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2023 NFL season, Week 12: What We Learned from Bears' win over Vikings on Monday night

Chicago Bears
2023 · 4-8-0
Minnesota Vikings
2023 · 6-6-0


  1. Chicago grounds Passtronaut. After two weeks of red-hot play and two wins to show for it, Joshua Dobbs' magic ran out Monday night. Almost nothing worked for the Vikings, and Dobbs didn't help their cause, throwing four interceptions, with three being his fault, and one being the fault of rookie receiver Jordan Addison. When reviewing the numbers, one might come to assume Chicago's defense just got after Dobbs all night in order to shut him down. That wasn't entirely the case. The Bears registered 16 pressures for a rate of 44.4%, which would certainly justify this assumption, but Dobbs also held onto the ball rather long on most of his dropbacks, finishing with an average time to throw of 3.17 seconds. He failed to break the pocket and extend plays frequently, took too many risks, and made as many mistakes as he did in his final few weeks with Arizona. The Bears do deserve credit, though. Anecdotally, Montez Sweat has improved Chicago's pass rush exponentially. Statistically, it's not as drastic, but he certainly made a difference Monday night, leading the Bears in pressures (six) and sacks (1.5). He's providing a much-needed upgrade for a group that also found success with DeMarcus Walker and Yannick Ngakoue. And on Monday night, that combination -- plus an opportunistic back seven that was happy to catch Dobbs' passes for takeaways -- was enough to propel the Bears to a win.
  2. Minnesota's momentum train screeches to a halt. The Vikings were cruising from the middle of October through the middle of November, so much that the Around The NFL podcast crew named them their team of ATN for 2023, but after two straight one-possession losses, all of those good feelings are gone. They've lost two consecutive contests in similar fashion, crumbling in the final minutes, and Monday night's showing was the worse of the two. Dobbs couldn't elevate the offense, and a quality defensive performance evaporated when Justin Fields found DJ Moore for a huge completion in the final minute. They're now 6-6 and clinging to the last wild-card spot in the NFC, with a handful of teams (the Rams, the division-rival Packers and the Saints) all nipping at their heels. And after two painful losses, it's fair to wonder if they've run out of gas. Losses like these tend to sting even more at the end of a season in which the margin for error narrows so much that it threatens to ruin a promising year. Luckily, the bye week awaits the Vikings. They better figure it out before embarking on a five-game finish that includes three dates with NFC North opponents in the final three weeks.
  3. Woof, this Bears offense. Look, you can be a fan of defense and also acknowledge the Bears' offense hurt your eyes Monday night. Both can be true, and it's not an indictment of how you enjoy the game. What was offensive, however, was offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's approach to this game. He wasn't exactly driving on the smoothest track, not with this notoriously leaky offensive line failing to protect Justin Fields against the many different blitzes devised by Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores. And logically, when an offensive line can't stop the overwhelming tide of an opposing pass rush, the next step for a play-caller is to dial up screens. But Getsy called for screens as if he owned a screen warehouse and his company was liquidating its stock before closing for good. Tunnels, bubbles, slips, you name it, Getsy called them all, and only a few picked up more than a few yards. It made for a difficult watch, and an even more frustrating result for Bears fans, who watched Chicago shut down Minnesota defensively and pick off Josh Dobbs three times, and do almost nothing with said takeaways. If Getsy and Fields hadn’t teamed up to piece together a game-winning drive, I wouldn't have been surprised if the Bears made a change at OC in the days or weeks ahead. The only problem: Would it even be possible for a replacement to make it any better? The roster says no, which stinks for those of us who still believe in Fields.
  4. The Justin Fields question persists. It was very obvious Fields didn’t have time to throw early in this game, constantly being forced to evade a rush that seemed to come at him from every direction. Chicago’s shift to screens was Getsy’s answer to this conundrum, but eventually, the Bears needed Fields to make a play or two to wake up their offense. Twice, Fields turned the ball over while running with it, fumbling away a possession. The latter of the two fumbles appeared to doom the Bears, as Minnesota took possession and turned it into a touchdown. And after watching Fields hold on to the ball too long -- so long that the ESPN broadcast crew even noted how he needed to throw it somewhere on one dropback -- it became painfully clear that Bears fans’ gripes about Fields have been substantiated. Plainly, Fields was gun-shy when he couldn’t afford to be. But when he needed to rip a throw downfield in a huge spot, Fields delivered, finding DJ Moore for a gain of 36. The Bears won because of this throw and Cairo Santos’ field goal. And while the evidence is there for Chicago to make a change in the offseason, it’s fair to wonder if his replacement will fare any better without improvements elsewhere. It’s also fair to contemplate whether Fields truly is the problem, or just needs more help from the front office.
  5. Fans of touchdowns, shield your eyes. These two teams combined to score a grand total of one touchdown Monday night. They combined to turn the ball over six times (plus a Vikings turnover on downs). Chicago dominated time of possession by more than 11 minutes, but had just nine points to show for it until the final 10 seconds. Both teams averaged just 4.7 yards per play, and even that average feels high. Each passer averaged roughly 5.8 yards per attempt. It was that kind of ugly Monday night in a game played between an also-ran and a club hoping to mount a playoff run. Because the Vikings lost -- and especially because of the fashion in which they lost -- they have to feel crushed by this outcome. And they have only themselves to blame, while the Bears can be happy about winning a game they probably wouldn’t have won in most instances. This league can be weird sometimes, folks. Monday night was undoubtedly a strange one.


Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Fields completed 14 of his 16 attempts behind the line of scrimmage, both career highs. As a result, Fields averaged the lowest air yards per attempt (2.7) in a game in his career.

NFL Research: The Bears’ win in Week 12 was the first win by any team in 2023 with zero touchdowns scored. It also marked the first win for the Bears without a touchdown scored since Week 5 of the 1993 season (a 6-0 win over Atlanta).

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