Last night, the Chicago Bears proved to the nation that they are not to be taken lightly.
Just one week after losing in overtime to the New York Giants, the Bears came back and upset the Los Angeles Rams, who entered the matchup at 11-1, by a score of 15-6 on prime time television. While the final score is far from exciting, the game was intense from start to finish, and the atmosphere at Soldier Field was absolutely unreal.
Here are my notes and takeaways from this week’s victory.
If you were wondering how weird of a game it was for both teams offensively, Bradley Sowell was the only player on either team to score a touchdown.
Mitchell Trubisky made his return after missing the last two games with a shoulder injury, and it was far from a pretty return. He completed just over half of his 30 attempts, threw for 110 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. His decision making was lackluster, his ball placement was shabby and his mechanics weren’t perfect. It didn’t prevent the Bears from winning, but they would obviously like their quarterback to play a lot better down the line.
With a poor quarterback performance came relatively few opportunities for the Bears’ receivers. Allen Robinson nearly had a touchdown in the third quarter, but he stepped out of bounds at the two-yard line. He still led all Bears targets with five receptions and 42 yards. The likes of Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen and Trey Burton were all beneficiaries of a handful of targets, but none of them were really game-breaking. Hats off to Sowell for his two-yard catch, though, as he did a great job of high pointing the ball and making a tough snag.
The biggest offensive story came in Chicago’s rushing attack. Jordan Howard finally reached that elusive 100-yard mark, rushing for 101 yards on 19 carries. His season-best performance was highlighted by his ability to hit the hole hard and identify gaps to expose quickly. His speed and vision looked reminiscent of his 2017 and 2016 performances. Tarik Cohen had 69 yards on nine carries, showing off the speed and ability to improvise that has made him so popular among Bears fans. Trubisky even ran for 23 yards on six carries.
Chicago’s offensive line deserved the offensive game ball of the week, though. I know that I don’t go into specific detail about many offensive linemen, but they were fantastic all game this week. Offensive line coach Harry Heistand did a fantastic job of planning for Aaron Donald, as the likes of James Daniels, Cody Whitehair and Bryan Witzmann were able to limit him to two tackles and one quarterback hit with double-team blocks. Charles Leno Jr. also had a great game, and Bobby Massie wasn’t terrible, either. They created a bunch of holes in the run game for Howard and Cohen in what was arguably their best run blocking game all year. They also held a pass rush that includes Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Michael Brockers and Dante Fowler Jr. to just one sack, and that one sack was made by none of those four players. Chicago’s offensive line was fantastic in this game, and they deserve to be recognized for it.
Let’s get right down to it: this defense is championship-caliber.
There is no weakness on Chicago’s defense. Their defensive line is stout and can penetrate just about anything offensive line. Their pass rush off the edge is flat out scary, and their linebackers are athletic and instinctive. Throw in a secondary that has tremendous collective ball skills and coverage abilities, and you have a defense that is truly one of the best in recent memory. No cap, as the cool youth of today say.
Everybody already knew that the Bears’ defense was dominant. This week proved that the Bears’ defense can be dominant against any team. The Rams have arguably the best offense in the NFL, and Chicago absolutely humiliated them. Jared Goff was horrendous, as his accuracy and decision making was greatly affected by constantly collapsing pockets. Los Angeles’ offensive line is for real, so to see them get demolished the way they did was awe inspiring. Likely All-Pro Todd Gurley was totally neutralized last night, as the Bears were able to plug up holes and penetrate the backfield regularly throughout the night. The Rams’ receivers were underwhelming, too, as they didn’t have many opportunities to create separation or pick up yards after the catch.
Khalil Mack had yet another strip sack. Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman both had sacks, with the latter picking up a safety. Eddie Jackson and Prince Amukamara both had three pass deflections and an interception, while Kyle Fuller and Roquan Smith had interceptions of their own, too. Nobody had a bad game this week against an elite offense.
The Bears have always had a great defense, but they cemented themselves as a truly elite defense last night. That alone makes them a Super Bowl contender.
Three and out
3. This marked the third Bears game that I have attended this year, and this was the most electric I have ever seen Soldier Field. Considering that I also said that after their blowout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that’s saying quite a bit. The crowd was constantly screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs, and they did a great job of making noise and distracting Los Angeles’ offense. The only complaint that I have is the constant air-raid sirens before every defensive play. I am a massive fan of sirens as a form of intimidation for sporting events, but every single play? That’s a bit of an overkill for me.
2. The Bears are legit, in case you didn’t know that already. With nine wins under their belt now, they will win the NFC North unless they lose all of their remaining games and the Minnesota Vikings win either all of three of their remaining four games. Although a first-round bye could be tough to attain, they can hold their own against any team in the NFL, let alone the NFC. They belong in the conversation as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
1. I’m writing this at 12:40 a.m. and my energy is going to be nonexistent in the morning, so I’ll just keep this last one short and sweet: the Bears are over .500 for the first time since 2012. Enjoy it, Bears fans. It’s well worth the wait.