Forty minutes after the Chicago Bears’ 20-point loss Sunday afternoon, quarterback Justin Fields got here to his postgame information convention at AT&T Stadium expressing optimism.
“I feel we’re rising, getting higher each week as an offense,” Fields stated. “I’m simply happy with the fellows and the best way they fought. We have been down early however they didn’t waiver. We saved the identical mentality and simply chipped away. I believed, as a complete, we performed nicely.”
Fields wasn’t incorrect. He performed nicely Sunday, albeit in a 49-29 beatdown by the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears offense had a strong afternoon, too.
Fields was right in declaring that the Bears’ 29 factors have been probably the most scored towards the Cowboys this season. Their 371 complete yards have been additionally probably the most given up by Dallas over the primary eight weeks.
Fields threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for one more, the primary time in his profession he has accounted for 3 TDs in the identical recreation. His 73.9 completion proportion was the best in his 18 profession begins. His 120.0 passer score was a profession finest and simply the second time he’s gone over 100.
“I’m getting extra snug with the offense,” Fields stated. “I feel our guys are too as a complete. I feel we’re rising.”
For the third consecutive week, the Bears rushed for greater than 200 yards and padded their league-best common to 188.4 speeding yards per recreation. For coach Matt Eberflus, the emergence of a top-tier working assault has been satisfying.
“It’s actually simply all 11 guys actually dedicated to that fashion,” he stated. “I actually imagine that’s the Chicago Bear manner.”
In a season during which playoff aspirations have been all the time thought-about a longshot, the Bears should proceed embracing a development mindset, highlighting progress even when the sting of shedding stays sharp.
That, for all intents and functions, is why Sunday’s defeat — the Bears’ fifth within the final seven video games — didn’t really feel overwhelmingly demoralizing or jarring.
In any case, the Bears began October in an offensive funk. Over the primary three video games of the month, they managed simply three touchdowns, averaged 13.7 factors in a string of three losses and solely scored on 10 of 30 possessions.
But over seven days on the finish of the month — and towards a pair of high quality defenses within the New England Patriots and the Cowboys — the Bears racked up 761 complete yards, scored 62 factors and put factors up on 12 of twenty-two possessions with seven touchdowns.
Stated working again Khalil Herbert: “It’s guys shopping for into the element, making this offense come alive.”
With an inconsistent protection that now not has both Roquan Smith or Robert Quinn, the Bears offense must carry a heavier load. And will probably be on Fields to spearhead that effort.
Right here’s your Week 8 QB Rewind.
Within the ultimate minute of the primary half, Fields accomplished a 75-yard scoring march with a 17-yard TD dart to N’Keal Harry, a play that was spectacular in its fluidity. With the Cowboys displaying a cover-zero shell earlier than the snap, Fields made an alert safety test, trusted his line and working again David Montgomery to guard him towards a seven-man rush, then hit the highest of his five-stop drop with good rhythm and clear footwork.
Harry, figuring out of the left slot towards cornerback Kelvin Joseph, ran a crisp route towards cornerback Kelvin Joseph and gained inside leverage. The timing of the play was in sync.
Throw, catch, finish zone social gathering.
“N’Keal ran an amazing route,” Fields stated. “And I simply put it on him”
Added Eberflus: “The pocket was very nice and he hit him.”
It must be famous that the Bears caught the Cowboys with solely 10 defenders on the sector for that play. Nonetheless, that throw capped a 12-play TD drive that reduce into the Cowboys’ 28-7 lead and put the Bears again into the sport earlier than halftime. The Bears added a discipline aim simply 40 seconds later, then completed their run of 16 unanswered factors with a 62-yard third-quarter TD drive that pulled them inside 28-23.
All of that was a present of resolve and moxie from the offense, a capability to rally even when confronted with an enormous early deficit. The flexibility of Fields and the offense to retain their aggressive edge is notable. That form of constant fireplace will likely be wanted to maintain the Bears feisty down the stretch of a season during which they are going to be underdogs in nearly each recreation.
Discovering solutions Sunday — just like the TD move to Harry — provided promise.
Fields’ prettiest move got here within the second quarter, a deep shot to rookie receiver Velus Jones Jr., who ran a go route towards Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown. The Bears have been trailing 28-7 on the time and in large time want of a spark. When Jones slipped behind Brown, Fields had precisely what he wished.
Fields’ deep ball traveled 54 yards within the air and dropped proper into Jones’ palms. However as Jones dived and hit the bottom, the ball squirted out.
“That ball,” Eberflus stated, “was on the cash.”
As a substitute of a 48-yard achieve and a primary down on the Cowboys 5, the Bears needed to reset.
They did so efficiently and nonetheless completed that possession with a landing. However that was the newest instance of a chance that was missed as a result of the Bears don’t have sufficient playmakers.
Wouldn’t it have been a very nice catch by Jones? Sure. Ought to it’s thought-about a drop? Completely.
