What We Saw: Bears @ Patriots

Mike Miklius recaps what he saw in the Bears' upset of the Patriots on Monday Night Football.

Bears @ Patriots

Final Score: Bears 33, Patriots 14

Writer: Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)

 

After a New England punt to start this game, the Bears marched down the field–looking like a surprisingly competent offense–and settled for a field goal. New England sputtered into another three-and-out followed by a long Chicago drive capped off by a Justin Fields 3-yard touchdown run. New England’s third drive ended with an excellent play by Bears rookie safety Jaquan Brisker to intercept Mac Jones and Jones’ day was done. Bill Belichick had seen enough. Bailey Zappe came in, and the momentum change was immediate. The Patriots’ defense forced a quick punt and Zappe threw a 30-yard touchdown pass. After a Justin Fields interception, Zappe hit Devante Parker for a 43-yard gain and the Patriots scored their second touchdown two plays later. At this point, it felt like the game would soon turn into a Patriots romp and everyone in Gillette Stadium had Zappe Fever. Well, sometimes the backup is a backup for a reason.

Following that drive–and the Patriots taking a 14-10 lead–New England didn’t score again. The Bears answered New England with a touchdown of their own, making it a 17-14 game. Bailey Zappe lost a fumble on the Pats’ next drive and the Bears made it 20-14 at the half. The Bears put up a pair of field goals and one last touchdown, leaving us with the 33-14 final score. This was a messy game with constant rain falling and plenty of mistakes. Chicago had five fumbles and a pick while New England had three interceptions and a fumble of their own. Here’s everything I saw tonight.

 

Chicago Bears

 

Quarterback

 

Justin Fields: 13/21, 179 Yards, TD, INT | 14 Carries, 82 Yards, TD, 4 Fumbles (2 Recovered)

 

Justin Fields had a mostly good night tonight. I say this despite the stat line glaringly reading ‘interception and 4 fumbles. With the rain falling, the Bears’ offense suffered a handful of miscues–often leading to a fumble. There were two bad snaps I saw as well as a botched pitch to David Montgomery that was credited to Fields. The last fumble came on a hit and is a play I blame Fields on; he is better at protecting the ball than last year, but he could still improve. As a runner, Fields was electric tonight. He did a great job avoiding rushers, and he picked up huge chunks on a number of plays. The play-calling clearly designed more runs for Fields, and he capitalized. I expect to see more of this moving forward given the success.

Fields also looked good as a passer, granting it wasn’t all good. On the Bears’ first drive, Fields found a wide-open Darnell Mooney for a 20-yard gain. Fields found Equanimeous St. Brown for 11 yards on the next play–again pretty wide open. On the Bears’ second drive, Fields found ESB for 19 yards after scrambling from the pocket. He finished the drive with his three-yard touchdown run. Fields’ worst plays of the day came on the team’s third and fourth drives. On the third drive, a defender read Fields and nearly picked him off. A subsequent sack forced a punt. On the fourth drive, Fields’ pass was tipped at the line and New England hauled in the pick. This was a big step in the right direction, and this is the kind of game Fields truthers are going to point to. I watch it and see improvement, but I grant that there is still more improvement necessary. Fields has a brutal matchup against Dallas–and their ferocious pass rush–next week.

 

Running Back

 

Khalil Herbert: 12 Carries, 62 Yards | 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 25 Yards, TD

David Montgomery: 15 Carries, 62 Yards, TD, 1 Fumble (Recovered)

Trestan Ebner: 3 Carries, 8 Yards

 

David Montgomery started the game and dominated touches early on. It had the look of a workhorse performance with a few trademark Montgomery runs: plays where he refused to go down, and turned stops into gains or gains into big gains. My favorite Montgomery run came in the second half. He looked stopped, but kept pushing and picked up an extra five yards on the play. Montgomery would find the endzone to cap the drive off.

