Justin Fields Likely Made the Decision Not to Play Sunday. What, If Anything, Does that Say About Him?

Colleen Kane at the Chicago Tribune
quotes head coach Matt Eberflus on why Justin Fields didn’t play at quarterback Sunday against the New York Jets.

“The medical staff didn’t clear him to play today,” Eberflus said. “Justin didn’t feel he could protect himself and perform the way he wanted to perform. It’s about mobility and strength in his left arm. We’ll take it day by day.”

This is a reasonably confusing statement to me. However, I do think I figured out what happened here.

At least two national outlets over the last two days reported that Fields was “trying to convince the Bears that he could play”. Jets CB C.J. Mosley had similar thoughts.

“We were definitely expecting Fields to play, just knowing him being a franchise quarterback, being a young quarterback, wanting to be out there with his team,” Mosley said. “It didn’t happen.”

However, that seems to be untrue based upon what Eberflus said. Fields didn’t feel that he could come protect himself and decided not to play.

The question may be “if the medical staff didn’t clear him” why did Fields have a choice at all?

I think what happened here is that the medical staff may have been ready to clear Fields. However ultimately the decision about whether he felt he could play or not was up to him. After he made the decision, the medical staff didn’t “clear him” because he didn’t think he could protect himself.

It makes sense if Fields made the first decision. It makes no sense if the medical staff did.

The distinction is subtle but important. The suggestion is that Fields wasn’t trying to play at all costs yesterday.

I’m not say that’s wrong. After all, we aren’t on a playoff push here. And I’m certainly not saying that Fields is not tough or that he doesn’t have a desire to play football. But the fact that he likely took a pragmatic approach to the situation and made a decision not to play when many players would go out and play at all costs – as implied by the national media outlets and as expected by at least some Jets players – tells us something about him.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Jets 11/27/22


  • Safety Jaquan Brisker, cornerback Kyler Gordon and reserve linebacker Sterling Weatherford were all inactive with injuries. That’s in addition, of course, to the face that the Bears really don’t have a good cornerback situation opposite Jaylon Johnson. So Kindle Vildor, Jaylon Jones and DeAndre Houston Carsen started in the defensive backfield. The Jets took advantage to get a touchdown on the opening drive.
  • In addition, Eddie Jackson went down in the second quarter and I honestly lost track of who was playing after that. Elijah Hicks seemed to be getting more time at that point. In any case, ugly break for a defense that was ugly to begin with.
  • It appeared to me that the Bears started playing bend but don’t break and keeping everything in front of them. That works as long as you don’t have critical mistakes in the red zone, which the Bears certainly did. It was Vildor falling down and leaving a receiver wide wide open in the end zone.
  • The Bears then switched to a more aggressive defense, playing more man-to-man and covering more tightly. The end result wasn’t great. The Jets racked up 466 total yards.
  • The defensive linemen played better against the run this week. They were all over up and down the line plugging holes and they did get some penetration. The Jets still got 158 yards on 32 carries (4.9 ypc). It looked to me like the Bears simply had a lot of trouble getting off of blocks all over the field.
  • As usual, the Bears struggled to get pressure on Mike White getting only 1 sack. That led to White having a lot of success. Credit to White for having a good day (22/28 for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns and a 149.3 passer rating). But let’s wait until he plays a real NFL defense before crowning him the next Jets franchise quarterback.


