What We Learned

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2022 NFL season, Week 7: What We Learned from Bears' win over Patriots on Monday 

Chicago Bears
2022 · 3-4-0

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  1. Justin Fields is just scratching the surface of his potential. Last week, the Bears tried to force Fields to play in a style that doesn't fit his skillset. This week, they let him do what he does best, and the results proved it was the right call. Fields completed 13 of 21 passes for 179 yards, one touchdown and one interception (off a deflection), and he also led the Bears in rushing with 82 yards and one touchdown on 14 attempts. For perhaps the first time in his career (unless we count last season's Monday night showing in Pittsburgh), Fields was consistently effective in key scenarios, helping the Bears convert 11 of 18 third-down attempts and gaining 10 of them via a Fields pass or run. Most importantly, Monday night felt like a long-awaited breakthrough for Fields and the Chicago offense. The Bears tossed their scheme aside and adapted to their quarterback, who is still taking way too many crushing hits, but continues to stand tall and deliver passes with rushers bearing down on him. It paid off handsomely and gave us a glimpse of what Chicago's future could look like with Fields, provided they keep letting him play his brand of football.
  2. The Patriots have a quarterback controversy. Bill Belichick can claim his decision to replace Mac Jones with Bailey Zappe was part of his game plan, but the immediate results and eventual decline suggest otherwise. Jones started the game and struggled, completing 3 of 6 passes for 13 yards and an ugly interception, while Zappe's insertion jump-started New England's offense, leading to two touchdowns and a 14-10 lead in a game in which the Patriots lacked energy offensively prior to Zappe's arrival. At halftime, Belichick said both quarterbacks would play in the second half -- and then Jones spent the entirety of the final two quarters on the bench. Zappe was clearly the better option in this contest, but New England's change in offensive approach with Zappe (e.g., more play-action passes) also raised an eyebrow, suggesting New England feels more comfortable mixing it up with the rookie in the game. So did Zappe's second-half performance, which paled in comparison to his instant success of the first half. He admitted afterward he can't afford to "fall off like I did," failing to keep the positive momentum going in the third and fourth quarters. That admission, while honest, also adds to the uncertainty regarding the position. This storyline isn't going away any time soon.
  3. Extra time to prepare paid off for Luke Getsy. Chicago's offense was putrid in its prime-time loss to Washington in Week 6, a game the Bears likely wish they had back because of some key coaching errors in crucial situations. Given 10 days to prepare for Belichick's Patriots, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy capitalized. Chicago got Fields moving early with designed rollouts and runs, allowing the athletic quarterback to evade New England's pass rush and find throwing windows early and often. A healthy mix of handoffs to David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert revealed a potent one-two punch in the backfield, resulting in 124 rushing yards and a touchdown on 27 attempts. Combining Fields' ability to extend the play and find open targets with the Montgomery-Herbert rushing attack was a remarkably wise decision from Getsy, producing an effective Bears offense folks in Chicago haven't seen in years. It was only one game, but it sure felt like a turning point for this new staff and its young cast of playmakers.
  4. Chicago's defense makes a statement. The narrative this week will revolve around Fields' performance in Foxborough, but we'd be remiss to overlook the Bears' defense. Chicago forced four turnovers on the night, intercepting Jones and Zappe three times and recovering a fumble that led to a key field goal just before the half. Oddly enough, Chicago created virtually zero pressure against Zappe and Jones, yet the Bears were able to force turnovers with a defensive backfield that has two emerging studs in Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon (pay attention to them, folks -- they're good) and a well-known star in Roquan Smith. The Bears were also able to take a close game at halftime and turn it into a blowout, forcing two straight three-and-outs to start the second half while their offense tacked on six points via field goals. Two fourth-quarter interceptions punctuated a total team victory for the Bears, who will fly back to Chicago with wide smiles after recording the franchise's first win in Foxborough in its history.
  5. Belichick's historic moment will have to wait another week. The Patriots coach entered Monday night with a chance to surpass the legendary George Halas in all-time wins (including playoffs). All he had to do was defeat Papa Bear's team. On paper, the Patriots appeared to have the upper hand, but instability at quarterback and an inability to sustain drives and avoid turnovers doomed the Patriots. By the time Montgomery scored from one yard out early in the fourth, it was clear Belichick wasn't going to make history in storybook fashion. Instead of quietly acknowledging a landmark victory in a Hall of Fame career, Belichick will instead spend the next week attempting to correct New England's many mistakes and reposition them for success following a game that stands as a clear setback for the 3-4 Patriots.


Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Fields completed 6 of 7 passes for 104 yards on the run, and rushed 12 times for 63 yards and one touchdown on designed runs.


NFL Research: Chicago's 33-14 win over the Patriots was the highest-scoring game for the Bears with Justin Fields in the starting lineup since he was selected 11th overall in 2021.


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