The Chicago Bears came away with a victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Chicago triumphed over Detroit by the score of 24-14. Now, the Bears sit at 2-2 awaiting their next opponent, while the Lions dropped to 0-4. However, the win helped the Bears keep pace with the Packers in the NFC North. The victory happened to be Justin Fields' first as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Today's game also marked Fields' second start at quarterback, and first at Soldier Field.
Nonetheless, the team's performance was a night and day's difference from their downright ugly performance in Cleveland. Now, without further ado, here are the takeaways from their Week Four victory over the Lions.
If it wasn't obvious from the game-plan and play-calling itself, Matt Nagyconfirmed it postgame. Bill Lazor was the play-caller Sunday for the Bears and it showed. The offense had better flow and rhythm and the sequence of plays actually made sense. Not only that, but Lazor catered plays to the strengths of Justin Fields and relied on the running game, which ultimately set up the play-action passes and the rollouts for Fields. It was breath of fresh air watching a functioning offense that didn't struggle to pick up yards or obtain points.
A near flawless opening drive called by Bill Lazor was executed to perfection. The Bears marched 75 yards on twelve plays in 6:11. The drive was a heavy dose of David Montgomery with Justin Fields throwing to Darnell Mooney sprinkled in, as well as a few carries by Damien Williams. The only oddity was a stretch run to the short side of the field to Marquise Goodwin, which made no sense at the time. Ultimately, Montgomery found the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown.
On the opening drive, Fields went 3-for-3, tossing the pigskin for 29 yards. On the other hand, Montgomery carried the ball six times for 31 yards and the touchdown. The Bears averaged 5.1 yards per carry.
As a result of Lazor being at the helm and calling plays, the offensive output was so much better. It was a pleasant surprise. Granted, it was against the Detroit Lions, so take it with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, the offense logged 373 total yards. Of which, 185 came through the air and the other 188 from the running game. This is a massive step up from the one net yard Bears fans saw last week. Also, the Bears offense averaged 6.5 yards per play, which also is significantly better than 1.1 yards per play against the Browns. The offense logged 10.3 yards per pass and 4.8 yards per rush.
Additionally, the Bears picked up twenty first downs during the game. Of course, majority of them, 13, came on the ground. In addition, five came through the passing game and two via penalties. The Bears offense nearly split the time of possession with Lions. However, they were just below 50-50. Chicago held the ball for 28:43.
Red Zone Efficiency
Not only was possession good, but the unit was super efficient in the red zone. Lazor led the offensive by going 3-for-4 (75%) once inside the 20s. The only time they didn't succeed in scoring a touchdown in the red zone, the Bears still managed a field goal.
Third Down Struggles
During the game, the Bears saw eight third down opportunities. However, they succeeded on only one of them. Now after going 11-for-24 (45.8%) in the first two weeks, they've gone 2-for-19 (10.5%) in Weeks Three and Four.
The old adage is "it all starts upfront", which is still true to this day. The offensive line had their best game of the season. They were opening up running lanes in the run game and knocking defenders off the line of scrimmage a handful of times. Not only that, but they protected Justin Fields pretty well. Fields was sacked only once for a 24-yard loss, which occurred late in the game where he fumbled it and recovered it on his own. Nonetheless, the offensive line had a darn good game and deserve a pat on the back.
One beneficiary of the offensive line's success was David Montgomery. "Monty" ran for 106 yards on 23 carries. In addition, he logged two touchdowns, which includes the one mentioned earlier on the opening drive. Here is a look at Monty's second touchdown on the day. One that Kyle Brandt would be proud of and should mention on the "Angry Runs" segment of Good Morning Football.
Coincidentally, Montgomery has a knack for playing the Lions lately.
Despite being the backup running back, he made his presence felt. Correspondingly, Williams carried the ball eight times for 55 yards and a touchdown, while adding 15 yards on two catches. In fact, his impact will be felt even more with Montgomery going down.
Now onto the man of the hour, QB1 for the Chicago Bears, Justin Fields. Fields posted a respectable stat line against the Lions. He went 11-17 for 209 yards (12.3 avg), no touchdowns, and one interception, all while posting a 82.7 QB Rating. Although, the lone interception he threw was not his fault. In fact, Fields made the correct read and was attempting to find an open Darnell Mooney. However, a Lions linebacker made an athletic play to bat the ball up into the air, only for it to land in cornerback Amani Orouwariye's hands.
Nevertheless, Fields was slinging the ball, throwing darts, and dropping dimes all over the Lions on Sunday. Here are a few examples.
This 64-yarder came on second-and-11 on the second drive of the game.
Now, this throw came on the Bears first possession of the third quarter on second-and-9. A 32-yard dime to Darnell Mooney once again.
Next, Fields found Allen Robinson for 28 yards on first-and-10. This came on their third possession of the third quarter.
Justin Fields was a highlight reel of amazing throws against the Lions, something Bears fans have not seen in quite a while. There were a few more dazzling throws Fields had but we'd suggest just watching the highlights on YouTube.
Nevertheless, what Fields did on Sunday was increase the number of big plays made by the Bears offense.
For instance, here is a look at Justin Fields' pass chart. There are a bunch of pass down the field, especially when considering the average depth of throws (aDoT) from the first three weeks.
How about a big game from Darnell Mooney? The second-year wide receiver hauled in five catches for 125 yards. Consequently, he saw seven targets from Fields, which was the most among any pass catcher on the team. As result of his and Field's chemistry, he snared a big 64-yard reception (seen earlier). It so happens to be a career long for Mooney.
