After the Bears’ Week 3 loss to the Browns, it appeared Chicago’s 2021 season was essentially over.
Fans wanted Matt Nagy fired. One analyst called for Justin Fields to demand a trade. And Bears Twitter already had lists of potential head coaching candidates for next year.
All this happened just three weeks into the season.
Then the Lions came to town, and the Bears took care of business by defeating their rival 24-14 to give Chicago sole possession of second place in the NFC North.
When the world appears to be on fire, a game against Detroit is usually the remedy to calm things down — even if it’s just for a week.
And that’s exactly how the Bears should be viewing their victory against the winless Lions. No, the team isn’t in a complete state of panic like many believed. But Sunday’s win doesn’t mean all the problems are just gone.
Coming into the matchup with the Lions, the Bears were dead last in the NFL in explosive passing plays (passes that go for 20 or more yards). The Lions’ defense came into the game having given up the most explosive passes on average.
On a mostly cloudy day at Soldier Field, Fields took advantage of Detroit’s defense and completed five passes that went over 20 yards. Darnell Mooney had three of them, including a career-long 64-yard reception, and Robinson caught the other two. Through three games, the Bears had one explosive passing play.
And with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling plays, Fields looked much improved in all phases of his game, especially with his poise in the pocket. On the Bears’ second offensive possession of the game, Fields and the offense faced a third-and-4 on the Detroit 20. Fields took the snap, went through his progressions, saw nobody was open and took off for an 11-yard gain along the right sideline. David Montgomery scored a 9-yard touchdown on the next play.
The Bears also committed to the rushing attack for the entire game with Lazor as the play caller. Montgomery finished the day with 23 carriers for 106 yards and two rushing touchdowns. He did have to leave the game in the fourth quarter due to a knee injury, though.
Chicago finished with 376 total yards — nearly eights times more than the 47 yards the offense registered a week ago. And the offense had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver (Mooney finished for 125 yards on five receptions) for the first time since Week 14 of last year — the only time that happened last season.
This is all progress, which is what the Bears needed to show against Detroit. But the tight ends still were nonexistent in the passing game. Cole Kmet’s 6-yard reception was the only pass caught from the tight ends.
And even though the Bears’ defense kept the Lions to just 14 points, Jared Goff and the Lions reached the red zone five times and only came away with one touchdown. Credit to the Bears’ defense for making things difficult — especially since Detroit came into the game tied for third in red zone scoring percentage — but you can’t overlook the two fumbles the Lions had in that area of the field.
That’s just Detroit being Detroit.
But it wouldn’t be too outlandish to say that other teams — ones that actually know how to win — would come away with points in those situations.
Regardless, the Bears came away with a victory and improved to 2-2 on the season.
For now, Bears fans can keep a level head about their team — until next week, at least, when Chicago travels to Las Vegas to face the undefeated Raiders.