The Bears had 10 off days in between their last game and their matchup against the Patriots on Monday night. They certainly looked the part of a team that had extra time to prepare.
Chicago came into Foxborough and dominated New England to the tune of a 33-14 victory, improving to 3-4 in the process. Regardless of whether it was Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe in at quarterback for the Patriots, the Bears were in firm control for much of the evening.
Here are some of the key takeaways from this week’s victory.
Efficiency was the name of the game for the Bears on offense.
They had a span of five offensive drives that saw them score points, ranging from the middle of the second quarter to the beginning of the fourth. The Bears applied a run-heavy approach, as has been the case for much of the season. That said, the offense didn’t feel one-dimensional.
Justin Fields was both the Bears’ leading passer — obviously — and their leading rusher. He finished the game 13-for-21 with 179 yards, one passing touchdown and an interception. His interception had been tipped at the line of scrimmage, and he had a couple of tough throws, but more often than not, he looked quite good throwing the football. Fields was able to read the field well, deliver accurate throws and exploit soft spots in zone coverage against New England’s defense.
Fields was also incredibly efficient running the ball, tallying 82 yards and a touchdown on his 14 carries. Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy did a good job of blending designed quarterback runs with roll-outs. This strategy put Fields on the move and made the Patriots respect his athleticism, and those quarterback keepers emphasized the possibility of that threat and opened opportunities in the passing game.
With only 13 completions, it’s tough to say a Bears wide receiver dominated on a regular basis on Monday night. However, Darnell Mooney caught 3 passes for 53 yards, stretching the field effectively on certain plays and picking up quality YAC on his first reception of the evening. Equanimeous St. Brown caught 4 passes for 48 yards and also thrived blocking along the perimeter, Cole Kmet had a beautiful 26-yard catch, and N’Keal Harry caught his only target in his revenge game.
The Bears’ pass protection wasn’t great — Fields was sacked four times, 2.5 of which coming from Matt Judon — but the run blocking was pretty efficient. They paved the way well for David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, who each had 62 rushing yards on 15 and 12 carries, respectively. Montgomery had the touchdown, but Herbert was narrowly more efficient running the ball. A specific shoutout goes to Kmet for his performance as a run blocker, too.
Considering that the Bears hadn’t scored more than 30 points in a game since late in the 2020 season, it was a welcomed surprise to see them excel in the way they did on offense on Monday. It was a truly encouraging outing from a young unit against a talented Patriots defense.
Football was truly a young man’s game on Monday night.
Not only was the quarterback battle of Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe on full display for the Patriots, but the Bears’ young defenders put together a strong outing. They allowed two touchdowns in the second quarter, but Chicago didn’t allow a single point in the other three quarters, and that second-half shutout helped the offense run away with the game.
The Bears’ run defense was particularly reliable. Rhamondre Stevenson averaged just 3.5 yards per carry, while Damien Harris contributed just 2.7 yards per carry on the evening. Roquan Smith was the star of the show for Chicago, tallying 12 tackles to remain the league leader in combined tackles for the season. He seemed to be all over the field in stopping New England’s offense, and he allowed contributed a sack and an interception on passing downs.
Regardless of the quarterback they faced, the Bears were pretty solid in coverage. Both Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker had the first interceptions of their NFL career, which Brisker especially overcoming a kick to the manhood to steal Mac Jones’ ball away from him
Chicago didn’t do a fantastic job generating pressure, as Smith’s aforementioned sack was the only one the team had all night. Robert Quinn and Al-Quadin Muhammad each had a quarterback hit, though. Pass deflections were the name of the game for the Bears’ defensive line instead, as Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson each deflected one pass at the line of scrimmage, and Justin Jones had two.
The Bears dominated the time of possession battle, so their defense didn’t have too many chances to generate absurd stat lines. That’s honestly for the best, though, as it indicates their efficiency in getting the Patriots off the field. It was a solid outing from the defense in the grand scheme of things.
Three and out
3. This was my first time watching the Manning-cast on ESPN2 for the entirety of a Monday night football game, and I’m definitely glad with my decision.
Peyton and Eli did a great job of breaking down the action and mixed Xs and Os conversation with interesting interviews and funny comments. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel when Barack Obama compared Justin Fields to Daniel Jones, but I definitely enjoyed the layout, the guests and the overall feel of the show.
2. I don’t know how superstitious all of you are, but I accidentally set myself up for a potential nightmare.
I tweeted out a statistic that displayed how long it has been since Cairo Santos missed a regular season field goal attempt, and the jinx potential was immediately pointed out to me. You would imagine my stress, then, when Santos had two more field goal attempts to make over the course of the evening. It was hell.
1. This is a massive step in the right direction for the Bears.
In the three games they’ve won as of this writing, this is by far the best they have looked. The offense was clicking, the defense was forcing turnovers and making plays, and even the special teams unit was lights-out good. Even more enticing is the good play of young players like Fields, Gordon and Brisker who project as long-term building blocks. Their extra preparation from having a Thursday night game last week showed in their execution on Monday.