If I tried to tell you that the Bears’ highest scoring output and second win of the season was anything more than a failure that worked out in the end, I would be doing us all a disservice.
There were some good things on offense to build on. Most notably, Khalil Herbert was dominant in David Montgomery’s absence. But that’s where the feel-good stops in this breakdown. Let’s discuss.
1. Field Goal (3-0 CHI) 1st QTR: 10 Plays, 45 Yards, 3:38, 2 1st Downs
The Bears got the ball first on Sunday, and I was hoping for a repeat of the Bears’ first drive in Green Bay on Sunday night when they bulldozed their way down the field and scored a touchdown. Instead, we got a Cairo Santos field goal attempt and exactly one explosive play from the Bears offense, a 29-yard scramble by Justin Fields.
Fields’ 29-yard run was the longest of his career, passing a 23-yard run on Dec. 20, 2021, vs. Minnesota, per the Bears communications department.
The run was nice, and it picked up almost 30 yards, but in rewatching again, I saw something that I didn’t like:
Fields missed Kmet downfield with plenty of space because, in my mind, he had already committed to taking off after escaping the first pass-rusher. If that wasn’t the case, and he was still scanning for an option and just missed Kmet, that’s still a problem. Fields also missed Dante Pettis wide open on a hitch route before the pressure even got home.
Sure, the play resulted in 29 yards and a first down. But keeping his eyes up field, scanning after escaping the first pass-rusher, is important for his development. And in the end, hitting Kmet is a much easier and safer play than Fields taking off with his feet, opening himself up to unnecessary hits.
Fields scramble was the only chunk play of the drive and one of only two first downs. Santos’ field would cap the drive and put them up 3-0 early against Houston.
2. Touchdown (10-0 CHI) 1st QTR: 8 Plays, 81 Yards, 3:16, 3 1st Downs
The second scoring drive (and second overall drive) of the day was a lot more effective. After David Montgomery left the game with an injury, it became the Khalil Herbert show, and that show really got going here.
Equanimeous St. Brown got the Bears into Houston territory with a 40-yard run, and while no Bears receiver has done anything significant through the first three weeks, ESB’s name has routinely come up as a positive in this space. ESB has done a lot of things competently through three weeks, whether in the receiving game, the running game, or the blocking game.
Here’s Herbert picking up eight yards on a 2nd & 5 from the Houston 35. Matt Waldman does an excellent job of highlighting Herbert’s vision and smarts in this play. Herbert sees an unblocked defender, hesitating just long enough for the play to meet him. Once Cole Kmet picks up the unblocked defender, Herbert turns on the jets and hits the hole.
Two plays later, Herbert (aided by a strong block by Larry Borom) picks up 11 yards and gets the Bears another first down at the Houston 11.
The next play was the Herbert 11-yard touchdown run to put the Bears up 10-0 after two drives, at which point I thought the Bears might be able to blow Houston out of the water. I was wrong. But you know what I wasn’t wrong about? The need to stay ahead of the chains. Like their other strong scoring drives this season, the Bears faced zero third downs on this drive.
3. Field Goal (14-13 HOU) 2nd QTR: 13 Plays, 50 Yards, 5:44, 3 1st Downs
After giving up 14 unanswered points to Davis Mills and the Texans, the Bears needed a score on this drive. They didn’t do anything that was going to make the highlight reels, but they grinned this one out and got some points.
Justin Fields twice picked up good yardage with his feet, once on third down to keep the drive alive, and Tristan Ebner had carries of six, five, and two yards sprinkled in between six-yard and seven-yard scrambles for Fields.
The drive turned when Fields hit Cole Kmet for a 24-yard gain on a 3rd & 5 from their own 49, on probably Fields’ best throw of the day.
A Cairo Santos field goal would cut the deficit to just one, with the Texans leading 14-13 in the second quarter.
4. Touchdown (20-17 CHI) 3rd QTR: 7 Plays, 75 Yards, 3:00, 2 1st Downs
This wasn’t a long drive, but it was the best drive of the day for the Bears. Chicago was trailing 17-13 at the time, and they opened the drive with two chunk plays that accounted for a combined 72 yards (the drive was only 75 yards long).
Khalil Herbert broke off a 52-yard run on the first play of the drive, setting the Bears up with a 1st & 10 at the Houston 25.
Justin Fields then hit Equanimeous St. Brown for a 20-yard gain, setting up the eventual Khalil Herbert touchdown run that put the Bears back on top in this one.
The Bears moved the ball on the ground and through the air with a purpose, and they only faced one third down on the drive (the Herbert touchdown). Easily the best drive of the day.
5. Field Goal (23-20 CHI) 4th QTR: 4 Plays, 0 Yards, 1:05, 0 1st Downs
After Roquan Smith’s huge interception deep inside Houston territory, all the Bears had to do here was 1) not turn the ball over and 2) make the field goal. They did both, and they won.
Look, the Bears are 2-1, but I’m not going to sit here and act like this was a good win, and you shouldn’t either. It was a sloppy win against a cruddy team as the clock expired. While we were able to highlight some good things to build on in today’s breakdown, there’s nothing much to celebrate here.