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Bears vs. Browns: Notes from a 20-3 Christmas Eve victory

The Bears impoved to 5-10 on Sunday, sending their fans home happy on Christmas Eve.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Chicago Bears
Mitchell Trubisky played a good game, leading the Bears to their fifth win of the year.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Christmas, Chicago Bears fans!

The Bears gave their fans an early Christmas present, defeating the Cleveland Browns in a 20-3 rout. Here are some of my notes from this week’s victory.

  • One possession in, and I can tell that this game is going to be rough to watch.
  • Both the Bears and Browns were hesitant to throw the ball downfield early, and for good reason, too: this game was played in constant snowfall.
  • Browns safety Justin Currie was left completely unblocked on a safety blitz that resulted in their first sack of the game. There wasn’t much Mitchell Trubisky could have done about that.
  • Kyle Fuller had a fantastic pass deflection on a pass intended for David Njoku. Fuller had the rookie tight end matched step for step and jumped the route to break up the pass.
  • He hasn’t been perfect this year, but this season has been his best of his career thus far. He will likely be cashing in on a sizable contract this offseason, with the Bears or someone else.
  • Trubisky made Cleveland’s defense bite on a designed play action bootleg. The Browns all went left, but Trubisky faked them out and went right, where he found Dion Sims deep down the field for a gain of 24 yards.
  • The quarterback can run, you guys,
  • Should-be Pro Bowler Jordan Howard ran right up the A gap to pick up a two-yard touchdown, his eighth of the year. It’s great to have a back who’s able to just hit the hole hard and reliably pound it into the end zone in goal-line situations.
  • Carl Nassib used his 6’6" frame to block a Mike Nugent extra point attempt. You can’t put the blame on Nugent for that miss.
  • Prince Amukamara almost had his first interception of the season off of a poorly thrown deep ball, but he was unable to get both feet in bounds. It’s better than giving up a completion, though.
  • DeShone Kizer....yikes. It’s early in his career, sure, but he’s shaping up to be another example of the Browns picking a quarterback early just for the purpose of picking a quarterback early.
  • Fuller broke up yet another pass, this one intended for Josh Gordon. He has done a good job all year at jumping routes and breaking passes up.
  • Trubisky hit Josh Bellamy with a beautiful strike down the field for a 28-yard gain. That ability to make good reads and hit his receivers on deep routes has been put on display this season, although the Bears haven’t thrown the ball deep as much as they should have.
  • Myles Garrett is a stud. He overwhelmed Charles Leno Jr. at the line of scrimmage on his sack, marking his sixth sack of the season. Cleveland has made a handful of bad draft picks over the year, but this no-brainer looks like it’s going to pay off.
  • Kyle Fuller continued his great game by picking up his second interception of the season. Kizer tried to hit Josh Gordon on a double move route in the end zone, but he severely overthrew his target and hit Fuller right in the hands.
  • Chicago’s pass rush was poor yet again today, further cementing their need for an edge rusher this offseason.
  • Zane Gonzalez made an impressive 50-yard field goal in the snowy conditions, cutting Chicago’s lead down to just three before the end of the half. I liked Gonzalez coming out of college this past offseason. If he can keep making play like that, then the Browns may have themselves a long-term kicker.
  • Cleveland had not allowed a single sack in the first half, and had the upper hand in time of possession battle entering halftime. Yet, they ended up being down by three after two quarters. You don’t see a lot of those instances nowadays.
  • The Bears got incredibly lucky that Carl Nassib got called offsides on the first play of the second half. Otherwise, Myles Garrett would have had a pick six, and a quite impressive one, too. He looked like someone 30 pounds lighter with the ball in his hands.
  • Benny Cunningham had a huge gain on a running back screen. Trubisky got the ball off just in time, and the running back had a lot of space in the open field.
  • Jordan Howard ran for yet another touchdown on a 16-yard gain, his second score of the game. The Browns stacked the box but were unable to penetrate Chicago’s offensive line. Howard saw a hole in the B gap, exploited it and saw nothing but room ahead of him.
  • It seemed like Fuller just kept making play after play this week.
  • The referees made a poor decision on the challenge made by John Fox. Although that will end up as a lost challenge by Fox, that wasn’t his fault. The refs placed the ball short of where it was supposed to have been.
  • Wildcat formation sighting!
  • The quarterback can run (again), you guys.
  • The Browns were in the red zone and were in position to trim Chicago’s lead. Rashard Higgins appeared to have made something out of nothing by making several defenders miss after his catch. But, in classic Browns fashion, Higgins lost the ball after Danny Trevathan stripped it. Prince Amukamara recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
  • Sam Acho and Akiem Hicks brought Kizer down for the Bears’ first sack of the game early on in the fourth quarter. The fact that Kizer played the way that he did with very little pressure throughout the game says a lot about how bad he has been this year.
  • Josh Gordon’s final stat line: two receptions for 19 yards. What a game Kyle Fuller had on Sunday.
  • Since I’m writing this particular part of the article late in the fourth quarter and it’s 20-3 as of this writing, why not talk about the draft a little bit?
  • This win brings the Bears to 5-10. They will likely be fighting for draft positioning with several teams, the Buccaneers, Bengals, Broncos, 49ers and the Browns (with their Texans pick) being among them. The three players that have been projected to the Bears the most are NC State edge rusher Bradley Chubb, Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley and Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams. With this win, it will be tougher for the Bears to end up with Chubb, who is a top-five player on my board currently. Depending on the situation, then it may be tough for them to end up with a top-tier edge rusher. The only other player at the position who would make sense to go as early as the Bears are expected to pick is Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell, but even that’s debatable. If you’re on the "edge rusher in the first round" bandwagon, or even if you aren’t, then you should be following along other teams’ games next week to see where the Bears will end up in the draft order.
  • Nick Kwiatkoski pummeled Kizer on a blitz, causing the quarterback to throw a pick to Bryce Callahan. The play resulted in Callahan’s second interception of the season.
  • This video is just begging for someone to put the Benny Hill theme song over it.
  • Speaking of Kwiatkoski, the second-year linebacker was pretty much everywhere this week. He ended up with seven total tackles, which tied fellow inside linebacker Danny Trevathan for the most of the team. Chicago’s linebacker duo player a big role in Cleveland’s only rushing for 72 yards as a team all game.
  • I’ll admit it: I wasn’t on board with the Bears drafting a quarterback in the first round initially. As the season has progressed, though - and especially as this game has finished - I’m glad that they did. I wanted them to take Jamal Adams in Round 1, who has been very good with the Jets in his own right. However, not picking a quarterback in the first round probably would have meant that the Bears would have picked Kizer in Round 2. Let’s be clear here: I’m not calling him a bust, as he still has a lot of time to develop, but he was not ready to play this year. Cleveland forced him to play before he was mentally prepared for the pros. If the Bears had started Kizer after Mike Glennon has his poor performance early on, then Chicago would not be close to where they even are right now. It seems like Ryan Pace and Co. got it right with Trubisky.
  • Pat O’Donnell had a phenomenal punt in garbage time that went out on the one-yard line. You can’t kick it any better than that.
  • This season hasn’t been all that great for the Bears, but there is one encouraging takeaway from the year: an AFC North sweep. Not too shabby.