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Justin Fields and the first-team offense explode against the Titans

Nicholas Moreano Avatar
August 12, 2023

CHICAGO — Justin Fields only played seven snaps in the 23-17 victory over the Titans, but the first-team offense did maximum damage on the first two offensive drives of the game.

Fields lined up on the 38-yard line on second-and-8. From the right hash, Fields got the snap in the shotgun, looked to his left and completed the pass to DJ Moore.

Darnell Mooney blocked the corner. Braxton Jones got to the second level and secured a block. Teven Jenkins went 6-yards down field and blocked the linebacker. Ja’Tyre Carter got his hands on a cornerback nearly 10 yards away from the line of scrimmage.

Then Moore did the rest and scored on a 62-yard screen to complete the Bears’ first offensive drive.

“When you have guys that can take a three-yard pass 50 yards, that just makes my job easier,” Fields said. “It’s always good to have playmakers like that on the team. Just competing with each other every day, competing with the defense every day, that’s just going to make us better. But as a quarterback it’s always good to have playmakers like that for sure.”

On the next Bears’ drive, Herbert gained all the yards for the offense. He ran the ball three straight times and then Fields connected with his running back on a 56-yard touchdown off of another screen.

Fields mentioned in his postgame press conference that he thought the offense would be flagged for an ineligible man downfield since the timing was disrupted, but a flag never appeared. Instead, Herbert — with help from Cody Whitehair, Carter and a final block by Equanimeous St. Brown — created another explosive quick hitting play for the first-team offense.

“After a period of time where you just keep dipping and dunking those short passes, the defensive coordinator gets impatient and then starts blitzing more, pressuring more, playing more man coverage and then that’s when those deep shots just naturally happen,” Fields said. “I think that is going to be a good thing for us this year. Like I said, we are going to continue to work, continue to get better. Should be fun so.”

Kyler Gordon Delivers Big Hits

I know it was just one defensive series, but Kyler Gordon sure looked like a player who is ready to take a huge step this season. He started the game with a huge hit on Chris Moore and nearly dislodged the football after the Titans’ wide receiver was wide open in the middle of the field. Later in the drive, Gordon hit Moore again. This time Gordon settled in the middle of the field and squared up to force an incomplete pass. Matt Eberflus ended up challenging the play to see if Gordon forced the fumble, but it remained an incomplete pass. The two times Gordon had an opportunity to make a play and he nearly caused two turnovers.

I asked Gordon in the locker room what allowed him to get in position to make those types of plays.

“Just the way our defense is built,” Gordon told CHGO. “Like we constantly talk about effort and backside wins championships and having that effort and hustle to get to the ball. That’s what we rep all the time in practice. It’s like second nature after a while … so it’s really just me running to the ball and trying to make a play.”

Gordon played fast and looked comfortable in his first preseason action in Year 2. The former second-round draft pick out of Washington has high expectations for himself this season.

“Just straight elevation at a whole new level,” Gordon said. “A level of comfortability and that just comes with making more plays, more production and stuff like that. I got a lot of stuff to display this year that I’m ready to go out there and prove to people and prove myself right really, so, yeah.”

Tyrique Stevenson Impressed

Tyrique Stevenson showed a little bit of everything against the Titans. He nearly intercepted Will Levis on an out route. Stevenson read the route perfectly but couldn’t hang on to the ball near the sideline. He took on a block on a screen play and made the tackle for a minimum gain. He showed several times that he is more than a willing tackler on opposing ball carriers.

“Shoulda had a pick,” Gordon said while smiling. “He was close on that, but, naw, he’s a baller. He’s been doing his thing. He’s been doing it all camp. He’s got a lot of picks and stuff like that. He’s going to do a lot of good things for this defense, and I’m excited to watch him.”

Trevis Gipson Played With Purpose

In the 23-17 victory over the Titans, Gipson came close on several plays to getting a sack. Then in the third quarter, Gipson finally brought down Will Levis and brought out his signature “Thor Hammer” celebration.

“Man, it felt real good,” Gipson told CHGO. “We came down here for Family Fest and I’ll be honest that wasn’t one of my best practices so I came in with my hair on fire today– looking to reedem myself, especially for the fans and especially for myself and I just left it all out there on the field, man.”

Two days after Family Fest, the Bears released their first unofficial depth chart, and Gipson was placed on fourth string.

“You know I’m going to be honest, man, I’m really taking a lot of attention to my mental health this year, so I deleted social media,” Gipson said. “I did hear about, but I didn’t see it physically myself, so I didn’t let the outside doubters get to me or anything like that. You know I’m just going to keep persevering. Keep my faith in God and continue to work hard.”

Four days after the depth chart came out, Gipson put on a show at Soldier Field against the Titans. He consistently applied pressure on the Titans’ quarterbacks and finished with five total tackles on the day.

The fourth-year edge rusher still felt like he left a lot of plays on the field and understands that the defensive line room is full of playmakers. But he knows he has to look himself in the mirror and just come to work every single day.

Other Observations

  • Terrell Lewis is one of those defensive linemen fighting for a spot on this roster. The four-year edge rusher finished with two total tackles and two sacks, one of which led to a fumble that was recovered by the Bears.
  • That first-team defense had a tough time containing the edge. There were several plays that Rasheem Green failed to secure the edge, and the Titans capitalized on the mistakes. There are several defensive ends fighting for a spot on this team. Potentially the one who can play the run the best may get the job.
  • Roschon Johnson ran with physicality throughout the game. He had a long run of 24 yards and broke several tackles on the run.
  • Zacch Pickens had several splash plays. He capitalized on a stunt paired with Dominique Robinson. Pickens finished with a sack on Will Levis.
  • Velus Jones Jr. struggled fielding punts on his two attempts. It was a sunny day at Soldier Field, but that’s no excuse for his inability to track the football in the air and to be able to get under it to at least secure a fair catch. On his second attempt, he alligator-armed the ball and it lead to a muffed punt that the Titans recovered.

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