Quick Game Comments: Bears at Cowboys 10/30/22


  • The Cowboys game plan became quickly evident. It was going to be a heavy dose of running back Tony Pollard at the Bears somewhat weak run defense along with attacking wherever Jaylon Johnson wasn’t in the passing game. Most often to CeeDee Lamb (77 yards).
  • The Bears really got handled upfront. Its very hard to win where that’s the case. They need to work on their defensive line in the off-season. It’s an underrated need.
  • The Cowboys had 98 yards rushing and 28 points with 7 minutes left in the second quarter. In fairness, it wasn’t just the defensive line. The Bears simply didn’t play very good run defense. They weren’t very disciplined in plugging their gaps and staying in them. For that matter, there were a number of instances of evident broken or poorly executed coverages in the passing game as well. This was the biggest problem.
  • On a related note, the Bears problem with rollouts to the outside also made itself evident very early. Dominique Robinson collapsed down on the inside run and Dak Prescott danced into the end zone right around the end with no one to contain for the Cowboys first touchdown. I thought we were done with this after the Giants exposed this problem a few weeks ago. Evidently not.
  • How big was the interception by Eddie Jackson at the end of the first half? Ending the half with another score and getting it right back to start the second half 11 points down after being down by 21 kept them in the game at that point. Jackson continues to have a great comeback season in this respect.
  • The Cowboys were 9 for 11 on third down. And that doesn’t really tell the whole story. They stopped the Cowboys on third down for the first time all game 3 minutes into the second half. That tells you how flat they were in the first half.


  • It’s very evident that the Bears plan was to establish the run game. The Cowboys were ready for it. They have a very good pass defense and even average pass defenses need not fear the Bears passing game much. Both teams knew that.
  • The Cowboys were playing fast and swarming to the ball. That’s generally a good thing but it meant that the Bears best success on the ground often came when they used misdirection. An end around to Velus Jones to the right for 18 yards while everyone else moved to the left in the first quarter was a great example of this.
  • Again Justin Fields’ legs were the Bears greatest weapon (60 yards rushing with a touchdown). This is, of course, a good thing. But as long as that’s the case he’s probably not progressing enough as a pocket passer. It also exposes him to injury which makes it risky.
  • On a related note, the Cowboys were also ready for the designed runs to Fields. They had either a linebacker or a safety spying on him early in each down.
  • What we need to see more of from Fields are passes like the one to N’Keal Harry at the end of the first half. Fields took the ball and got rid of it to Harry within about two seconds. A quick decision, a quick and accurate throw on the money over the middle for a 17 yard touchdown. That wasn’t the only example. Fields was 17 for 23 for a respectable 151 yards with a quarterback rating of 120.0. Those are the kind of passes that will get Fields paid and secure his position as a franchise quarterback with the team. They just need to see much more of it.
  • Another good thing about Fields. He’s been handling the pressure coming at him pretty well. The Cowboys did a good job of rushing him but he didn’t panic. He made some good, calm throws around and over free pass rushers coming at him all game. That’s another very good sign.
  • The strength of the team continues to be the running backs, David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert who had 152 yards combined. Give the offensive line credit. The protection wasn’t great today but the run blocking was pretty good.
  • The things that struck me was how well the Cowboys use their tight ends in the passing game. In contrast, I couldn’t even tell you if Cole Kmet was out there today until he caught his first touchdown of the season early in the fourth quarter. It was his only catch of the game other than a shuffle pass late for essentially no gain.
  • Jones dropped a pass that would have set the Bears up with first down from the four yard line near the end of the first half. It was a big miss at this time in the game with the Bears struggling to keep in the contest. Considered along with his muffed punts in previous games, Jones has had a rough start to his pro career.
  • I tried to keep an eye on whether the Bears were trying to do anything special to stop Micah Parsons. Parsons has become one of the best pass rusher in the NFL. As far as I can tell, through left tackle Braxton Jones got occasional chip help from a tight end, Parson was going one-on-one with him on the left for quite a bit of the game. Though the Cowboys got pressure on Fields elsewhere, Jones kept Parsons from doing much damage. Parsons had only 4 tackles and no sacks.
  • Parson’s recovery of Montgomery’s fumble and subsequent run after not being touched for a touchdown was just a nice, heads up play.