  • Bears QB Trevor Siemian injured his oblique in pregame throwing doubt upon the possibility that he cold start. Nathan Peterman was next up for the Bears. Peterman’s last start was with the Bills against the Bears in 2018 — he threw three interceptions and had a 45.3 passer rating in a 41-9 loss. Fortunately, Siemian took a shot and managed to play. Otherwise this debacle would have likely been even worse.
  • It was nice to watch Siemian operate the Bears passing offense in the first half. He looked to me like he was reading the defense dropping back hitting his back foot and throwing the ball on time to the correct receiver. It was an efficient performance (XXXX stats). Hopefully quarterback Justin Fields was watching closely. The Bears would be in heaven if they could get Fields to do that from the pocket in addition to his wonderful talent running with the football.
  • Teven Jenkins was back a left guard. He did well to my eye. Larry Borom entered in place of Reily Reiff at right tackle after Reiff came up with some sort of injury early in the first quarter. Calling all I thought the line did a decent job, especially in the first half, of containing a very good Jets front seven. And in fact, the Jets did start bringing an extra man on occasion. That’s significant because they blitz very rarely.
  • Borom also missed a block on an important third down in the third quarter that was a pretty ugly mistake. But, truly, I wonder if he had been playing the last few games instead of coming in rusty if he would’ve made that mistake. Even now, I think that the Bears would’ve been better off developing Borom as a young lineman rather than putting Reiff in.
  • The second half wasn’t good for the offense. Siemian was holding the ball looking for receivers that evidently weren’t open and the Jets started to get pressure. The offense just couldn’t move. This was more like the offense that we saw the first half of the season before Fields started to use his legs. The end result was that Siemian was 14/25 for 179 yards and a 75.3 passer rating.
  • The Bears apparently decided that it was time to get Chase Claypool more involved this week. Claypool was their endzone target on their first drive (the pass was incomplete) and seemed to be the guys that Siemian was trying to go to most often in single coverage when the Bears needed a play. He had 2 receptions for 51 yards as their big play threat.
  • Darrynton Evans did a nice job at running back, apparently in place of the less than effective Trestan Ebner. Probably they have been waiting for Evans to become more trustworthy protecting the quarterback before they play him. Ebner’s play eventually forced the change. All things considered he did well with some decent runs (9 carries for 34 yards) and a reception for 33 yards.
  • I didn’t think that this was Montgomery’s best game (79 yards on 14 carries and 3 catches for 34 yards). He seemed to be spending a lot of time running into the backs of his blockers.
  • The Bears were a miserable 4 of 13 on third down. That is bad offense that being 2 of 3 on fourth down doesn’t make a lot better.


  • Joe Davis (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst), Pam Oliver (reporter) were your announcers. Nice job by Johnston pointing out that the referees were going to allow some physical play in the defensive backfield today. Johnston also did a nice job of highlighting the play of Jack Sanborn (15 tackles, 10 solo and 1 for loss), who I think even the most average Bears fan is starting to notice.
  • Crazy special teams mistake by the Jets in the second quarter. It appeared that the ball got a little bit slick with the rain coming down and the holder fumbled the ball on an easy field goal. The Bears had to pick it up a couple of times trying to advance it before they finally recovered it for good. Unfortunately, they ruled the initial fumble an incomplete pass and it all came back. But apparently the wet ball was like a greased pig out there. At least for that play.
  • The Bears had only one penalty for 10 yards today. Unfortunatley the Jets also only had one for five yards.
  • The Bears once again lost the turnover battle with a Siemian an interception near the end of the game with the Bears needing a play.
  • Even considering that we all know that the team isn’t very good and that this year is all about development of young players, like it was tough to watch what I think is a rather mediocre Jets team destroy the Bears today. Players have started to go down like flies late in the season where they haven’t had a bye week yet. Eventually, what was already a bad defense simply broke. Such is life in the NFL. Better for it to happen in a year like this then in a year where the Bears have higher expectations.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Looking for Your Next Quarterback

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

Any QBs in the draft next April that have a similar skill set to Justin Fields (a duel threat vs. a pocket passer) that Bears could consider targeting in the fourth to seventh rounds? That would emulate the Baltimore Ravens’ approach with mobile backup Tyler Huntley backing up Lamar Jackson. — @jboba

Interesting question and something to keep in mind moving forward. My first reaction is the hit rate on quarterbacks in Round 1 is very bad, as everyone knows. The hit rate on quarterbacks in later rounds — even as backups — only gets worse. Typically, No. 2 quarterbacks tend to be guys that have circulated around the league and proven themselves with a little bit of playing time. That’s what the Bears have right now in Trevor Siemian, who signed a two-year contract in the spring. He was a seventh-round pick out of Northwestern and made 24 starts with the Denver Broncos in his second and third seasons to build a resume that will keep him employed for a while.

