Being a beat writer for a losing team is a tough gig. (Nobody has perfected the skill better than Dave Birkett in Detroit.)
In this age where your journalistic value is determined by click totals and uniques, the beats are almost forced to treat meaningless games like they have meaning. Monday night’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings had plenty to discuss but the result really didn’t matter. Still, there were positives to be taken from the game.
Positive #1. Justin Fields.
Fields made plenty of rookie mistakes, which is not surprising because he’s a rookie. (He’s still trying to extend the extendable play and putting the football on the ground too much.) But he also flashed all the traits that give so many fans optimism around Chicago: short memory, remarkable speed, deep accuracy, cannon arm, etc. Fields is playing in an incoherent offensive system, surrounded by one of the worst collections of skill guys in the sport. The arrow is pointed decidedly up.
Positive #2. Thomas Graham Jr.
What a debut! Graham made plays all over the field, including a brilliant PBU in the endzone right after Matt Nagy’s sideline penalty.
Thomas Graham Jr : 7 tackles & 3 pass breakups (NFL debut. 6th round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft) pic.twitter.com/9khneph5Jh
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) December 21, 2021
There is reason to be very excited but let’s see this kid on the field, non-stop, for the final three games of the season.
Positive #3. Teven Jenkins
Jenkins actually played a fine game against one of the league’s premier pass rushes. But it was the personal foul penalty, defending his quarterback, that landed with the most important player in the locker room.
Justin Fields said he liked what Teven Jenkins did after he took a shot near the sideline.
“I liked him sticking up for me. That’s what I think we need more of.”
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) December 21, 2021
If the Bears can see good things from Jenkins and right tackle Larry Borom over these final weeks, they can be in a terrific position upfront going into 2022.
Positive #4. Roquan Smith, James Daniels, Darnell Mooney
This the kind of young core that will excite prospective coaches.
- Roquan continues to be one of the best inside linebackers in the league, as dynamic in space as he is in run support. He’s always had the athletic ability but what’s really become obvious is how intuitively he now plays the position. He’s sniffing out plays pre-snap routinely; the mark of the elite inside backers.
- Daniels is playing like a top guard and is the anchor of the team’s terrific running game. Hard to believe he won’t be receiving a lucrative extension to stay in town.
- Mooney is a winning piece in a logical offense. (Hell, he’s a solid piece in this offense.) Why the Bears, with their complete dearth of top skill players, don’t make sure Mooney touches the ball ten times a game, is beyond me. (But that’s a sideline problem, not a player problem.)
Positive #5. Pat O’Donnell had a 72-yard punt.
That is all.