The Bears beat the Patriots on Monday night to deny Bill Belichick passing George Halas. Belichick is stuck on 324 and will not pass Papa Bear on the Bears watch. Do we even need to do the grades? Spoiler alert: Almost everyone gets an A.
Justin Fields: A-
The numbers do not jump off the page but the performance did: 179 yards passing and 82 yards rushing. The numerous sharp cuts and the 25-yard dump-off touchdown pass to Khalil Herbert under extreme duress were beautiful to see. Fields looked more comfortable in Luke Getsy’s offense which finally looked like it was designed for Justin Fields. A planned run for the QB in the red zone? Sign me up for more of those. Fields still had his wobbly moments including the interception by Myles Bryant off a tipped ball but he more than made up for it rushing and throwing for a combined 17(!) first downs. A major step forward for QB1.
Offensive Line: B+
There was still plenty of stress on Fields but 243 rushing yards deserves big time praise. The offensive line that has been clearing space on the ground all season long. Lucas Patrick going out with a toe injury after finally getting inserted at center was a blow, but not having him there did not feel unfamiliar. Michael Schofield stepped in at left guard and we did not hear his name all night. Teven Jenkins again showed his toughness going into the injury tent but then finding his way back to the field and playing his physical style.
Come join our next tailgate on November 6!
Running back: A
Almost an even split of carries between David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert who are becoming quite the tandem. 15 carries for Monty, 12 for Khalil plus the touchdown catch where Herbert was able to walk into the end zone untouched from 25 yards out. Montgomery pounded another in from 1-yd out early in the 4th quarter to put the tasty icing on the cake. The Bears scoring in the red zone with ease? The Bears using the right running back at the goal line? Bears running backs joining Justin Fields in a dynamic rushing attack? The Bears’ strength of keeping the ball on the ground shined through.
Wide receiver/ tight end: B+
There wasn’t anything overly exciting from this group but they were solid. Darnell Mooney made himself available for three key catches for a team-high 53 yards. Dante Pettis flashed on a well-timed run for 29 yards. Cole Kmet with maybe the most heady play of the night catching a 26-yard pass, bouncing up and rushing the Bears to get the next play snapped before Belichick and company could decide whether or not to challenge the play. Equanimeous St. Brown was impressive again creating space with his blocking and is becoming a nice safety valve for Fields. Brown was tops with four catches.
Defensive line/Linebacker: B
All hail Justin Jones! My new favorite Bear backed up his Deflated Balls talk with a fumble recovery, two batted balls, two tackles and an elite postgame tweet. Roquan Smith led the way again with 12 tackles and a sack and a whole lot of 58 all over the field including an interception off a Dominque Robinson tip. Trevis Gipson impacted the game again with a pass deflection. It would have been nice to get either Jones or Zappe on the ground more — only one sack — but there was more consistent pressure and the Patriots only rushed for 70 yards mainly due to the fact they were trailing all night.
There was only one moment all night from the defense where Bears fans were scratching their heads and that was when Eddie Jackson failed to touch Jakobi Meyers before he rolled into the end zone on a 30-yard Bailey Zappe TD pass. Meanwhile, the rookie duo of Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon made Ryan Poles smile from ear to ear grabbing interceptions — Brisker an especially impressive Air Jordan leaping grab. The standout rookie safety may have been extra motivated after getting kicked in the you know what by Mac Jones. Brisker, who missed time in the preseason with an injured thumb, has only missed one snap in the regular season. He called himself the steal of the draft on draft night. Nobody is arguing.
Special Teams: A
Mr. consistent Cairo Santos calmly knocked through four more field goals including a 50-yarder. Dante Pettis won the punt return gig and did not fumble and had a 27-yard return. Clean, efficient night just how you like it.
Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy take a bow. Eberflus began the mini-bye week meeting twice with Justin Fields to make sure he was on the same page with his quarterback. Flus gave Fields a little extra attention at the right time after a disappointing to see the least prime-time loss to Washington. Getsy went into the lab and adjusted his offense to fit his quarterback. Fields is now the first Bears quarterback to rush for over 80 yards in back-to-back games. It is a more dangerous way to play but it is the best way for the Bears to play to win games. Getsy also got Fields on the move more and set him up with some easy targets. The offense looked … like an actual offense. Eberflus showed class late having the Bears take a knee rather than try to put up 40 on the Patriots when many, Peyton Manning included, would have loved to see the Bears go for the exclamation point. No need. 33-14 on Monday night to end a 3-game slide and keep the season alive was more than good enough.