What We Saw: Bears at Commanders

The Chicago Bears, who knew? Justin Fields comes of age in a statement win.

Bears @ Commanders

Final Score: Bears 40, Commanders 20

Senior Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

A masterclass from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterback Justin Fields saw the 0-4 Chicago Bears sweep aside the Washington Commanders defensive game plan in the first period of this contest, the Bears going in 27-3 up at the half. Fields threw three exquisite touchdown passes, two to the outstanding DJ Moore, to shock the Washington faithful in Landover in the first half. Sam Howell struggled through a sloppy start in which he went three-and-out twice, threw an interception and generally looked devoid of ideas and determination.

A more aggressive defensive approach from the Commanders in the second half along with a resurgence Howell made this the most interesting Thursday night game of the season. Howell threw scores to tight end Logan Thomas and all-purpose receiver Curtis Samuel to bring his team within 10 points before yet another Fields to Moore touchdown connection settled the matter.

This was fun football with two teams who went for the win at all costs. This is what Thursday Night Football should be about. And congrats Bears fans, you have your first win in almost a year!

 

Three Up

  • Justin Fields – the talent is there, the execution is there, the coaching and the consistency needs to come next because this is what Fields is capable of
  • DJ Moore – an astonishing night for Moore who relished being the primary receiver in this offense to the tune of five catches for 137 yards and two scores in the first half. He added another late in the game and finished with 230 yards. Keep it coming.
  • Sam Howell – as a fantasy asset, Howell is the perfect streaming option through the bye weeks as he poses duel threat as well as the license to air it out when trailing in games – this was the quarterback’s best fantasy performance of the season

Three Down

  • Brian Robinson Jr. – a negative game script and competition for touches out of the backfield make the second-year back a risky fantasy option even as an RB2. He never go the chance to get going in this one.
  • Antonio Gibson – held without a carry for the first time this season, Gibson seems like a dying fantasy option. Dropped a key third down check down that resulted in a missed field goal
  • Darnell Mooney – overshadowed and pushed aside by the emergence of Moore, the previously promising Mooney looks to be without a role in this offense going forward – has just eight catches across five games this season

 

Chicago Bears

 

Quarterback

 

Justin Fields: 15/29, 282 Yards, 4 TD, 3 Sacks | 11 Carries, 57 Yards

 

The perfect game exists for Fields, whose work to improve off the field came to fruition in this contest as a more balanced approach to the Bears offense caused issues for the Commanders all game. Fields showed all the elite traits he displayed in college and at times last season, using his vision and mobility to make things happen from the pocket. His accuracy was the best we’ve seen and he threw the football with a confident nonchalance as highlighted by his four touchdown throws. Fields was also effective on designed runs and converted two short yardage runs and executed a 9-yard scramble to move the sticks on three first half scoring drive, opening up more options for him in the passing game.

The fireworks came when he connected with Moore, who had a career game with three touchdowns and 230 yards. He has the ball placement of Fields to thank on each of his scores. Fields was ruthless and perfect with these throws.

 

Notes

  • Fields was robbed off the chance at a fourth first half touchdown throw when the officials failed to call an obvious pass interference call on Darnell Mooney in the end zone
  • Masterful poise and composure in the pocket, helped by better offensive line play
  • Used his mobility brilliantly to avoid pressure and move the sticks
  • Is at his best when trusted to throw at all levels with a degree of freedom

Missed opportunities

  • The only discretion on the night was Fields missing Moore in end zone on 3rd down at the start of fourth quarter. Moore had beaten his man again, Fields overthrew him

 

Running Back

 

Khalil Herbert: 10 Carries, 76 Yards | 3 Targets

 

The balanced offense was able to get a kickstart thanks to the hard, speedy running of Khalil Herbert, who broke off an eye-catching 34-yard run on the second Bears drive of the game. The 2021 sixth round selection burst through a hole and showed next level speed before finally being brought down by a desperate lunging tackle that clipped his ankles. He contributed with positive yardage runs throughout the first half.

