It’s a Bears Monday on a Friday! It’s October 9th, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the high temperature will be around 80°F today and the Chicago Bears are 4-1.
The Bears defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20–19, on Thursday Night Football to kick off Week 5 of the NFL.
Honestly, who predicted the Bears would have an .800 winning percentage through five games? Some even predicted the Bears to win three games total.
There are those who are willing to double down on their awful takes.
And then there are others who admit when they were wrong.
That being said last night’s game wasn’t pretty but a win is a win. Results are all that matter in the NFL. However, despite the win, there was a lot of bad and there was a lot of good coming from that game.
This continues to be a glaring weakness for the Bears. Ronald Jones ran for 106 yards on 17 carries and averaged 6.2 yards per attempt. Jones’ longest run of the night was 37 yards. Tom Brady also had 3 rushes for 0 yards; which skewed the team average just a tad. The Bucs in total still averaged 5.3 yards per attempt.
Allergic to Running the Ball
The Bears refuse to run the ball. Wash, rinse, repeat. The Bears ran the ball 16 times for 28 yards last week and Matt Nagy proceeded to say this on Monday:
A reasonable person would expect more running, right? Well, this week Nagy called for 14 run plays good for 35 yards. Granted there were a few Run-Pass Option (RPO) plays called, and in those situations Nick Foles chose to pass.
The Bears offense had 42 passing attempts compared to their 14 rushing attempts. For those scoring at home, that’s 3 to 1.
James Daniels Injury/Alex Bars Next Up
The Bears lost starting left guard James Daniels in the second half to a pectoral injury.
Daniels, Cody Whitehair, and Germain Ifedi had quietly solidified the interior of the offensive line.
On Friday afternoon, it was confirmed that Daniels will be lost for the season. This injury deals a major blow to the offense.
Next man up: Alex Bars.
The small sample size of Alex Bars from last night did not look great. Bars got blown up on his first snap by Vita Vea. Although he did settle down somewhat after a rocky first series, it was still an inconsistent first game for him.
Hopefully a full week of practice and time with the first team will benefit him, and the Bears, greatly. They’ll both need it going forward.
Third Down Woes Continue
The offense’s lack of execution is still very much real on 3rd down. They were 3-for-10 against the Bucs. Same story, different week.
This goes along with the lack of a running game and the struggles on third down. Matt Nagy’s play calling wasn’t as egregious against the Buccaneers as it was in Week 4 against the Colts. However, there was still plenty of head scratching moments from him last night.
Running Back Finds the End Zone
Through four weeks the Bears were the only team in the NFL without a rushing touchdown.
The Bears are no longer on that list as David Montgomery finally found pay dirt just before halftime on Thursday night.
Kyle Fuller’s Hit Flipped the Momentum
The Bears had just scored a touchdown to cut the Bucs lead to six points. Tom Brady had 1:48 left on the clock to go down to push the lead to two scores before halftime.
Luckily, that’s when Kyle Fuller came up huge and popped Ke’Shawn Vaughn coming across the field on an underneath drag route.
The refs had initially thrown a flag, but after congregating and discussing, they picked it up. The Bears caught a huge break as the booth review had deemed the play a fumble.
If you’re Vaughn, that hit will be keep you up at night for a long time. If you’re Kyle Fuller, or a Bears fan, here is a lullaby.
Jimmy Graham is Still Valuable
Following the Kyle Fuller forced fumble, the Bears found the end zone again. The touchdown captured the lead and swung momentum back to their side.
Nick Foles found Jimmy Graham on 12-yard TD pass.
Graham hauled in three catches for 33 yards and a TD on five targets.
In only five games in 2020, Graham has 17 receptions for 169 yards and four TDs. He is one TD away from matching the five he had in total in two years with Green Bay.
The Graham signing drew a lot of scrutiny from media and fans alike, but so far he’s been the Bears’ best red zone threat and leads the team in TDs. Even some of the On Tap guys agree:
Khalil Mack/Robert Quinn
Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn had themselves a day. The two edge rushers brought the heat all night long. While Quinn did not record a sack, Mack did. Twice.
If that’s not impressive enough, Mack arm tossed a 340 lb. offensive tackle.
Put your money on Mack folks, the bear doesn’t stand a chance as Brian Baldinger said.
Foles is the leader the Bears needed. He exploited mismatches and used his brain to beat the Bucs. At one point, the veteran QB realized that he had the Tampa Bay defense on it’s heels and ran an uptempo offense much to Nagy’s dismay.
The televised broadcast revealed an exchange between Foles and Nagy. Foles seemingly tells Nagy what’s working and how he wants to run his offense.
Foles was consistently hitting the running backs on wheel routes for big gains. According to Emmanuel Acho, those weren’t all by design. Foles’ intelligence and ability to dissect what the defense is doing pre-snap played an integral part in that.
The Defense Held Strong
The defense’s identity in 2020 is bend but don’t break. They did just that against the Buccaneers. The unit held the Bucs to 19 points (one TD, four FGs). That is an accomplishment they should be proud of, regardless of how injured Tampa Bay was. The Bucs coming into this game were averaging 30 points per game. They had scored 23, 31, 28, and 38 respectively in the four games prior to Thursday night.
Tompa Bay Brady
Tom Brady had a chance to lead the Bucs on a potential game winning drive near the end of the game. However, it stalled out due to a rare mental blunder by the QB. Brady’s 4th down pass was broken up by Deandre Houston-Carson to seal the game. Brady was under the impression that it was 3rd down. You rarely see a lack of awareness from him.
You can’t really blame him for not being in the right presence of mind. He did have Quinn and Mack constantly knocking down his door all night.
The 43-year-old QB had a frustrating night and his emotions were boiling over.
Foles Bests Brady Again
Nick Foles is 2-0 vs. Tom Brady. The QB is so sick of losing to Foles that he didn’t even meet Foles after the game.
A Few Fun Facts
Bears snapped two streaks. First, they finally beat Tom Brady. They were 0-5 vs. Brady coming into this game. The second streak broken was this nugget mentioned by Larry Mayer:
Bears fans…get your Super Bowl plans ready! Ha!
What’s On Tap Next?
The Chicago Bears have ten days before their next game. The mini bye week comes before they head down to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, October 18th at 12:00 P.M. CDT. The game will be televised on FOX. The Panthers are currently sitting at 2-2 before heading into their game against the Falcons this Sunday. Could the Bears potentially see a Christian McCaffrey return?
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.