  • The Bears had 6 penalties for 45 yards but the Cowboys had only 5 for 36. So, though they were disciplined, they got no advantage from it today. The turnover battle was even at one apiece.
  • Reversal of the call on the Khalil Herbert fumble early in the second half was interesting. On replay, a front angle clearly showed that Herbert lost his grip on the ball. From a back angle it looked like he might’ve gotten control of it again but it was really hard to tell for sure because you couldn’t see the ball very well. If it would have been me, I’m not sure I would’ve reversed that call. But as it was, the Bears certainly caught a break. Herbert eventually scored a touchdown to get the Bears within five points of the Cowboys.
  • The NFL needs more people like Jared Allen.
  • This game set itself up as a letdown game. The big victory in against New England last week was nice but it’s human nature to let down the week following such a big victory. Even as 10 point underdogs, its natural for a young team like the Bears to come back and perform that well again and they did indeed struggle, especially on defense. It was an uphill climb before they even started this week.

    Having said that, the Bears just got beat by a better team today. The Cowboys have more talent at almost every position than the Bears do. Frankly, I was surprised they hung in there as well as they did for as long as they did today. They scored a lot of points and although Justin Fields isn’t there yet, I think we did see some good things from him today.

    I think we can take this away for what it is and move on to next week without feeling too bad about things.

Justin Fields Does Not Make the Players Around Him Better

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune
answers the question of what Justin Fields must do to take a step forward.

Biggs: Start hitting on the easy throws and short completions.

That would put the offense in better down-and-distance situations and keep drives alive. Fields began making some of the “cheap completions,” as [Luke] Getsy termed them, in the Week 5 loss at Minnesota, but there weren’t a lot against the Commanders when he completed 14 of 27 attempts.

Another question in this article was “What is the Bears biggest problem on offense?” The Tribune writers disappointingly copped out and all three basically answered “everything”. But that’s not really true. Everything is, indeed, a problem. But the biggest problem is Justin Fields. He has the balls in his hands every play and decides what to do with it. And there are ways to work around the other problems.

Fields is dealing with a problem that he’s not surrounded by great talent. We all agree on that. When you’ve got an offensive line that is struggling to protect, the one thing you absolutely positively must do is read the defense, drop back and get the ball out quickly. When you are dealing with wide receivers that aren’t particularly talented, you must throw them open with timing, anticipation throws on those short routes. Fields seems to be constitutionally unable to do this.

Good quarterbacks make the players around them better. Fields compounds their problems.

It is no coincidence that most of the Bears fans that I know came away from the Minnesota game encouraged despite the loss and despite the miserable performance in the first half. It was because they thought Fields look good in the second half. When Fields looked his best he was dropping back hitting his back foot and getting the ball out on shorter passes, as big points out above. This is what he must do in order for the Bears offense to move. If he can’t do that, then he’s not going to be the future for the Bears.

Could Sam Mustipher Move to Guard?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune gives us four takeaways from the Bears practice Thursday. He discusses potential changes to the offensive line.

If [Lucas] Patrick slides to center, that would leave the Bears with maybe three options at left guard:

