Bears vs. Rams 2021. What a game? I guess. We got our first Justin Fields sighting, which is exciting at least.
“Justin Fields is special. He already has a natural aura to himself that changes the flow of how things go.”
- Bears RB David Montgomery
We will jump in fast here so we can move on to Cincinnati. Here are the five most impactful plays from Sunday’s matchup of Bears vs. Rams based on win probability added.
Bears QB Andy Dalton’s Red Zone Stand
It started with so much hope. After a great kick return to start the game at the 50-yard line, the Bears drove right down to the red zone. Then reality hit.
This was by far the most negative play for the Bears in Week 1. This play cost the Bears 10% in win probability and prevented them from taking an early lead to have control over the game. Not great, Andy.
“I was going to Mooney, and unfortunately it got tipped… Set the tone with how we wanted to play, but didn’t finish.”
- Bears QB Andy Dalton
Bears RB David Montgomery Races for the Goal Line
This play preceded the red zone interception and had all of us on the edge of our seats.
David Montgomery recorded the third-fastest speed of any ball carrier in this young season, clocking in at 20.8 miles per hour on this play. Despite Montgomery’s speed, Rams linebacker Kenny Young was able to wrangle the Bears' running back down just before the end zone, which ranks as the second-longest tackle of the season. Montgomery was only expected to gain six rushing yards on this run based on the separation he had from Rams defenders, giving him the second-most rushing yards over expected on any single run for the season.
Rams WR Van Jefferson Breaks the Bears Secondary
Just two plays after the red zone interception, the Bears secondary gets put on notice by the Rams.
Matthew Stafford rolls out on a naked boot, leaving the pass rushers racing in the opposite direction, and hits a wide-open Van Jefferson on the deep ball. Jefferson goes to the ground in the process of the catch, but for some reason goes untouched and is able to get up, dust himself off, and head into the end zone for six. Jefferson recorded the 10th-longest play of the week on his touchdown catch, traveling a total of 80 yards. He clocked in as the ninth-fastest ball carrier of the season on this play.
David Montgomery. SO Much Determination.
Monty showed me something in this game, even if he was going against light boxes all night long. Montgomery has clearly added some speed and is running angrier than ever.
Trailing 13-0, the Bears are desperate for some points before halftime. Montgomery is able to punch the ball into the end zone for a three-yard gain despite carrying Aaron Donald on his back.
The Rams Effectively Shut the Door
The Rams, once again, exploit the struggling Bears secondary.
A clear blown coverage leads to a Rams 56-yard touchdown and tons of regret for Bears fans everywhere. On this play, Cooper Kupp recorded the 20th-longest play of the season, traveling a total of 61.3 yards. A breakdown of what happened with the coverage might help here as well.
Other Notable Moments
Khalil Herbert recorded the sixth-longest play of the season on the opening kickoff, traveling a total of 88.4 yards. Herbert clocked in at 20.88 miles per hour, ranking as the second-fastest ball carrier this season.
Rams LB Justin Hollins recorded the second-fastest sack of the season, taking Bears QB Andy Dalton down in only 2.67 seconds.
“We gave up explosive plays and did not execute in the red zone. Big-picture, we were able to move the ball… Once we got behind and got one-dimensional, that was more difficult.”
- Bears HC Matt Nagy
Bears vs. Rams Statistical Notes
- Matthew Stafford recorded the third-best EPA Per Play of any QB so far this season.
- Stafford’s expected completion percentage was close to league average at 68.7%, meaning he was throwing distances and platforms that are typical for the average QB. However, his real completion percentage exceeded the expected completion percentage by a fair amount.
- Rams wide receivers had very good separation, with the closest defender being 3.48 yards away when the ball arrived.
- Meanwhile, Bears QB Andy Dalton ranked 27th in EPA Per Play
- Dalton recorded the highest expected completion percentage, meaning that he attempted the easiest collection of throws of any QB. This is further backed up by his average air yards of 4.3, which ranks 29th. Jalen Hurts, who averaged 3.3 air yards on Sunday, is the only QB to beat this figure.
- Despite the dink-and-dunk style of the Bears offensive attack, Dalton ranks eighth in pass attempt aggressiveness. This means that 18.4% of his pass attempts went to targets who had a defender within one yard of them once the ball arrived.
- Bears wide receivers showed an ability to create more separation than the league average, which is perplexing when you pair with the throw aggressiveness metric.
- Bears pass rushers were slightly above average when looking at their distance from the QB at the time of the throw or sack.
Bears vs. Rams Passing Charts
- The Rams seemed to stay in quarters for the majority of the game, daring the Bears to take deep shots. Instead, the Bears chose to take the underneath routes that the Rams were giving them, and they ultimately failed to consistently dink-and-dunk their way to points.
- The Bears secondary had multiple blown coverages leading to impact plays for the Rams.
NFL Team Efficiency Ratings
All of the below data is sourced from RBSDM, and I highly encourage everyone to go check out their tools for NFL analysis.
These players just need to buy into what Matt Nagy is selling... which is delicious and nutritious McDonald’s value menu items. On to Cincinnati.