Week 2 was a roller coaster ride for the Bears against the Bengals. Andy Dalton went out and Justin Fields came in to lead the offense. The defense took the ball away four times, but then let Cincinnati crawl back into the back after a few big plays. But in the end, the Bears got in the win column, making everything look just a little bit better.
JUSTIN FIELDS GETS WIN
It wasn’t always pretty, but Bears fans got their first look at something they’ve dreamed of seeing since the NFL Draft: Fields in victory formation. Coming in to relieve the injured Dalton, Fields made some of the “wow” plays that his talent promises, but he made some rookie mistakes as well. Committing two false starts on one drive isn’t something that a veteran like Andy Dalton would do. Nagy has also complimented Dalton’s anticipatory throws, while it seemed that Fields held on to the ball a little too long on a few plays.
Highlights included a dime to Allen Robinson that should’ve gone for a long touchdown, and another deep throw to Darnell Mooney along the sideline. In all, Fields went 6-13 for 60 yards and a pick for a paltry 27.7 passer rating, but he added 31 yards on the ground on 10 carries, including a crucial 10-yard scramble on 3rd-and-9 to help ice the game.
Fields was the first to admit he needs to play better moving forward, especially if Dalton misses extended time, and he will.
There were plenty of ugly plays when the Bears were blown out by the Rams on Sunday Night Football, but the most glaring mistakes occurred in the secondary. There was no panic inside Halas Hall however, and players like Tashaun Gipson vowed those mistakes wouldn’t happen again. Against the Bengals, the Bears cleaned up those mistakes, and then some.
Eddie Jackson flashed early with a tackle-for-loss on a 3rd-and-1 rush, then stripped Tee Higgins for the team’s first takeaway of the year. Kindle Vildor and Jaylon Johnson each came up with pass defenses in critical situations. Johnson also came up with his first career interception.
All week Matt Nagy said he was looking for his team to regain its swagger. This was the type of performance that could act as a catalyst for elite play throughout the season. Yes, the defense let the Bengals back in at the end, in part because Jackson went for another forced fumble instead of a tackle on a Ja’Marr Chase touchdown. But on the whole, the secondary helped the defense put its stamp on the win.
DESAI’S FINGERPRINTS ON PASS RUSH
In Week 1 the defense only managed to sack Matt Stafford once, and didn’t generate much more pressure beyond that. But Week 2 was a different story. The D got to Joe Burrow four times, in part due to some scheming from defensive coordinator Sean Desai. On the first sack of the game, Desai had Robert Quinn lineup outside of Khalil Mack on the same side of the line. Then Quinn stunted inside for a clear path to Burrow. On another, he brought Roquan Smith on a blitz from the second level, and he went unblocked for a sack. Then, an Alec Ogletree pressure led to an Angelo Blackson interception, which the Bears cashed in for three points.
We heard all year that players were excited for Desai’s scheme as he was putting guys in a position to succeed. We saw that first hand on Sunday.