Oct 3, 2021

Takeaways from the Bears' bounceback win over the Lions

Takeaways from the Bears' bounceback win over the Lions
(USA Today Sports)

Good morning, frents!

We're coming off a busy weekend in Chicago sports and headed into an even busier week — well, unless you work or play for the Cubs. 

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Sunday's results
Bears 24, Lions 14
Sky 86, Sun 83
Tigers 5, Sox 2
Cubs 3, Cardinals 2 (F/8)
Toronto 3, Fire 1

Today's schedule
Hawks at Wings (6:30, NBCSCH)*

That's more like it

Justin Fields Chicago Bears Detroit Lions
(USA Today Sports)

There are no accidental wins in the NFL, so the Bears deserve to enjoy Sunday's 24-14 victory over the Lions without qualification or apology. Their only choice after last weekend's knockout in Cleveland was to get off the mat or stay down. The Bears decided on the former.

But they should enjoy this Victory Monday while they can. The team's ability to recover against an inferior opponent buys them an easier week in the court of public and maybe a few less Matt Nagy working at McDonald's jokes.

But that's about it. There are no big pronouncements to be made after beating the Lions, nor any reason to take a deep sigh or relief. Whether or not this win is indicative of any larger positive trend will soon be revealed over these next four weeks.  They're on the road against Las Vegas next weekend, home against the Packers, on the road in Tampa and then at home on Halloween against the 49ers.

Can the Bears take what worked against the Lions and apply it to the heart of one of the most difficult schedules in the league? We'll soon find out.

A few more observations in which I try to be as even-handed as possible:

• As suspected, the offense looked rejuvenated with Bill Lazor calling the plays and Nagy given more time with a laminated playsheet destined for his basement wall.  The Bears racked up 373 yards of total offense that were almost evenly split between the ground (188) and passing (185). It's not anything that's going to make people forget the Greatest Show on Turf-era Rams, but it was progress for a Bears team that posted just 47 yards against the Browns.

And yet Nagy seemed concerned after the game that he wouldn't be receiving that much credit for the output. Which is ... weird?

Said Nagy:

“Bill did a great job. I think that in the same point in time it’s important that we understand that I felt good out there as a head coach. That’s real, you know? But we all get together, we talk through how we’re going to call the game, and we do that when I’m calling plays, too. You know what I mean? Us, as a staff, we get together. So I think that’s important for everybody to know."  

As I joked on Twitter last night, those are some real strong "Jeff Goldblum starting the wave at a baseball game" vibes. If you've never seen that classic SNL sketch, watch it and imagine that it's Nagy saying every line.

Look, Chicago is a place that loves (and loathes) its coordinators, but we're also not going to hold anything against a head coach for delegating responsibilities if it helps the team. We certainly didn't in 2018 when Vic Fangio built that defense or in 1985 with Buddy Ryan. (To be fair, revisionist history has not been as kind to 2018 Nagy and 1985 Mike Ditka.)

Bottom line, though: Whatever the arrangement was on Sunday needs to continue. No matter who's getting the credit.

• Also worthy of a repeat? Justin Fields as starter! While it's clear that Andy Dalton's continued injury is the only reason the rookie made the start, his performance took away any future excuse Nagy might make for Dalton. Fields finished the day throwing 11-of-17 for 209 yards, including a couple of throws that were hard to believe were coming from the arm of a Bears quarterback.

Nagy wouldn't commit to a Week 5 starter after the game. But as The Score's Laurence Holmes noted, it's baffling to consider that Nagy might not realize his path to winning both public favor and extra years on the Bears sideline comes via developing Fields — and not winning 7-9 games with Dalton under center.

Fields is going to have down games this season, but he's ready to start taking the lumps between the highlights he's capable of dishing out.  (And if Ryan Pace really did promise Dalton the starting job? Well, $10 million is a heck of a "sorry, my bad" present.)

• Every Bears' path is going to be much more difficult if Akiem Hicks and David Montgomery miss extended periods of time.

Montgomery left the game in the fourth quarter with a scary-looking knee injury. It reportedly isn't a serious tear, which is great given that Montgomery was the engine that opened everything up on Sunday. Montgomery finished the day with 23 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns (which came on the game's first two drives).

Hicks left the game with a groin injury in the first quarter and it's unclear how much time he'll miss. He also struggled with injuries last season and we saw just how different the Bears defense can be without him. It's a bummer he leaves just as Eddie Goldman returns.

• The Bears defense added another four sacks to its season total on Sunday with Robert Quinn again leading the way. He's been as visible this season as he was invisible the last. May he and Khalil Mack stay healthy going forward; the Bears are going to need both for this upcoming run.

News and results

White Sox: Bring on the postseason

Sunday's 5-2 loss to Detroit didn't mean anything after Houston clinched ALDS homefield advantage with a win on Saturday night. But it did cap the Sox's record at 93-69 — their most victorious year since 2005 — and finally brought us to the doorstep of a playoff appearance that has seemed a foregone conclusion since July.

There will be plenty to dissect in the newsletter before Thursday's first pitch. Until then, check out David Brown's playoff roster projection. The biggest question right now is the availability of Carlos Rodon, which Tony La Russa said could be a "tough call."

ALDS schedule (Best of five)
Times and TV still TBD

  • Gm 1: Thursday at Houston
  • Gm 2: Friday at Houston
  • Gm 3: Sunday at Chicago
  • Gm 4: Monday at Chicago*
  • Gm 5: Wednesday at Houston*
    *If necessary

Sky: One win away from the WNBA Finals

Watching the Sky run down the Sun in the fourth quarter for a 86-83 win in Game 3 of the semifinals was a great second-screen experience during the Bears game. Kahleah Copper had a game-high 26 points and Allie Quigley threw in 21 in front of a rocking crowd at Wintrust Arena.

But let's be honest: The Sky deserved the undivided attention of the city. They'll get it on Wednesday night as they try to eliminate the top-seeded Sun and reach the second WNBA Finals in franchise history.

Cubs: 2021 roster makes MLB history

Overall, it was a disappointing season for Cubs fans. The front office dismantled the World Series core and the team finished 71-91, the worst record on the North Side since 2013.

But it came to a decent and interesting end: Sunday's rain-shortened 3-2 victory gave the Cubs a series win over the Cardinals. The debuts of Joe Biagini and Tyler Payne also brought the total of players used this season to 69 — a new MLB record.

Until next February ...

College rundown

  • Cincinnati 24, Notre Dame 13: The Irish had their 26-game home winning streak snapped by a Bearcats team that was making its first visit to South Bend since 1900.
  • Nebraska 56, Northwestern 7: This score straight from the '70s was the Huskers' biggest margin of victory since joining the Big Ten and Pat Fitzgerald's second-biggest loss at NU.
  • Illinois 24, Charlotte 14: Chase Brown got his steps in: 26 carries for 257 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Northern Illinois 27, Eastern Michigan 20: Huskies hang on for a 1-0 start in the MAC.

1. Allen Robinson's agent had some thoughts after his client was targeted just three times on Sunday. Heavy

2. William Lee talked to Bears tailgaters about the possible move to Arlington Heights. Tribune

3. Ricky O'Donnell centers in on why I've enjoyed this Sky team so much. They're a deep squad anchored by five legitimate stars who can all beat you in different ways. SB Nation

4. Why is it so hard to buy a Candace Parker jersey? The Athletic

5. Descendants of the O'Leary family are getting some media attention as the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire approaches this week. Tribune

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Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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