There’s a lot to digest after Justin Fields replaced Andy Dalton during the Bears’ 20-17 win over the Bengals Sunday at Soldier Field. Here are my “first things” immediately following the game:
1. Andy Dalton has handled a tough situation with nothing but class, so if the transition to Justin Fields ends up happening due to an injury, then I feel for him. Especially because Dalton was playing really well before he got hurt Sunday.
2. There’s no question the offensive operation took a step back when Fields took over, but that’s also not surprising. The rookie needs to work out those issues by getting experience.
3. If Dalton’s injury isn’t that bad, the Bears have a big decision to make. They can certainly argue Dalton played better than Fields, but didn’t Fields play well enough to earn a full week of practice with the starters? Yes, the Justin Fields interception was unacceptable, but I remember seeing the veteran throw an interception in the end zone a week ago. Just saying.
4. Allen Robinson’s dropped 35-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter felt costly for him. Those are the exact type of contested catches the Bears want to see him make more of and that one wasn’t even a 50-50 ball. It also hurt because Fields made a great read on the play. The over-the-top help shifted to the middle of the field at the snap and Fields recognized the 1-on-1 coverage and threw a great ball. Robinson simply has to make the play.
5. After poor showings in Week 1, Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson really came back strong. That's the type of play the defense needs from them every week.
6. Robert Quinn nearly matched his 2020 sack total with two on Sunday, but the second one came on the late-hit out of bounds against Joe Burrow so it didn’t count. Burrow did a great job of slowing down to draw the contact and then flopped, but Quinn still needs to be smarter there.
7. There was a late coverage shift on Roquan Smith’s pick-6. After Joe Burrow appeared to change the play at the line of scrimmage, safety Tashaun Gipson ran towards the far numbers at the snap, which opened up the space where Burrow appeared to be targeting Tyler Boyd. But Smith also dropped back underneath and Burrow never saw him.
8. Jaylon Johnson has backed up all the hype his teammates have been giving him. He's been outstanding in these first two games.
9. Three interceptions on three straight Joe Burrow throws. Did the turnover bucket survive?
10. You know who had a great day? New Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai. He had creative coverage and rush wrinkles in the game plan that really made a difference, including a stunt with Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn on the same side that led to Quinn’s first sack.