I always have so much excitement going into the first game of a season. Everything new feels like it will be better. Everything old has some reason it might take a step in the right direction. The national media is always wrong about how bad the Chicago Bears will be, and it's easy to exaggerate just how wrong they are. All teams are 0-0, and anything is possible.
Then kickoff happens...
Bears honor their history in first offensive drive
Starting the game with a 3 and out on the first offensive drive has become a ritual for Bears offenses. This season, the Bears chose to honor that history of offensive frugality with what I can only assume will be the last three and out in the Justin Fields era. A nice gesture.
Bears honor their history in first defensive drive
It looks right to see #33 punching a football out of an opposing star's hands. The HITS philosophy is starting out strong in the Eberflus era. As I write this, the Bears have gotten takeaways on 100% of their defensive drives.
New plan: David Montgomery heroic save on every third down
It looks like the concerns that the Bears' offensive line may struggle against the better lines in the league had some unfortunate merit. It may be the best option to do a last ditch dump to David Montgomery and make him evade several tackles on every third down to keep drives alive.
I stand by my suggestion
The Bears tried passing on 3rd and 7, against my above advice. This resulted in an interception by a presumably invisible 49ers linebacker.
First game, first sack for Dominique Robinson
Robinson was billed as a talented but raw athlete in this year's draft who may need time to develop. His rawness was the reason he fell to the end of the 5th round for the Bears. Turns out he was more raw like sashimi than raw like ground chuck because he looked NFL ready, sacking Trey Lance and ending the 49ers second drive.
STOP HITTING JUSTIN FIELDS
Drew Greenlaw fell on Justin Fields as he slid out of bounds. It looked worse live than in replay, and it looked like it would have been hard for him to avoid hitting fields. But guess what: professional football is hard. Figure it out and stop putting our future's life in danger. At least they threw the flag.
As I write this, Bears average starting position: Own 12
That's rough. It's basically the result of the Bears struggling on offense but keeping the 49ers from scoring, so the 49ers offensive advantage has only translated to field position. With a run game that's not working well, a screen game that's not working at all, and a line that's outmatched in pass blocking. This is not a good set-up for our young hero.
Update: it was not a good outcome for a young hero, and my theory is that the Bears would have had no more three and outs died too soon.
Reminder: The 49ers defense stifled Luke Getsy's last team
Even when the Packers offense was flying high with Davante Adams and perhaps literally-high quarterback, the 49ers had their number. I was hoping that Getsy may have learned some insight from that history, but ultimately, this is a particularly bad matchup for the Bears' new scheme—not to mention their young offensive line.
Eberflus is not going to be happy about a costly 3rd and three penalty in the red zone
The assumption has been that this team will be much more disciplined than last year. In the preseason, that certainly proved too. I'm sure it will—that bar is low—but it's discouraging to see two defensive tackles offsides on a key play that may have cost the Bears 4 points.
Update: The Bears won the penalty game by a long shot, and it kept multiple offensive drives alive. It's a weird feeling and feels like cheating. Cheating is fun.
Is Getsy waiting to establish the run to start play action?
Just do it, boo boo. That run isn't getting established any time soon.
Trey Lance is an impressive athlete with the ball in his hands
The man made future All-Pro Jaquan Brisker miss a one-on-one tackle. Respect.
Play action leads to traction
Justin Fields took advantage of a sprinkle of misdirection for a nice
first down eight yard run when Getsy took my advice. Fields continued to use his speed to run his way for the majority of the gains for the Bears first field goal attempt.
More Herbert than I expected in the run game
But I suppose if you're running (or throwing to a running back) every play, you've got to mix it up a bit. He had a couple nice burst runs, and his downside of being less proficient in pass protection is a little whatevs at this point. That seems too hard to try anyway.
About that offensive line
It was fun to watch Braxton Jones rise from 5th round pick to starting left tackle, to watch Teven Jenkins go from possible sunk cost to starting guard, and watch Sam Mustipher play better than expected in the preseason. It wasn't fun to watch what was ultimately a wildly outmatched offensive line keep the Bears from moving the ball with any consistency.
Bears found a new rule!
Trenton Gill demonstrated wildly flagrant unsportsmanship when he used a literal towel to dry off a wet football in a failed attempt to get an unfair advantage for the Bears to kick a semi-dry football. Glad the refs were on top of their game, since they were the only ones in the stadium who knew that was a penalty.
Kyler Gordon with a learning opportunity
Gordon got beat out of the slot by 49ers JAG receiver Juan Jennings when he didn't commit to following on a deep route. He's taking on a big role in this defense, and this is a good game to get some tough lessons in.
Jaquan Brisker TFL swings momentum
The 49ers were 2nd and goal on about the 2 yard line. It felt like an inevitable score for a team that had been running more or less at will until Brisker burst across the line and tackled Jeff Wilson for a healthy loss. The Bears got the stop the next play, and the 49ers were held to 3.
Queue Dante Pettis revenge music
The memo to the broadcast crew must have been lost because I'm sure Pettis instructed them on which song to play when he scored a touchdown against his old team. I like to think he settled on Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone. The 49ers added insult to injury when they didn't even cover him on a 3rd and long broken play, and Fields and Pettis made them pay immediately.
Sometimes the pass game opens up the run game
After Pettis' 51 yard touchdown and a 20+ follow up pass to Pringle, the Bears runs started to have a little more space. Imagine that. Getsy is still green as a play caller. Hopefully, he learned some fun lessons from this game.
Sometimes the pass game opens up the pass game
And EQ Saint B's first catch is a touchdown, baby. Bears are winning.
Cairo Santos misses a PAT
That ball looked too wet. Did nobody think to dry it off??
Fast Eddie is back, baby
First game under Eberflus, first pick. Nice 20 yard run back to top it off. This Bear is gonna thrive in the HITS era.
Another missed PAT???
Just dry the damn ball. No way we get the same rare penalty twice in one game. It's like lightning.
Get well soon, Jaylon
A bitter sweet moment in an otherwise delightful second half, Jaylon Johnson came off the field with what I prey is a short term injury.
Update: my wish was granted! Johnson came back after one play. Bears are literally unstoppable.
What are the Bears going to do with all their cap space next season?
I mean. This roster is obviously perfect.
The Bears gave us a scare for the first half of this game. They looked outmatched and overwhelmed, and they teased another season of offensive futility. They tested our faith to the point that only the craziest of us never wavered. But they didn't let the score get out of hand, and once they unleashed the deep passing game, it was a quick jaunt to taking the lead. The Bears showed they can adjust on offense and that they can score quickly. This feels new and very fun.
I'm going into Packers week with way too much hope...