  • Michael Schofield has 81 career starts, by far the most experience of any interior lineman on the Bears with the exception of [Cody] Whitehair. Schofield struggled in training camp and preseason and was released in the roster trim to 53. The Bears re-signed him in Week 2 when Alex Leathewood was placed on the non-football illness list.
  • Leatherwood last week began a 21-day window for the team to evaluate him in practice after he was sidelined four weeks with mononucleosis. The Bears can put him in action once he’s moved to the 53-man roster. Leatherwood played exclusively on the right side at tackle and guard as a rookie last season with the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s fair to assume the Bears will want to look at him at some point this season, but he has had fewer than 10 practices with the team. “We like where he is,” [Matt] Eberflus said. “Mentally in the meetings and giving feedback to C-Mo (offensive line coach Chris Morgan) and our offensive line coaches. It’s been great. And he’s in a good spot. He’s working himself back in there, and we’ll see where it goes physically. But we’re certainly excited to have a talent like that and really start to evaluate where he is.”
  • Rookie seventh-round pick Ja’Tyre Carter is on the active roster, so in theory he’s a potential candidate. It’s unlikely coaches would want to have rookies alongside each other on the left side of the line. A more likely scenario would be the Bears waiving Carter to create a space on the 53-man roster for Leatherwood and then re-signing the rookie to the practice squad.

I thought it was notable that Biggs didn’t mention the possibility of moving Sam Mustipher from center to guard. Before Patrick’s injury, this was the lineup that they were using in training camp with Mustipher at right guard, ahead of Schofield and Carter on the depth chart.

The Bears obviously saw the undersized Mustipher as the primary backup at guard and center heading into the season. I’m not sure why that would change based upon what we’ve seen from Schofield and Carter, both of whom have played poorly during the chances that they’ve gotten to play. Although Mustipher hadn’t been great at center, its entirely possible that he’d do better not having to worry about snaping the ball.

Seeing as they signed Patrick as a center, I have to believe that they would rather be playing him there. It is indeed going to be interesting to see what they do at guard when that happens. Of course, the best thing will be for Whitehair to get back as soon as possible.

Trading Roquan Smith Makes No Sense

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

What are the benefits to trading Roquan Smith vs. compensatory draft pick formula if the Bears let him walk in free agency? — @sfgore

Well, trading him before the deadline would get the Bears a draft pick in 2023. A compensatory pick for losing Smith in free agency — which would not be guaranteed if GM Ryan Poles is a big spender in free agency next year — would not come until 2024. I doubt the Bears will entertain the idea of trading Smith in the next few weeks. Offloading their best player would make it very difficult to sell the idea of culture in the locker room for the remainder of the season. The players need to feel like the team is doing everything it can to win every week. Dealing away Smith for a draft pick would make it clear the team is not doing everything it can to win now, and that would create a stir in the locker room.

This might not make sense to everyone, but this dynamic is real and I would wish coach Matt Eberflus good luck in selling a message that players need to bust their butts every day if the team were to trade Smith. Why not see how Smith evolves in this scheme, which is still new to him, and consider your options at the end of the season, when the Bears will have cap space and cash? It’s not like they have a linebacker ready to step into his place.

It doesn’t make sense to me for the Bears to trade Smith before the trade deadline unless they are absolutely sure that he is not part of their plans for the future. In my mind, what that means is a completely performance-based judgment. You don’t make that move because you’re not sure you can sign him in the offseason.

The Bears can franchise Smith next year. If they do that, they have a choice of coming up closer to his price to come to a deal or to seek to trade him. If they can get a third round pick from a team that’s willing to meet Smith’s price at the same time, they’ve already won. The highest compensatory pick you can get is a third rounder. And as Biggs points out, if the Bears spend in free agency, they might not get any pick at all, let alone the maximum.

I see no reason to be in a rush to trade Smith away now you’re absolutely positive that you don’t want to resign him anyway. Otherwise, its worth waiting to see how negotiations go and if you trade him then, you may well get the same compensation or better in the offseason.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Vikings 10/9/22