That shot was considered one of a handful ultimate deep-ball alternatives the Bears couldn’t fairly join on. The primary got here on their first snap when Equanimeous St. Brown acquired behind Brown deep up the proper aspect. Fields, although, was a beat late in launching and underthrew St. Brown, who needed to decelerate and did not corral the move as Brown closed floor and made a play on the ball.
Eberflus held Fields accountable for the miss, estimating that St. Brown had as much as 4 yards of separation at one level.
“We’ve acquired to let that air out,” he stated. “J. is aware of that. Just a bit underthrown on that one. … You’ve acquired to air it out and let him run underneath it.”
Based on Subsequent Gen Stats, Fields was 3-for-8 for 70 yards and a landing on passes thrown greater than 15 yards past the road of scrimmage Sunday. That didn’t embody a second-quarter interception on a move he sailed over Dante Pettis whereas being hit. Thankfully for the Bears, that giveaway was negated when Cowboys defensive finish Chauncey Golston was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer penalty.
Two of Fields’ different downfield misses got here on finish zone photographs within the ultimate minute of the primary half, one a nook path to Dante Pettis that was damaged up by cornerback Daron Bland and the opposite a free-play, bounce ball to St. Brown that didn’t join.
“That was a beautiful throw,” Eberflus stated. “I’ve been saying all of it alongside. (Justin) is an excellent deep ball thrower. He can put it on a dime, drop it within the bucket, no matter metaphor you need to use. He certainty had a few good ones.”
Fields is aware of a part of the search this season will likely be determining a strategy to have extra common success with the vertical passing assault.
“If you wish to have success within the NFL you’re all the time going to have to have the ability to stretch the protection vertically,” he stated. “It’s important to take these photographs downfield so that they’re not all up in your grill.”
Fields’ reference to third-year receiver Darnell Mooney continues to develop, with the pair combining for 5 completions and 70 yards Sunday. Mooney’s longest seize went for 36 after he froze All-Professional cornerback Trevon Diggs with a post-corner route within the third quarter, creating a zipper code’s price of separation and giving Fields an enormous window to throw into.
It was a blinding route making life simple on the quarterback.
Mooney’s manufacturing uptick has been encouraging. Within the Bears’ first 4 video games, he totaled eight receptions for 121 yards. During the last 4, he has had 17 grabs and 243 yards.
Mooney continues to be in search of his first landing and first 100-yard recreation of the season. However that must be coming, maybe as early as Sunday when the Bears host the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins rank within the backside 10 of the league in passing protection, permitting 262.1 yards per recreation. They’ve given up 12 landing passes and have allowed 5 opposing gamers (together with three receivers) to high 100 receiving yards.
- It’s nonetheless exhausting to fathom what the Bears have been doing with their ultimate offensive snap of Sunday’s first half, calling a shovel move to Montgomery on third-and-4 from the Cowboys 18 with 11 seconds to play. After the sport, Fields stated he thought it was a very good play name. Added Eberflus: “We like that play. We knew they have been going to be softer there. And we wished to work on that shovel. That was going to be a very good play for us. It simply broke down for no matter cause.” The straightforward interpretation is the Bears have been content material to accept a discipline aim to complete a spirited rally on the finish of the primary half and due to this fact took probably the most conservative path doable to organising Cairo Santos for what turned a 36-yard kick. (Montgomery was stopped for no achieve on the shovel move.) However in a season during which Fields wants to achieve expertise and present playmaking in large moments, the Bears must have one thing contained in the playbook that will have allowed their younger quarterback to take a calculated shot into the top zone — or at the least past the road of scrimmage — with out a excessive threat of a turnover.
- One of many Bears’ sloppier sequences — a botched trick play within the second quarter — was really set as much as be a landing or an enormous achieve had it been executed higher. The play began with a fast ahead move to Pettis alongside the left aspect with a design for a lateral all the best way again throughout the sector to the place Montgomery was ready with what ought to have been three blockers (Sam Mustipher, Riley Reiff and Teven Jenkins) to filter one Cowboys defender. However it appeared Montgomery was just a little sloppy along with his spacing and Pettis was inaccurate along with his throw again throughout the sector and the play didn’t join. Officers penalized Pettis for an unlawful ahead move on what seemed to be a authorized lateral. Both manner, that’s a play the Bears have been kicking themselves for not capitalizing on. The window of alternative was there and the Bears slammed it shut on their very own fingers.
- The Bears offense dedicated six penalties for 45 yards Sunday. Instantly earlier than Montgomery’s expensive fumble and Fields’ mental error in not touching Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons down, the Bears incurred a false begin on tight finish Trevon Wesco after there was mass confusion in getting correctly aligned. That was much less an error on Wesco and extra a collective communication breakdown with a number of gamers wanting confused. On the primary play of the following sequence, Cole Kmet was known as for holding on what would have been a 36-yard zone-read keeper run by Fields.
- The Bears should break their behavior of falling behind early quickly. Over the primary eight video games, their opponents have scored first 5 occasions and have held the lead at halftime in seven contests. General, the typical halftime rating has been opponents 16, Bears 10.