 

Herbert left the game in the third quarter after awkwardly getting his cleats stuck in the turf when trying to twist back to catch a check down from Fields on third down. He twisted up his own leg and stayed down before walking off the field. He was active on the sideline after the injury but did not feature again. A nine-day break until the next contest will allow him more time to recover.

 

Khari Blasingame: 8 Carries, 26 Yards

 

Coming into the game with just three lifetime carries in the NFL, Khari Blasingame handled the majority of late-game touches as the Bears looked to run out the clock. The Bears were forced to use the veteran fullback after rookie Roschon Johnson, who saw just three touches in one first half series, was ruled out with concussion before Herbert went down in the second half also.

 

Roschon Johnson: 3 Carries, 19 Yards

 

The rookie was forced out of the game in the second quarter with concussion after taking a hit from Chase Young on his third touch of the game. Johnson had runs of five, ten and four yards on the Bears second touchdown drive of the game. Again, an extended period until the Bears play the Vikings give the rookie a better chance to suit up.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

DJ Moore: 10 Targets, 8 Receptions, 230 Yards, 3 TD

 

The dream game for player, team and fantasy manager, Moore was sensational all night long as he made cornerbacks Benjamin St-Juste and Kendall Fuller look silly with his route running, speed and deception. Moore was the go-to man for Fields in the passing game again and their chemistry is turning into something remarkable. Almost every time they connected something special happened in this game.

 

Moore grabbed touchdown passes of 20, 11 and 56 yards, the final settling the contest and coming from a short pass to the sideline that Fuller tried to jump, allowing Moore to break away for 52 yards after the catch for six. He will continue to be the focal point of this offense in the air going forward.

 

It is debatable that Moore was robbed of another touchdown after the official ruled he stepped out of bounds on another play where he beat his marker and raced away downfield. The replays were not shown and it does not look obvious from the coverage.

 

Cole Kmet: 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 42 Yards, TD, 1 Fumble (Recovered)

 

A great night for the second week running for the tight end Cole Kmet, who hauled in all his passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. Kmet ran a nice crossing route and got ahead of the linebacker to provide an easy option for Fields to put the Bears 27-3 just before half time. He wasn’t used much after the break as he spent the majority of time blocking against a more aggressive Commanders defense front.

 

Kmet was very fortunate to recover a fumble that Commanders defensive lineman Daron Payne punched loose in second drive of game in red zone. It could have been so very different if he had coughed that up.

 

Robert Tonyan: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 10 Yards

Equanimeous St. Brown: 1 Target

Darnell Mooney: 4 Targets

 

It was a night of what might have been for Darnell Mooney, who failed to adjust himself for deep ball from Fields on the first play of game and should have caught it for a big gain. He then struggled to connect with his quarterback on a couple of intermediate throws where Fields over shot his target. He was also unlucky to not have the chance to haul in a touchdown pass after some obvious pass interference from the Commanders.

 

Washington Commanders

 

Quarterback

 

Sam Howell: 37/51, 388 Yards, 2 TD, INT, 5 Sacks | 4 Carries, 19 Yards

 

It was a case of great fantasy football night but poor real football night for Howell, who should be praised for shrugging off a dreadful offensive output in the first half to fight back and give the Commanders a chance in the second half. He put up career-best passing yardage and the majority of that was due to dropping back to throw 51 times – the Commanders ran just 10 rushing plays all night.

He showed grit and determination in the second half with a gutsy run for a two-point conversion and a couple of impressive shows of mobility to escape pressure and keep plays alive.

 

Howell is certainly showing he has the make up of a productive starter – he can throw to all levels, has poise and control in the red zone to execute the offense, and he can use his legs to make things happen when needed. The only blot was a key turnover as a crucial stage of the game that he needs to learn from. A late throw over the middle in your own territory when down big is a big no-no.

