The Epitome of a Tank Win

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The Epitome of a Tank Win

Chicago Bears

I never thought I’d feel better about a 20-point loss than three-point win, but here I am.

On the one hand, seeing the Bears lose 49-29 to the Cowboys was a bummer. But on the other hand, Chicago’s record dropping to 3-5 puts some things in perspective for us.

And perhaps other Bears fans will see it, too.

To be clear, I can’t — in good faith — write that the Bears are tanking. Coaches try to put their players in the best position to be successful. And players are trying to do what they can in order to win games. But what I *CAN* write is that the Bears — as currently constructed — are a team better positioned to find players who could conceivably be on the next great Chicago football team than they are to make this that team.

Or, to put it in a more simple way: Organizations tank; coaches and players don’t.

And the Bears, on an organizational level, are tanking.

With that being said, I’d like to introduce the concept of a Tank Win.

Simply put, a Tank Win is what happens when good things happen with key players for the future despite the Bears landing in the loss column. And today’s game was the epitome of a Tank Win.

Let’s discuss further below by answering sone simple questions.

Did Justin Fields Show Progress in His Development?

Heck yeah he did. And it is the most important development we’re following this season. Bar none.

Fields went 17-for-23 (that’s a season-high 73.9% completion rate!) for 151 yards (that’s low-ish on that end of things), with two passing touchdowns (love to see it!), no interceptions (love it even more), and a 120.0 passer rating (schwing!). Fields also chipped in with eight carries, 60 rushing yards, and a ground score. You know QB1 is doing something right when he is accounting for three scores on the day against a Dallas defense that Football Outsiders ranks as the second best in football according to its DVOA ratings.

Fields has looked better in the last two games than he has probably at any point in his Bears career. Stacking positive performances has been something we’ve been waiting to see Fields do. And he appears to be doing just that. It is wonderful to see it bear out in the box scores here and there. But visually, Fields is passing the eye test in recent weeks. That seems to coincide with the offensive coaching staff leaning into Fields’ strengths (deep shot passes, designed runs) has opened up short and intermediate passing — not to mention taken Chicago’s offense from a boring brand of football. Small steps forward are still steps forward after all.

OK, But Did the Bears Win?

No, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

They battled back from a 21-point deficit to cut it to five points early in the third quarter. But things got away from the Bears after that, with the Cowboys out-scoring the Bears 21-6 after the 9:42 mark of the third quarter. There is going to come a point in games like this where the Bears being at a talent deficiency is going to show up. And it did in the second half after Chicago cut it too close for Dallas’ liking. It makes sense, though. Think about it.

After watching the Bears beat the Patriots 33-14 on Monday Night Football, it wasn’t hard to allow yourself to believe that they could pull off another road upset. Sure, the Cowboys offense has more potent options. And the defense is loaded with talent. But on any given Sunday, any one team can beat another. It’s one of the reasons we fell in love with football in the first place. However, the Cowboys saw what we did on Monday Night Football. And they weren’t about ot be the next team caught sleeping and overlooking the Bears.

Can We Call It a Tank Win?

Yes, we can. And yes, we will.

It wasn’t just Fields who looked good on Sunday:

  • Running back Khalil Herbert went for 99 yards on 16 carries, popping off for 6.2 yards per attempt. All while out-carrying David Montgomery by one rush. The Bears figure to deploy a dual threat backfield so long as Herbert and Montgomery are on the roster. But we could very well be seeing a changing of the guard in terms of who the team’s best ball carrier is moving forward. Remember, Montgomery is a free agent after this season ends. Herbert still has this year and two more years of his rookie contract to go. As much as we’ve enjoyed watching Montgomery over the years, Herbert is starting to stake his claim as the future lead back of this offense — much like Tony Pollard is doing in Dallas.
  • Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker’s seven solo tackles were tied for a season-high. He also chipped in with a sack, tackle-for-loss, and quarterback hit. Rookie second-round defensive backs showing promise is a net win.
  • Speaking of second-rounders flashing, how about Cole Kmet finding the end zone for the first time in 693 days? Nice to see him used in the red zone. It’s a shame previous offensive play callers were hesitant to use him in that area of the field.
  • Darnell Mooney’s last five games: 33 targets, 21 catches, 337 yards. That comes out to a per-game average of 6.6 targets, 4.2 receptions, 67.4 yards. And if we were to extrapolate those numbers over 17 games, we’d be looking at a stat line of 112 targets, 71 catches, and 1,145 receiving yards. That’ll play for Fields’ favorite target. Now, how about we get him a touchdown or two?
  • Had the Bears converted one of their two two-point conversions, we’d have a talking point about the team scoring 30+ points for consecutive games. That doesn’t happen often in these parts. But that they were on the cusp of doing it (against the Pats and Cowboys, no less!) has me looking forward to what this new-look offense can do.

Em-BEAR-Assment Meter

Relatively low. But we need to talk about Velus Jones Jr., who is having a rough go of it as a rookie.

That drop on a deep shot throw from Fields stings. One part of my brain acknowledges that the drop was stinky. But another part sees this as an opportunity to drive home the Bears’ need to upgrade at receiver. Sometimes, it’s your short-comings in a Tank Win that inform you as much as the minor victories we discussed above. The Bears aren’t cutting Jones five games into his NFL career. But if he continues to not make the most of the opportunities given to him, the Bears would be wise to find other ways to use him and make the most out of choosing him in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Maybe Jones is best used more as a kickoff returner and gadget player on offense (that 18-yard run has me thinking his future could be usage more in that capacity and less likely as a traditional wideout). But you need those types of players on your roster. And it is better to have them on a rookie scale deal than it is to pay through the nose for those types in free agency.

What’s Next?

A home game against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 6. The 5-3 Dolphins are coming off a come-from-behind 31-27 win against the Detroit Lions. A high-powered offense led by Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle should provide the Bears another opportunity to engage in a shootout. That means more reps for Fields in Luke Getsy’s offense.



Author: Luis Medina

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