they were always preaching whether you win or lose. You have to keep an even keel, keep a level head.”

This always struck me as the fundamental difference between good teams and subpar teams. Good teams are consistent. They are, to the extent that it possible, the same high quality almost every time they hit the field. Teams that aren’t good aren’t. They flash well one week with a big win or a fine performance and find themselves on an emotional high only to fall the next week as they let down and fail to concentrate and prepare with the same intensity. Especially with the younger teams, the season is an emotional rollercoaster.

This is what we saw today. The Bears, coming off of a miserable physical and mental beating in Cleveland, went back to the drawing board and redrew the plan. Practices all week were reported to be at a special intensity as they worked extra hard to pick themselves up. Many of my friends were surprised that the Bears opened as 4 point favorites in this game after the brutal loss to the Browns. I wasn’t. If they were going to bounce back with a good performance, it was going to be this week.

The Lions, on the other hand, lost to the Baltimore Ravens last week on a last second field goal in what can only be termed as a special effort from what many consider to be a miserable team. The 19-17 loss was shocking in how well the Lions played and how close they came to beating one of the best teams in the NFL. What wer ethe odds that this team was going to pull off the same performance two weeks in a row? Not very high. And they didn’t. The Lions defense reverted back to form after a wonderful effort last week and th Bears took advantage of big gaps in their coverage on some well timed play action passes.

Last year, Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune once quoted a source associated with gambling in Las Vegas as saying, “We see the Bears as being the same as the Lions.” Its not entirely true. But there is some truth to it. Neither of these teams is going to be competitive until they can perform at a consistently high level week in and week out.

Today it was the Bears week and they deserve to be congratulated (as I mostly do below). We will all celebrate. The Bears will dance in the locker room. All will be light and happiness. But another week is right around the corner – for all of us – and, let’s be honest, it could be like the Lions or it could be more like the Browns. You never know with this team. And that’s the problem.


  • Going into this game the Lions ranked 29th in yards per play allowed and 32nd in passing yards per play. The were allowing 10.3 yards per pass attempt, and opposing quarterbacks had a 123.2 passer rating. The Lions had allowed 384 yards per game and 6.7 yards per play. Nagy’s offense through three games ranked last in the NFL with 191.7 yards per game and 3.34 yards per play, and the Bears were second-to-last with 13.3 points per game. Something had to give. As it turned out, it was the Lions defense that reverted to form after a yeoman’s effort last week against the Ravens. In fairness to the Lions defense, the Bears generally executed better with a much better plan than last week for the demolition at the hands of the Browns. But in the end, the Lions defensive back field was what, onace again, did them in giving up 191 yards net passing to a Bears team that had only 1 last week.
  • A good part of the Bears success was due to a drastically different game plan from compared to last week. I’d be surprised if the Bears ran double tight end sets less than 35% of the time and I’ll bet quarterback Justin Fields was under center about half the time instead of spending all of his time in the shotgun. And I swear a little tear came to my eye every time I saw J.P Holtz line up at fullback in an I-formation.
  • This game plan made a lot of sense to me. If I’m calling plays for a team and they are having trouble protecting the quarterback, my first instinct always is to go back to basics. To me that means running the ball. And that’s where this plan started today.

    The results, in my opinion, were dramatic. The Bears ran the ball effectively down hill for 188 yards and that allowed Fields to make hay off of the play action pass. It was football the way it was meant to be played at Soldier Field and, although he tried it briefly once before, I never thought I’d see Matt Nagy, even in the state of desperation he must be in, consent to do it again. Here’s hoping that he stays with it this time because the game plan helped Fields out tremendously and gave us a chance to see what he could do.

  • Last game Damiere Byrd played 34 snaps and had zero targets, while Marquise Goodwin played only 10 snaps. Goodwin had 1 carry and neither receiver had a catch today. One wonders what happened to the plan to use speed at the third and fourth receiver slots to threaten defenses. Bad plan? Or bad execution?
  • On a related note, against the Bengals, Nagy called a game with one target to the tight end position that he has always claimed is so huge for the offense. In Cleveland, there were five passes thrown to the tight ends. Only one was caught. and though I really haven’t been as impressed with Cole Kmet as the Chicago media have, statistically he hasn’t exploded and neither has Jimmy Graham this year. Today was no exception. Kmet had 1 catch for 6 yards and Jimmy Graham didn’t make the stat sheet. Again, what happened to the plan that involved the Bears choosing to keep Jimmy Graham over Kyle Fuller in the off season cap crunch?
  • It was difficult to tell who called the plays today and it may well have been both Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor. Certainly the game plan was different and it made me think that Lazor may have begun the game doing the job. But Nagy had the play card in his hands and he was obviously calling plays over the head set in the fourth quarter.
  • Congratulations to the offensive line, who played well today in a game plan that emphasized its strengths. I thought even last week that the Bear offensive line did a better job of run blocking and they certainly did well today. The Bears were in max protect a lot and never, as far as I could tell, went to four wider recievers, let alone five. So th eline gat a lot of help and it showed.
  • Fields had a wonderful game today. The game plan helped him out, as well, and allowed him to perform to his abilities. His accuracy was impeccable (11/17 for 209 yards total). The protection and the use of play action allowed him to go down field (10.3 yards per pass) and defensive backs were unable to simply sit on short routes.
  • It wasn’t a perfect game for Fields by any means. He still holds the ball too long in an effort to allow the big play to develop instead of simply checking it down and it hurt him on occasion today. And he still has a hard time picking up the free blitzer.

