Bears learn a better way to use QB Justin Fields
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago’s Matt Eberflus received congratulations from his team’s owners after their 33-14 victory Monday night denied New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick a historic victory.
A win would have pushed Belichick to 325 wins, second all time behind Don Shula and one better than Bears founder George Halas. Belichick will no doubt achieve the milestone, but it didn’t come at the expense of Halas’ franchise, now owned by Halas’ daughter Virginia McCaskey.
“Yeah, I had a couple comments from the McCaskey family on that, and they were all pleased with that,” Eberflus said on Tuesday.
History aside, there was plenty for the Bears to be pleased about after the win regarding their future.
With another difficult road game coming against Dallas on Sunday, the Bears found a way to win on the road for the first time under Eberflus on Monday night by using quarterback Justin Fields both as a running threat and as a passer from a moving pocket.
Doing it again the same way won’t be simple, Eberflus said.
“I think once you put it on tape the guys have to defend it,” Eberflus said. “Then you want to be creative in the ways that you do things and you want to do it in a safe way, because it is your quarterback.
“You want to make sure that you’re doing it the right way. He has to know when to do things the right way in terms of to slide, when to get out of bounds and all those things.”
Fields took a few big hits in the pass pocket, but escaped punishment on planned running plays. He finished with 82 yards on 14 carries and the Bears ran 45 times for 243 yards.
Five times Fields scrambled for first downs on third down.
“I think it’s very hard to defend,” Eberflus said. “I’ve tried to defend those guys over the years, and it’s very difficult.”
Fields finished 13 of 21 passing for 179 yards with a touchdown and an interception as the passing game was also effective, causing Eberflus to tip his cap to offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
“I thought the mix and match of the in-pocket, out-of-pocket, you know, the different protections we were using to really focus on the strengths of our football team and our offensive unit, I thought was excellent,” Eberflus said.
The running attack. It wasn’t just Fields as David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert both gained 62 yards and the Bears now have taken over the NFL team lead in rushing with 1,267 yards or 181.0 per game.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The pass rush. The Bears had just one sack on a blitz by Roquan Smith and Eberflus thought they could have made it even easier on themselves with a few more sacks.
Linebacker Roquan Smith and the run defense. The Bears have played good pass defense all season and had three interceptions Monday, but they struggled previously against the run. They allowed fewer than 117 yards rushing only one time going into the win over New England.
However, they held the Patriots to 70 yards rushing and 23 of those came from the quarterbacks.
“We played a whole complete game from the first quarter to the fourth quarter,” safety Jaquan Brisker said. “If we keep going like this, everybody keeps doing their job, we are just getting warmed up, building our chemistry up, and we’re just going to keep going.”
DT Mike Pennel. He was ejected from Monday’s game for a blindside block on Smith’s interception, and Eberflus said afterward it isn’t the kind of football the Bears condone.
Center Lucas Patrick suffered a toe injury and did not return. He was replaced by Sam Mustipher, who had been starting at center until Monday night. Eberflus said they would know more later in the week.
4. The Bears defense had four takeaways for the first time this season.
The Bears (3-4) try to build their first winning streak under Eberflus after stopping a three-game losing streak, and must do it at Dallas on Sunday.
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