  • The Vikings won the coin toss and chose to receive rather than defer as is normally the case. We rapidly found out why. Minnesota’s game plan was evident from the get-go in this game. The first drive was almost entirely running the ball with Dalvin Cook and feeding Justin Jefferson on play action passes. Jefferson had four receptions for 55 yards Cook had a touchdown in less than a half of a quarter of play. The game couldn’t have started better for the Vikings.
  • Bears game plan was obviously to sit back, stop the run, and keep everything in front of them. Essentially they were counting on Minnesota beating themselves and shooting themselves in the foot. The problem is that Minnesota wasn’t doing that. They were executing to perfection. Kirk Cousins’ first incompletion of the day came with 3 minutes left in the first half. That was obviously a big problem.
  • It was very obvious from the first pass that the Bears did not have a defensive back on the field that could reliably cover Jefferson one-on-one. The Vikings wide receivers were running routes that were turning the Bears defensive backs every which way and upside down. It was like a circus back there. The Vikings passed for 312 yards and 7.3 yards per pass.
  • Just after the beginning of the second quarter was the first time that color man Mark Schlereth used the term “bad eyes” to describe a Chicago Bear. It was when Jaylon Jones got sucked in to the interior of the defense and allow Cook to get outside of him to score the Vikings second touchdown. It was far from the only time that Schlereth could have used this phrase or something similar. The Bears are definitely a work in progress and are still cleaning this up.
  • The defensive line once again wasn’t getting penetration against the run and the linebackers weren’t playing down hill. The Vikings ran 117 yards. The Bears also had a very difficult time getting pressure on Cousins despite the fact that they used a variety of different stunts upfront. They generally avoided blitzing, especially in the first half.
  • Once again the Bears came back and played some sneaky good defense in the second half. It’s tough to tell exactly what they were doing differently. Although they were doing a lot more run blitzing, Cook was still running over them and they were still giving the Viking receivers plenty of room. One thing was very evident – the Vikings weren’t playing as well as they did in the first half. In that respect, they definitely let them back into it. At minimum, give the Bears credit for holding steady through adversity to allow this to happen.


  • The Bears offense came out looking very discombobulated. Fields was either late with Dante Pettis or early with Darnell Mooney. It’s hard to tell who’s fault for these missed connections. But it’s fairly obvious that the offense was very disjounted at times.
  • It wasn’t a good sign when Khari Blasingame got on the field late on the very first drive and the Bears took a delay of game. And then Justin Fields had the ball snapped into his gut when he wasn’t expecting it as he was trying to perform a check at the line. That was the first play of the second “drive”. The performance was barely professional.
  • In fairness, it did occur to me that Justin Fields may have been trying to throw with anticipation on some of these plays that weren’t connecting. If so, that’s a good sign. He needs to be able to do that if he’s going to succeed and it may take time for it to come together.
  • As Schlereth so aptly put it, the Vikings were “establishing a new line of scrimmage” upfront. The Bears offensive line simply got whipped much of the time. The Bears ran for only 78 yards and 3.3 yards per carry. Allot of the was Fields. This is becoming a recurring theme.
  • Heck of a 39-yard catch by Mooney late in the first half. It was a one-handed grab falling backwards to the ground. One of the best catches that I’ve ever seen. It set up a David Montgomery touchdown.
  • Fields did a lot of damage on the ground today again. He ran for 47 yards on eight carries. The Vikings did a poor job of keeping him in the pocket the way that the Packers did a couple weeks ago and it burned them. I thought that this played a major role in bringing a little bit of offensive competence for the Bears to this game. It was a major factor in allowing them to come back in the second half. The timing in the passing game got a little better, as well.
  • On a related note I fear for Field’s health.


  • Adam Amin, Kristina Pink and Schlereth were your announcers. Schlereth does a good job in my book though I do understand why some people might not be fans. He usually points out the salient points during the game, which is a bare essential, but he specializes in talking about blocking technique and line play. Its something that no one else gives you and I appreciate it though I know that its not for everyone. Amin is a rising star and he always does a good job, especially for hometown Chicago.
  • The Bears onside kick in the second half was an interesting call. My first thought was, “What are they doing? They’re only five points down with plenty of time left?” But on the other hand, are the Bears really headed to the playoffs or something? I mean what do they have to lose, right? So I say good for Matt Eberflus. What the heck.
  • Ditto with going for it on fourth and four with three minutes left in the third quarter.
  • Certainly helps except the failure of the onside kick knowing that the Bears did a nice job of blocking the Viking field goal attempt that followed. Good work there.
  • The Giants win over the Packers was a good game. That’s two weeks in a row for London. Good for them. They deserve it after some of the crap that they’ve seen over the years.
  • The Bears tied the Vikings with a turnover a piece and had fewer penalties (six versus seven). But a block in the back by Ihmir Smith-Marsette brought back a 52 yard touchdown run by Fields. And, of course, Cameron Danzler stripped Smith-Marsette for the game winning turnover.
  • This was a fascinating game to me in that it encapsulated the Bears season to this point and likely in H and H the season to come. The Bears aren’t talented to beat many teams. In fact they may have beaten the only team that they could and the Texans a few weeks back. But they are capable of allowing you to come up against them and beat yourselves.

