Damn, that was fun!
I’ll admit that for a moment, after Bailey Zappe entered the game and led the Patriots on two touchdown drives with a Justin Fields interception bridging them, it looked like New England was going to pull away from the Bears.
If the Bears didn’t score a touchdown on the ensuing drive, they were done for. But Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy dialed up a perfect drive schematically. Fields executed it, the Bears put their foot down, took the momentum back from New England, and never relinquished it.
Many things went well last night, and many players had great games. But last night was a signature win for Eberflus that will go down as his coming out party if things go the way that Ryan Poles and his front office hope they do.
Matt Eberflus Bests Bill Belichick
“We were badly out-coached, we were badly out-played … in all three phases.”
Those were the words of one of the greatest head coaches in the history of the NFL, Bill Belichick, last night after the Bears’ victory in Foxborough. Love him or hate him, Belichick has six Super Bowl rings as a head coach and two as an assistant. Belichick was also one win from passing legendary Bears founder and coach George Halas for the second most wins as a head coach.
ESPN wanted nothing more than Belichick to get that win on their Monday Night Football broadcast last night against the Bears, the team that dons Halas’ initials on the sleeve of their jerseys to this day. They spent hours on hype videos, and the stage was set for the four-letter network to play host to Belichick winning his 325th game as a head coach.
But Eberflus had other plans last night. As Belichick conceded, Eberflus out-coached him in his house in primetime. The rookie head coach faced his biggest test last night, coming into Foxborough on a three-game losing streak with a mini-bye to work on an array of things before taking on the hoodie genius himself on a national stage.
Eberflus proved — at least for this week — that maybe he can figure this out. The Bears earned themselves a day off today, but it’s back to work at Halas Hall tomorrow because for as impressive as last night’s masterclass against the maser himself was, it won’t mean much for long if Eberflus can’t build on it moving forward.
All of the credit shouldn’t go to Eberflus, though. I’m sure he’ll spend plenty of time this week complimenting the job that his coordinators did in executing the game plan, and rightfully so.
Getsy finally put together a game plan centered around Justin Fields rather than a game plan that Fields is a part of. He introduced a package of designed quarterback runs, rollouts, and play-action passes to get Fields outside and upfield, showcasing his best skills.
For the first time this season, Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams didn’t rely on his front four to generate the pass rush on their own. At some point in the previous 10 days, some combination of the voices in the room decided that plan wasn’t cutting it.
The Bears made the no-brainer decision to remove Velus Jones Jr. from the punt returner role and re-installed Dante Pettis there (for the time being). Which, by the way, isn’t a bad option considering Pettis holds the NCAA record for career punt return touchdowns during his four seasons at Washington.
The Bears controlled the line of scrimmage all night, and save for a two-series scare where Bailey Zappe injected some life into the Foxborough crowd, the Bears dominated every phase of that game in their most complete and impressive performance in years.
Jaquan Brisker is a Stud
I talked with a friend about which Bears jersey he should buy on Monday afternoon. He was considering a Jaquan Brisker jersey, which seemed like a solid choice before kickoff last night. It’s such a slam dunk this morning that I’m considering a new purchase.
Adding to an already impressive season, Brisker made one of the most beautiful interceptions you’ll see last night. Brisker read and jumped the route, creating a gorgeous, leaping one-handed catch to end Mac Jones’ night, capping off a perfect sequence of events between Brisker and Jones that began with a kick to the groin on a slide a few plays earlier.
Brisker is an early feather in the cap for Poles and his scouting department, without a doubt. The rookie safety has played 447 of 448 total defensive snaps and logged 42 tackles, two sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery in his first seven NFL games.
Week 6’s TNF loss was one that I would like to erase from my memory forever. And Week 2’s SNF loss to the Packers was better, but not great. So, we can’t quite call Fields a primetime player just yet, but, he’s fared pretty well in three Monday Night Football performances.
Fields completed 13-of-21 for 179 yards, a touchdown, and a tipped ball that resulted in an interception through the air last night and rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown. For as good as Fields played last night, it wasn’t even his best MNF performance! That came last season when he completed 17-of-29 for 291 yards and a touchdown and ran for 45 yards against a good Steelers defense.
Fields has completed 56-of-89 passes (62.9%) for 755 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions to go along with 162 rushing yards (5.5 YPC), and a score.
We’ll have more on Fields’ performance tomorrow in Fields Film, but for now, let’s enjoy this victory Tuesday.