How to Win a Fistfight in Vegas (And Other Bears Bullets)

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How to Win a Fistfight in Vegas (And Other Bears Bullets)

Chicago Bears

Here I am feeling good about my all-Chicago parlay hitting and allowing me to turn $1 into a nice meal (or bottle of wine) later this week, only to see this:

I’m hooting and hollering over here. This is like the time I followed my pops’ advice about always betting the No. 6 horse and cashed out in a big way with the Preakness winner. Who could’ve seen this coming?

Well, maybe we all should’ve seen it coming. The Bears were down to three healthy tight ends. Head Coach Matt Nagy spent time at the end of the week driving home how he was hoping to get the tight ends more action. Small plays on long odds pay well. Part of me is upset that I didn’t think of going with the longest of the long shots in Jesper Horsted. But hey, as Smooth Jimmy Apollo once said: “When you’re right 52% of the time, you’re wrong 48%.”

•   For the record, no one will ever confuse me with Smooth Jimmy Apollo. But I must say I felt good I the wake of the Bears’ 20-9 win against the Raiders knowing I dropped this nugget in Pre-Gamin’:

“Fields doesn’t have to do it all today. And to be clear, he doesn’t have to do it by himself. So I hope his coaches and teammates drive that point home to him. But today is the first chapter in what will hopefully be a large book with a storybook ending. And Fields will be the author, just as we would’ve wanted back in April.”

•   Sunday’s win was as Bears-y as they come. Nothing says Chicago football like winning a rock fight in an opponent’s building with thousands of Bears backers in full throat trying to will their favorite team to victory. It had been a while since Chicago’s football team emerged victorious in a destination road game, so this one will hold a special place in the hearts of those who were there in person (as well as those of us who were enjoying from home – while also missing the whole Vegas experience). And when you look back at the win, there isn’t just one source to point at — which is what makes this one unique.

•   Matt Nagy told his team that game was going to be “fistfight in a back alley” and that is exactly how it played out. (Patrick Finley, Sun-Times)

•   Quarterbacks were sacked five times and hit on 10 more occasions. There were 18 penalties accepted and 152 yards worth of ’em. And I’m not even sure how to categorize this:

•   The biggest takeaway from Sunday might be that – while it might be lacking in raw talent, the Bears’ offensive line can make up for it by playing with an edge that hasn’t been seen from this group since Kyle Long was leading the way. Sure, there’s a blurry line of what’s right and wrong. And I don’t want the Bears to get a rep as a dirty team. But nothing is wrong with pushing the envelope and making your presence felt. Mark your territory, stand your ground, and don’t give in for 60 minutes. That’s what Bears football should be about.

•   Justin Fields gets knocked around early, which had Adam Hoge (NBC Sports Chicago) writing about QB1’s toughness being on full display on Sunday. Between an ill-advised spin move that led to Fields taking a shot in the ribs, an awkward landing that saw him miss two plays, and watching hits pile up, my heart spent a good chunk of time in my throat. And yet, Fields persevered and played through. We often think about QBs as leaders in terms of stats, but it’s the intangible things from that position that tend to bring things together.

•   This is what winning the fist-fight looks like:

(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

•   Kudos to Bill Lazor for scaling back on the type of drop-backs that would have put Fields in peril. Bonus points for fully committing to the running game (more on that later today). Admittedly, this offense wasn’t installed to throw it back to the old school. But seeing the Bears scale back and run the ball 34 times with their running backs in a win was a nice touch. Just win, baby! Right? Want to keep your quarterback upright? Tell him to and the ball off to the guy lining up behind him. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. You’ll take an ugly win over a “pretty” loss every day of the week.

•   Let me be clear: No, this isn’t what the long-term plan with Fields should be. At some point, Chicago’s brass needs to trust Fields enough to sling it more than he has to this point. But if the goal is to win games while prioritizing his development, meeting in the middle with a game-plan that protects him and uses the offense’s best assets is a good place to start.

•   Nothing like a fan’s eye view of Fields’ first touchdown throw:

•   On the other side of the ball, the Bears really took advantage of the Raiders debuting a new right side of their offensive line. Vegas struggled to generate offense early. The run game Jon Gruden wants to lean on can’t gain traction behind a line with moving parts. Then again, I imagine it’s hard to get going when Khalil Mack is wrecking a game plan.

 

•   As for that Raiders passing game, it wasn’t up to snuff as catchable balls fell harmlessly through the turf. The old Al Davis special: Scheme open the fast dude with questionable hands, then hope for the best. As Derek Carr so eloquently put it in the post-game: “That ain’t gonna cut it.”

•   But don’t get it twisted. It all begins with that Bears front cutting off lanes and angles. Mack leads the way, and the rest follow his lead. There goes that leadership thing agin. The relentless approach of the defense was a thing of beauty, as it set a tone and created a path to victory.

•   Speaking of not cutting it, this has to stop among Bears fans:

•   Don’t get me wrong. I’d like to see more aggressiveness on the offensive side of things. More deep ball kill-shots. An increase in crossing routes that serve as legal picks to get guys open. A growing number of plays over the middle in open space. But as things stand, the Bears aren’t built to do some of the things we want them to do vertically. So why try and be something you’re not? Be you, right? For these Bears “Be You” means a run-heavy attack with a mobile quarterback who can create on the move. There’s nothing wrong with that (especially if it works).

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•   I almost feel bad for the Lions:

•   IYKYK:

•   An old friend is set to find a new home on Urban Meyer’s team’s practice squad:

 

•   Nothing like hitting the Astros with a fresh round of accusations to start this week in baseball:

•   The Bulls remain fun:

•   The return of an old friend:



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.