The Chicago Bears broke a 14-game losing streak with their 40-20 win in Landover Thursday night over the Washington Commanders. Since most NFL clubs have a huge player turnover, the 14-game losing streak didn’t weigh as much on the players as it did the coaching staff, front office, and fans. On the current 53-man roster, 30 are new this year, so to them, the losing streak was four games or in other words, winless in 2023.
Regardless, losing sucks and wears heavily on players. As much as the fans hate it, it’s even more so with players. Remember, this is their job, their livelihood. If they don’t perform well, they could be gone.
Now that the Bears have won a game, what comes next? First, winning brings confidence to the players that hard work pays off. There has been a narrative being passed around mostly on social media that Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus had “lost the team.” I never believed that because this team never played like a team that had lost confidence in their coach. I have been around teams that have given up, and it looks much different than this version of the Chicago Bears.
Now that the Bears have won a game, the players realize that if they continue to work hard, they can win more. One thing that will help is the injured players coming back and being ready to play. We saw Thursday night how much better the Oline played with Teven Jenkins in there for the first time this season. Teven only played 37 snaps, but for the most part, he won his reps. After one more game, the line may get Braxton Jones back, and it will be the first time this season that the group that was supposed to start on the Oline is actually playing together. That will help the offense tremendously.
After a slow start, Justin Fields is playing like the quarterback we hoped he would be. He’s making quicker decisions, getting the ball out of his hand faster and throwing with accuracy. In the early games, the Bears seldom took downfield shots. In the last two games, we have seen several longer throws. In the first drive alone on Thursday, two of the first three plays were long throws. That set the tone for the night.
Not only has Fields played better, but he has been helped by better play calling. They are using different formations and running different types of plays from these new formations. They are also using pre-snap motion much more. When pre-snap motion is used, it helps tell the offense what kind of coverage the defense is in.
On defense, the defensive line is healthy and beginning to put more pressure on the quarterback. We began to see it in the Denver game, but it improved versus Washington. They still have to finish better though, as in the last two games there have been at least five plays that should have been sacks, but the opposing quarterback was able to break free. That can’t happen!
The biggest area of concern that still needs to improve is in the secondary. That group has been playing with mostly backups for most of the season. Nickel corner Kyler Gordon should return soon. He has been on Injured Reserve the required four games, so if his hand is healed, he can be brought back this week.
Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson, who arguably are the best two players in the secondary, should also be back soon. Both have missed the last two games, Johnson with a hamstring and Jackson with a foot injury. Being they weren’t placed on IR, it means the medical staff felt that the injuries were not four week or longer injuries. If they are back to play against the Vikings, the defense will have its entire starting group together since week one.
The next two games are home games versus Minnesota and Las Vegas. Both are winnable games if the team plays hard, the offense continues to put points on the board, and the defense finishes. That would put the Bears at three and four and make this whole season look much different than it did a week ago. It’s funny what just one win can do.