The Chicago Bears picked up their first victory of the season on Sunday. They defeated the visiting Cincinnati Bengals 20-17. As of now, the Bears sit atop the division standings with a 1-1 record. With the Minnesota Vikings losing to the Arizona Cardinals, and one of the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers picking up a win on Monday Night Football, the Bears will be tied with either the Lions or Packers after Week Two.
While collecting a win in front of the home crowd was great, not everything about the game was. There was some good, some bad, and a lot of in between. Therefore, here are the Week Two takeaways from the Bears' first win of the year.
Andy Dalton had himself a pretty good game. He was efficient and effective, which allowed the Bears to move the ball fairly well. At times when the pocket collapsed, Dalton used his legs to pick up necessary yards and a first down. His final stat line read as such: 9-11 for 56 yards (5.6 avg.), 1 TD, 0 INT and a 118.2 QB Rating. Dalton added 25 yards on two rushes as well.
Ultimately, his day came to an abrupt end because he was using his legs to pick up a first down. Dalton suffered what the Bears are calling a knee injury. Initially, he left the game and was deemed "questionable" to return.
However, after coming out of the medical tent, Dalton started to test out his knee on the sidelines. He returned and play a few snaps but ended up heading to the locker room after a single series. Coming out of halftime, Dalton was downgraded to "doubtful".
All of a sudden, Justin Fields went from coming in sporadically on certain plays, to being thrust in as the primary quarterback. As a result, the rookie QB had a rough go of it out there against the Bengals. Fields posted a brutal stat line of: 6-13, 60 yards (4.6 avg), 0 TD, 1 INT and a 27.7 QB Rating. In fact, Fields' interception was a costly one as it came deep in Bears territory. While the team held a ten point lead late in the game. As a result, the Bengals scored a touchdown on the very next play.
However, after the game, Fields explained the play that resulted in the INT.
Nevertheless, Fields had a tough time but flashed tons of promise as the Bears wide receivers dropped a handful of game changing passes from him. Additionally, the rookie QB added 31 yards on the ground on 10 rushes. Furthermore, Fields discussed his first game with significant playing time with Laura Okmin.
The Bears opened up the game with a brilliant offensive drive. The Bears marched down the field, covering 75 yards on nine plays as they chewed up 5:02 off the clock. It was a drive that was dominated by Andy Dalton and the play calling, and one that was aided by Bengals penalties.
Consequently, the opening drive was capped off with an 11-yard TD pass to Allen Robinson.
As a result of the touchdown pass, Robinson reached a milestone in his professional career and his Bears career.
Once again, the offensive struggles continued on Sunday. Aside from the from the opening drive, the offense struggled to sustain scoring drives on their own volition. Overall, the offense only mustered 206 total yards. Of course, of those 206 yards, only 83 came through the air. While the remaining 123 came on the ground, as a whole, the offense averaged 3.4 yards per play and finished 1-for-3 in the red zone.
Well, David Montgomery finally got to carry the ball twenty times. He picked 61 yards on the ground and averaged 3.1 yards per carry.
Fourth Down Failure
The Chicago Bears struggles continue on fourth down. After going 0-for-4 last week against the Rams, they failed to convert their lone attempt against the Bengals. For the season, they're 0-for-5.
Talk about a turn around. This same unit that was burned last week by the Rams, rose the the occasion against the Bengals and their arsenal of playmakers. They held the Bengals offense to 179 passing yards and 69 rushing yards. Not only that, but they sacked Joe Burrow four times and generated four takeaways (3 INTs, 1 fumble). Of course, all of Cincinnati's scoring took place in the second half. Additionally, both touchdowns came late in the contest.
Furthermore, they held Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon in check.
- Ja'Marr Chase: 2 catches, 54 yards (27.0 avg), 1 TD
- Tee Higgins: 6 catches, 60 yards (10.0 avg), 1 TD
- Tyler Boyd: 7 catches, 73 yards (10.4 avg)
- Joe Mixon: 20 carries, 69 yards (3.5 avg)
In addition, the Bears had six tackles for a loss, eight pass break ups and nine QB hits. The defensive line did a heck of a job putting pressure on Burrow, who at one point threw two picks on two consecutive passes and three within four passes.
