Don’t look now, but is the Bears offense on its way to carrying the defense? For the second week in a row, the offense and Justin Fields took a step in the right direction and outpaced their season average in scoring. Coming into Week 8, the Bears had averaged 18 points per game. On Sunday they put up 29 points.
What made the performance even more impressive was that they did it against the Cowboys defense. Dallas had been second-best in the NFL, allowing only 14.9 points per game. Their previous high had been giving up 26 points to the high-flying Eagles offense.
“It’s good, it’s positive,” said Matt Eberflus. “It’s a positive thing for the guys. I think they’re starting to really jell. You can see that now that we’ve implemented some things that are really enhancing the skill levels of our players. I think it’s really starting to open some things for us and it’s a real positive.”
Since the Bears’ mini-bye between the Commanders game in Week 6 and the Patriots game in Week 7 we have seen a real change in the Bears offense. Personnel changes like adding Michael Schofield to the offensive line at left guard have helped, but so have some scheme changes. We’ve seen more moving pockets and rollouts. Most importantly, we’ve seen the Bears use Fields on designed runs more often.
“He’s got good instincts that way,” said Eberflus. “He knows situational football when he’s got to get the prescribed down and distance. I think he’s growing that way, for sure.”
The success of the run game as a whole has been the biggest factor in the Bears’ offensive resurgence. They started this season with the goal of creating an identity on offense with their run game, and they've succeeded. For two weeks, the Bears have boasted the top rushing attack in the league, and even when defenses know the Bears’ plan on the ground, they’ve been able to succeed. On Sunday the Bears remained dedicated to the run, and gained 240 yards on 42 carries, good for a 5.6 YPC average. They added two rushing touchdowns. That makes three-straight weeks of 200+ rushing yards, a feat the Bears haven’t accomplished since 1968 when Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo were leading the charge.
“I don’t think that’s a secret at this point,” Cole Kmet told NBC Sports Chicago. “They were prepared for it but we were still able to run that football. When you got guys like Khalil, David and Justin in the backfield, and you got guys like Velus and some of the receivers we got with Dante and Mooney, we hit those sweeps on the run and it really puts defenses on their heels.”
The ability to run the ball effectively has helped the pass game gain some momentum, and Fields has executed better as a passer, too. Besides underthrowing Equanimeous St. Brown on the first offensive play of the game, Fields was incredibly accurate and gave his receivers to make plays. Guys like Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and N’Keal Harry did well to generate separation to do their part as well.
“I think I’m just getting more comfortable with the offense,” Fields said. “I think our guys are, too, as a whole. I think we’re growing. It’s, what, Week 9 coming up? So I think everyone’s getting more comfortable as we gameplan, put plays together. Luke (Getsy) and our offensive coaches have done a great job of figuring out what we do good as an offense, knowing what each player does individually well. We’re figuring that out and I think that’s a credit to our success for sure.”
“We knew it was going to take time to get everybody on the same page,” Darnell Mooney told NBC Sports Chicago. “A lot of people were messing up, including me on certain plays. Just the knowledge of the playbook. Some things we have to work on and we are continuously getting better and better.”
Arguably the biggest positive for the Bears offense is that they’ve never quit. They fell to an early 28-7 deficit, but didn’t give in like many other teams would have.
“Just proud of the guys, the way they fought,” said Fields. “We were down early, but they didn’t waver. We kept the same mentality and just chipped away.”
It’s a similar effort to what we’ve seen before from the Bears. They went down 21-7 to the Vikings in Week 5, but kept plugging away and took a fourth-quarter lead, although they ultimately lost. The Bears managed second-half comebacks against the 49ers and Texans, and finished those games with wins.
The Bears run defense has struggled all season, as has their pass rush. They have more electric offenses on the horizon in the Dolphins, Eagles and Bills, so the offense will need to continue to put up points. Until Ryan Poles is able to add more talent through the draft and free agency it seems unlikely the Bears will be able to consistently score near the 30s to keep up with the best teams in the NFL, but we can see the foundation of a legit offense being built in Chicago.