Dhruv Koul shares his in-game reactions, thoughts and observations from the Bears-Rams game at So-Fi Stadium.  Follow him on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.



INGLEWOOD, Calif. — We officially made it to Week 1 Sunday.  While the NFL season kicked off on Thursday night with Tampa Bay’s escape against Dallas, the Chicago Bears (and broader NFL) kicks off the 2021 season today.  The Bears open on Sunday Night Football, marking the third season opener of the Bears that Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michelle Tafoya have called during Matt Nagy’s tenure.

The circumstances around the Bears’ season are well documented.  The Bears have two new QBs — with Andy Dalton starting tonight and prized rookie Justin Fields manning the backup spot, much to the chagrin of Bears fans as it relates to embattled head coach Matt Nagy.  However!

Should be an interesting storyline to follow tonight.

Meanwhile, the Rams catapulted themselves as serious NFC/Super Bowl contenders with their trade for Matthew Stafford.  His acquisition should compensate for the loss of star DC Brandon Staley, who left for the LA Chargers’ head coaching job.

It was expected to be a fun opening game in prime time for the Bears.

In the end, the Bears weathered an early storm, played competitive football for a good part of the game, before simply getting overwhelmed by the Rams’ star power.

I shared my in-game reactions, thoughts and observations from the game below.  Follow me on Twitter @DhruvKoul to continue the conversation.

Thoughts and Observations

(PRE-GAME 1) — Eddie Goldman being out for this game is a huge loss for the Bears.  Goldman, who was expected to help Roquan Smith, Akiem Hicks and others, looked great in preseason, but the Bears won’t have him for a key NFC showdown to start the season.  Also, Duke Shelley being inactive was a surprise.  I suppose either Marqui Christian or Xavier Crawford (!!) could be the starting nickel CB; or, the Bears could opt for more Dime looks with DeAndre Houston-Carson and Deon Bush also taking the field.

(PRE-GAME 2) — The Packers, Vikings and Lions all lost in Week 1.  The Lions’ valiant effort after a massive deficit fell short against San Francisco.  The Vikings fell in overtime in Cincinnati.  And the Packers got their doors blown off against New Orleans.  The Bears were guaranteed to be, at-worst, tied for first in the NFC North tonight.

1. That’s about as wild a start you can have to a season.  Khalil Herbert took the opening kickoff 50 yards (from eight yards deep) to set up the Bears at their own 42.  On second down, David Montgomery ripped off a big run into the red zone.  Then Justin Fields made an appearance!  Then a false start happened.  Then Andy Dalton was picked on 3rd down in the end zone.  A brutal end to a promising first drive for the Bears…

2. Spoiler alert, Matthew Stafford’s first Rams drive ended with a 67-yard touchdown bomb (a beauty).  Eddie Jackson had a chance at the tackle while the WR was on the ground, but nope.  A totally brutal start for Chicago.  It appears it’ll be a LONG night for the Bears already.

3. The first quarter ends as a total debacle.  The Bears are down 10-0 with the Rams driving again.  The Bears have been picked in the end zone, missed a wide open Cole Kmet on 4th down (opting to throw to a covered Allen Robinson that dropped incomplete), and then gotten Dalton sacked/stripped on another 4th down from Rams territory.

Justin Fields made another appearance (a flip to Marquise Goodwin on an sweep that was blown up for a loss of two yards).  The game plan just doesn’t make a lot of sense, and the Rams are threatening to blow it open early in the second quarter.  It’s 13-0.

4. That’s the break the Bears needed.  An excellent punt by Pat O’Donnell set LA up inside their own 20.  Then Akiem Hicks got a coverage sack on Matthew Stafford.  A punt set the Bears up in good field position, and they showed excellent rhythm to drive down for a touchdown before halftime.  Andy Dalton was efficient on the drive, and David Montgomery was outstanding, powering his way to tough-earned yards.

Quite frankly, the Bears have settled in quite well…

The game goes to halftime with LA up 13-7 and getting the ball back after halftime.

5. This third quarter has been something.  The Rams opened with an immediate quick-drive bomb TD to Cooper Kupp (blown assignment on defense) to go up 20-7 and look alive again.

But the Bears put together an extremely efficient, lengthy response which ended on Justin Fields’ first career touchdown — a run.  The drive featured some key throws by Andy Dalton (including a huge third down to Jimmy Graham) before Fields’ touchdown.  The Bears are hanging around…

6. But of course, the Bears’ secondary bug bit again on the next drive.  Stafford made it look easy.  The Stafford-McVay marriage looks very strong tonight (and this is their first game together after no preseason action.  It’s 27-14.

Meanwhile, for Sean Desai:

7. Another solid drive in response got derailed when Dalton, in significantly plus territory, took a big sack.  A Cole Kmet drop and a Kmet 10-yard reception later, the Bears opted to go for it on 4th and 15 with 10 minutes left in the game.  Obviously, they didn’t get it.  But I’m not sure I really hate the decision.

A chance at a penalty or some other boost would’ve been an added benefit than making it a 10 point game there.  The Bears have truly not had any answers for Sean McVay in the second half.

8. The Bears can’t afford to tackle or cover as poorly as they have tonight.  It’s been abysmal.  They’ll lose to *everyone* if it doesn’t improve.

9. Very happy for Matthew Stafford.  He’s endured so much nonsense in Detroit; he deserves a scenario where he’ll be adequately supported.  We saw that tonight (with a lot of help from the Bears’ defense).  The Rams are going to be extremely fun in 2021.

10. I saw reasons for optimism in this game from the Bears — enough to think that they’ll be okay.  They have a LOT to fix, but Bears fans who believe the offense played *poorly* are mistaken.

11. The Bears open their home schedule next Sunday at Soldier Field against the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Bengals escaped in overtime at home against Minnesota to get to 1-0.  They looked competent at times on offense but looked solid on defense, surprisingly.  That, too, against a solid set of Vikings offensive players.  I expect the Bears to have their hands full, but their performance tonight, while maybe not reflected in the score, shows they might be… okay?  The Bears pull off a close one.

Early prediction: Bears 23, Bengals 20.

Dhruv Koul
Covering the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls @SportsMockery. Chelsea FC fan. Jay Cutler stan.