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NFL Draft

Bears Have All The Pieces They Need To Succeed On Offense

  • The Draft Network
  • October 3, 2021
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The Chicago Bears’ 24-14 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 4 did more than just improve their record to 2-2 and move them just one game behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. It proved that the pieces are in place on offense to field a competitive, and dare I say, explosive team.

Rookie Justin Fields made his second start of the season and the results were much better than his Week 3 disaster against the Cleveland Browns. He finished the game 11-of-17 for 209 yards and an interception, which was the result of a tipped ball. He added a few timely runs and showed his escapability and big-time playmaking talents throughout the game. 

The biggest takeaway from Fields’ stat line, though, is the fact that he topped 200 passing yards on just 11 completions. His 13.2 average intended air yards led all passers in Week 4 entering Sunday night, per Next Gen stats, and his average completed air yards—12.8—was tops in the league too.

Translation? The Bears actually had an explosive passing attack.

Wide receiver Darnell Mooney was a big reason why Fields’ stats were so impressive. He secured five catches for 125 yards (25 yards per catch), including this beauty:

https://twitter.com/pff/status/1444716499642503177?s=21

Mooney looked like the young DeSean Jackson he was compared to at times last season, and his downfield playmaking helped open running lanes for running back David Montgomery, who rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns before exiting the game with a knee injury. The Bears ran for 188 yards as a team.

The production from Chicago’s key players was great. The offense looked dangerous and capable of scoring even more than the 24 points they totaled. And there’s a pretty simple explanation for why the Bears appeared like they were operating under a well-structured plan: offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was calling plays.

“In regards to the play-calling, Bill did a great job,” Matt Nagy said after the game in what was the first confirmation of Lazor’s enhanced duties.

“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,” Nagy said.”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.”

Nagy wasn’t the only Bear feeling good after the game. Fields had the performance he needed to stake his claim as Chicago’s unquestioned starter, and Lazor was a big reason why.

“You know, Bill, he’s up in the box, so his voice is always calm,” Fields said of Lazor calling plays Sunday. “That’s the one thing I like. Coach (Nagy), it’s hard for him to be calm if he has to focus on the defense, focus on special teams. (Lazor’s) voice is calm. He’s up there in the box seeing the field well and he did a great job calling plays today.”

Let’s pause for a minute here. The face of the franchise essentially said he prefers Lazor calling plays over Nagy. The most important player the Bears have had on their roster in decades endorsed someone other than the head coach being the voice in his helmet. That matters and Nagy has to be selfless enough to acknowledge this and put his ego aside. If he really cares about what’s in the best interest of the team, he’ll keep Lazor in charge for the rest of the season. The win—and his quarterback—demand it.

The Bears’ improved performance on offense extended beyond the box score in Week 4. The offensive line earned a 90.0 overall pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus (on first review), after allowing nine sacks against the Browns in Week 3. The repaired pass protection had the kind of trickle-down effect you’d expect on offense and it helped make Lazor a more effective play-caller.

Everything seemed to work Sunday, at least to some degree. Was it perfect? No. But it was a massive improvement in a must-win game led by a must-succeed player orchestrated by a game plan called by a must-remain play-caller.

Several boxes were checked by the Bears’ offense against the Lions. The only thing left for Nagy to do this week is name Fields the team’s starter for the rest of the season, which suddenly has the hope for a potential playoff run in the NFC.

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