It’s 3 Up 3 Down time again and this week we have a much needed win against the Bengals to look at. So let’s not waste time, and get straight down to business.
3 UP 3 DOWN: THE UPS
Basic I know, but understated. After last week’s implosion, getting the right result was key and we got it. Winning breeds confidence and getting into a rut of losses can break even the strongest of people, especially given who the Bears will be playing on the schedule as the season progresses.
You need to win the winnable games and imagine if we didn’t. The sour taste in your mouth, the bitterness towards a team you so dearly love. It’s toxic and it would have only been 2 weeks in. Then you start thinking of the long season of despair, despair, and despair and you’re already tuning out.
So yes, winning is obviously an Up. But the manner in which we did, and straight away, leaves hope at the end of the weekend as opposed to doom and gloom.
In short, the difference maker. The Bears defense had a phenomenal day, completely nullifying a Bengals offense that have at last showed they can play some decent ball. The Bears however proved to be the monsters we want them to be as they only allowed a total of 248 yards (combined from both air yards and running the ball). That in itself is bonkers.
Breaking it down, you have it as an average of 4.6 yards per play for the Bengals. Not very good at all. Not only that, but the Bears had 4 takeaways including 3 straight interceptions on 3 consecutive plays, and one interception that led to a TD return from Roquan Smith (pay this man the world!).
It’s easy enough to praise the Defense for that performance, but there was a man pulling the strings. Sean Desai, take a bow sir. The difference from last week’s game was stark, night and day. Many people feared the worst for the new Defensive Coordinator, and with that showing coupled with his experience in that role you could understand why.
But this week, he made adjustments and the players responded. There’s nothing greater than seeing a plan come together, unless that is if you can’t see it coming. Sean Desai was able to mask his defensive plays really well, setting his guys up one way only to press unexpectedly or sit and allow the ball to come to them.
Joe Burrow ended the game with more interceptions than touchdowns. The pressure, the capitalisation and punishment of mistakes are all bred from the desire to do well, to prove the doubters wrong; and that starts from the top.
3 UP 3 DOWN: THE DOWNS
Catch the damn ball guy! It may be a harsh one, but they need to do better. It’s crazy to think, but without Roquan Smith’s touchdown return, the Bears would have lost this game. The Bengals were only 3 points behind the Bears come the end of the game and were building up a head of steam.
You can’t rely solely on the defense; you need your WRs to make the plays and the main example is the Fields throw to Allen Robinson, the guy who hasn’t dropped a catch over 20 yards in 2 years, only for the ball to slide straight through his arms, missing the touchdown.
Granted, he caught the other touchdown for the Bears, but had only 2 receptions for 24 yards. Yes he needs more targets, but if you want to get paid the way A.Rob does, you need to make the plays from the balls you get. 2 Touchdowns from 3 passes would dictate that, but now it’s 1 TD, less than 25 yards and a big drop.
Again, I know I’m being harsh, and I’m ready for people to come for me, but in a full half of true NFL level football, Fields ended the game with 60 passing yards of which less than half of his throws completing, including one bad, bad, bad interception and no TDs.
It was his big chance to move Dalton to the side, but chatter is “Who do you start in week 3?” when really he should have made it a certainty. He also had 2 false starts in the game which we will no doubt put down to nerves and adrenaline on his first true outing, and he certainly wasn’t the worst of the 2021 draft QBs this week (looking at you Wilson).
I understand that the WRs did not help matters. We could say that Fields hasn’t had time with the first team players to make the adjustments, find a rhythm and a rapport with them to make the plays. If Mooney and A.Rob make their plays then the outlook could be a lot different. But they didn’t, so it wasn’t.
We have to be fair and level headed. It’s not the end of the world, and there were plays and flashes of the talent we know he has, but that’s all it was. Flashes. We’ll hope for the next time he plays to make those flashes a spotlight.
Total Air Yards
Looking at the stats, the Bears has some good average numbers, with Air yards working out at 10 yards per reception across all the players. That’s a new set of downs every catch… the only problem is the total number – 116 yards. There are players who are getting more than that on their own!
Mooney was our leading receiver with 6 receptions for 66 yards; that’s a good average but it certainly isn’t Superbowl numbers, and would be a tough argument to say play off numbers too. We would need to see more work done here, because the defense won’t be able to cover for this every week.