Saturday, April 20, 2024

14 Thoughts On The Bears’ Sleepy Christmas Eve Win Over The Cardinals


CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears’ already iffy playoff hopes took an immense hit last Sunday in Cleveland. Leading by 10 in the fourth quarter, the Bears suffered their third double-digit fourth quarter collapse of the season to essentially bow out of the playoff race.

Still, with three games to play, there was a lot riding for many Bears personnel — especially HC Matt Eberflus, OC Luke Getsy and QB Justin Fields. Each of them needed to finish the season strong, either to secure their futures here in Chicago, or audition elsewhere. A Christmas Eve battle at Soldier Field against the woeful Arizona Cardinals served as a prime get-right opportunity heading into the holiday.

In the end, the Bears played with their food much too often for anyone’s liking, but limped to a 27-16 win to keep their playoff lives continuing on life support.

Thoughts and Observations

1. (PRE-GAME) — What was supposed to be a home field advantage today has turned into anything but. You expect Soldier Field to be cold and inhospitable to warm weather teams like Arizona. Instead, kickoff temperatures are in the 50s. The Cardinals catch at least one break today.

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2. Justin Fields missed Cole Kmet on the Bears’ first possession — a late misfire inside on an out-route. But he made up for it with Kmet’s help on the second drive. A 53-yard bomb to Kmet (beautiful adjustment to the ball) set up Chicago on the Arizona 21-yard line. Several plays later, Fields found the end zone on a scramble, putting the Bears up 7-0. This Cardinals team does some neat stuff schematically (Jonathan Gannon is a good defensive coach) — but they have no personnel. This team will be interesting when they add more pieces.

3. Justin Jones has quietly stepped it up since Montez Sweat arrived — and since Gervon Dexter emerged as a legitimate interior presence himself. The Bears’ DBs continue to be strong. Jaylon Johnson with a nice PBU on Trey McBride, and Kyler Gordon with a nice PBU on Rondale Moore from the slot. Through 1Q, Cardinals remain scoreless.

4. Bears’ running game appears all the way back today, after struggling in Cleveland last week. Khalil Herbert’s juice appears to have returned — looking much more explosive and “himself.” He was featured on a 90-yard touchdown drive, capped off with his 10-yard run early in the second quarter to put the Bears up 14-0. Fields also ran for a big gain (designed run), following blocks by Lucas Patrick and Roschon Johnson. Running game is at 98 yards on 12 carries with 12:54 left in 2Q. Luke Getsy has gotten off to a strong start today — mixing in some good, smart calls. And Chicago is executing against a team that may have its mind on Christmas already?

5. After yet another three-and-out from Arizona’s offense, succumbing to a loud Soldier Field, the Bears went right down the field AGAIN to go up 21-0. Some nice runs, a beautiful “leak”-style PA bomb to Kmet (again), and capped by a 1-yard TD pass to Mercedes Lewis (!!!).

Almost makes you think…

Then again… the Cardinals marched right back 75 yards in nine plays to get back to 21-7. A few major breakdowns from the defense there — and they had no answers for James Conner. There is still plenty of game left — Chicago needs to keep the pedal to the metal. With 2:27 left in the first half, the Bears need to respond as the Cardinals get the ball after halftime.

6. Such an ugly end to the first half. Bears’ offense completely stuck in the mud with bad discipline and bad execution. They got lucky on a similarly bad drive by the Cardinals sandwiched in between, and a MASSIVE punt by Trenton Gill before halftime to save on field position. Probably the best punt of his career. Saved points to close the half.

7. Cole Kmet was downgraded to doubtful to return with a knee injury after halftime — not good. He set a career high in yards in the first half and looked simply dominant. He’s been incredible this season.

Midway through the third quarter… it is a sleepy start. Bears up 21-10 after a big field goal from Matt Prater and an exchange of punts that followed.

