Bears film study: Credit Peters for making Fields' day
Most NFL teams will not drive inside the opponents' 10-yard line on their first three possessions and score zero points. But fortunately for the Bears, they got the Lions last Sunday and evened their record at 2-2.
It probably goes without saying that any positive signs for the Bears should be taken with a grain of salt, considering the Lions' tendency toward unforced errors. Now let's check the film:
Starts up front: The Bears began the contest with a beautiful 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. So let's congratulate the MVP of that drive, tackle Jason Peters.
Starting with the first play, when David Montgomery ran for 9 yards, Peters was clearing space like a snowplow. Coach Matt Nagy seemed nervous on the sideline when the Bears went for it on 4th and 1, but they had the right play called -- a run to the left side -- and made it with ease.
Peters got some nice assists from tight end Jimmy Graham. The Bears never throw the ball to Graham anymore, but he is moving people on the line.
On the 4-yard touchdown, Montgomery ran behind the three tight ends. Former Pitt Panther J.P. Holtz did his usual thing, blocking two guys on the same play, while Cole Kmet deserves credit for much improved blocking this season.
After the opener against the Rams, we wondered if the 39-year-old Peters still had it in him after ending his retirement. But after getting his legs back. Peters is playing well and even threw a block 10 yards downfield on Damien Williams' 10-yard run to the five.
This is the kind of performance by the offensive line that lifts a young quarterback. Justin Fields did not face many third-and-longs, he had time to throw and open receivers downfield. Now can the Bears do that against a good team? The Lions are not loaded with defensive talent, especially compared to Cleveland.
Danger on defense: Before assessing the Bears defense, it's worth pointing out they won a game when Akiem Hicks basically didn't play (one snap before leaving with a groin injury), so that's an achievement in itself.
But just as we were wondering if Peters had anything left, now it's time to do the same with Eddie Goldman. The 27-year-old defensive tackle took the field Sunday for the first time since the Dec. 22, 2019 game against Kansas City, after opting out of 2020 and starting this year with an injury.
And Goldman did not play well. Don't think he made a positive contribution on any of his 31 snaps. We'll have to see if he gets his legs back after the long layoff, like Peters did. But this could be a concern if Hicks misses time.
Elsewhere on the defensive line, veteran Angelo Blackson continued to play well, while Bilal Nichols can't plow through double-teams like Hicks. But who does?
Best plays: As noted here last year, there's not a big difference in Bill Lazor's play-calling, but he tends to add some variety. A couple that worked well in this game were the Darnell Mooney running play, and David Montgomery running out of the Wildcat, which the Bears did a few times last season. Lazor was the one calling plays, right?
Runner-up would be the two plays that stymied the Lions inside the 10-yard line -- Robert Quinn's strip-sack and Alec Ogletree's deflected pass on fourth down.
Worst play: Why did Nagy challenge the Deon Bush non-interception in the first quarter, which he clearly did not catch? The Bears had a better chance of reversing the D'Andre Swift non-fumble call later in the first half.
Unsung hero: Anyone remember Trevis Gipson's pro debut last year? In the season-opener at Detroit, the rookie outside linebacker was pancaked by then-Lion Jesse James and basically didn't see the field again until Week 12.
Well, Gipson showed how much he's improved Sunday with a sack and nice tackle for loss when he peeled away T.J. Hockenson's block and dropped Swift in the backfield.
Quick hitter: The Lions nearly swept the Bears last season by getting Hockenson matched up against linebackers in pass coverage. Well, the old coaching staff must not have left their notes behind in the office, because Sunday, the Lions went after nickel Duke Shelley (10 targets) and safety Deon Bush (8) the most, while Hockenson was relatively quiet with 4 catches.