Dhruv Koul shares his in-game reactions, thoughts and observations from the Lions-Bears game at Soldier Field. Follow him on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.
CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears came into today with a record of 3-5 and found themselves in last place in the NFC North. Plagued by poor offensive play (especially at quarterback) and a bit of misfortune, the Bears haven’t had quite the encore they were hoping for in Matt Nagy’s second year as head coach. That leads us to today’s game against Detroit at Soldier Field.
Detroit was half a game ahead of the Bears in the division coming into today. But they haven’t been an ordinary 3-4-1 team. A bit of fortune and this team would be at least 6-3, if not 5-4-1 and squarely in contention. This wasn’t going to be an easy game.
But the Bears were dealt a bit of fortunate news pre-game, as Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford was ruled out due to a back injury. Jeff Driskel was to start in his place. And while the Bears had the advantage coming in, nothing’s been a guarantee this year for Chicago. They still had to go out and execute.
In the end, the Bears looked awful, looked outstanding, and barely held on late to scratch out a close win at home against a banged-up Lions team. Wow!
I shared my in-game reactions, thoughts and observations from the game below. Follow me on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.
Thoughts and Observations
1 . (Pre-Game) There was a report earlier this week that Cody Whitehair was returning to play C on the offensive line, and James Daniels would be moved back to LG. When asked earlier this season about a potential change due to offensive line struggles, Matt Nagy flatly denied it would happen. When asked this week about the report, he was coy. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bears do, indeed, make the switch and how it affects the game — especially on the ground.
2. The Bears won the toss and deferred to the second half. Naturally, Jeff Driskel and the Lions’ offense marched right down the field (easily) before stalling at the four-yard line. They settled for a field goal to go up 3-0, but they moved the ball with ease. Driskel looked calm and accurate. The defense couldn’t get any pressure on him, either. The Lions’ offense burned close to seven minutes off the clock on that drive.
Keep in mind, they had to prepare for a new QB this morning after Stafford was presumed the starter all week. An adjustment was expected, even for Driskel, but that was TOO easy. Something to monitor.
On the Bears’ first drive? You guessed! A three-and-out. Mitch Trubisky threw high to Taylor Gabriel, leading to precious time wasted trying to corral the throw. They got two yards on a play that needed five.
3. This first half has been a bunch of mistakes by the Bears’ offense. Trubisky had plenty of time, rolled to his left on a play action, and continued to hold the ball despite a checkdown available and some room to run. He took a three-yard sack. On the ensuing play, he escaped trouble and found Trey Burton near the sideline (tight throw). It was a good one, but Burton needlessly jumped and landed out of bounds, calling it incomplete. I know when it rains, it pours, but this is getting out of hand. Mistakes are contagious.
4. I say that, and on the ensuing possession, Taylor Gabriel drops a wide open third down pass down the field. The Bears had to punt from their own end zone and the Lions start in Bears’ territory. This is absolutely insane.
There is nothing Matt Nagy can do about these things except start benching players. What more do you want from him?
5. Matt Prater is a weapon. He always has been — and not just in the nice closed atmosphere of Ford Field. Lions up 6-0.
6. With their backs against the wall, the Bears orchestrated a smooth drive and went down the field for a touchdown. It required a 4th down conversion from their OWN 29 yard line, but then Trubisky turned it up a notch and was decisive — hitting open receivers with accurate throws. He didn’t see a wide open Allen Robinson in the end zone while the Bears were in the red zone (Robinson was in his own area code), but he eventually hit Ben Braunecker on a corner route in the end zone — beautiful touch throw and catch.
With that touchdown, the Bears somewhat exorcised their first half demons and took a 7-6 lead into the half. Let’s see if that continues. They get the ball back after halftime as well. They need to get the running game back in order, control the football, and the ride this momentum.
7. Wow! The Bears came out guns ablaze in the second half. Trubisky hit a beautiful 33 yard play to Robinson off his back foot (perfect spot) on the second play from scrimmage. A long pass-interference set the Bears up at the 10, and then a swing pass to Tarik Cohen went in for paydirt. It was an aggressive (fun) approach to the second half. Trubisky needed to do a little better on a couple plays (he put Robinson in harm’s way over the middle before the PI play), but that was fun to watch. I’d like to see the running game going, but as long as what they’re doing is working… Pineiro missed the extra point, though, so the Bears lead 13-6.
8. What is happening here in Chicago? Jeff Driskel telegraphed a short throw right to Nick Kwiatkoski for an INT to set up the Bears with a short field. And on the ensuing possession, Trubisky threw a dime to Taylor Gabriel for another touchdown — this one 24 yards. All of a sudden, the Bears have scored on three straight possessions, and three of Trubisky’s last FIVE passes have gone for touchdowns. Bears up 20-6.
9. The defense just plays with an extra pep in their step when they have a solid lead. They’ve been faster and more alert. I get that it’s Jeff Driskel, but it’s nice to see them flying around a bit. They’ve gotten a couple of key stops after the Bears went up by 14. Bears still lead 20-6 with 10:42 left in the game.
10. The defense had one of the worst sequences I’ve ever seen on the Lions’ touchdown drive. Two big missed tackles, a Driskel tipped pass that went back to him and gained seven, and then Kyle Fuller fell down on a deep ball to Kenny Golladay after Driskel escaped a sack. Bears now up 20-13.
On the ensuing Bears’ drive needing to waste some time, they went three-and-out. The Lions took over at their own 48 with three minutes left.
11. That was so close. The Jeff Driskel to Kenny Golladay connection failed twice on that drive — on third and fourth downs, sandwiched between a Lions OPI call. The first play was dropped by Golladay, and the second play was thrown behind him on fourth down. Bears escaped!
They absolutely need to run out the clock here on offense. A first down wins it. Take control — for once, please!
12. That game was way too close for comfort. But the Bears hold on. What a crazy, unnecessarily stupid, but still satisfying, win. Bears are 4-5.
13. This team needed a win so badly. A four-game losing streak lasting so long, and the ways they lost, felt like forever. A win is huge.
14. Next week, the Bears are back in the national spotlight on Sunday Night Football. They head to Los Angeles to take on the Rams. The NFL opted to keep this game in the prime time spotlight despite a struggling Bears team. Let’s hope they can reward them. Will they? We’ll see.
Early prediction: Rams 24, Bears 17.