    But there’s plenty enough time to harp on such things another day. For today, nice job. It was a relief to see him bounce back so well from the mental and physical beating he took last week.

  • Interesting that, though the Bears helped Fields in so many ways, we didn’t see the roll outs and run-pass options that fans and some media were screaming for. The Bears forced Fields to be a professional quarterback today. He’ll probably be better in the long run for it. But I’d still like to see him on the run just every nce in a while like he was on just a few occasions last week.
  • The Bears were 1 of 8 on third down today and I’d say this continues to be an area of concern.
  • Special kudos to David Montgomery who ran 23 times for 106 angry yards (4.6 yards per rush) for 2 touchdowns. He’s all heart and it was not a feel good to watch him limp off the field in the second half with an apparent injury to his left knee. Here’s hoping its not a bad as it looked. Damien Williams, who also had a touchdown earlier in the game, did a good job picking up the slack as he ran for 55 yards on 8 carries (6.9 yards per rush).
  • Darnell Mooney also deserved special mention today and he caught 5 balls for 125 yards, one of which was a spectacular diving catch early in the game and another of which was for 64 yards. Its worth noting that Fields had time for that throw because, once again, the Bears provided excellent protection with two tight ends and a running back lined up before the snap. Contrast with last week if you dare.


  • It was an interesting day for the defense. Generally speaking, I thought that they played bend but don’t break today. The Lions moved the ball for a lot of yards (348) but in the end, only put up 14 points. Far too often, the Lions would get into the red zone (5 times) and not come away with points (4 of those 5 visits). They shot themselves in the foot and generally failed to execute. Perhaps that was the Bears plan. If it was, kudos to them because it worked. But it was a tough watch for the rest of us.
  • Though the Bears played a fair bit of man coverage, their bread an butter was still the zone defense. And I’m just slightly disturbed by the way they’ve been playing it.
  • For instance, Browns tight end Austin Hooper had a 13 yard touchdown reception with 19 seconds remaining in the first half last week that looked like a mix up in coverage. The linebacker (Roquon Smith) thought the safety was going to pick him and the safety obviously thought the linebacker was going to carry him.

    Fast forward to today. The Lions are on the Bears 25 yard line. Lions quarterback Jared Goff hits Kalif Raymond for a touchdown pass as he runs right by safety Deon Bush as linebacker Alec Ogletree failed to carry him.

    This is a mistake that should have been cleaned up last week. It’s mildly worrisome that it wasn’t.

  • Eddie Goldman played today and, even though he wasn’t on the stat sheet, I thought he was disruptive and played well. Same for Khyris Tonga and Bilal Nichols. All three were generally disruptive and Nichols made arguably the play of the game by catching an early snap that bounced off of Goff in the shotgun.
  • The pass rush was also pretty good today as Smith, Trevis Gipson, Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack all had sacks. Unfortunately, the Bear had a bad habit of letting the Lions off the hook with penalties and other errors which decreased the effectiveness of these plays. But it was a good sign that they continued. Special kudos to Quinn who played well and is rapidly shedding his “free agent bust” label.
  • I’m glad to say that Duke Shelley played well today. Nickel corner was a particular problem the first few games. No complaints today.
  • It wasn’t all roses and rainbows for the defense. The Lions ran over them (90 yards rushing, 3.6 yards per rush) in an effort that was worse then the statistics indicated. Deon Bush has a rough game in coverage and will be under scrutiny this week if Tashaun Gipson isn’t ready to play.


  • I dislike Aqib Talib as an announcer even more than I disliked him as a player. And that’s saying something because I thought he might possibly have been the dirtiest player in the NFL. I learned nothing today.
  • The Bears weren’t very disciplined to day with 7 poorly timed penalties for 61 yards with several being declined. Defensive offsides was an issue. I usually don’t get too alarmed about these until you get up closer to 10 violations. But today I’d say they’re lucky they weren’t playing a better team.
  • The two fumbles that the Bears recovered today were huge. the Bilal Nichols recovery, really catch, of an early shotgun snap that bounced off of jared goff as he approached the line to adjust the protections saved at least three points and quite possibly more. It makes such a difference when you win the turnover battle.
  • I thought Jared Goff struggled with his accuracy today. It makes me wonder if the Lions don’t make this game a lot closer on a better day for him. The rematch of these two teams in Detroit will be interesting. Nagy has gone 5-1 against the Lions in his career, but the one loss was particularly damaging for him. It was a 34-30 Lions comeback in December that had many convinced that Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace weren’t going to make it into the offseason (including me). They play in Detroit this year on Thanksgiving with the whole world watching.