It's a big week for the Chicago Bears. They face a stumbling Detroit Lions team that they dominated for three and a half quarters the last time they matched up, and a second win in a row would establish the first winning streak of the Eberflus era.
Huge props to the Fox broadcast
Prior to the game, Fox showed video of Axhi the Bear and Brutus the Lion at the Brookfield Zoo. This is the correct way to establish the stakes in a heavy-weight matchup between powerful beasts. I'd say these are the top two mascot teams in the NFL, but at the moment, I can't remember the name or the likeness of the Lions mascot, presumably because the Lions have been a woefully forgettable franchise for the history of their existence.
Velus Jones Jr. sets the tone for a good game!
The talented but mistake-prone young Bear was in top form for the game's first kickoff return. He darted through a crowd of ineffective Lions to bring the Bears past the 30-yard line.
I'm pretty sure not calling late hit flags on Justin Fields is now just a bit for the NFL
I'll be honest I didn't get a good view of Jack Campbell hitting Justin Fields late with his belly because I was distracted by trying to get two-factor authentication to work to write this article, which is the 974th worst moment I've experienced as a result of two-factor authentication. But I definitely saw Kerby Joseph hit Justin in the head with his groin. Maybe they didn't call that because Justin was popping up a little bit, but other QBs get the benefit in these situations. I realize the defenders are trying not to hit him but generally in football trying isn't rewarded, you have to actually succeed. Otherwise, I want Bears opponents to be counted down every time they try to tackle a defender, and they might be the best defense in the NFL.
The Lions were not ready for the Bears offensive attack
Despite no advantage from penalty yardage, the Bears romped down the field without resistance with short passes and too-easy runs. The Bears have often been good in the first/early scripted drives, so I'll enjoy this for now and see if they can keep it up.
A little Justin Fields magic...
On 3rd and long on the second drive, Fields looked dead-to-rights right around the Lions' end zone as the Lions swarmed around him, but not our hero. He shifted, dodged, and squirmed his way into the open field to gain the first down and more and terrorize the Lions with his legs one more time. We've seen a last-minute ankle-tackle stop these explosions too many times this season and it's a wonderful treat to see the magic we grew to know and love last year.
Jaylon Johnson 4th down pick good for his contract negotiations or no?
I understand it after he dropped the pick six last Lions game, but it was the wrong decision to catch the ball more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage rather than let it fall and get the ball back at the 40, but it will show up in his stat line when his agent is arguing his value. Probably it will serve to increase the gap between what the Bears think he's worth and what his agent does. Not ideal from that perspective but still fun to watch and bad for Jared Goff no matter how you slice it!
Are the Bears the worst 4th and 1 team in the NFL?
They have a tall athletic quarterback. In Bears' logic, this means the expect people to expect them to do quarterback sneaks because that would be a good idea so they should generally avoid doing them. Bears logic is a beautiful thing that makes you run in circles in your head until you eventually turnover on downs.
The Lions ran an obvious bubble screen and got 5 yards
The difference between their obvious bubble and the Bears obvious bubble is the Lions actually put a lineman out to block instead of a Chase Claypool. Interesting twist. Unfortunately if the Bears put a lineman out to block a bubble screen, Bears logic would force them to instead run the ball the other way.
The Bears offensive line isn't that bad, but their protection often is
I'm not smart enough to know if this is being outsmarted by defensive coordinators or Justin Fields failing to call out appropriate protections, but it's not just holding the ball too long. Instant pressure is just too common with this team, and as I write this, it's ended two of the last three drives poorly.
New strategy, start your collapse at the end of the 2nd quarter
This time, the Bears appeared to dominate for just one and a half quarters. I'm holding out hope that this is a new strategy for the Bears, who know themselves too well to believe there won't be a comprehensive collapse at some point in the game. Doing it at the end of the half gives them the opportunity to bounce back, which of course is not an option when you do it at the end of the game.
Interesting idea. Let's see how it plays out.
Bears defense starts the second half forcing a three and out!
The early collapse strategy is working! The decision to receive is vindicated! The momentum is back with the Bears! Nothing can stop us now...
Playing DJ Moore as a running back instead of a receiver seemed like a good plan
Since throwing him the ball as a receiver is what everyone would expect us to do. Unfortunately, the Bears may not have considered this would open hm more more injury risk, and DJ left the field after a carry in the third quarter. Let's pray it's a minor boo boo.
Update: he came back and got back-to-back catches on the following two plays. Good adjustment, Bears!
Trent Taylor 30 yard punt return!
This Bears second half is cooking on all three phases, now with two defensive stops, a scoring offensive drive, and a 30 yard punt return. The early collapse plan was genius, and no doubt we'll see it replicated across the league during this post-season. I'm calling it now, whoever plays the worst at the end of the half in the Super Bowl is winning.
This Bears defense seems to be figuring out third and long
They started the second half with three suffocating third and longs, managing to avoid the too-soft give-up-third-and-long trademark move of the Eberflus era. Could this trend continue? Being able to get off the field on 3rd and long could have led to several wins in the last two years...
Cole Kmet makes an impressive contested catch
And forces Dan Campbell to waste a challenge. That ball was viced in his right arm and stable as a hibernating Bear even before he secured it with his left paw. Silly Lions.
Fields bounces back from a discouraging set of plays for a 4th down touchdown!
This kind of resilience that the Bears have been lacking in recent years. After overwhelming pressure on first down leading to a pass for loss, a huge hit to Fields on a run or loss, and instant pressure leading to a throw away that was almost called a fumble, the Bears attempted 4th and long and Fields attacked deep with confidence. Perfect pass to a wide open DJ Moore. This is not the normal experience of watching Bears football...
Bears have built up a dangerous lead
As I write this, the Bears are up 12 in the 4th quarter. They are going to be very tempted to collapse again. Let's see if that pre-emptive mini-collapse at the end of the half does it's job.
Gervon Dexter Sr. gets his first sack at a perfect time
It was 3rd and 10 in a drive the Lions needed to finish to have a chance at repeating an improbable comeback and the massive young Bear pushed past his defender to smosh the struggling Lions ball-tosser. Some pressure closing in from Montez Sweat and an uncharacteristically aggressive play call helped his cause, but all credit to the young Bear on his first moment of glory!
The Bears are slowly compiling evidence that they might be a competent team. The haven't broken through the layers of skeptism that have thickened and ossified over the past two years, but there are cracks where I can see hope shining in.
Then again, the most likely outcome of a good end-of-season run is the Bears getting tricked into keeping what has been an underwhelming coaching staff and committing to disappoint us again for another year.
On the other hand, the Bears are undefeated in the NFC North since November 20th, 2023! We've taken the North and we'll never get it back!
Check out our Not Your Average Bears Postgame Show! with Bill Zimmerman and this week's guest, Ross Read, right now.