Khalil Herbert spelled Montgomery and actually out-snapped him in the second half. He ran well, doing a great job to avoid contact and make the most of his chances. Herbert still strikes me as the better runner, but Montgomery looks like the better pass-blocker and he seems to be a strong presence in the locker room. Don’t expect a change here anytime soon.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Dante Pettis: 1 Carry, 29 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 2 Yards | 1 Fumble (Recovered)

Darnell Mooney: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 53 Yards

Equanimeous St. Brown: 7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 48 Yards

Cole Kmet: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 32 Yards

N’Keal Harry: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 14 Yards

Ryan Griffin: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 5 Yards

 

The Bears’ passing game had life tonight! So is anyone here useful? Darnell Mooney had a solid day and almost made it a big one. Mooney found open space for a big 20-yard catch on the team’s first drive. The defense doubled Mooney on the next play, allowing for an easy completion to ESB. Mooney’s next catch was a 16-yarder on the team’s fifth drive on a nice strike from Fields. Mooney caught another important first on the next drive. The biggest missed opportunity came in the second half. Darnell Mooney was facing single coverage and had a half-step on his defender. Fields saw it and just missed it. If the Bears can tighten these plays up, Mooney could shift from being a flex to a weekly starter. This is a step in the right direction and something to watch.

Equanimeous St Brown was the team’s clear number two today and benefited from the Patriots watching Darnell Mooney. He has been excellent as a run blocker, and he is locked in his role.

Cole Kmet made a couple of nice catches, including a 26-yard grab leading to a Bears field goal that made it a two-score game. He is not on my radar though in any leagues.

 

New England Patriots

 

Quarterback

 

Bailey Zappe: 14/22, 185 Yards, TD, 2 INT | 2 Carries, -1 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)

Mac Jones: 3/6, 13 Yards, INT | 3 Carries, 24 Yards

 

This was a nightmare for Mac Jones. Jones was finally returning from injury, and he was greeted by chants for Bailey Zappe right from the start. Jones and the offense struggled early, and Jones seemed a bit frazzled early on. Everything looked a little shaky and he didn’t have time to settle in given the quick pull from his coach. Jones’ interception was a poor decision, thrown into a net of defenders. It was an amazing play by the Bears’ defender, but a poor decision by Jones.

Bailey Zappe took over and preceded to pluck a four-leaf clover from the turf moments before his first drive began. Zappe hit a wide-open Rhamondre Stevenson for 20 yards on a wheel route. The next play, he hit a wide-open Jakobi Meyers deep for the 30-yard touchdown. I was honestly shocked at how terrible the defense looked on both plays, and felt for Jones–who saw no help during his three drives. On Zappe’s next drive, he made a beautiful sideline throw to Devante Parker for 43 yards. This was the highlight play of the day for the Patriots and a great throw and catch. After this pass, I understood Zappe-a-mania and figured the Bears were toast. Two Stevenson runs capped the drive and it was 14-10 Patriots. At that point, Zappe was 4/4 with 97 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, that was the end of the Zappe show. On the Patriots’ next drive, they lost a fumble from Zappe. He also threw two picks in the second half; the first was a ball tipped at the line, and a play I can forgive. The second was bad. Zappe was pressured but had Tyquan Thornton open across the middle. Zappe threw the ball short, allowing the defender to adjust and pick it off. If he threw a more accurate pass, it could have been a huge gain for the Pats. While Zappe created an initial spark, he ultimately fell flat despite all the momentum in the world behind him. I assume Jones should be back in as the starter moving forward.

 

Running Back

 

Rhamondre Stevenson: 11 Carries, 39 Yards, TD | 8 Targets, 8 Receptions, 59 Yards

Damien Harris: 3 Carries, 8 Yards | 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 2 Yards

 

Rhamondre Stevenson was the lead dog for the Patriots’ backfield, but their running game was mostly bottled up. Stevenson did most of his damage threw the air as Chicago seemed happy to give him as many short catches as he wanted. It felt like every drive he was catching a ball, and his biggest play of the day was a wheel route shortly after Bailey Zappe came in. Stevenson was fine but didn’t show anything electric to me today. I put this more on New England struggling to establish their rushing attack.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

DeVante Parker: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 68 Yards

Jakobi Meyers: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 34 Yards, TD

Tyquan Thornton: 5 Targets, 1 Reception, 19 Yards

Hunter Henry: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 12 Yards

Jonnu Smith: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 4 Yards

 

Devante Parker made the catch of the day for New England on a beautiful sideline grab leading to the team’s second touchdown. Parker ran a deep route and gained a step on his defender. He was also facing a safety, but pulled in a great pass and kept his team moving.

Tyquan Thornton almost had a big play when he badly beat Bears rookie corner Kyler Gordon, but an inaccurate pass turned it into an interception. Thornton had plenty of space and should have had a huge gain on the play.

Jakobi Meyers’ touchdown was a wide-open catch where he fell to the turf with the ball. He was still untouched, so he got up and lunged for the endzone. I cannot endorse starting any of these receivers right now based on what we saw today.

 

 

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@justparadesigns on Twitter)

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