Despite a rash of injuries and an ominous feeling at the start of Sunday’s Week 4 match-up, the Chicago Bears find themselves sitting at (3-1) and in second place in the division. Offensively things still aren't pretty, but this defense is still elite and that’s all we need for hope right now.
Despite having a total of six starters out throughout Sunday’s game, I found it hard to reward just a select few players in such a dominating win. In a game where it appeared the Bears would lose, they dominated every in almost every aspect and had multiple players step into bigger roles.
With that in mind, let’s dive into Week 4’s game balls. Disclaimer, there will be multiple players that were deserving, but I can’t list 10+ players for an award designed for one player on each side of the ball.
Quarterback Chase Daniel
Heading into the game, the Bears were already injured. They were missing five key players, including two on offense. Then quarterback Mitchell Trubisky landed awkwardly on his non-throwing arm and things became even more ominous.
Thanks to a defensive penalty, the drive was extended and in came Daniel. The veteran did nothing flashy on Sunday, but what he did do was orchestrate an opening touchdown drive and did more than enough for the Bears to win.
Daniel finished the game (22/30) with 195 passing yards, a touchdown and a (101.4) quarterback rating. None of these numbers are overly impressive, but it was how he led this offense in relief that was more than impressive.
Not only was he comfortable in the pocket, but he progressed through his reads smoothly and regularly. That’s something we haven’t really seen consistently from Trubisky and it was a welcomed addition to an anemic offense. Yes, they only scored 16 points, but Sunday was simply one of those games where you get out with a win and move on. That’s exactly what happened and this is a win that every Bears fan should be happy about.
Honorable Mention: Receiver Allen Robinson
Earlier in the game, I tweeted out that Robinson was “elite.” Part of that was hyperbolic, but I do believe that Robinson is a number one receiver in the traditional sense. He’s also a very big part of this offense and the most reliable and dangerous target on this offense. Regardless of the quarterback, that’s a big value and something they haven’t had since the Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall days.
Robinson finished the game with seven catches for 77 yards, but make no mistake, he was a big factor in the first half of Sunday’s game. He made a few impressive catches and simply acted as a needed security blanket for a backup quarterback.
I’m not sure this offense is designed for him to have 1,500-1,600 yards, but he should cross the 1,000 yard mark this year and remain a key part of this offense and team overall.
Defensive Line Nick Williams
Heading into the regular season, if you asked most Bears fans where they thought the team had the most depth, most would have said the defensive line or receiver. Despite that, most, including myself, had worries with both Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols not playing against a run heavy team.
Coming into Week 4, the Vikings led the league in rushing yards and Dalvin Cook was the NFL leading rusher. Even so, it didn’t stop the Bears from allowing just 40 total rushing yards (2.5 yards-per-carry) and racking up a season-high six sacks.
A big part of that effort was the defensive line play and namely, Nicholas Williams. The veteran has bounced around his fair share since coming into the league, but he appears to have found himself a home in Chicago. Not only did he step in for Hicks, he matched his usual production and notched a sack in his third straight game.
Williams finished the game with seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles-for-loss and a pair of quarterback hits. Needless to say, he was dominant. Not only was it a much needed performance, it was one of the better ones of the year, given the circumstances.
Despite having two starters on the defensive line out, it’s clear that the team’s depth at the position is still among the league’s best. Just ask Kirk Cousins or Cook.
Honorable Mention: LB Nick Kwiatkoski
One of the more surprising inactives on the day was second-year linebacker Roquan Smith. No one had any clue he would miss Sunday’s game and it wasn’t until about 30 minutes before when we realized that was exactly what was going to happen. They still have yet to clarify exactly why he missed the game, but they did label it as “personal.” I have a feeling there’s plenty more to the story that we’ll find out in the coming days.
With that in mind, Sunday’s game was all about who replaced him and that was Kwiatkoski. Not only did the fourth-year linebacker prove to not be a liability, he was one of the stars on the defensive side of the ball. I’m not sure many people could honestly say they saw that coming.
Kwiatkoski was all over the field. He finished the game with 10 tackles (led the team), two-tackles-for-loss, a quarterback hit and a big-time sack, that led to a forced fumble and a third-and-35 situation. This was easily the best performance of Kwiatkoski’s career and one that we may look back on and point to the reason he got paid a nice chunk in free agency next March.