Dannehy: Opener Displays the 2022 Recipe for Success

| September 14th, 2022

If you are hoping, for the first time in your life, to see a Chicago Bears team air it out, the 2022 edition is unlikely to fulfill those desires. But there does exist an offensive recipe for this vintage to succeed and it was almost on full display Sunday. The defense will fly to the football. The offense will generate big plays in the passing game. The Bears will run it a ton. They did two of three successfully against San Francisco and laid the groundwork for the rest of the season, monsoon or not.

With a defensive head coach, the defense is probably going to remain the straw that stirs the drink. While that may bring a collective groan from Bears fans, it shouldn’t. If they can run the ball and Justin Fields can keep making big plays, they will be competitive each week. But perhaps the most interesting part of the postgame reaction, though, was Matt Eberflus saying flat out that the team needs to be better.

There were a number of blown coverages that Aaron Rodgers is going to take advantage of in Week Two, assuming his receivers catch the football.

Fields put the team on his back at times, but he also had one horrible interception and barely avoided a couple more – including on his first pass attempt of the game, a screen in which the ball was thrown high with several Niner defenders closing in. He has to learn from those mistakes in a way past young Bears quarterbacks haven’t.

While it was Flus’ first win, the coach wasn’t puffing a victory cigar. He has an eye on next week and the future of the team. We’ll see what’s cooking for the rest of 2022. The recipe looks simple enough.

Herbert v. Montgomery

The hottest take to come from Sunday’s game was that Khalil Herbert is better than David Montgomery. That is a conversation that has more layers than their yards per carry averages though.

There is no question that Herbert was better running with the ball on Sunday. He was decisive and got whatever yardage was available. Montgomery seemed to have a difficult time finding the line of scrimmage at times.

But there is another factor. While NFL GSIS shows Herbert as having the most positive influence on the Bears running game, he was the biggest negative in the passing game. Herbert’s struggles in that regard aren’t just about catching passes. He has also had issues as a blocker.

This is a situation that is worth monitoring.

Living On the Edge(s)

Trevis Gipson entered this season as a player many pegged for a breakout campaign, but the opener made it look like the Bears simply don’t see him the same way.

Gipson came on strong at the end of last year, finishing with seven sacks and five forced fumbles. But when the team’s first depth chart came out last week, he was behind Al-Quadin Muhammad.

Most probably thought Gipson and Muhammad were equal, but the first game saw Muhammad play 17 more snaps. We also saw rookie fifth-round pick Dominique Robinson play two more snaps than Gipson. It’s especially interesting because Gipson played some snaps inside at defensive tackle, so his true edge snaps were even more limited.

It’s only one game, but what was thought to be a breakout player is probably their fourth edge player right now.

Bring On the Packers

The Packers losing to the Vikings might have been the worst-case scenario for the Bears, but you just never know.

Aaron Rodgers was MAD during the Vikings game. They struggled to block Minnesota’s front and when they did give him protection, the wide receivers didn’t get open. When the OL got protection and the wide receivers got open, they dropped the ball.

You can bet Rodgers is getting on his young pass catchers this week and the team surely hopes to have its starting offensive tackles and No. 1 receiver Allen Lazard back for Sunday Night Football. But the Packers don’t have good skill position talent. Even if both of their tackles return, they’re questionable on the interior of their offensive line. While Lazard is their best receiver, he’s probably the worst No. 1 receiver in the league. This could be a good game for the Bears to throw a ton of coverages at the Packers, partly because they’ll be able to get away with playing man coverage – the benefit of no longer having to face Davante Adams.

Rodgers will probably be great, and the Packers are considerably better on the defensive line than the Bears are on the offensive line. But the Bears fight. They hit. And they have a quarterback who can make something big happen on any given play.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I think the Bears have a puncher’s chance to put Green Bay at 0-2.

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