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That was quite the bounce back for the Bears, who delivered their most impressive win since at least 2018. Let’s jump into this week’s Bears Things:
The Lead: Eberflus bests Belichick
Considering Bill Belichick has been caught in his fair share of icy postgame handshakes with opposing coaches, it seemed notable that he spent time in an extended embrace with Matt Eberflus at the end of Monday night’s 33-14 Bears win in New England.
“It was obviously a private conversation, but I can just generalize and say that he was complimentary of the way we’re doing things and what we’re building here,” Eberflus told reporters Tuesday at Halas Hall. “That was what the whole conversation was and it was just complimentary of how we’re doing things.”
The exchange happened just moments after Eberflus opted to have Justin Fields kneel down on 4th-and-goal from the two-yard-line instead of trying to add more points to the scoreboard. On ESPN’s Manningcast, Peyton Manning took exception to that move, saying: “I think if you have a chance to score 40 in Foxborough, you score 40 in Foxborough.”
On Tuesday, Eberflus said the decision was “just respect for the game.”
Apparently Belichick noticed the respect. We’ve seen him blow off coaches following losses before. He barely acknowledged Bills head coach Sean McDermott after the Patriots were blown out in the playoffs in January. And he wanted no part in shaking Bill O’Brien’s hand after a loss to the Texans in 2019, which was shocking because O’Brien used to be on his coaching staff.
Still, Eberflus didn’t necessarily need Belichick’s approval to feel good about what transpired Monday night. Make no mistake, it was a big win for the coaching staff. The previous loss to the Washington Commanders raised many questions about Eberflus’ H.I.T.S. principle, as well as the general approach to developing Justin Fields. It was refreshing to see the coaching staff make adjustments during the team’s 11-day layoff, especially on offense, where Luke Getsy shuffled the offensive line and installed a designed running game for the quarterback that the Patriots couldn’t stop.
“We were badly out-coached, out-played,” Belichick said. “Just didn’t do anything well enough in the game to have a chance to win or deserve to win. The Bears did a good job. Totally controlled the game in all three phases.”
I’ve had a few requests to dive deeper into each one of Fields’ performances, so I thought I’d try an approach I used back in 2019 when I reviewed every dropback from Mitch Trubisky’s 2018 season. Here are my notes after reviewing both the TV copy and coaches film from Monday night:
The Good: Nice, easy 3rd & 4 completion to Darnell Mooney on a rub route … Kept eyes downfield on a 3rd & 6 scramble and found Equanimeous St. Brown for 19 yards after St. Brown put his hand up (“mailbox”) … Impressive cuts to get vertical through seams on designed runs, including on 3-yard touchdown … Quick decision to drive ball to Mooney in middle of the field … Good “alert” to screen and pump/sidearm throw to Khalil Herbert on 25-yard touchdown … Insane jump cut on 20-yard scramble before halftime … Nice job moving defender with his eyes before hitting St. Brown on the left sideline … Special ability to avoid pressure before hitting Cole Kmet deep left for 26 yards … Went through at least three reads across field before hitting St. Brown on backside of “mesh” concept.
The Bad: Late throw to Mooney on crosser was nearly picked off (although Mooney drifted downfield too much) … Has to throw the ball away on 3rd & 10 scramble before fumbling out of bounds … Quick slant to St. Brown was open on Matt Judon sack (allowed by Larry Borom) … Can’t lose ball while scrambling … Bad horizontal throw to Mooney … Should have handed ball off to running back on zone read … Wandered out of clean pocket and got hit on incompletion to Kmet.
Overall: This was a good step in the right direction for Fields. He was quicker with his decisions and looked more comfortable throwing the ball throughout the night. The designed runs seem to get his swagger going, which is something he feeds off of. Fields still needs to improve his accuracy on horizontal throws that must hit the receiver in stride to be successful. Ball security continues to be an issue (he now has 11 fumbles, but amazingly has only lost one of them).
It was a lot of fun watching right guard Teven Jenkins and fullback Khari Blasingame on film this week. Both were handing out pancakes left and right.
Blue Chip Tier: K Cairo Santos, TE Cole Kmet, QB Justin Fields, LB Roquan Smith, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, RB Khalil Herbert, RG Teven Jenkins.
Longterm Starter Tier: CB Kyler Gordon, FB Khari Blasingame, LT Braxton Jones, DT Justin Jones.
Bottom Tier: RT Larry Borom Jr.
Next up: Dallas Cowboys
It won’t get any easier for the Bears this week as they head down to Texas for their fourth road game in five weeks. The Cowboys impressively fought through a Week 1 injury to Dak Prescott and are 5-2. Given the current state of the NFC, it would not be a stretch to say the Cowboys are the second-best team in the conference after the 6-0 Eagles.
Dallas currently ranks No. 3 in overall DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. Their defense ranks No. 2, and their dominant pass rush looks like a major mismatch against the Bears’ offensive line. The Cowboys have the second most sacks in the NFL with 20.
That being said, the Bears have been in every game this season except one and their offense took a major step forward in New England. The newly designed run package for Fields can help slow down the Cowboys’ pass rush.
This will be a tough win to pull off, but it’s another week where the Bears provide value as a big underdog (+9.5).
Don’t forget to buy your tickets for our upcoming tailgates on November 6, November 13 and December 4! Also, we have a great new vintage CHGO Football shirt that just dropped and we’re doing a limited restock of our great ‘QB1″ shirt in the CHGO Locker. Grab ’em now.
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