Huntley signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2020 and was pressed into action with four starts last season, the first of which was at Soldier Field in a 16-13 Baltimore victory. Huntley’s skills give the Ravens a similar player to Jackson, as you note.

I am intrigued by the idea but wonder if it’s too soon to make this a priority. The Bears obviously value Siemian for what he brings to their quarterback room and they have so many needs across both sides of the ball that I think using a draft pick on a quarterback would be a wish list item in 2023.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. It’s never too early to be looking for your next quarterback, even if it’s just a back up.

I realize that the Bears have a lot of needs. But it’s thinking like this that leads you to the point where you are scrambling around in desperation mode looking for somebody when you need a quarterback and you don’t have one. Even with Fields looking as good as he does as a starter for the future, there is no guarantee that he will be a complete hit long-term. For one thing, he’s a running quarterback who could get badly hurt at any time. For another, I think its safe to say that no one is completely sold on him yet passing the ball – his primary job as a quarterback.

Even if you are 100% convinced that Fields is the guy going forward, the Bears cannot afford to be complacent and simply look to fill other immediate needs. It’s this kind of thinking that leads teams to be on the kind of merry go round that the Bears have been on since… well, forever.

Quarterback is always a need.

If the Bears see a quarterback that they like that they can get in one of those later rounds – a big if – even if its just to fill the third quarterback spot on the roster behind Siemian, they need to take him. You can never pass up somebody like that no matter how long the odds are of hitting on the position.

GM Ryan Poles needs to look toward the future at the quarterback position. Always. No matter what the immediate needs are. He simply cannot afford to do otherwise for the long-term health of the franchise.

How Should Ryan Poles Be Judged By His Signings Last Offseason?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune
answers your questions.

Count me among those buying stock in Ryan Poles coming loaded in 2023 with the enviable cap flexibility and improved draft capital. However, the performance of Poles’ guys this season has me leery of the GM’s aptitude for talent evaluation. The rookies have been understandably up and down but his free-agent acquisitions have been lackluster at best. There’s still time, but the trades for N’Keal Harry and Chase Claypool haven’t borne much fruit either. If Poles doesn’t hit it out of the park personnel-wise this offseason should Bears fans start sweating? — David D., Arlington Heights

You’re right that the Bears haven’t gotten a whole lot out of their free-agent additions, but we’re talking about mostly stop-gap measures on one- or two-year deals. You get what you pay for, right? When you spend $4 million per year on Lucas Patrick and $4 million per year on Byron Pringle, you’re not expecting a whole lot — or at least you shouldn’t be. Those guys have suffered multiple injuries and now the Bears have gotten even less from them. Justin Jones has been OK on the defensive line, certainly more productive than Al-Quadin Muhammad.

I wouldn’t judge Poles’ ability to add key pieces via free agency based on what he did last March and April. As far as the draft, let’s see where the current class is in another two years or so. A lot of folks want an instant success/failure indicator and it doesn’t work that way. Let’s have some patience and see what unfolds in the offseason.

Biggs has a point. But I’m going to push back just a little bit.

It is true that individually you don’t expect much out of the free agents that Poles signed. They were bargain basement guys and we all knew that when they signed them.

But having said that, really good organizations seem to find the occasional hit amongst free agents like this. Guys that they dig up that for whatever reason they have not succeeded in the previous organizations but that fit the schemes and what the Bears are trying to do. Taking individually, of course, these are long shots. But as a group you would expect a really good GM to find one or two hits amongst the free agents that were signed last off-season. I haven’t really seen enough of that.

Of course, it’s early. And many of these guys might get better if they’re surrounded by better talent once the Bears start fortifying the roster from the draft. Biggs cites the case of Justin Jones who, though he has been inconsistent, has shown flashes of talent that leads to him getting penetration against the run.

And, to be fair, none of none of these guys has been a complete bust. Most of them have given something.

So I haven’t made any broad sweeping judgments about Poles’ ability to find and judge talent and put it on the roster. But my antennae are up and I’ve seen nothing to indicate any of extraordinary ability in this area that you hope to see in a new GM. The judgements will be much more firm next fall when the Bears’ resources aren’t so limited.