In addition, it ended up being the the longest pass play since Tarik Cohen's 70-yard screen pass in 2018.
Although, Mooney did make one hell of a catch early in the first quarter on the Bears' first drive of the game.
Though, making a catch like that may have set the tone for the offense.
It wasn't perfect out there by any means, but the unit played a "bend but don't break" style of defense. That's good enough against lesser teams. The key stat is the red zone. As a whole, the defense held the Lions offense out of the end zone. As result, the Lions went 1-for-5 once they got inside the 20s. Additionally, Coach Desai and his guys blanked Detroit completely in the first half, as well as logging four sacks and two takeaways. Of course, both takeaways happened to be fumbles. One of them was inexplicably dumb on the Lions end but more on that later.
As a unit, the Bears sacked Jared Goff four times for a loss of 41 yards. Furthermore, the Bears defense conceded the yards. The Lions offense put up 348 yards with 258 passing and 90 rushing, as well as scoring late pair of touchdowns late. One of those scores included a blown coverage by the Bears defense.
This seems to be a reoccurring issue. Yikes.
Outside Linebackers: Mack, Quinn, Gipson
Have yourselves a day. These three men combined for a huge game: 9 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks, 5 QB hits, 2 FF, 1 PBU, and a fumble recovery.
Additionally, Khalil Mack picked up another sack as well.
The Little Things: PBUs
The little things add up and the Bears defense had did just that. Collectively, they had four pass break ups and two of them came in key moments. On the Lions third drive of the game, a fourth-and-goal play would have resulted in a touchdown if it weren't for Alec Ogletree deflecting a pass. Similarly in the third quarter, Duke Shelley was covering T.J Hockenson and broke up a pass intended for the tight end, which would have resulted in a sizeable gain.
Not to mention, Trevis Gipson and Jaylon Johnson swatted away one pass each.
Lions Gonna Lions: One Play That Defines You
While it's hilarious to watch the Lions self-destruct, you almost feel bad for them. However, that was not the case on Sunday. On Detroit's first drive, they marched their way down to the Bears' 8-yard line before this happened:
Second camera angle.
Another view of the same blunder
Finally, an attempt to explain what happened.
Time to Move to Arlington Heights?
Of course this is said in jest, but the turf was an issue at times again.
Actually, the first defensive play is when he got hurt.
Likewise, as mentioned earlier, David Montgomery suffered a knee injury. At the time, it seemed quite serious the way Montgomery reacted.
However, later on reports surfaced that it may not be as serious as originally thought.
During the game, Khalil Mack also suffered an injury, which happened on the fumble recovery and lateral play. Nevertheless, Mack went back to the locker room to get checked out.
However, whatever fuels Mack's competitive edge brought him back out to play in the second half.
During the postgame press conference, Nagy said that Damien Williams is dealing with an ailing quad, which was suffered in-game.
It's not entirely clear what's going on, but the referees have been terrible so far in 2021. Whether its the NFL's rules and how they're implemented or the refs themselves, something has to change moving forward. In this game alone, there were a handful of ticky-tack calls. For example, Khyiris Tonga was flagged for a personal foul for blocking on what he assumed was an INT return.
Furthermore, Khalil Mack was also flagged for a super soft roughing the passer call. This seems to be a staple for this Bears defense so far this year.
Regardless, the Bears were penalized seven times for 61 yards. In addition, on top of those seven, there were two penalties that were declined.
Without delay, it's Cairo Santos appreciation time. Since Nick Folk and Graham Gano missed their field goals, Santos has the longest active streak of field goals made in the league. Therefore, at 32 field goals made in a row, Santos is the last man standing.
Santos made his lone field against the Lions, as well as both of his extra points.
First of all, the Bears defense has accomplished this amazing feat:
Likewise, Allen Robinson has accomplished something special as well. Notably, he is second behind DeAndre Hopkins in an active streak in games with at least one catch.
Overall, the Bears offense played a relatively clean game. While it wasn't the best, it was efficient and effective, which was much, much better than the Week Three fiasco. That being said, the Bears offense still has a lot to improve on. For example, third downs and reducing the amount of penalties are two things in need of improvement. As for the for play-calling duties, Bill Lazor is a night and day difference from Matt Nagy. Lazor have may rejuvenated this offense a bit. However, it was still the Lions, so Bears fans should take this win and performance with a grain of salt.
Defensively, this is who they are again. Just like the Vic Fangio defense, they'll be bend but don't break more times than not. They'll have to rely on takeaways, especially in key moments. However, Quinn's resurgence and the pass rush showing shades of dominance again is a welcomed sight. Considering the secondary is weak outside of Jaylon Johnson and maybe Eddie Jackson, a strong pass rush is necessary for success. Yes, the run defense has been a little leaky of late. Although, it's important to note that Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks have yet to play a full game together. These two guys are the main run stuffers.
All in all, Matt Nagy bought himself and Ryan Pace a little bit more time by going with Bill Lazor as the primary play-caller. At this time, all he can ask for is a little bit more time. The real worry is when everyone thinks Nagy takes back control of the play-calling responsibilities.
What's On Tap Next?
The Chicago Bears (2-2) hit the road to Sin City. They will take on the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium for the first time next Sunday, October 10. The game will be broadcast on FOX at 3:05 p.m. CDT. The Raiders are a tough, physical, resilient team led by a hard-nosed head coach Jon Gruden. Nonetheless, the Bears will have tough time dealing with the Raiders on both sides of the ball. Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller are just a few names to watch on offense. Las Vegas is just the beginning of a difficult stretch for Chicago in their schedule. They would love to get another win under their belt.
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.