8. Interesting — cameras caught Luke Getsy and Justin Fields jawing at each other a little bit on the next Bears drive. Not clear what was said, but there was no shortage of words exchanged. Bears still executed a nice drive with a reliance on the running game to burn five minutes off the clock and kick a field goal. They needed that. 24-10. They need more ball possession drives to close out this game.

9. These Bears are a nightmare in the fourth quarter. An excellent, smash-mouth drive by the offense got the Bears to midfield. And then Justin Fields broke off an electric 39-yard run to the Cardinals’ 15-yard line. On the very next play, he threw a terrible floater that was picked in the end zone. A chance to go up three scores went up in flames. The total Jekyll-and-Hyde experience of Justin Fields.

10. Unbelievable. A phantom hold on 4th and 2 called on Jaquan Brisker kept a drive alive for the Cardinals. After Kyler Murray badly underthrew an easy TD to Michael Wilson on second down, he beat Cover-0 on the next play and Greg Dortch took it all the way for a touchdown. 24-16. The Bears are a predictable football team. The lack of killer instinct is remarkable.

On the ensuing drive, the Bears go three-and-out after a 3rd and 1 Wildcat run from Roschon Johnson got stuffed. It’s unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

11. Interesting… Jonathan Gannon decided to go for it on 4th and 6 from his own 27-yard line… despite having all three timeouts AND the two-minute warning. Murray tried to hit Dortch again on a deep ball, but it fell incomplete. Bears take over in plus territory and already in FG range. I think Gannon did the Bears a real favor here. Surprising.

12. Justin Fields hit DJ Moore on 3rd and 4 for a first down at the two minute warning and that should just about wrap this game up. After several failures earlier in the quarter, the defense and offense both make a play when absolutely needed to seal a win against a terrible Cardinals team.

Cairo Santos paid back his four-year extension announced on Saturday with two clutch field goals to seal the win.

13. Not sure how good the Bears can really feel about this one — especially the front office. Yes, a win is a win. But with the way things were going, Chicago should’ve absolutely boat raced the Cardinals out of Soldier Field. Just an odd game lacking rhythm. An indictment on the coaching staff, certainly. And Fields again with a ton of inconsistent play. Basically, just another day at the office. But heading into Christmas Day, the Bears will take it.

14. The Bears head to Week 17 still mathematically alive in the playoff race, albeit only just. And they host the Atlanta Falcons on New Year’s eve in the season’s home finale. Possibly Justin Fields’ final game at Soldier Field as a member of the Bears? Same for Matt Eberflus? We’ll see.

Early prediction: Bears 17, Falcons 16.


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Dec 25, 2023 9:10 am

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Last edited 3 months ago by CherChristina
Dec 25, 2023 2:49 am

Atleast we got a win. As many times as this team has gotten smacked around on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 you’d think our offense would stop with the stupid “cute” BS. You line up in the Freakin I formation, you have your fullback smash someone in the mouth and your halfback runs it down their throat. Once and awhile a play action pass to mix it up. On inches to go, maybe try what Philadelphia does? Qb sneak with players pushing behind? I never thought a win could feel so bad still. You see so much potential… Read more »

Dec 25, 2023 12:28 am

I wouldn’t read too much into Getsy and Fields. You know how people get with Yankee Swap.

Dec 24, 2023 9:26 pm

I don’t know who was watching what, but what I saw, was some very poor play calling. A player has to be in the right system to thrive! It’s not rocket science. You can see, how many times did Justin Fields roll out and there was nothing but space in front of him? But he kept looking down field. Why? When Jalen Hurts does it, he’s a genius! He’s so skilled. When Kyler Murphy does it, well, what an athlete! When Justin Fields does it, everyone’s moaning and complaining, people who have no business making judgment are doing just that.… Read more »

Dec 24, 2023 7:52 pm

What was he jawing with Getsy about?
I have no idea what he is thinking, with the interception, but I also wonder about the lack of receiver options on every play. Do they consider throwing to backs out of the backfield with this team?

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