Of all the changes we’ve seen on the Bears’ offense in the last two weeks, one thing stands out above everything else:
It’s not often we see the Bears clearly outmatch the physicality of their opponent on offense, but that’s exactly what they did Sunday in their 20-9 win over the Raiders in Las Vegas.
In last week’s film review, we examined Chargers head coach Brandon Staley’s comments about how being physical in the run game helps the quarterback. The Bears showed signs of that dynamic against the Lions in Week 4, but took their physicality to a higher level in Las Vegas.
The Raiders came out swinging in what turned out to be Jon Gruden’s last game as head coach, getting multiple big shots on Justin Fields early. The Bears’ first two drives were ugly, with more penalties (a false start on right tackle Germain Ifedi) than first downs (zero).
But that changed on the third drive after the Bears held the Raiders to a field goal on a 13-play drive that allowed Fields to recover from getting the wind knocked out of him. On the second play of the drive, Yannick Ngakoue hit Fields late, drawing a roughing the passer penalty. From that point on, it was like a switch flipped up front, because on the next play, Bears center Sam Mustipher did this to Raiders defensive tackle Solomon Thomas:
And two plays later, left tackle Jason Peters did this to to Raiders safety Jonathan Abram:
Fields went on to hit tight end Jesper Horsted for a touchdown on that drive, giving the Bears a lead they never relinquished. And on the first play of the next drive, the offensive line kept the physicality going with a 6-yard run from Khalil Herbert on first down:
I’m not exactly sure why Elijah Wilkinson was in at right tackle on this play because it was before Ifedi took a shot to his left knee later in the drive. But on the very next play after Ifedi got hurt, Bears right guard James Daniels dropped the hammer on Raiders linebacker Denzel Perryman.
Running back Damien Williams scored on a 4-yard run three plays later to put the Bears up 14-3 late in the second quarter. At that point, it was obvious the Bears were not messing around up front.
While the offense got a little stale in the third quarter, they were up to the task in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. Fields came up with the big timely throws, but it was this run on 2nd-and-4 at the 40-yard-line that put the Bears in field goal range to increase the lead to eight.
Graham can be inconsistent with his blocking, but he has his moments and has been a big part of the Bears’ success on the ground the last two weeks. This effort was just nasty.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Bears establishing an identity on offense the last two weeks. I’m not sure you can establish an identity in just two games, but if the offensive line and tight ends keep blocking like this, then the Bears are going to keep having success on the ground, which puts Fields in a good position to have success.
Film reviews like this are extremely encouraging.
(As always, for more detail on the grading system, click here.)
- It's always a good thing when you can highlight at least one player from every phase in the blue chip category, and in Roquan Smith's (5.40 season grade) and Cairo Santos' (4.40) cases, they've been playing like that all season.
- The Bears' special teams were off the charts Sunday. Santos made two 46-yard field goals, two extra points and delivered three touchbacks and two other kickoffs that pinned the Raiders inside the 20. In the punt game, punter Pat O'Donnell and gunner Xavier Crawford were quite a duo, teaming up for a 45.0 net average with three fair catches forced on Raiders returner Hunter Renfrow and one punt inside the 11-yard-line. That'll work.
- Mustipher got off to somewhat of a slow start this season, but has played well the last two weeks. I only have him down for one negative play in those two games and his season grade is up to 2.60, which is well into the starter range.
- While Ifedi went down with a knee injury, Wilkinson ended up being a noticeable upgrade at right tackle, netting a 5.00 in the game. With Ifedi going on injured reserve for at least three weeks, it will be interesting to see how Wilkinson plays as a starter.