There are only two scenarios wherein playing on a short week can be beneficial for a team involved: (a) when a team has delivered a terrible performance it needs to put in the rearview mirror, and (b) when a team has started to gain momentum and needs to build off of that. The latter is most certainly true for the Chicago Bears as, for the first time all season, it appeared as if they were running a competent offense last Sunday.
The Bears seemed to spread the field out more last week, possibly a significant reason Justin Fields looked more comfortable. The young quarterback has played in a spread his entire life and the 2022 Bears have been using tight formations, congesting the field. Spread attacks make it easier for quarterbacks to see the field; it’s the very reason the spread became so popular. If they stay in those looks, fans have every reason to believe Fields will continue his progress.
Regardless of the reason, the Bears had a good thing going and they get to march right back out and build on it. If they can, they’ll get a long break to try and figure out how to go from competent to good. But right now, competent feels like a relief.
Adjustments Need to Happen Quicker
The advantage of having a head coach who doesn’t call plays is supposed to be the ability to adjust quicker, perhaps before halftime. But the Bears have not done that. Two weeks in a row, the Bears came out with a faulty defensive game plan the opponent shredded. Two weeks in a row, the Bears waited to adjust until the third quarter.
It is fair to question the decision to have Jaylon Jones following Justin Jefferson across the field, but once that plan predictably proved disastrous, the Bears needed to change their defense. They didn’t. One could point to the lack of talent at the cornerback position, but the team showed in the third quarter they were capable of slowing Jefferson down.
With Chicago’s limitations on offense, these corrections need to happen quicker if they don’t want to chase games weekly.
Play the Best Players
Perhaps the biggest mystery regarding the 2022 Chicago Bears is why Trevis Gipson doesn’t play more.
Gipson leads the team in pressures (10), sacks (2) and quarterback knockdowns (4) but has played 50 fewer snaps than Al-Quadin Muhammad, who has yet to knock a quarterback down this season.
The general thought would be that Muhammad is a better run defender, but that hasn’t proven true either. First, the Bears are terrible against the run. Second, they are half a yard per rush better when Gipson is on the field, according to NFL GSIS. They are more than half a yard per pass play better too.
Gipson clearly has some game-wrecking potential. But you have to be in the game to wreck it. It is time for Eberflus to put more emphasis on game performance and less on Wednesday practices.
Bears Aren’t Good Enough to Expect Wins
The Bears have a good shot at coming away with a win Thursday night, but they certainly aren’t good enough to expect it.
The Commanders’ defense is better than it looks on paper:
- They are 25th in points allowed, but sixth in yards allowed per drive.
- They are fifth in third down percentage.
- They are 15th in red zone percentage.
- They haven’t been taking the ball away, but turnovers can come in bunches, especially with their defensive line. Washington is going to line up three first round picks against an offensive line that has fifth rounders at both tackle spots, an undrafted center, backup level left guard and a right guard who just started playing the position.
Because of Carson Wentz – and Washington’s inability to run the ball – the Bears have a shot. But the Bears aren’t talented enough to expect to beat any team, and they should not expect Washington’s defense to be a pushover.