What more can anyone say about Roquan Smith? He added eight more tackles to his resume. Of his eight tackles, five were solo and one was for a loss. Amongst with those tackles was a sack on Joe Burrow, too.
While leading the team in tackles once again and recording a sack is great, bailing out your offense and helping your team win a game is even better. Now, Roquan did just that when he picked off Burrow and took it the house.
Of course, it happened to be the first pick-six for the Bears in nearly two years.
In short...if you know, you know.
Now, it's safe to say that Jaylon Johnson has emerged as one of the better cornerbacks in the league, although it'd be nice to have someone just reliable on the opposite side of him... *cough* Kyle Fuller *cough*. However, the Bengals were daring enough to test Johnson throughout the game. Ultimately, he made them pay for it for a spectacular INT.
Khalil Mack/Robert Quinn
Obviously, the Bears needed their two star pass rushers to get going and that's exactly what the team received. Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn combined for five total tackles (three TFL), two sacks and two QB hits. While a lot of their presence wasn't registered on the stat sheet, they were constantly active in the pass rush and run defense.
Surprisingly, the stat sheet looked better for Quinn than Mack.
- Robert Quinn: 3 total tackles (2 TFL), 1 sack, 1 QB hit
- Khalil Mack: 2 total tackles (1 TFL), 1 sack, 1 QB hit
Since they played well for 54 minutes and the Bears won, there will no complaining this week. However, there are still concerns outside of Jaylon Johnson and it showed at times.
Again, we're not talking about it...for now.
Coincidentally, the man in charge of the defense's turn around from last week is Vic Fangio's disciple. Sean Desai's unit provided great effort on the lakefront, which of course led to better pursuit and angles, higher energy, and much improved tackling. Most important of all, there were no busted coverages. Coach Desai got creative in his design/play-calling that generated Robert Quinn's sack.
As mentioned earlier, Coach Desai's side of the ball had a huge day:
- 4 sacks
- 3 interceptions
- 1 fumble
- 1 touchdown
- 9 QB hits
Nevertheless, this is a good game to build off of for the defense.
Yet another typical boring day for the Bears kicker. Cairo Santos was 2-for-2 on field goals and 2-for-2 extra points. But, as he continues to remove any worry and anxiety away from our minds, his Bears' legend status grows.
And we here at Bears On Tap appreciate our kickers.
So far, the only known injury is Andy Dalton, which Matt Nagy addressed during the postgame.
However, it is important to note that Akiem Hicks left the game briefly and was reported to be going into the locker room. That said, he returned and finished the game.
Per Larry Mayer, every time the Bears play their home opener against the Bengals they've won by exactly three points.
All in all, the Bears played an ok game. Their job was to get the win and they did just that. Of course, the offense labored for most of the game but that first drive was a thing of beauty. However, kudos goes to the defense on stifling the Bengals offense for 54 minutes. The last six minutes were tough to watch as the Bengals scratched and crawled their back into the game. Nevertheless, it was nice to get a win under their belt and the see the defense regain some of their swagger. Now, with Justin Fields likely to start next week, would be a good time see some high powered offense. But who are we kidding? This offense is still led by Matt Nagy.
What's On Tap Next?
The Bears head to Cleveland to take on the Browns on Sunday, September 26. This game will kick-off at 12:00 p.m. CDT and will be broadcast on FOX. As for the Cleveland Browns, they're coming off their first win as well, knocking off the Texans 31-21. However, don't be fooled, they're a darn good team that hung tough with the Kansas City Chiefs in Week One.
The Bears will have their hands full on defense having to deal with Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper, Jarvis Landry, and likely Odell Beckham Jr. to name a few. On offense, the Bears will have to account for not only Myles Garrett, but Jadeveon Clowney as well. We haven't even mentioned their secondary, which isn't half bad either.
Be sure to tune into the Bears On Tap podcast for postgame reaction, updates, and analysis throughout the week in addition to discussions on a variety of Bears-related topics.