Tank Win III: Dolphins 35, Bears 32

Yours truly appreciates a slick tweet.

So when I saw this from the NFL’s official account after the Dolphins beat the Bears 35-32, the only thing I could do is tip my cap:

A passively worded tweet because you know the Dolphins stole one is clever. You’ll get credit for that (and that’s it).

Let’s discuss another Bears tank win below by answering some simple questions.

Did Justin Fields Show Progress in His Development?

Uh, yeah, I’d say so.

And all I need is three tweets to prove it:

I love CBS Sports color analyst Trent Green dissecting the touchdown afterward, noting how Fields was scanning the field looking to pass, but followed his instincts to make a big play. Let me be clear. Green, a former NFL quarterback, was highlighting how Fields was going through his progressions and *WANTED* to throw before ultimately deciding that running was the right decision.

Good process, good results. We love to see it.

The passing numbers were decidedly mid. A 4.4 yards per average isn’t going to catch anyone’s eye. And going 17-for-28 (60.7%) is a dip from last week’s performance. But three touchdown passes, no interceptions, and a 106.7 passer rating more than make up for the lack of aerial assault.

OK, But Did the Bears Win?

No, and I’m a bit upset about it. So thanks for asking.

I know better than to think one call wrecked the Bears’ chance at stealing a win. But this absolutely, positively needs to be called defensive pass interference every time. And that it wasn’t is a crying shame:


That non-call aided in keeping us from seeing if Fields could claw his way to an upset come-from-behind victory with a game-winning final drive. And that’s the big shame of it all. When given an opportunity to take another leap in his development, all it took was one official missing a call to close up that potential path. I do my best to give officials some leeway because I know it’s a tough gig. And they’re going to miss calls. But that one? You just can’t miss it. Someone is going to lose a playoff assignment for that one.

Can We Call It a Tank Win?

Yes, we can. And yes, we will.

Four quick takeaways from Sunday’s Bears action:

  • The Bears offensive line went nearly 56 minutes without giving up a sack. Overall, ESPN had Chicago’s offensive line down for giving up just two sacks and two quarterback hits. Between the play-calling, Fields doing things only Fields can do, and the efforts by the guys in the trenches, there was a lot to like about this performance. And let’s not minimize what the big dudes where doing at the line of scrimmage. They’ve taken a lot of guff this year. In many cases, rightfully so. But they deserve daps for today’s showing.
  • If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Notre Dame’s upset win of Clemson spurred Cole Kmet’s two touchdown game. However, Kmet has been rolling for the last few weeks. After going more than 600 days between touchdown catches, Kmet has three in the last two weeks. Since starting the year without a catch in his first two games, Kmet has 24 targets, 19 receptions, 200 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns. These are modest numbers that are coinciding with a developing Bears offense. The play calling has been better, as has Fields’ decision-making and performance. So it should come as no surprise that Kmet — who like Darnell Mooney spent a bunch of time working with Fields this offseason — is a beneficiary of these gains.
  • On the one hand, the Bears miss Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith as defensive stalwarts. But on the other hand, this is opening things up for others to get an extended look. Linebacker Jack Sanborn came up with seven solo tackles from the linebacker spot. But I’d like to see more from the defenders in the front seven. No sacks and no tackles-for-loss isn’t going to cut it. And I don’t think it is a good thing when your leading tacklers are mostly cornerbacks and safeties. Too much stuff happening down the field.
  • This week’s Trank Watch Standings update sees the Bears go from 12th to 7th after that loss. Dreamy:
  • Em-BEAR-Assment Meter


    Between the defense coughing up yards and points and how that game ended, I’m pretty miffed. But the defense turned it around for most of the second half. Multiple fourth down stops and forced punts gave the Bears a puncher’s chance at the end.

    And yet, that ranking his as high as it is because one simply cannot drop that pass in this moment:

    For Fields to escape out to the right and deliver that throw … only to see it go off Equanimeous St. Brown’s hands was a gut punch.

    Rookie Velus Jones Jr. didn’t play this week after dropping one against the Cowboys in Week 8. And even though St. Brown was helpful on Cole Kmet’s first touchdown with a key block, I wonder if this drop will put him on thin ice for next week.

    What’s Next?

    Another home date, this time against the Detroit Lions. Coming into today’s game, the Lions defense had given up the most yards, points, first downs and rushing yards. They also gave up the third most rushing yards, sixth most passing yards, ninth most passing touchdowns. This Bears offense is averaging 31.3 points per game since the mini-bye. And I can’t wait to see it against the Lions next week.

    written by

    Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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