Is Matt Eberflus a Good Head Coach?

The writers at the Chicago Tribune answer key fill in the blank questions about the Chicago Bears.

Matt Eberflus‘ coaching through 11 games has been ________.

Here’s what I know about Eberflus through 11 games: He has done a good job of being the face of an organization that is completely stripping down the roster with an eye toward the future.

Eberflus has to answer for why the defense is one of the worst in the league. The Bears are tied for 27th in points allowed, can’t stop the run, don’t have a hint of a pass rush and have been a mess on third down. The passing offense remains a work in progress, to put it kindly, and he’s playing with a ton of young players.

That’s a long way of saying it is going to be really difficult to judge Eberflus as a head coach until he’s presented with a better roster.”

“Kane: Worthy of an incomplete grade.

Ultimately the all-business Eberflus — at some point down the line — will be judged on the wins. But it’s hard to judge where this team is headed given the roster he is working with. I know that despite a lack of talent the Bears have stayed close in several losses.”

“Wiederer: He has a lot left to prove.

Eberflus earned deserved praise during the summer for articulating his vision and establishing a standard of effort that he wants his teams to live by. The HITS principle was, pardon the pun, an early hit. And to this point, the Bears have remained competitive and feisty despite having a roster that remains low on top-tier talent and quality depth. The moment also hasn’t seemed too big for Eberflus in terms of game management or situational awareness.”

Personally, I found these answers to be a bit on the “let’s take it easy on the new guy” side of things. Which is, of course, logical. But I do think that we have good reason to be more critical on some specific issues that are talent-independent.

I like Eberflus and I’m trying to be patient and to give him a chance. But in no way have I been convinced that he’s going to be the head coach that I thought he was going to be when they hired him. I expected the new coaching staff to maximize the talent on the roster. To me, that didn’t necessarily mean winning games. However, the way that they lost them was going to be significant.

I expected the Chicago Bears to be among the most disciplined teams in the league in 2022. I expected them to lose games because they lack talent. But I did not expect them to lose games because they committed turnovers or, especially, because they committed penalties. These are two quantifiable measures that, in my opinion, can be extended to indicate the level of discipline and mistakes in other areas on the field. That is, are the players failing to properly fill their gaps in the run game and/or are there a significant number of broken coverages?

Unfortunately, both the numbers and my eyes indicate that the team is average at best in these aspects of the game.

Right now the Bears are +1 in turnover differential. That puts the Bears in an eight-way tie for ninth place, right in the middle of the league. I could hardly call this a reason why the team is better than expected. Certainly, I would not cal it a reason why they are maximizing the talent on the roster.

The same goes for the 15th ranking in penalties committed, right in the middle of the league. I do not call that maximizing talent. Certainly its nothing to brag about when you hope that you have hired a top five or 10 coaching staff.

I’m hoping that Eberflus can turn this around with time. Perhaps it’s just a question of coaching a very young team that is still making mistakes that no coach could be expected to correct.

But having said that, I have my doubts. New coaching staffs have a major advantage in that they have no connection to most of the guys on the team. Players don’t know where they stand and that causes them to concentrate harder and make fewer mistakes, not more. The Bears stats are, therefore, probably higher than they would be with a staff that has been around for a year or two, the situation the Bears will be in next year.

Eberflus has reportedly been spending significant time in the quarterback meeting room, which I think is good. But I’m starting to think that he should be taking more of a direct hand in coaching the Bears 27th ranked defense. He’s a proven coordinator on that side of the ball and I’m starting to wonder if Alan Williams can get the team to execute with fewer mistakes in the way that Eberflus has in the past.

I think that installation of better discipline on the field should be a priority for this team, or at least for this coaching staff, over the course of the remainder of the season. This, ultimately, will be the proof of what kind of head coach Eberflus is and what kind of staff he has hired.

