Chicago Bears Week 1 Takeaways: Rust, Run Game, Redemption, and More
The Bears pulled a rabbit out of their hat to beat the Lions in Week 1. However, there is still much to dissect from the team’s performance.
It’s a Bears Monday in Chicago! Club Dub was poppin’ yesterday in Detroit after a 27-23 victory. Sadly, the fans won’t get to see it due to the new COVID-19 rules. Nevertheless, it was going down in the Bears locker room.
Club Dub is beside the point. Yes, the Bears won the game, but for the first three quarters, it looked like they really didn’t deserve to.
Week one was wild. The first 45 minutes and the last 15 minutes felt like two different games. Per usual, even in a winning effort, there is a lot to digest from the Bears’ performance.
Here are three takeaways from the improbable week one victory:
Committing to the Run
In the offseason, the Bears fired offensive line coach Harry Hiestand and replaced him with Juan Castillo. This move drew a great deal of skepticism as fans and media wondered whether or not it would really make a difference. Well, the Bears ran the ball 28 times for 149 yards on Sunday, good for 5.3 yards per rush.
The fact that Matt Nagy called 28 run plays was truly shocking, but props are due because he committed to it and the team rewarded him for it. The offensive line held up nicely in run blocking so — at least for now — it seems Castillo has improved the up-front aspect of the run game.
The Tale of Two Mitches
Mitchell Trubisky struggled to find a rhythm for the first three quarters. The fourth-year QB was erratic with his decision-making and missed a handful of throws. His stat line read 12/26 with 153 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, and a 65.1 QB Rating after 45 minutes. The Bears found themselves down 23-6 at that juncture.
Enter fourth quarter Mitch. A whole different player emerged. The Bears scored 21 unanswered points. Unbelievably, Trubisky went 8/10 with 89 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, and a 143.3 QB Rating during that span. Trubisky was more confident, both the quality and timeliness of his decisions improved, he was more mobile, and most importantly, he was throwing dimes.
What do the Bears need to do to unlock fourth quarter Mitch for the entirety of the game? He played like a second overall pick for fifteen minutes.
Third Down Woes
The Bears were 0-6 on third downs. There is simply no excuse for that. Whether it’s play-calling or execution, they need to improve in this area. Sustaining drives not only gives your offense momentum but it keeps your defense off the field and fresh.
The defense had somewhat of a rough go of it on Sunday, as the Lions put up 426 yards of offense. Even more frustrating was that 35-year old Adrian Peterson carried the ball 14 times for 93 yards, good for 6.6 yards per carry. As a unit, the Bears defense allowed 138 rushing yards on 29 attempts for an average of 4.8 yards per play.
The most frustrating part of the day was the lack of a pass rush. The Bears had their moments of getting close and forcing Stafford to make errant passes, including a late instance that resulted in an interception. However, the Bears only recorded one sack on the afternoon even with the Lions’ starting right tackle being ruled out before the game.
On a positive note, the Bears held the Lions to only 23 points and shut them out in the fourth quarter. In the end, it wasn’t all bad, but this area will be something to keep an eye on going forward.
Eddy Pineiro Who?
Lost in all of the hoopla was the performance of Cairo Santos. The veteran kicker was perfect on the day, going 2/2 on field goals and 3/3 on extra points. Did anyone feel nervous or even notice when the kicker went out there?
2020 Draft Class: Immediate Impact
Jaylon Johnson and Darnell Mooney made their presence felt early and often. Mooney, the speedy WR, hauled in three catches for 39 yards. Johnson had his ‘welcome to the NFL’ moment when Marvin Jones trucked him. However, he had one of the biggest plays of the game when he broke up a pass to seal the victory for the Bears. Johnson nearly had his first career interception as well earlier on in the contest.
As for Cole Kmet, the rookie tight end had a quiet game. Trubisky did target him once in the red zone on a weird decision that resulted in Kmet getting lit up.
In a shocking decision by the Bears, second-year WR Riley Ridley was inactive for yesterday’s game. Ridley got beat out by Javon Wims and rookie Darnell Mooney. The former recorded a touchdown reception and the latter played a role in the passing attack. It will be interesting to see if the 2019 fourth-round pick will do enough going forward to get any playing time.
Lions Gonna Lions
Mitchell Trubisky and Matt Nagy handed the Lions yet another loss, which is starting to become a rather common occurrence.
Nagy is now 5-0 vs. Detroit in his career (4-0 with Trubisky). Trubisky, with his head coach’s tutelage, has posted these following numbers versus the Lions:
- 88/127 (69.29%), 1,108 Yds, 12 TD, 1 INT, 124.4 QB Rating
The Lions blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter yesterday was rare. How rare? Only three other teams have done so in recent history.
And then there is the Matt Patricia era in Detroit:
The Lions started out in zone coverage and then eventually reverted back to playing man-to-man defense — one that Trubisky has shredded in the past. Never change, Lions.
As luck would have it, Detroit missed two golden opportunities.
- Matt Prater missed a field goal when the Lions were up 23-13. This gave the Bears a short field, which resulted in a touchdown.
- De’Andre Swift dropped a touchdown pass with 0:06 left on the clock. Had he hauled it in, the Lions would have won the game.
Week 1 Oddities
Week one usually doesn’t make or break a season. Teams are usually figuring things out and getting back into full game mode. This is typical in a normal season, but this offseason has been anything but normal.
The players are still getting adapting to the way 2020 is going be.
Teams are dealing with a number of challenges this season, such as no preseason games, no fans in the stands, and artificial crowd noise being pumped into stadiums. The only semblance of real game situations is coming from scrimmages, but even those affairs entail only playing against your own offense/defense. There will be a fair amount of rust that these teams have to knock off. However, not all teams looked rusty in week one. A handful of teams did, and Bears were one of them.
The Chicago Bears, given the circumstances, went into Detroit and stole this game. It was ugly and far from ideal, but a win is a win at the end of the day.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bears will host the New York Giants at Soldier Field on Sunday, September 20th at 12 PM CT. The Giants will be coming off a slightly shortened week, as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football to kick off their 2020 campaign.
Be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast for postgame reactions, updates and analysis throughout the week, and discussions on a variety of other Bears-related topics.