    The first half of this game the Vikings were virtually perfect. They executed their offense against the Bears defense, moved the ball like a knife through butter and scored almost at will. The third quarter and for part of the fourth quarter, however, they made numerous errors and didn’t play as well. The Bears blew it in the end but for most of the second half they laid back and before you knew it, they were a head in the game.

    So far, to my eye, they come up against some teams that have played reasonably well at home. I’m convinced that eventually they’re going to come up against some teams that are going to take them too lightly or who are going to simply have a bad game. Those games have a good chance to be wins. It will be interesting to see how many of them there will be.

You can find Tom Shannon on Twitter @bearingthenews

Tanking Never Works

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

What should the top priority be? Wins this year or developing the team/culture for the future? — @dmaz2488

I’m a firm believer that your culture is about as good as your record. You know which teams consistently talk about their culture and how it’s getting better? Teams that are trying to dig themselves out of big holes. What do people talk about with the excellent teams that are consistently in the postseason picture? They analyze the strength of the roster and how good the players are.

Nothing develops players and a roster better than winning. It raises the level of buy-in. It’s a heck of a lot easier to coach corrections in a week coming off a victory than coming off a loss. Everything in the building is better when a team is winning. If the Bears are able to achieve modest success this season, it would be with young players who are improving and making a difference. Why wouldn’t you want to see the Bears win this season?

I’m not sure the Bears can improve by prioritizing development while making winning a secondary goal. I never will understand that line of thinking and I will take it one step further: If the players in the locker room don’t sense that the coaches are doing everything in their power to put them in a position to win every week, those coaches are going to lose the locker room in a hurry. Players put in work to win games. No other messaging will connect with them.

Spot on.

I will never understand people that claim that tanking is the way to long-term winning in the NFL. I understand the desire to get a better draft pick but when you tank, all you do is teach your players to lose. That is not the way to develop a team and that is why tanking never works in the NFL. Never.

If you’ve got a good front office and a good coaching staff then it doesn’t matter where you draft. You can always find good players and even good quarterbacks. The Green Bay Packers are A good example of this. On the other hand, if you don’t have a good front office, it won’t matter where you pick. You’ll never pick enough of the right ones to be any good.

Tanking is a scourge upon sport. It hurts everyone from the players to the league that is trying to sell tickets to games that aren’t competitive. Organizations should never do it.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Giants 10/2/22


  • The Giants obviously watched the last couple games closely becuase they definitely noticed the Bears weakness against the run. Running the ball with Saquon Barkley is what they do anyway so it’s a good combination for them. Barkley ran 31 times for 146 yards.
  • One of the things that the Bears tried to do to stop Barkley was to bring Eddie Jackson on a run blitz. It was a risky play. When it worked it worked very wellwas disruptive. But when it didn’t work, perhaps because the Giants ran the ball to the other side, it basically took Jackson completely out of the play with no chance to involve himself. Was it surprising in that it didn’t seem to be the kind of risk that Matt Eberflus would ordinarily take.
  • The Bears were also flat out stacking the box against the Giants tight formations i an effort to stop the run.
  • And the Giants also obviously noticed that the Bears weren’t very doing a very good job of containing the run outside on film. They took full advantage of it. Daniel Jones was constantly rolling out on bootlegs and, in fact scored the first and second Giants touchdowns were run to the left on such a play. Jones burned the Bears badly with his mobility today.
  • The Bears have real problems on their defensive line. They are having a great deal of trouble penetrating against the run. It’s going to cost them this year if they don’t get better there soon.
  • Nice to see Jackson get another pick today. This defense definitely seem to suit him.
  • I also thought Roquan Smith had a good game. He had 10 tackles.
  • I saw a lot of missed tackles out there.


