After a mini-buy weekend, the Chicago Bears returned to Halas Hall on Monday to review the film and take a short rehearsal from their 16–14 win over the Detroit Lions.
As he recovers from a broken rib, rookie quarterback Justin Fields worked with other injured players during practice open to the media, and coach Matt Nagy said the Bears medical staff is still working out whether this week Fields will be approved.
Without playing Fields against the Lions, the Bears could not gauge the development of their most important player. But there were still moments that were crucial to the Bears’ future in an unconvinced victory against the Lions, 0-10-1.
As the Bears move on from last week’s turmoil surrounding Nagy’s job situation and focus on Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field, here are five key things from Thursday’s win.
1. Darnell Mooney topped 120 receiving yards for the second game in a row and for the third time this season.
Mooney said after the game he was not happy with his performance against the Baltimore Ravens the week before, when he was shot 16 times and had five catches for 121 yards.
Amidst the commotion among Negi, his focus was solely on improving his performance.
“I was really upset with my performance on Sunday, so I’ve been very busy throughout the week,” Mooney said. “A lot of people were asking me what was wrong, and I mean, I’m good, I’m good. Too closed right now.”
With Alan Robinson still out with a hamstring injury, Mooney took five catches in eight goals for 123 yards on Thursday. The biggest was 52-yards, at which Mooney came down to the 17-yard line to beat safety Will Harris, and the Bears scored in the next game.
Mooney said he recognized the opportunity to show what he could do with Robinson as the Bears’ top target. He has 694 receiving yards this year, already on top of his rookie output of 631. He’s at speeds over 1,000 yards, and he can help in that pursuit if he can reduce the drops that bother him a lot at week 11.
“Whenever the ball comes to me, I feel like I should catch it,” Mooney said. “Even if it’s a hand, the tip of my finger, I feel like I should hold it.”
To go along with Mooney’s production, second year tight end Cole Kemet took a career-high eight catches for 65 yards against the Lions.
2. The Bears benched cornerback Kindle Wildor for Artie Burns, but Matt Nagy said Wildor could ‘improve it.’
With Wildor at the center of some big plays during the Ravens’ winning touchdown drive in Week 11, the Bears turned fifth-year pro Burns on Thursday.
Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds beat Burns on a 39-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, but Nagy said he thought Burns had recovered and made some good plays.
It begs the question of whether the Bears will give 2020 fifth-round pick Wildor any more opportunities, whom the Bears chose to rely on this season despite their minimal experience. Wildor has made 11 regular season starts in two seasons.
“As long as he knows that we will give him the best coach possible, that we support him and believe in him, that’s all that matters,” Negi said. “Then when he goes back there and does his job – because he works hard and he works hard, he’s a good kid and he’s short – so you learn through these. And you understand that Sometimes when you’re on the edge, you can see some things that you might not have seen before. So that will improve with that.”
3. As Travis Gipson continued his development, he teamed up with Robert Quinn for a big takeaway.
One of the best things for the Bears’ defense at the start of the season was the combination of Quinn and Khalil Mack, which, after quarterback, was made possible by Quinn’s impressive comeback season.
Quinn continues to produce: she now has 11 sacks. But the Bears put Mack on injured reserve two weeks ago to undergo season-end leg surgery, and the six-time pro bowler’s absence left a huge hole to fill.
Defensive coordinator Sean Desai said last week that it is still “a process” to see the Gipson want him and the Bears in his second season, noting that Gipson continues to work on his hands at the point of attack and He is transformed into the nearby crowd.
So it was a big moment, when Quinn was taking down Lions quarterback Jared Goff, Gipson proceeded to punch the ball and then jumped over the rumble for a takeaway.
“I was just playing ball, able to be free,” Quinn said. “I didn’t know it came out until I saw the replays. I told (Gipson) he was zero on it. I don’t know how he got it out, but he locked it and punched the ball. I was able to do it. I admired him because that’s how he turned the game around.
“He’s a young guy, but he’s doing a great job trying to fill his role. As I tell him, I keep expecting more and more from him. It looks like he’s rising to the occasion.” Huh. ”
4. After a bad patch, kicker Cairo Santos scored a game-winner.
He had missed a kick in each of his last four games, before Santos lined up to kick the winning 28-yard on Thursday: an extra point against the San Francisco 49ers, 65- against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The yard was unlikely that ended his franchise—a record streak of field goals scored, 40-yards wide against the Ravens and 53-yards short against the Lions.
Santos said he “fractured” the turf in the third quarter on Thursday, leaving him with not enough juice to make a kick. So coming through a clutch later in the game was key for Santos, who said he was selfishly hoping for a chance to try the winner.
“The last few weeks in particular have been going through with me, and this week was an important week, with everyone coming together and just believing in each other,” Santos said. “(I can) just keep yourself going and some dumb misses along the way and catch fire again.”
5. Rokan Smith suffered a hamstring injury that kept him out of the team on Monday.
With Mack lost for the season and Akim Hicks still recovering from an ankle injury, losing Smith any longer would be another major blow to the Bears defense.
Smith has 113 tackles, including eight for one loss, three sacks, three passes defended and a pick-six this season. His 17- tackle performance against the Ravens prompted Desai to say that he was playing “a little out of this world”.
After a hamstring injury in the first half on Thursday, Smith Fields was working with Robinson and driving back Damien Williams during Monday’s team stretching inside the Walter Peyton Center. All of this was allowed for the media to see, and Bear is yet to report the injury until Wednesday.
Negi said having a few extra days off over the weekend could help his players recover, but added that the Bears would also supervise practice reps at the end of the year to help determine what wears off on players’ bodies.
“Depending on how your team is doing each year and the health of the team, in practice, you might pull back a little bit and you might not have many full-speed reps,” Negi said. “But those full speed reps are important, so that’s balance. … Being able to come out of bye, have a game, and then have a mini-buy here with Thursday, it’s going to be somewhat healthy for our guys. good for.
“And so now as we go into this last phase of the games, we have to make sure, and I have to make sure with the drills and the script that the amount of plays is (right). Because usually we do X amount of plays.” Let’s start with plays, and by the time you get to the last regular-season game, you’ve cut out the practice of sometimes 12 to 14 plays that it can skip. So we balance that out. ”