Bears @ Buccaneers
Final Score: Bears 24, Buccaneers 13
Senior Writer: Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)
Tampa Bay headed into week 2 high off of an upset of the Minnesota Vikings while the Chicago Bears came in from the lowest of lows: a blowout loss to the rival Green Bay Packers. The Bucs were trying to stay hot while Bears fans just wanted to see anything–literally anything–positive to get excited about. The Bucs started the game with a long, steady drive that stalled into a field goal. Justin Fields answered with a quick touchdown drive starring DJ Moore to make it 7-3. Tampa Bay went on another long drive, seeing their field goal attempt blocked. At this point, Chicago saw a glimmer of hope for the remaining season; they had some small signs of life. Chicago had a quick three-and-out before a fast Bucs touchdown thanks to a 70-yard catch and run from Mike Evans. The teams traded a pair of field goals to make it 13-10 Tampa Bay at the half. Both offenses stalled in the third quarter, but Baker Mayfield did find Mike Evans for a 32-yard score. Chicago had one good drive in the fourth ending with Justin Fields to Chase Claypool for 6. Chicago had a late chance for the win, but Justin Fields threw an ill-advised screen pass to D-lineman Shaq Barrett that turned into a defensive score. Tampa Bay improves to 2-0 and faces Philadelphia next week. Chicago is now 0-2 and heads to Kansas City. Let’s dive into the numbers.
- Baker Mayfield played well and avoided two sure sacks
- Mike Evans was a beast today
- DJ Moore looked great on every touch and needs more.
- Khalil Herbert ran well and deserves more carries
- Aside from two drives, Justin Fields looked afraid to throw today and didn’t run much
- Tampa Bay’s running game was nothing special
- Chicago’s defense is terrible; target it every week
Justin Fields: 16/29, 211 Yards, TD, 2 INT | 4 Carries, 3 Yards, TD, 1 Fumble (Recovered)
Justin Fields looked great on the team’s first drive, hitting DJ Moore with a well-placed 32-yard pass and later hitting DJ Moore for another nice gain. He scrambled in for the score. After that, it was ugly. To start the next drive, Fields was sacked thanks to a miscommunication by his right tackle and tight end. On third down, He sat in the pocket too long and eventually was sacked. The third drive saw an inaccurate pass to Chase Claypool and then a poorly designed screen on third down. Fields had some nice moments, most of which came on the team’s three scoring drives. Generally, though, he just took too long to process the field. There was one play in particular where Fields had a guy open deep in front of him and never took the shot. It wasn’t NFL-open but in fact WIDE open. Blame the coaching, blame the offensive line, or blame Fields himself. I don’t really care to be honest. The problem is plain as day: Justin Fields has trouble hitting open guys downfield.
Now let’s step over the corpse of the passing game for a moment and talk about the running. Oh wait, there was no running. It feels like the coaches told Fields to hang in the pocket in an effort to make him become a passer. It just isn’t working, and every Bears fan knows it. Fields needs to run if he has any chance of showing future starter potential. Unless things change in a big way in Chicago, Fields offers nothing of interest.
- Fields had a deep shot open that could have been another touchdown
Khalil Herbert: 7 Carries, 35 Yards | 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 23 Yards
Khalil Herbert saw eight touches and had a nice catch called back. He shows the most explosiveness in the backfield and should still be the leader moving forward. Herbert also shows improvement as a pass catcher, which is important given how Chicago likes to throw screens this season. I can’t fully trust and back here, but Herbert clearly shows the most talent in this backfield.