The Change in the Offense at the “Mini-Bye” Was More Than Just Designed Runs

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

Like a lot of people, I’m a little baffled by the handling of Justin Fields on Sunday and, honestly, for the whole season. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems as if the narrative has been this: Despite having an incredibly gifted and athletic quarterback and an offseason to prepare for that, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and coach Matt Eberflus came into the season basically treating Fields more like a traditional quarterback, and the offense for the first several weeks was awful. I know there were other reasons for that too (bad O-line, iffy receivers), but you weren’t seeing these designed QB runs or seemingly anything creative that fit Fields’ skill set. They finally started doing that and the offense took off, but it seems like they’ve now swung too far in the other direction and it culminated with that final drive play calling with an obviously beaten up Fields being asked to run even more. Am I way off the mark here? — Andy B., Chicago

The Bears started adding more designed QB runs to the offense in Week 7 at New England but it’s not as if these were not in the playbook. Fields had 14 carries against the Patriots after running 12 times the week before in a miserable loss to the Washington Commanders. The difference was more of the rushes were designed against New England versus scrambles against Washington. He had eight carries at Dallas, 15 against Miami, 13 against Detroit and then a season-high 18 in the loss at Atlanta. Many of the designed runs have taken Fields out of harm’s way and he has taken fewer big hits on those. The Falcons did a nice job of playing the zone read and the hits added up Sunday.

I dispute the idea Getsy wasn’t creative with Fields early in the season. We saw moving pockets, sprint outs, bootlegs, play action, all of that stuff was being called. The Bears were not executing it as well. There has been a slight uptick in play action since the New England game, but there isn’t a big variation.

I think Biggs spot on here but I’m going to add one extra point.

I think that Fields came out of the “mini-bye” with more of a mind to run the ball. Not just on designed runs but I think that he actually has felt more free to scramble out of the pocket and takeoff.

Fields has run for 497 yards on 68 carries since the week 7 games against the Patriots. In the five games before that he ran for 254 on 43 carries. That difference of almost 250 yards and 25 carries isn’t just designed runs.

Perhaps the real story behind the changes that took place in the long period between the Commanders Thursday night game and the Patriots Monday night game will come out some day. Until then, I’m not too sure if Getsy didn’t tell Fields to start running more on scrambles as well as calling more designed runs. Or perhaps its possible that Fields just came to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do himself.

But, whatever happened, the direction of the last five games is distinctly different from where Fields was headed for the first six games of the season. And I think it’s safe to say that the difference is in Fields mindset, not just in the game plan.

Bears Are Likely Looking for Players at High Impact Positions Early in 2023 NFL Draft

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune
answers your questions.

What’s the bigger draft need that the Bears should address with their first pick? OL or DL? — @kct2020

Depending on where the team selects, the Bears could have their choice of the first or second non-quarterback to come off the board. That would put GM Ryan Poles in a position where, if he didn’t trade down, he needs to hit a home run. In that instance, you’ve got to trust your draft board and go with the highest-graded guy. Whether that is an offensive lineman, defensive lineman, edge rusher, wide receiver, cornerback, it doesn’t matter. That has to be what scouts call a “blue,” a player that would be a clear starter on any NFL roster and an elite performer. If the grades are similar, I would lean toward a front seven player on defense. The Bears are wholly lacking on defense and need players that can tilt the field.

I tend to agree with Biggs here.

I think that the Bears have shown their hand in terms of what they think about positional value around the field.

It a little early to draw broad conclusions. But when the Bears traded Roquon Smith to the Ravens, it wasn’t just a statement on Smith’s value. It was a statement about the value of the off the ball linebacker position as a whole in the organization under GM Ryan Poles. In addition, given the way that Poles tried to address the line in the offseason with a large quantity of late round picks, it may say something about where he thinks that he can find good players at those positions.

By extension, my conclusion is that it they’re going to spend a high draft pick on one player, they’re probably going to go with a guy in a position that they is going to have the highest impact.

That doesn’t mean that they won’t take, for example, an offensive lineman. Of course, if the best player on their board by a long shot is an offensive tackle, that’s the direction they’ll go in. But all else being equal, I think that Poles is likely looking at three technique defensive tackle, defensive end, cornerback, or wide receiver. Those of positions of need that have the highest impact on the field in terms of big plays. That is, scoring touchdowns or preventing touchdowns.

