Fields Day: BEARS at BROWNS - September 26, 2021

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Fields Day: BEARS at BROWNS – September 26, 2021

Chicago Bears

After an exciting home opener that began with Andy Dalton driving the Bears down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive and finished with Justin Fields running the offense in place of the injured Dalton, the Bears are 1-1 on the heels of an exciting 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bears are also 1-0 when I do the weekly preview, so if I continue to do it, they will finish 16-1 by our math. So, no pressure, Justin.

Speaking of Justin, Sunday is the day many have been waiting for since the Bears took him in the NFL Draft. Of course, this is a big day for Bears fans, so naturally, we should talk a bit about expectations.

There will be plenty of splash plays and excitement. There will also be mistakes; prepare yourself mentally now. But, most importantly, enjoy an early taste of the future under center in Chicago.

While Fields’ stat line against the Bengals wasn’t terrific (darn you, Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney), it wasn’t bad. Former NFL quarterback turned analyst Dan Orlovsky provided us with an excellent film breakdown grading of Justin Fields’ performance beyond the box score this week.

The Cleveland Browns have allowed 27 points per game (21st in the NFL), 349.5 yards per game (14th in the NFL), and a -2 turnover differential (25th in the NFL). The Browns simply aren’t generating many takeaways on defense. Malcolm Smith has their lone interception, and Grant Delpit has their only fumble recovery.

“Never Tell Me The Odds”

The DraftKings SportsBook lists the Bears (1-1) as 9-point underdogs against the Browns (1-1). Over/under: 46.5. More on the odds and ATS picks here.

Series History:

The Browns lead 9-7 in regular-season meetings, but the Bears have won the last three matchups, including a Christmas Eve victory (20-3) in 2017 at Soldier Field. The last time the Browns beat the Bears was on October 9, 2005.

And who can forget this Bears classic versus the Browns!?

Mike Brown was THE MAN!

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: First Energy Stadium; Cleveland, Ohio

Broadcast Info: Sunday, Sept. 16 at noon CT on FOX-TV (Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, and Pam Oliver), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote), SportsUSA Radio (Larry Kahn, Mark Carrier)

Officials: Ron Torbert (referee)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

CHICAGO BEARS (1-1, 0-0 NFC North)
POINTS FOR:
34 (17.0 PPG, 28th of 32 teams)
POINTS AGAINST:
51 (25.5 PPG, 19th of 32)

Offense
•   QB Justin Fields
•   RB David Montgomery
•   WRs Allen Robinson II, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin
•   TE Cole Kmet
•   LT Jason Peters, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG James Daniels, RT Germain Ifedi

Unavailable: OL Teven Jenkins, RB/PR Tarik Cohen

Defense
•   DT Akiem Hicks, NT Eddie Goldman, DE Bilal Nichols
•   OLBs Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn
•   ILBs Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree
•   CBs Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor
•   FS Eddie Jackson
•   SS Tashaun Gipson Sr.

Unavailable: LB Danny Trevathan

Specialists
•   Cairo Santos (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Patrick Scales (long snapper), Nsimba Webster (punt returns), Khalil Herbert (kick returns)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-1, 0-0 AFC North)
POINTS FOR:
60 (30.0 PPG, 6th of 32 teams)
POINTS AGAINST:
54 (27.0 PPG, 21st of 32)

Offense
•   QB Baker Mayfield
•   RB Nick Chubb
•   WRs Odell Beckham Jr., Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashard Higgins
•   TE Austin Hooper, David Njoku
•   LT Jedrick Wills Jr., LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Wyatt Teller, RT Jack Conklin

Defense
•   LDE Myles Garrett, LDT Malik Jackson, RDT Malik McDowell, RDE Jadaveon Clowney
•   WILL Mack Wilson, MIKE Malcolm Smith, SAM Sione Takitaki
•   LCB Denzel Ward, RCB Greg Newsom II
•   FS John Johnson III, SS Ronnie Harrison Jr.

Specialists
•   Chase McLaughlin (kicker), Jamie Gillan (punter, holder), Charley Hughlett (long snapper), Demetric Felton (kick returns), Demetric Felton (punt returns)

Three Bears …

David Montgomery is back this week as one of the ‘Three Bears’ and probably will be here every week that I handle the preview. I can’t stress enough how important David Montgomery is to this offense. Admittedly, his performance in Week 2 (60 yards on 21 carries) wasn’t as impressive as the previous week (108 yards on 16 carries), but feeding David Montgomery to open up the pass should be a key cog in Matt Nagy’s game plan. Especially with Justin Fields taking over the offense, at least for the time being.

The Browns rushing defense is ranked 9th in the NFL with 155 yards (3.0 yards per carry) and three touchdowns through the first two weeks, so Montgomery will have his work cut out for him.

Justin Fields takes over the Bears offense under center this week, and hopefully, Matt Nagy’s gameplan will be reflective of such.  If Nagy is scheming to his quarterback’s strengths, we will see plenty of downfield shots from Fields. The Browns rank in the bottom third in passing plays greater than 20 yards allowed, with eight occurrences in their first two games. If David Montgomery can keep the Bears ahead of the chains early, Matt Nagy should be able to dial up some play-action calls that can get Fields pushing the ball downfield.

If all goes well and we’re having a happy discussion on Monday, I expect Sunday to include a healthy number of Fields connections with Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney downfield. Some food for thought; here’s a look at the pass coverage grades and their position rankings in that department for the Browns starting cornerbacks and safeties:

  • Greg Newsome II (CB): 70.2 (20th)
  • Denzel Ward (CB): 57.5 (66th)
  • John Johnson III (FS): 47.8 (70th)
  • Ronnie Harrison (SS): 58.4 (54th)

Luis did a great job of pulling together a package of Ravens RPO plays designed by Greg Roman for Lamar Jackson that could work very well for Justin Fields this weekend as well.

Roquan Smith has turned into a game-wrecking monster on defense, and this Sunday will be another day in which the defense’s success will be in his lap. The Browns run their offense through Nick Chubb and the run game, creating passing opportunities only after Chubb gets cooking on the ground. Baker Mayfield was seen in practice protecting his bum left shoulder, and he’s without Jarvis Landry (sprained MCL) this week in the passing game. Sure, Odell Beckham Jr. is back, but he hasn’t played since his ACL injury last November, and he has to visit Jaylon’s Island this week in his first game action in nearly a year.

Kevin Stefanski will be leaning on Chubb, who is second in the NFL in yards per carry (6.8) among players with more than 20 rushing attempts to only Lamar Jackson (6.9) and leads all running backs, to attack a Bears defense that won their last game on the strength of four takeaways. Roquan Smith will play a major role in stopping Chubb and Cleveland’s rushing attack this Sunday.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.