Roschon Johnson: 4 Carries, 32 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 10 Yards
Despite three fewer carries, Roschon Johnson nearly matched Khalil Herbert in yardage; let’s look closer. Johnson had the longest run of the day on a 29-yard dash to the left when he went almost completely untouched. Roschon looked quick, but he lacked the shiftiness I see in Herbert. At the end of his run, he tried to juke a defender but he didn’t bite–Roschon’s happy feet just took away his momentum when he probably should have hammered the defender instead. He runs hard and has good hands, but I prefer some more pop from my lead back. Roschon should be the clear backup to Herbert though with Foreman scratched from this one.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DJ Moore: 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 104 Yards
DJ Moore was targeted early after his two-target, two-catch outing last week. The first Bears play was a 32-yard completion to Moore, who was open and ran well with the ball. Three plays later, Fields hit Moore again for another 31 yards including another nice run after catch. That was mostly it for the first half. Moore saw consecutive catches late for 28 and 10 and he posted the first 100-yard day for a Bears receiver in 2023. Moore looks excellent. He fully deserves whatever praise he gets. The problem is that this passing attack is dysfunctional. Poor DJ Moore is stuck with another terrible passing attack.
Cole Kmet: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 38 Yards
Cole Kmet had an up-and-down day. He blew an early block leading to a sack. He had a chance for a long catch on the fourth drive but was hit hard and lost the ball. Fields went back to Kmet on the next two plays for consecutive gains of eleven. Kmet is a capable receiver and could flourish in a great offense, but he is a questionable blocker and not an elite talent.
Chase Claypool: 8 Targets, 3 Receptions, 36 Yards, TD
Robert Tonyan: 2 Targets
Darnell Mooney: 0 Targets
Darnell Mooney left the game with a knee injury.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield: 26/34, 317 Yards, TD | 6 Carries, 17 Yards, 1 Fumble (Recovered)
Baker Mayfield played well today, keeping drives going and avoiding bad plays. The most impressive number in this box score is the ‘zero sacks’. Mayfield was dead to rights on a handful of snaps but riggled out of it each time. There was a play where Mayfield was wrapped but slithered out. It happened again later on. Mayfield threw quick shovel passes on two occasions to escape other sacks. It was something to see. As a thrower, Mayfield did a great job taking what the defense gave him. I can’t count how many times this team targeted Chicago rookie defensive back Tyrique Stevenson. It worked well; Stevenson gave up more than 100 yards and was overwhelmed by Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Baker missed some open throws too, but he was good enough to get the win. Now I will give a word of warning: Baker seems destined to look awful against a real defense. At some point, a competent defense is going to stop this team in its tracks. For today, though, it looked great.
Rachaad White: 17 Carries, 73 Yards, TD | 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 30 Yards
Rachaad White was the clear lead for Tampa Bay, but he was mostly uninspiring. He was bottled up early in what looked like a good matchup. Chicago is weak across the defensive line and I thought White would feast. He had a few good runs, but mostly I wasn’t impressed. I just don’t see much worth chasing in this backfield. Still, White was the clear leader
Chase Edmonds: 2 Carries, 12 Yards
Sean Tucker: 8 Carries, 7 Yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Mike Evans: 8 Targets, 6 Receptions, 171 Yards, TD
Mike Evans was a menace today, averaging almost 29 yards per reception on his six touches. On the Bucs’ first drive, Evans caught a 20-yard first down against rookie corner Tyrique Stevenson. His biggest catch started the third drive. Playing against Tyrique Stevenson again, he made a lot of contact and Stevenson fell down. Evans caught the ball and ran free for 70–getting run down before he could reach the endzone. Evans started the third quarter with another great catch, tightrope-ing the sideline for 36 yards. Evans was fun to watch in this one as he feasted against an overmatched defense.
Chris Godwin: 8 Targets, 5 Receptions, 58 Yards
Chris Godwin also played well today, but he didn’t see the long shots Evans did. Godwin made a first-down catch early, saving Baker Mayfield from a blitz. He was open for a touchdown to end the drive, but Baker missed him. Godwin caught a 23-yard pass on the team’s next drive against rookie corner Tyrique Stevenson (remember him from the Evans section?). Godwin almost had another pair of receptions on top, but he tripped on one and another was called back for an illegal block. Overall, I think Godwin looked better than his stats showed today.
Cade Otton: 6 Targets, 6 Receptions, 41 Yards
Cade Otton was a reliable target today, but he never showed me much in terms of upside. It felt like he was quickly swarmed on every reception and didn’t offer much after the catch.
Trey Palmer: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 20 Yards
Rakim Jarrett: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 7 Yards
Deven Thompkins: 1 Carry, 11 Yards