Well this one wasn’t quite the disaster many were expecting, but the Chicago Bears ultimately fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night in somewhat of a heartbreaker, 29-27.
This game had a lot going on. There was the Steelers’ impressive Monday Night Football streak (19 in a row going into the game), questionable calls by the officials, flashes of Justin Fields’ greatness, defensive scores, the return of David Montgomery, etc. Luckily the national audience wasn’t exposed to a pitiful performance like the Browns or Bucs game, but the end result was the same. One thing the national audience was exposed to was Justin Fields. We just might have a QB in Chicago , folks.
Let’s get into the Quick Hits
Justin Fields. Gonna start with Fields right off the bat. This looked like his best game as a pro. He was scrambling, hitting on throws, looked calmer, threw for almost 300 yards (291), the list goes on. This is the Justin Fields we wanted and expected, and it’s safe to say this isn’t the finished product. I mean the dude even led (at the time) a game winning drive against a pretty damn good Steelers defense, in their house, on national television. Unfortunately a little bit too much time (1:46) was left on the clock for Big Ben and the Steelers. It’s obvious the future is bright for Fields… I mean is this good?
Justin Fields was PFF’s highest-graded QB in Week 9…
Chicago’s got their QB1.
— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthPFF) November 9, 2021
Second week in a row that prominent analysts on a national scale have taken notice of Fields and what he can do.
Run Defense. The Bears were able to bottle up a damn good up-and-coming running back in Najee Harris. He ran the ball 22 times and was only able to muster 62 yards. That was without Khalil Mack too. Overall the defense wasn’t great giving up 29 points, but the guys up front did their job. They were able to keep some pressure on Big Ben and got in there for 4 total sacks.
Play-calling. Listen there’s still plenty to be desired here with the play calling, but there were definitely some good signs. I didn’t find myself watching the game saying “what the hell is going on here” 13 times. Maybe it’s just that the play calling has been so bad that anything decent looks like a drastic improvement. It was nice seeing routes over 8 yards instead of WR screens, deep shots, and some designed runs for Fields (although not enough). I mean there were multiple completions over 20 yards. Goodwin had a 50 yarder, A-Rob had a 39 yarder, Graham had a 28 yarder, Kmet had a 25 yarder, and Mooney had a 20 yarder. That’s an unbelievable improvement in the passing game for this team. I have to think that Nagy is still off play calling duties and not creeping back in like he did last year when he “gave up play calling”.
Penalties. Now there were a few questionable penalties on the night (the taunting call and the Daniels low block that brought back a TD), but that’s two calls. Including those two, they had 12 penalties for 115 yards. TWELVE. That cannot happen. That’s so many free yards for the Steelers it’s ridiculous. Some of those came on the Steelers’ final drive that you can pretty easily argue kept them alive and got them the win. This is the result of an undisciplined team. Once again all goes back to coaching. The players commit the penalties, but they aren’t having these mental errors if they’re prepared.
Cairo Santos’ streak ends. 40 consecutive FGs comes to an end on a ridiculous 65 yard field goal attempt. That had no shot of going in. Santos has been great but he doesn’t have a 65 yard leg. Would have been better off with a Hail Mary. Everyone had a brief doink flash back with Steve Levy saying it hit the cross-bar but it was well short of the goal posts.
Run game was a little lacking. I guess this isn’t necessarily “Bad Bears” because it wasn’t terrible and Fields played great, but it did seem like there wasn’t an emphasis on the run game like the past few games. Running the ball a bit more might have swung the possession time in favor of the Bears to help give the defense some rest. It was nice to see Monty back though. He was efficient with the work he was given, but Herbert all but disappeared this week. It would be nice to still get him a little more involved moving forward. This is the first game the team has had to navigate them both being healthy though, so I think we could see Herbert getting more opportunities going forward.
The Bears have now lost 4 straight and I keep harping on this, but a stretch of 0-7 is a real possibility. Aside from the Lions in this stretch here, the 49ers and Steelers were as good of a shot as any to get a win. The Ravens after the bye and then the Cardinals and Packers are not what I would consider winnable games. Watch the Lions get their first win against the Bears somehow…
Like I said, bye week coming up here. Hopefully some of the guys that are banged up like Mack, Eddie Jackson, and maybe Allen Robinson (seemed to have hurt his hamstring against the Steelers?) can get healthy with the time off. When the Bears return from the bye they have the Ravens and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson coming to town. It’s going to be a real tough game that I find it hard for the Bears to win, but if Fields can play like he did against the Steelers, it might not be a total disaster. The key thing at this point is that win or lose, Fields continues to grow like he did Monday night. If he does over the next 9 weeks, this should be considered a successful season.
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