On this date 11 years ago, the Chicago Bears were celebrating another big win against a flock of birds:
11 years ago today…
— NFL History (@NFLhistory) October 16, 2017
A win that happened 11 years ago isn’t necessarily top of mind today, but it’s always worth re-visiting. Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune has an oral history of went down on October 16, 2006, and it’s worth your time if you want to reflect on a win that felt similar to what the Bears pulled off yesterday. Let’s discuss.
- Once again, the Bears relied on a tried-and-true formula to pick up a win, teaming an effective running game with a dominant defense. Don’t let the 24 points on the scoreboard fool you, Adam Hoge of WGN Radio says the Bears defense played great. Trubisky’s late-game heroics and Howard’s dominant performance on the ground would have been mere footnotes had Vic Fangio’s defense not performed as well as it did against Baltimore. The group sacked Joe Flacco three times, picked him off twice, came up with three quarterback hits, and racked up five tackles-for-loss. It’s arguably the best performance a Bears defense has put together since Fangio and John Fox took over in 2015.
- How dominant was the Bears’ defense against the Ravens? Each of the five best grades handed out by Pro Football Focus after Sunday’s win were given to defensive players. Kyle Fuller’s 88.9 grade led the way, with fellow defensive backs Adrian Amos (84.6) and Bryce Callahan (84.5) weren’t too far behind. The defensive front did a lot of damage to take control of the line of scrimmage, as Akiem Hicks (85.4) and Mitch Unrein (81.4) bulldozed through Baltimore’s blockers.
- Running back Jordan Howard proved to be too much for the Ravens defense to handle, writes Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. He ran 36 times for 167 yards, joining Walter Payton (who did it six times) and James Allen (who did it during a magical 2000 season in which he ran for 1,120 yards) as the only Bears backs to be handed the ball at least 36 times in a game. You’re in good company when you’re sharing a list with Sweetness, to say the least.
- It wasn’t just the high volume of carries that made Howard an impact player, but also the quality of runs he produced. To no one’s surprise, Howard was gaining the grittiest yards all afternoon long. He forced two missed tackles, posted an average of 3.69 yards after contact per attempt, and ran away with a 31.7% breakaway percentage. It was vintage Howard at a time when the Bears needed him to re-create the magic of his rookie season.
- Howard wasn’t the only Bears running back who balled out on Sunday. Tarik Cohen came to play and made history by becoming the shortest player to throw a touchdown pass in 83 years, notes JJ Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago. Cohen – whose 158.3 passer rating after that touchdown throw leaves something for Mitch Trubisky to aspire to catch – also ran the ball 14 times, but gained just 32 yards. The rookie running back had seen his number of snaps decrease in recent weeks, after getting a total of 12 carries in losses to the Packers and Vikings, Cohen’s 14 carries against the Ravens represents a season-high.
- Chicago’s offense needed to be reliant on the run because of how inefficient Mitch Trubisky was as a thrower. Still, there were positives to be pulled from that performance as Trubisky grows at the position.
- Maybe he would be asked to pass more if he had someone worth throwing to? Hello, Martavis Bryant. We hear you might not be all that happy in Pittsburgh.
- The Bears’ offensive line deserves some credit, too. Granted, the pass protection could use some work after watching Trubisky take four sacks on Sunday. However, Kyle Long and his mates were winning in the trenches when running the ball. As for how Long would describe the game, let’s just say any time off he gets this week will have been well-earned:
Asked Kyle Long if today felt like a street fight with how grueling it was: "The street fights I've been in usually end quicker than that."
— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) October 15, 2017
- On the other side of the field, ESPN’s Jamison Hensley describes the Ravens’ loss as troubling. The Bears came into Sunday’s game bumbling and stumbling their way to a 1-4 record, then ran for 231 yards – which happens to be the most allowed by the Ravens in franchise history. And it’s not as if no one saw this coming. Then when it came, Baltimore was powerless to stop it. The Bears ran the ball on 54 of 75 plays, allowed Mitch Trubisky to throw the ball just 16 times (including a ton of throwaways), and gained more two thirds of the team’s total offense on the ground. Yet, Baltimore had no answers for what should have been a simple problem to solve.
- If there is a such thing as “the agony of victory” this might be it. The odds of the Bears landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft dropped from 7 percent to 2 percent because of the combination of Sunday’s Bears win and losses by the Browns and 49ers, according to Seth Walder of ESPN’s analytics team.
- Well hello there, excellent sale:
— The Ten-Yard Line (@TheTenYardLine) October 16, 2017