For the second time this year, rumors came about that the Bears could fire Matt Nagy if they lost a specific game. Both times, Nagy and the Bears picked up the win.
The first instance came on Thanksgiving when they defeated the Lions, and the second came on Sunday with their 25-24 win on the road against the Seahawks. A gutsy two-point conversion call after a late touchdown put the Bears in the lead, and Seattle was unable to get down the field to take their lead back. Though a 5-10 record still isn’t fantastic, it’s certainly better than 4-11.
Here are some takeaways from this week’s victory.
The Bears’ offense was hindered by being down to their third-string quarterback and playing in the snow. That said, they didn’t play as poorly as I was expecting this week.
Nick Foles took over at quarterback with both Justin Fields and Andy Dalton out, and while the 10-year veteran was obviously limited in what he could do physically, he put together a respectable outing. He finished the game 24-for-35 with 250 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Foles started the game off playing a very conservative brand of football, but he was able to help the Bears march down the field a bit late in the game.
Completing 7 of his 11 fourth-quarter passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, Foles was able to lead the Bears to a comeback once he began stretching the field a little bit more. He struggled on the deep ball due to the weather conditions and mediocre arm strength by NFL standards, but he had a strong intermediate game going and played a big role in their comeback. For a backup making his first start of the year, he did his job well and should feel good about his performance and helping his team pick up the win.
He had a solid outing despite the questionable play of his offensive line, which struggled both in pass protection and run blocking. Foles was sacked four times and hit nine times, and while those sacks and hits might not have happened with a superior athlete at quarterback, it’s the offensive line’s job to keep the pocket clean for their quarterback, and they failed to do so.
David Montgomery saw his efficiency drop in the ground game because of their play, as he averaged just 2.1 yards per carry on 21 carries, though he did score a touchdown on the ground. It was as a pass-catcher that he had the most value for his team, as he caught 7 of his 9 targets for 61 yards and served as a reliable checkdown option in snowy conditions. Darnell Mooney thrived when given routes that allowed for more space, catching 5 passes for 57 yards and having a thunderous 30-yard gain in the fourth quarter. Cole Kmet had a strong outing with 4 catches for 49 yards, securing passes in tight windows and even showing some value after the catch. Jimmy Graham and Damiere Byrd also deserve a lot of credit for their spectacular catches on their touchdown and two-point conversions, respectively.
Were the Bears all that efficient on offense? Not necessarily, but it was far from their worst performance this season. They were just decent enough to pick up the win, and that’s a nice thing at the end of the day.
It wasn’t the flashiest game for the Bears’ defense, but they ultimately got the job done and limited Russell Wilson to the best of their abilities.
Chicago’s pass-rush was solid on Sunday, tallying 2 sacks, 7 quarterback hits and 12 pressures. Robert Quinn finished the game with yet another sack — making it his seventh game in a row with at least one sack — as well as 4 pressures and 2 hits. Bilal Nichols and Trevis Gipson joined forces on the team’s other sack, notching a combined 5 pressures in the process. Since the offense dominated the time of possession battle, the Bears’ pass-rush didn’t have plenty of reps to work off of, but they took advantage of what they had.
The Seahawks doing fairly limited damage was aided by the Bears’ secondary holding their own in the passing game. Though they allowed two touchdowns and didn’t force any turnovers, Wilson completed just 59.3 percent of his attempts and hit just 5 of his 11 combined targets to D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Deon Bush and Artie Burns had two pass breakups each, Duke Shelley allowed just 9 yards on 3 attempts in coverage, Artie Burns allowed just one completion for no gain on 3 targets, and Thomas Graham Jr. bounced back after getting burned by Metcalf for a touchdown to not allow another catch on 3 more targets for the rest of the game.
The biggest issue for the Bears was Seattle’s run game, especially Rashaad Penny. The former first-round pick tallied 135 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, giving him an average of 7.9 yards per carry. He was able to roll right over Chicago’s defense, forcing 7 missed tackles and picking up 95 of his yards after contact. The defensive line got pushed around at the point of attack, and the secondary struggled in the run game. That said, Roquan Smith and Alec Ogletree combined for 17 tackles, with the former also having two tackles for a loss and averaging a depth-of-tackle total of 1.3 yards.
All in all, the Bears had a solid outing on the defensive side of the ball. It wasn’t perfect, per se, but it was a respectable performance that helped their team pick up the win.
Three and out
3. Robert Quinn is now just half of a sack away from tying Richard Dent for the single-season sack record in Bears history.
The NFL Comeback Player of the Year award has only been awarded to one defensive player since 2008, so it’s unlikely that Quinn will be able to win the award with the likes of Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz as candidates. That said, bouncing back from having just 2 sacks in 2020 to 17 sacks through 14 games is simply remarkable. He deserves all the credit in the world for how well he has played.
2. As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, I personally would not be upset if Nick Foles remained on the roster next year.
Barring a trade after June 1, the Bears will be on the books for at least $7.67 million in 2022. Releasing him would save just $3 million, so they’d still be paying him top-tier backup money to not even be on the roster. Seeing as though Andy Dalton is a free agent after this year — and that they’re still responsible for $5 million of his contract due to a reconstruction of his deal — the Bears could keep Foles over Dalton, which would ultimately be cheaper than cutting Foles and re-signing Dalton.
1. Even after a win on the road, the Bears would be better off if they chose to either fire Matt Nagy this week or let him know they intend to move on from him at the end of the year.
Doing so would allow the team to interview head coaching candidates before the end of the year, thus giving them an advantage in the hiring process. Though the timing is a bit awkward, seeing as though Nagy’s Bears just picked up a victory, the new rule means that it would be a disadvantage to them to not have made a decision regarding his job status.