 

Notes

  • Looked lethargic in his process in the first half, lacked rhythm and intensity
  • Buoyed by an effective drive to open the second half to breather life into the offense
  • Looked much more comfortably getting the ball out quicker in the second half, his vision to the sideline is a real strength

Missed opportunities

  • Howell missed Dyami Brown for a 39-yard touchdown by an inch as the two college team mates couldn’t connect on a slightly overthrown ball when trailing 17-0 midway through the second quarter.
  • Thomas dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball inside the Bears’ 5-yard line that would have setup a first and goal at a key point in the fourth quarter with the Commanders trailing by two scores

 

Running Back

 

Brian Robinson Jr.: 6 Carries, 10 Yards | 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 33 Yards

 

A rough night for the Commanders backfield as they carried the ball just 10 times with four of those designed runs for Howell. Robinson made his only impact on a 24-yard catch-and-run on the first drive of the second half, bouncing off tackles and being helped by team mates for extra yardage. The volume is very worrying for the back who has seen double digit carries in every game this season. The first half blowout from the Bears dictated the downturn, however.

 

Antonio Gibson: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 64 Yards

 

In similar fashion, Gibson also saw limited opportunities due to the predicament the Commanders found themselves in. Much like his running back mate, Gibson made his only impact as a pass-catcher, acting like a speedy wideout down the sideline to haul in this deep ball from Howell for 41 yards. He also got some cheap yards on dump offs. He should be disappointed with a drop in the second half that meant his kicker had a longer than necessary field goal attempt, which was missed and the Bears cashed in to score a touchdown on the back of it. It’s the little things that have always held Gibson back.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Logan Thomas: 11 Targets, 9 Receptions, 77 Yards, TD, 1 Fumble (Lost)

 

A big night for Logan Thomas who went through all the emotions with highs and lows across his performance. Once a nice value fantasy option, Thomas hasn’t really kicked on in the last year or so but the huge tight end was pivotal in the Commanders offense in this game. He was the favorite target of his quarterback for much of the game and caught a short pass for six at the start of the second half to give his team hope. Thomas’ nine catches were as many as he has had in the season combined up until this point. He saw a chunk play of 24 yards on the final play of the first half as time expired pad his fantasy score.

 

However, he was responsible for turning the ball over on the next drive trying to fight for extra yardage. Thomas failed to secure the ball as he was going to ground and rookie Terrell Smith makes a nice play to strip it away.

 

Curtis Samuel: 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 65 Yards, TD

 

You could have been forgiven to realise that Samuel was on the field for large parts of this game as he wasn’t a key player in the first half and only came to life late in the game. Howell established a short passing game to the sidelines to multiple receivers with Samuel being one of them. This was effective to bring up short yardage conversions but the Commanders failed to execute for the entire first half. Samuel found himself all alone for a touchdown pass to make things interesting at the start of the fourth quarter after getting the Bears into the red-zone with a 25-yard connection with Howell over the middle. Samuel has been a productive FLEX play so far this season and has 13 grabs over his past two contests.

 

Terry McLaurin: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 49 Yards

 

The number one receiver in this offense, McLaurin is always at risk of a fantasy performance like this due to lack of volume and the game script heavy offensive approach from the Commanders. McLaurin was held to just one catch on one target

He induced a huge 25-yard pass interference penalty at the start of the second half and had another potential 40+ yard flag overturned but it should have stood. He backed it up on the next play with a fantastic 32-yard grab against double coverage from a beautiful pass from Howell with just six minutes left in the game.

 

Jahan Dotson: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 30 Yards

 

Despite hauling in a spectacular one-handed grab on the sideline that was ruled out of bounds, Jahan Dotson had another disappointing night on the fantasy stat sheet. He mainly dealt with sideline scraps for short yardage from his quarterback and his longest grab was a 14-yard connection over the middle coming out of the slot on the Commanders field goal drive in the third quarter. He is a long was from being the red-zone threat he was in 2022 as he recorded seven touchdowns. He has just one through five games this season.

 

Jamison Crowder: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 21 Yards

John Bates: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 19 Yards

Dyami Brown: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 11 Yards

 

After being missed badly over the top by his quarterback for a long score in the first half, Brown was then thrown behind missing out on an easy touchdown out of slot in the fourth quarter. It is encouraging that his role is relevant but right now it looks like he is firmly in the boom or bust category. And there is not a lot of boom on his record!

 

Byron Pringle: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 10 Yards

Cole Turner: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 9 Yards

 

Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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