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What Happened in Vegas: Bears Beat Raiders, Give Themselves Chance for a Season

| October 11th, 2021


The Bears were significant underdogs in Las Vegas. And they won the game by double digits. There is plenty to criticize about this performance. (And you’ll find much of that below.) But one thing can not be stated clearly enough: this was a massive win for the 2021 Chicago Bears and their head coach, Matt Nagy. They now have a chance for a season.

Rapid fire.

  • Everything starts with Justin Fields and he was getting annihilated early. And most of it was NOT the result of poor play on the offensive line. The Raiders came into Sunday with the clear directive to hit Fields, whether the play was alive or dead. And Fields almost didn’t survive it.
    • As brutal as the hit was later in the game, don’t think for a moment those early hits didn’t play into Roquan Smith’s mindset when he knocked Derek Carr from the game. That was a teammate having the back of another teammate. You hit my guy up top, I hit yours up top. That’s how football used to be played.
  • Fields was good in this game, but the Bears have to let him do more moving forward. At several moments late, Nagy could have told his quarterback, “Make a play here and the it’s over.” He didn’t Sunday. He will have to soon.
    • I would have loved to see a replay of Fields’ touchdown pass to Jesper Horsted from any angle but the one shown on TV. (Apparently the only camera working at the time was on the other side of the field.) It looked like a bold decision, perfectly executed.
    • The Fields-to-Mooney 3rd down toss on what ultimately became the game-sealing drive was an absolute thing of beauty. If Fields can make that throw, in that moment, there’s nothing he can’t do physically out there.
  • As for Roquan, what a performance. He broke up a touchdown in the end zone. He stopped Carr on what looked like an easy first down run on a pivotal third down in the first half. And he’s called for two big penalties – a PI and an unnecessary roughness – neither of which were actually penalties. In the modern NFL, teams need to be wary when paying inside linebackers. The Bears should hand him a blank check.
  • There’s very little left to say about Khalil Mack. The Raiders tried to hold him early but the refs called it. Then they tried to double, and sometimes triple him. He beat it all. Some days he’s unblockable. Quite frankly, there aren’t enough of those days. But Sunday was one of them.

  • Do the Bears have to allow a wide receiver, wide open, with no defender within ten yards, EVERY TIME the opposing quarterback is given five seconds to throw?
    • This is a different game if Bryan Edwards catches the Carr bomb in the third quarter. How does a professional receiver drop that pass?
  • The two Mario Edwards penalties are mindless. And they can’t happen.
    • On the roughing calls, here’s my opinion: it’s too much. We all know it’s too much. But the rules have been the rules for YEARS. You can’t use the “flag football” excuse anymore. If coaches can’t get their player to play within the rule, coaches should get different players. These flags change games.
  • What should the focus be for the Bears this week? Short yardage. David Montgomery bailed them out a lot in those situations. Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert will not. Time to get creative and use the quarterback’s abilities.
  • It’s improvement from Cole Kmet. He was a minor factor.
  • Hey, was that Jimmy Graham aggressively blocking? (Is it not possible to call a play or two FOR Graham in the passing attack?)
  • The Bears screen game should be better than it is, especially with a player like Williams. Sunday the screens took too long to develop and the linemen seemed to struggle getting out into space.
  • Deandre Houston-Carson should be a larger part of this defense.
  • Duke Shelley is a better tackler than both of the starting safeties. Isn’t it worth seeing what he has back there? He can’t cover. Let him hit.
  • What exactly does Eddie Jackson do well anymore?
  • Trevis Gipson keeps getting better and better. Didn’t expect to ever see him rush with power moves. He did so effectively Sunday.
    • Very telling to see the enthusiasm from Mack and Robert Quinn for Gipson’s success. They’ve clearly taken him under their wings.
  • Don’t ever take Cairo Santos for granted.
  • Is Jakeem Grant going to return absolutely everything? As fun as that sounds, it might not be the soundest strategy.
  • The late false start on Vegas? That one is owned by Sean Desai. He put Mack and Quinn on the same side and it scared the hell out of the Raiders.
    • Quiet game for Quinn in the pass rush department but he still did some excellent work in run support.
  • Nagy can’t challenge the spot on a quarterback sneak. He just has to be smarter than that. Timeouts are everything in close game. Refs are not going to overturn a spot that is already based on nothing but, “Eh, looked like he got it.”

This actually wasn’t a very interesting game. But it was an important one. At 3-2, and with a vulnerable Packers team coming to town, the Bears can now make an argument that 2021 matters.

Not 2022.

Not 2023.

2021.

If they win Sunday, they won’t have anyone to argue with.

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