Bears Film Study: Perfectly placed passes really Hurts

  • Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts passes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Chicago.

    Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts passes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Chicago. Associated Press

Updated 12/22/2022 8:10 PM

This week's Bears Film Study promises to be non-biased and not negatively influenced by the Bears knocking Jalen Hurts out of the fantasy playoffs. So let's get started.

Bears vs. Eagles was essentially a tale of three perfect throws by Hurts. It's easy to look at Hurts and think, "Philadelphia has gone 13-1 with a running quarterback, so why can't the Bears do the same with Justin Fields someday soon?"


Well, that might happen, but as valuable as Fields can be with his legs, this game showed how a great arm is the true difference-maker.

The Bears were much more competitive than they should have been in this game and the most promising sign might have been the defensive backs. With safety Eddie Jackson and nickel Kindle Vildor sidelined, the Bears put rookie Kyle Gordon at nickel, with Jaylon Jones and Jaylon Johnson on the outside. As usual, Jackson's replacement was DeAndre Houston-Carson, now one of the longest-tenured Bears on the roster.

Hurts threw for 315 yards, but the two Jaylons, especially, had a nice day under tough circumstances. The Eagles picked up two big gains early by hitting DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown on crossing patterns against zone defense. Just like past versions of the Bears defense, this group does better in man coverage.

The outside coverage was good all game long, but Hurts dropped three passes in perfect spots along the sideline. All three led to touchdowns in a game the Eagles won 25-20.

The Bears had a chance to get off the field with a 6-3 halftime lead, but on a third down, Hurts hit Smith for a 38-yard gain against Gordon. The Bears then took a page out of Ohio State's defensive plan and blitzed safety Jaquan Brisker, who didn't get home and left the middle of the field wide-open for Hurts' 22-yard TD run.

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Hurts opened the second half with another dime to Brown for 29 yards with Johnson all over him. The clinching TD came after a 68-yard bomb to Brown, with Johnson again in solid coverage. He probably should have gotten help from Brisker on this play.

Of course, losses and securing that top-three draft pick are most important for the Bears right now, but this game spoke well for the team's defensive future. Just stay out of zone.

Pass rush deficit:

The best way to help out the DBs would be to get more of a pass rush, but that will likely have to wait for next year. The Bears have 6 sacks in the last seven games and very few quarterback pressures.

The Bears' pass-blocking had a rough day, with Philadelphia collecting 6 sacks before the second half was five minutes old. By my count, Whitehair gave up two, Whitehair and Braxton Jones botched stunt coverage twice, and the other two were on Cole Kmet and Alex Leatherwood.


Best play:

The Bears' first touchdown was a flashback to early in the season when they found success with smash-mouth running plays. Fullback Khari Blasingame on the field for David Montgomery's 9-yard TD run, which followed Fields' spectacular scramble.

Blasingame took out Eagles OLB Haason Reddick, who was a problem all game. Lakes High School grad T.J. Edwards was hit once by Byron Pringle, then again by Leatherwood. Finally, Pringle and Chase Claypool sealed the 2 safeties as Montgomery trotted into the end zone. If winning mattered, the Bears should have done more of that Sunday.

Strangest play:

The Bears deserved no credit for their first interception of the game. For starters, the Eagles quick-snapped the ball and it looked like they were trying to hit a short comeback to Smith. He was open, but Hurts didn't throw it and the other receivers were just jogging through their routes.

Once he noticed Hurts scrambling, Brown found some open space. Gordon was 10 yards in front of Brown when Hurts let it go, but the pass was well short of its target and landed in Gordon's arms.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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