Bears Film Study: Credit coaching staff for highlighting team's strengths

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bears running back Khalil Herbert, center, reaches over offensive tackle Braxton Jones, right, to score a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, at Soldier Field.

    Bears running back Khalil Herbert, center, reaches over offensive tackle Braxton Jones, right, to score a touchdown against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, at Soldier Field. Associated Press

  • Bears tight end Cole Kmet, left, celebrates with guard Lucas Patrick after running back Khalil Herbert scored a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, at Soldier Field.

    Bears tight end Cole Kmet, left, celebrates with guard Lucas Patrick after running back Khalil Herbert scored a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, at Soldier Field. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/30/2022 7:17 PM

Twice in three games, the Bears have made enough big plays to produce a victory, despite the aesthetic value being relatively low.

From my personal experience, which dates back to the Mirro Roder era, that's what Bears football is generally all about.

 

So let's start with the biggest reason for optimism: The new coaching staff has figured out what this team does well and stuck with it. That is, lining up with two tight ends, a fullback and running the ball.

I'd lobby for the team's offensive MVP, fullback Khari Blasingame, to play more than 24% of the snaps, but maybe that's nitpicking.

The Bears executed two beautiful running plays in particular during the win over Houston. One was the 11-yard touchdown run by Khalil Herbert in the first quarter, with started with perhaps the unsung hero of the offense, tight end Cole Kmet.

A much-improved blocker, Kmet absolutely stalemated Texans defensive end Jonathan Greenard throughout the entirety of the play. Braxton Jones shoved defensive tackle Thomas Booker IV all the way into the end zone, while Larry Borom ran across the field to seal the safety. Running it into the end zone instead of settling for field goals will win some games.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The other great play was Herbert's 52-yard run on the Bears' first offensive snap of the third quarter. Kmet and Blasingame, who hasn't missed a block all season, were in the game. Also, Teven Jenkins was in at right guard instead of Lucas Patrick, who had a bit of a lackluster first half.

All seven blockers were perfect, giving Herbert a chance to build up some steam. One of Herbert's best traits is he can juke potential tacklers in the open field. On this play, he dodged the safety, while a downfield block by Darnell Mooney likely paved the way for 35 more yards.

The New York Giants rank 25th in rushing yards allowed, so no need to change tactics this week. Run the ball, shorten the game and keep the fullback on the field.

Fields of vision:

Sometimes, it feels like critics are being too harsh on second-year quarterback Justin Fields. Not many NFL quarterbacks would be posting big numbers with the Bears' set of receivers. Let's face it, they have fifth-round draft pick Mooney and a bunch of guys from the NFL's discard pile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Fields is at his best outside the pocket with freedom to create. The problem is, opposing teams know this and usually leave someone on the weak side to spy the bootleg.

The best way to resolve this is run the ball well and bootleg off play-action, and the Bears succeeded a couple of times. On the next snap after Herbert's 52-yard run, Fields rolled out and found an open Equanimeous St. Brown for an easy 20-yard catch to the 3.

Fields obviously had a couple of bad interceptions. The first was the right decision, just a misfire. The second was a really poor decision throwing deep into double safeties.

But credit Fields for coming back with a long drive, getting clutch completions of 16 yards to Kmet and 18 to Mooney. With the score tied in the fourth quarter, the Bears started drives at their own 8- and 12-yard lines and both times were able to move the ball and flip field position, setting the stage for Roquan Smith's game-turning interception.

Another hidden talent last week was Fields carrying out a nice run fake after handing the ball to St. Brown on the jet sweep. St. Brown was able to sprint 41 yards on the first-quarter play in part because Texans defenders had their eyes in the backfield and didn't realize St. Brown had the ball.

Red zone wall:

The Bears defense barely got any pressure on Texans quarterback Davis Mills, and their young cornerbacks were burned a few times. But just like against the 49ers, the defense came up with enough winning plays to make a difference.

The Bears corners weren't going to win any races against Brandin Cooks in space, but when the field got short inside the red zone, Kindle Vildor was able to deflect a pass away from Cooks for an Eddie Jackson interception.

A game saver late in the third quarter was Smith dropping Dameon Pierce for a loss when the Texans had third-and-1 at the 2-yard line. With 16 tackles plus the interception, there won't be many better performances by an NFL linebacker this season.

Power play:

Credit Bears coaches for sticking with the run in the third quarter even after Herbert was dropped for a 2-yard loss on first down. Two runs covered the 5 yards needed and on the touchdown, the Bears used the fullback, two tight ends and as a bonus, tackle Riley Reiff came in as a sixth lineman. The extra OL was one of Matt Nagy's favorite tricks.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.