Quick Game Comments: Bears at Falcons 11/20/22


  • The Bears looked to me like they were totally dominated up front. The Falcons had a nice mix of run and pass and the defensive line was getting no pass rush (again) and they got none of the penetration that they got a little bit of last week. The Falcons win the ball 29 times for 126 yards. The Bears had three tackles for loss the entire game.
  • The lack of a pass rush led the Bears to blitz far more than they would like. Mariota is a savvy veteran nowadays and he took advantage of the blitz on occasion. One play at the end of the first half particularly comes to mind where the Falcons got an important first down to eventually set up a field goal. They passed for 131 yards on 2O attempts.
  • I noticed that teams are not avoiding the side that Jaylon Johnson is coverage anymore. Apparently they’ve decided that it just doesn’t matter which side they go to. They are going to be able to take advantage of the Bears defensive backs either way. XXXX pass stats
  • There was some poor tackling out there. Looks like the Bears continue to have work to do on that aspect of the game.
  • Setting running quarterbacks loose seems to be the new style in the NFL. Personally, I think Justin Fields is setting the trend. But Marcus seems to be following it as he did a lot more running than I expected. Mariota ran 10 times for 28 yards and a touchdown.
  • Jack Sanborn (9 tackles) had another good game.
  • Former Bear Cordarrelle Patterson (10 runs for 52 yards) had a very good game today against his old team. His record setting kick return for a touchdown was the difference in the game.


  • Nice, alert play by Sam Mustipher the first quarter on a Justin Fields pass that went high into the air. Mustipher got to the ball and pushed Grady Jarrett down before he could intercept it.
  • Michael Schofield started despite the fact that Tevin Jenkins was active. It will be interesting to see what head coach Matt Eberflus has to say about that after the game.
  • The Bears evidently decided that there was no one on the Atlanta Falcons that could cover Darnell Mooney. Whenever Mooney got into an obvious one on one Fields was going to him and he was going to him fairly deep. Mooney shook loose on the Bears first touchdown and was wide-open on a long route down the right side line that Justin Fields just overthrew him on. The Falcons learned their lesson early and did a better job on him after the first quarter.
  • Give Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Peas credit for coming up with a nice plan to handle Fields (18 carries for 85 yards). The Falcons were spying Fields with linebacker Lorenzo Carter (5 tackles and 1 sack). When he decided that Fields wasn’t going anywhere on a designed run he crashed into the backfield on a delayed blitz. It was very disruptive. Eventually the Bears started to pick him up but he appears to be a pretty good pass rusher and he still caused a lot of problems.
  • It certainly did appear to me like the Bears did a poor job of picking up the Falcons blitz. The Bears are starting some veteran lineman over developing younger players presumably in an effort to better protect Fields. If that is the case, it’s not working. The Falcons sacked Fields 4 times. They ranked 1st in sacks coming into the game.
  • Spectacular catch by Cole Kmet running down the seam on a one-handed grab in the second quarter. That’s about as good a catch as I’ve seen all year. Kmet is really blossoming now in his third year. Kmet had 3 catches for 35 yards.
  • Trestan Ebner (6 rushes for 8 yards) simply doesn’t seem to have the explosion that the other running backs on the Bears roster do. He also seems to lack the vision of David Montgomery (17 carries for 67 yards). Montgomery did a particularly good job at getting good yardage after contact today. And I love seeing him go out on pass routes. He led the team with 3 catches for 54 yards).
  • Color man Daryl Johnston thought that Fields was holding his hamstring in the fourth quarter. It’s entirely possible. They were working on Fields legs on the sideline in the third quarter and certainly he looked hesitant to take off and run. This will be something to keep an eye on. Much though I loved what Montgomery did today, without Fields’ legs the Bears have very little offense.


