Here are my first things after the Bears’ 24-14 win over the Detroit Lions Sunday at Soldier Field:
1. Let’s call Sunday’s game what it was: A significant win for Matt Nagy. It won’t necessarily get the fans off his back and it certainly doesn’t mean the problems are permanently fixed, but Nagy couldn’t afford a disastrous loss to the Lions. He passed that test and he did so by making enough changes to the offense that the Bears averaged 6.5 yards/play on Sunday. You don’t necessarily get bonus points for beating the Lions, but this game was a step in the right direction for the offense.
2. Just when things were looking up for the Bears’ offense, running back David Montgomery suffered a knee injury. Now the Bears have to hope it is not a season-ending injury. Losing Montgomery would significantly change the offense and put more pressure on rookie quarterback Justin Fields.
3. I wrote that last sentence like I’m just assuming Nagy will stick with Fields. He has to, right?
4. Fields can still speed things up a tick, but that will come with experience. I’m encouraged by his ability to read the field and throw with accuracy. Other than the first deep-out to Darnell Mooney, Fields was on point with his deep passes. And he still put that one close enough that Mooney was able to make a great catch.
5. The Bears’ defense just isn’t the same without Akiem Hicks. It’s still good, but not great. More coverage busts in the secondary are concerning.
6. That said, Robert Quinn looks like a completely different player this year. He’s playing with speed and a bend he simply did not have last year. I can’t believe I’m writing this, but if Quinn stays healthy, the Pro Bowl could be in his future.
7. The Bears finished the game with seven accepted penalties and at least two others that were declined. They need to clean that up.
8. I’m not sure what Xavier Crawford is supposed to do on the kick-catch interference call. The punt returner did not call a fair catch and Crawford allowed him to catch the ball before hitting him cleanly with his shoulder. That’s exactly how you teach it.
9. I’m all for player safety and I understand why certain rules have been put in place. It’s just too bad the NFL doesn’t allow the referees to use common sense sometimes. For example, you can’t hit the quarterback in the head, but there’s a difference between dangerously hitting a quarterback in the head and making contact when you’re trying to defend a throw. There was nothing malicious about the hit they called on Khalil Mack.
10. The Bears — and Matt Nagy — were very fortunate to have the Lions on the schedule this week. They need to play much better if they want to win in Las Vegas next Sunday.