The Chicago Bears defeated the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday 16-6.
There’s so much to get into but I will leave some quick thoughts:
1. Matt Nagy deserves the game ball.
The team faced major adversity before the start of Sunday’s game:
- Early season match up with division rival. The loser falls two games behind in the division.
- Two starting defensive linemen out due to injuries.
- One linebacker out for “personal reasons” thirty minutes before the game.
- Two offensive starters out.
- Quarterback Mitch Trubisky injured on the third play from scrimmage.
Coach Nagy didn’t flinch. He adjusted and motivated his team to attack. He won two replay challenges early in the game, corrected a slew of first-half penalties and called a game plan which dominated the time of possession.
This man can coach.
2. This defense is NOT regressing.
They were wrong.
To start off, Nicholas Moreno points out in his article with the Chicago Audible how this year’s defense is more dominant than last year’s:
“… the unit has given up fewer total yards, fewer yards per play and more importantly fewer points than last year’s team.”Nicholas Moreno, Chicago Audible
The critics said they couldn’t contain running backs like Dalvin Cook. The defense dominated and only allowed him to rush for 35 yards in this game. This isn’t the first time they shut down Cook. In two games last season they only allowed him 51 yards on 20 carries. To this date for the season they are only allowing 61.5 rush yards per game.
The critics said they couldn’t get over the loss of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. They may have replaced him with someone better. New defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has brought a new swagger to the Bears defense. He is a master at pressuring other teams up the middle and this has resulted in 17 sacks up to this point. They only had 50 sacks all of last season.
Khalil Mack has 4.5 sacks through 4 games and is on an MVP trajectory due to Pagano’s coaching.
3. The Bears Back-Up Defenders are better than most team’s starters
As I stated above, the team was able to withstand losses to five of their starters and their quarterback.
This wasn’t an issue as reserves stepped in seamlessly at all needed positions.
I want to highlight two back up’s specifically:
Linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski stepped in at inside linebacker a finishing with 10 tackles (two for loss), one sack and one forced fumble. Kwiatkowski has been known for poor pass coverage but stepped in and was flawless in that regard.
Defensive Tackle Nick Williams finished the game with 7 tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss. Through four games he already has four sacks Williams is a 29-year-old journeyman who never had a sack before this season.
General Manager Ryan Pace deserves major credit for finding key positional depth.
4. Any team does not want to lose their quarterback:
One of the Bears’ worst nightmares came true three plays into this game.
Mitch Trubisky went down.
David Chao, a former NFL doctor, saw video of Mitch Trubisky’s injury and wrote about it for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Based on his experience, the quarterback is likely dealing with a torn labrum:
“By video, he suffered a dislocated left shoulder. It appears the shoulder may have self-reduced as he was helped up while avoiding use of the left arm.
He was taken into the blue medical tent and then walked into the locker room for x-rays which should be negative.
The bone should be intact, but the labrum is likely torn.
Typically, this means surgery. But since it is Trubisky’s non-throwing shoulder, surgery can wait. He can play with a shoulder strap/harness. If it were his throwing shoulder his season would be done. (Blaine Gabbert similarly dislocated his non-throwing shoulder and was ultimately put on injured reserve by the buccaneers.)”– David Chao, a former NFL doctor
Luckily the Chicago Bears have a backup that is very familiar to Matt Nagy’s offensive system in Chase Daniel.
Chase Daniel into the role and seamlessly scored on the first drive. He finished the game completing 22 of 30 passes with 195 passing yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 101.4 quarterback rating. . At a first glance these numbers aren’t overly impressive but Chase very efficiently progressed through his reads and maintained long drives.
It’s looking likely that Chase Daniel is going to start one more game. He will have a full week to prepare for the Raiders. The Oakland Raiders will also have a full week to prepare for him. We will see how he does moving forward.
5. The running game still isn’t getting going
There is one huge issue no one seems to be discussing.
Chicago has rushed 101 times for 361 yards so far this season.
Against the Vikings they rushed 33 times for 76 yards. Their rookie starting running back David Montgomery took the beef of those carries rushing the ball 21 times for 53 yards.
On the surface this looks like a running back issue. If you dig deeper, however, you will see that 34 out of David Montgomery’s 53 rushing yards in the last game occurred after first contact. This means that the offensive line is getting no push in the run game.
Last season they averaged 4.1 yards per attempt compared 3.61 this season. The number for this season is inflated due to two long runs in the previous two games.
This needs to be monitored going forward. A team with a great defense like the Bears needs a dominant run game to counter. The only way a defensive dominant team can win is with a productive running game. If they don’t fix this they will not advance if they make it to the playoffs.