  • Kicker Cairo Santos was coming off of a miserable game where he missed an extra point that arguably cost the Bears the game against the Lions last week. He recovered nicely by hitting a 41 yard field goal in the second quarter. He barely missed a 55 yard field goal near the end of the first half which, of course, you can’t really blame him for.
  • Eberflus will be criticized for going for that 55 yard field goal near the end of the half. The miss left the Falcons in good field position and they took advantage to kick a field goal to tie the ball game. But I kind of like the call. I think being aggressive there with this team leaves you with very little to lose. Let’s be honest. If you can’t be aggressive when the season is basically done and there’s not much on the line with a young team, you can’t be aggressive at all. I was OK with it.
  • Velus Jones was back as a kick returner and started the game with a nice 43 yard return.
  • Special teams also had another big play in the first quarter when they knocked the ball loose on a punt return at the very end of the period. They then ruined it by allowing Cordarrelle Patterson to score a touchdown on a kick return right before halftime.
  • The bears won the turnover battle by recovering two fumbles. Field threw an interception late in the game trying to make a play to get into a position to tie i
  • But the big difference, and the one that most disappointing, came in the area of penalties. The Falcons were penalized only two times for 13 yards. The Bears, on the other hand, were penalized 7 times for 56 yards and those penalties came at very damaging times, constantly setting the Bears back or helping the Falcons keep drives alive..
  • This was a frustrating game to watch. Ordinarily at this point I would say something to the effect of that the Bears got beat by a better team. Because most of the time that’s true this year. But in this case I’m not so sure, even with the poor Bears defensive line.

    This was a game where the Bears really beat themselves and that was something that I simply did not expect them to be doing this year with the new coaching staff.

    I really thought that the Bears would be in games that they had no business being in simply because they were better disciplined. But that was certainly not true today. The Bears had many bone headed penalties and showed a real lack of discipline that burned them in big spots throughout the game. Third and long was common due in part to penalties and in part due to Fields going down on sacks that weren’t picked up. These were given up to a team that was 31st in the league at sacking the quarterback coming into the game. The defense wan’t better, extending drives with penalties and poor discipline.

    The losses don’t concern me. The way that the Bears are losing does.

Velus Jones Needs to Put the Cart Behind the Horse

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune says that wide receiver Velus Jones
has no specific goals in mind for the final seven games of the season.

“Just to be available,” he said. “When my name is called, make a play and help this team win.”

For any ordinary receiver this would be the right response. But I kind of wonder if it is in Jones’s case.

My impression is that Jones is the kind of guy that wants to hit a home run every time he gets on the field. He has a big play in mind every single time the ball comes his way. Ordinarily that’s what you want in a player but in Jones’s case it leads to critical mistakes.

Jones was the punt returner for the first six games of the season but was benched after muffing a punt against the Washington Commanders. He had previously muffed a punt against the Giants in week four.

Something tells me that what the Bears really need, at least at first, is for Jones to just do his job. Perhaps he should be concentrating first on that rather than “making a play”. Perhaps if he just concentrates on catching the ball, big plays will naturally come his way as the opportunity arises. In any case, I suspect that he just needs do the minimum first and then see if he can build upon that to make big plays. It’s possible that Jones needs to crawl before he can walk.

Was Jack Sanborn a Reason the Bears Traded Roquan Smith?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears head coach Matt Eberflus on Jack Sanborn.

“If you go back and look at the preseason, you saw what kind of player he was,” Eberflus said. “He’s very instinctual, makes a lot of plays on the ball, always reads his keys. He’s always on it that way. We’re pleased with where he’s going.”

I was listening to a podcast the other day where the hosts stated that they were worried because the Bears had “once again” not identified a player early in the season and failed to put them into the games until later than it should’ve happened.

I don’t think this is the case with Sanborn. A spot at linebacker was opened up when the Bears traded Roquan Smith. I would say it’s likely that one of the reasons the Bears felt comfortable trading Smith was the fact that Sanborn was behind him and was developing into what looked like a decent linebacker.

Is Sanborn a decent linebacker? We really don’t know yet. But he led the team in tackles his first 2 games with 19. Sixteen of those were solo and 2 were for loss. He has 2 sacks.

If the Bears had Sanborn in mind when they let Smith go, I’d say that the indications are that it was a good call.