The Bears exceeded most expectations, playing a competitive game against the NFC champions and holding that league-leading offense to limited gains with a tremendous defensive showing. I imagine there will be a good helping of new respect coming the Bears way from analysts and hot takers across the league.
Didn’t get lazy after getting paid, starting off the game with a gracefully-brutall spin move to get a 3rd down stop. He then claimed the first sack of the Bears season in the second quarter, and continued to trounce wary Falcons for the remainder of the game, for two tacks and countless menaces. Pace was smart to sign him before this game, his annual value went up at least a million with this performance.
The Human Chicken Salad Joystick Coco Badger Large Daddy
Tarik Cohen can have as many nicknames as he wants. He lived up to all the preseason hype against a defense that should be a relatively poor match-up for him due to their speed at linebacker. His most impressive play was a 40+ yard run on a play he reversed, where he showed the confidence to trust his vision and his talent at the NFL level, avoided a potential tackle for loss and shot across the field to break away big.
The Front Seven
Multiple three and outs were directly attributable to the Bears front seven. It’s great to go into the season pointing to this as a strength, but it’s better to see it play out against the best offense of 2016. After a few good runs in the first series, the Bears front stepped up big to stuff almost all of the Falcons ground efforts. The announcers quickly ran out of clever things to say about Jerrell Freeman tackling Devonta Freeman. Eddie Goldman spent a lot of time in the backfield, and almost sacked Ryan but instead forced a dump-off for no gain.
Got playing time early and stepped up to make a crucial 3rd down pass block in the second quarter.
Played well in coverage and run support, but didn’t get to show off his sack dance yet. I’m not worried.
The Falcon’s short passing game took advantage of soft coverage in Fangio’s defense, but they couldn’t make any big plays happen until a nauseating blown coverage in the 4th quarter that led to an 88 yard touchdown on third and short. Missed tackles really hurt the Bears more than anything in the passing game. With two big pickups by Austin Hooper that could have been stopped much earlier.
Julio Jones was able to win on four of his five targets, but was otherwise kept in check whether by Bears’ coverage or gameplan.
Got off to a shaky start with a few missed tackles on a kickoff that led to a 60 yard return. It was called back due to a penalty, but that doesn’t mean the missed tackles weren’t a bad sign. They bounced back with a great Nick Kwiatkoski tackle on a punt, pinning the dirty birds at the 10 and controlled things well from that point on..
Started the game with three short completions, and continued to protect the ball and make safe completions that led to good offensive movement. His incompletions didn’t look pretty, and he’s not going to win over many of his critics with that type of performance. I personally loved watching him get toss-happy in the two impressive near game-winning final drives of the fourth quarter.
I still expect a gluttony of comments about how Bill O Brien started Deshaun Watson and the Bears should follow his lead. After O’Brien’s ridiculous handling of the Hoyer-Mallett situation in 2015, I’m not ready to look to him for my personnel decision making at the pigslinging position.
Cooked up some successful plays with limited personel at the receiver position. He clearly wants to take advantage of the incredible talent in the backfield, finding ways to keep both Howard and Cohen fed. I’m probably not alone in loving the wildcat touchdown play that had Mike Glennon showing up as the lead blocker.
The Offensive Line
Was not a strength in this game. We knew Bobby Massie would struggle against Vic Beasley—his weakness is speed—but Charles Leno was beat for a near sack and the run blocking left a lot to be desired, making Jordan Howard fight for any yards he wanted to gain. Cody Whitehair had two penalties and multiple low snaps. He likely has some readjusting to do after bouncing to Guard in the preseason. Get well soon, Kyle Long!
After slipping to slow his comeback route on his first target. White caught his next two but got injuried fighting for yards after the second line-of-scrimmage catch. He had a crucial block on Cohen’s reverse, which showed good awareness and tenacity to continue a play that wasn’t expected to go in his direction. When it comes to White, I’m most glad that the offense didn’t try to force him the ball. If he’s not badly injured, can be a contributor, but he’s at risk of being a liability of they try to artificially accelerate his progression.
The Falcons defense
Was swarming, getting to the ball immediately after the catch on passes and crowding around the back on run plays. The bears had to earn every yard on offense, and they did, fighting admirably for a respectable offensive stat line.