Bears risers and fallers after Week 3 win over Texans

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The Bears got an ugly win in Week 3 as they beat the Texans 23-20 at Soldier Field. Once again the passing attack look anemic, while the rushing attack carried the load on offense. On defense, the team made improvements to tackle the ball carriers more effectively, but new questions arose on the defensive line. For every big play made to put the team in a favorable position, there was another ineffective play to push them back. Here are the biggest risers and fallers from Week 3.

RISERS

KHALIL HERBERT

For the second-straight season, Herbert stepped in for an injured David Montgomery, and helped the rushing offense to not miss a beat. Despite coming in halfway through the first quarter, Herbert set several career highs, including yards in a game (157), longest rush (52) and most rushing touchdowns in a game (2). He looked shifty, speedy and strong, and followed his blocks well. Matt Eberflus was optimistic about Montgomery’s outlook, saying he’s day-to-day, so Herbert may return to his backup role as soon as next week. But if Montgomery does miss time, the Bears should be able to confidently run the ball anyways.

ROQUAN SMITH

In Week 2, Smith looked slow to the football and struggled to get off blocks to make plays. He didn’t play a perfect game in Week 3, but he essentially won the game with his fourth-quarter interception. By the late stages of the second half, gruesome play from each offense made it look like the Bears and Texans could be headed for some dismal overtime play. It was Smith’s critical interception and ensuing 18 yard return with just 1:13 left in the game that allowed the Bears to kick a game-winning field goal after running the clock down with a couple of kneel downs. Besides that one play, Smith was much quicker to ball carriers and ended up leading the team in both tackles (16) and TFLs (2). This was a big step for Smith to become the type of WILL linebacker that can make Eberflus’ defense thrive.

EDDIE JACKSON

Coming into this season, Eddie Jackson hadn’t intercepted a football in two years. Now, he’s got two interceptions in just three games. Sunday’s came in a crucial moment as well, since it bailed out Justin Fields who had just thrown a pick of his own to give the Texans great field position. Eddie Jackson was close to creating a second takeaway too, when he punched the ball out of Dameon Pierce’s hands in the first quarter. That could’ve given the Bears an instant red zone opportunity, but the Texans recovered the ball and were able to continue their drive. Jackson has clearly taken H.I.T.S. to heart, and has been around the football a ton, so far. He’s continued to improve his tackling, too, and looks to be one of the team’s best players once again.

FALLERS

JUSTIN FIELDS

Fields did not mince words when evaluating his game on Sunday. “Straight up, I played likeー I want to say the “a” word, but I won’t, so I’ll say I just played like trash,” Fields said. “Played terrible, and really just gotta be better.” It’s a harsh critique, but a fair one. Fields accepted the blame for each of his two interceptions, saying he made bad throws on each of them, in addition to making a bad decision on the interception that was intended for Darnell Mooney. It wasn’t just the two picks that plagued Fields, however. He missed open receivers and overthrew balls throughout the game. Instead of taking a step forward, Fields and the offense took a step back. On the day, Fields completed 8-17 passes for 106 yards, no touchdowns and the two interceptions. That’s one week removed from an equally paltry 7-11 for 70 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Even those with the utmost confidence in Fields should have some concern about his slow start to the season.

DARNELL MOONEY

Fields deserves his share of the blame for his poor play, but Mooney hasn’t done much to help him. The Bears have clearly tried scheming ways to get Mooney the ball, and he hasn’t been able to come through, whether it’s not getting open on a play designed for him, or dropping a ball on a wide open screen. After the game, multiple reporters saw Mooney head back into the field, in full pads to catch more balls on the JUGS machine, but that work alone probably won’t be enough to fix what ails him. Through three games, Mooney only has four catches for 27 yards. Without him it’s hard to see how the Bears can take the next step in their passing game, so they need to figure out why he’s not producing in this offense, ASAP.

ENTIRE DEFENSIVE LINE

The Bears pass rush had been one of its brightest spots over the first two weeks of the season. The team had struggled to stop the run, but when they did manage to get teams in 3rd-and-long situations, players like Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson and Dominique Robinson combined to put pressure on opposing QBs. Coming into Week 3, Houston had struggled in the trenches, allowed six sacks, 11 QB hits and nine TFLs. It looked like an opportunity for the Bears defensive line to feast. Instead, it was the Texans offensive line that was the beefier unit, and the Bears defense struggled to generate any pressure on Davis Mills. Alan Williams even tried mixing things up, like bringing rare blitzes, or having Gipson move inside to defensive tackle, but not much worked. Justin Jones notched the team’s only sack in the fourth quarter, and Mills was only hit three times. In the run game, the defensive linemen struggled to get much penetration and ended with only one TFL. Eberflus and Williams’ scheme is predicated on getting disruption in the backfield from their four down linemen, so that unit will have to step it up moving forward.

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