  • Not surprising. The Bears came out running the ball. Also not surprising, the Giants were ready for it and played a heavy box. It was uphill sledding for Khalil Herert who averaged 4 yards per carry with his better runs coming in the second half.
  • The Bears offensive line as a whole just got whipped at the line scrimmage today. They had a very difficult time protecting Justin Fields, especially Braxton Jones, and the run game really struggled. They averaged 4.7 yards per carry on the ground but much of that was from Justin Fields scrambles.
  • The Bears also came out targeting Darnell Mooney. He seems to have finally gotten going. He was the Bears most productive receiver with 4 catches for 94 yards.
  • I don’t think that Trestan Ebner runs with the same authority that Herbert and David Montgomery do. He’s sometimes just a little tentative when hitting the hole. Perhaps he just needs more experience in the league to gain more confidence.
  • Rookie wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. made his NFL debut after a lingering hamstring issue. He went without a catch but his fumbled punt return with 2 minutes left in the game was probably not what he envisioned for his first game.
  • The Giants were missing defensive lineman Leonard Williams (sprained right MCL) again and they had been struggling to stop the run without him. Really managed to stifle the Bears run game without him today.
  • Nice to see the Bears finally start to execute those screen plays. They caught the Giants a couple times and got some nice yardage. It was an interesting way to get Cole Kmet involved in the game.
  • Fields sees pressure coming up the middle and his eyes dilate and his brain freezes. Instead of quickly getting rid of the ball he looks like a deer in the headlights. It looks like he’s going to be susceptible to this.
  • Fields did a good job of running today. In fact, he was the run game for most of the contest. But he and the Bears should take a lesson from the Giants where both Jones and Tyrod Taylor got hurt doing the same thing.


  • Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Pam Oliver. I’ve always liked Johnston more than most people but I thought he really did a superior job of dissecting plays today.
  • Michael Badgley was 4 for 4 on his field goals in his first game as a Bear. Long way from the days when the Bears tried out like 50 kickers and couldn’t find a decent one.
  • Velus Jones was your kick and punt returner. I’m not surprised. Trestan Ebner wasn’t exactly showing himself to be dynamic and Dante Pettis looked like he flat out didn’t want to be out there. Then Jones fumbled the punt away down by 8 points with 2:00 to play… not better.
  • The Bears are only going to win this year through superior discipline and by winning the turnover battle. They committed only 5 penalties to the Giants’ 7 but did not do that latter as it was 2 turnovers all.
  • Sometimes football is a simple game. Bears got beat on both sides of the line of scrimmage today. When it’s all said and shifted, that was an awfully big reason why they lost. We can hope that this will get better over the course of the year. But I’m reasonably sure that, like most of the areas of the team, this is a place where they’re going to need an influx of talent in the off-season. I guess we’ll just have to add it to the list.
  • To the New Orleans Saints: Welcome to our world.
  • I’ve been as big a supporter of Matt Eberflus and his staff as anybody. But I can’t help but wonder if the Bears weren’t out-coached and outplayed today. The Giants coaching staff seem to have a very good idea what Bears were going to do and had just the right plan in place to stop it.

    With Ryan Poles as a first time general manager, Eberflus as a first time head coach, Luke Getsy as a first time offensive coordinator and Alan Williams having not been a coordinator in 9 years, it seemed to me like there was going to be a learning curve for everybody going into the season. I think the Bears may have paid the price for that today.

    I think that might be OK in a developmental year where the players are young and learning and you really don’t expect to win. Eventually we can hope that the Bears coaches grow into their positions in the same way that we can hope that the Bears players grow into theirs.