It appears the Bears are close to being “exactly who we thought they were.”
They were heavy underdogs vs. the Rams and got drubbed, looking pretty awful on film doing it. They snuck by the Bengals as a slight favorite, although the game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score suggests.
Studying the Week 2 tape, there was significant improvement in a number of areas and very little backsliding.
We can’t forget the absence of both Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr. continues to stress the defense up front, and offensive tackle Jason Peters is still just settling in.
Quarterbacks: Andy Dalton was playing extremely well until going down early. It felt as if the offense was ready to take off. Overall Justin Fields played poorly, holding the ball too long and clearly not recognizing certain defenses, but he again showed great leadership and did just enough – a great play recovering his own fumble on the strip sack and the third-down run at the end of the game to put it away – to secure the win.
It’s easy to see why there is so much excitement around Fields, but also easy to see he’s just not quite ready. Grade: B-
Running backs: In a significant switch from the Rams game, David Montgomery went from 17 touches to 23 and Damien Williams from 10 to only four. The 23 are near ideal for Montgomery, but in a perfect world Williams would also get at least four or five more. Neither did as much with their opportunities, but that was in large part because of the Rams daring the Bears to run and the Bengals stacking to stop it. Also, don’t forget a holding call nullified a 42-yard catch and run for Montgomery. Grade: B
Wide receivers: This group troubles me a bit when Darnell Mooney gets twice as many targets at Allen Robinson. The latter dropped a 35-yard dime for a touchdown. Marquise Goodwin had a holding call wipe out a 36-yard gain. Overall, their blocking was suspect at best and none of them are consistently getting the kind of separation you’d like. It leaves one to wonder if the musical chairs at QB is hindering any kind of chemistry and rhythm in the passing game. They all have to play better. Grade: C
Tight ends: Jimmy Graham gets his snaps almost doubled and still isn’t targeted by a team struggling in the red zone. Fields didn’t see him open in a seam in the end zone on third-and-4 before the final field goal. Cole Kmet appears on the cusp of very good, if not great, but is being held back by dumb penalties. Grade: C
Offensive line: In his second week with the team, Peters wasn’t great, but he was a big upgrade over anything the Bears have seen at the position in years. The rest of the line struggled though, surprisingly and particularly inside where James Daniels and Sam Mustipher had tough days. Again here, Peters talked Tuesday about the differences protecting Dalton and Fields. Grade: B-
Defensive line: Not only did these guys own the line of scrimmage short handed, they were huge in containing running back Joe Mixon. Grade: B+
Linebackers: Khalil Mack looks to be about 90 to 95% but continues to absorb multiple blockers and still made several big plays. Robert Quinn had his best game as a Bear. Roquan Smith and Alec Ogletree both made game-changing plays. Grade: A-
Secondary: The more tape you watch the better Jaylon Johnson gets, and Kindle Vildor is holding his own while being targeted as teams avoid Johnson. Safeties Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson had their best game as a pair. But the Bears have a concern at the nickel, where Duke Shelley was just as shaky as Marqui Christian was Week 1. Don’t be surprised if Deon Bush gets a crack at it this week. Grade: B+
Coaching: Matt Nagy was forced into big adjustments when Dalton went down and handled it with little drama and no mind-numbing decisions like the week before, and if defensive coordinatior Sean Desai got an F for the Rams game, he gets an A for this one. Grade: B