10 thoughts after the Chicago Bears opened the season Sunday night at spectacular SoFi Stadium with a 34-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
1. In too many ways, the Bears picked up right where they left off last season: hampered by an offense that struggles to get the ball in the end zone and suffering from an aging defense that is no longer anywhere near the best in the league.
Did any team make a better quarterback move in the offseason than the Rams and Matthew Stafford? He fell into a beautiful situation when the Detroit Lions traded him back in January and was terrific in completing 20 of 26 passes for 321 yards with three touchdowns and a 156.1 passer rating in Week 1. Elias Sports said it’s the highest passer rating for a quarterback with a minimum of 20 attempts in his debut with a new team.
It’s important not to fall into the trap created by Week 1 overreactions. It is just one game, the sample size is small and the opponent was a worthy one. While the final score was lopsided, you didn’t have to look too hard for some positive takeaways. More on those in a little bit. But this Bears team, hoping for renewed dominance on the defensive side, was embarrassed as a close game at halftime turned into a runaway. That’s part of what plagued the club in the second half of last season when the defense really fell off.
Changes on the coaching staff were made and the hope was new defensive coordinator Sean Desai’s familiarity with the personnel would help him put players in optimal positions. That may indeed happen, but it definitely didn’t happen here. The Bears dominated time of possession — 35:14 to 24:46 — because kept allowing the Rams to score quickly with the benefit of blown plays in the secondary. If the takeaway bucket made the journey from Halas Hall to SoFi Stadium, it wasn’t needed. The Bears didn’t get one.
Los Angeles had 388 yards on offense, not an alarming total but ran only 50 offensive plays. The Rams averaged 7.72 yards per play, the fourth-highest average allowed by the Bears in the last 20 seasons. That figure includes four kneel-downs by Stafford. Remove those, and the Bears defense allowed 8.52 yards per play which would rank as the most in the last 20 seasons.
The pass rush didn’t get home. There was one sack and that came on a play when Stafford held the ball forever. Outside linebackers Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn had one assist each. At least Quinn was credited with two quarterback hits, but the contract he signed in March 2020 for $30 million guaranteed is going to go down as one of the worst free-agent buys over the last decade unless he turns it around.
The Bears have invested draft picks and millions on top of millions of dollars in order to create a destructive pass rush. It’s missing. Stafford got rid of the ball pretty quickly, but the Bears can’t lean on that as an explanation after each of the next 16 games.
Free safety Eddie Jackson didn’t have his best season a year ago — and this one isn’t off to a good start. Jackson was burned by the same concept the Green Bay Packers used on a long touchdown pass to tight end Robert Tonyan at Lambeau Field last season. In this instance, Jackson bit on a move by wide receiver Van Jefferson and it resulted in a 67-yard touchdown on the Rams’ third play from scrimmage. It looked like the same play just with different personnel. Stafford bootlegged out of the pocket, hoping Jackson would believe Jefferson was running a deep corner route. Instead, Jefferson ran a shake route, a corner-post. He crossed Jackson’s face and was wide open. It’s the same thing that happened last November at Lambeau. Jackson jumped the wrong route and the play went for a touchdown. Strong safety Tashaun Gipson needs to help on this play and he wasn’t there. Making it worse, Jackson and Gipson both failed to touch Jefferson down when he lost his balance and went to the turf. So, he popped up and darted into the end zone for a Rams TD.
The Rams led 27-14 when they faced third-and-13 at the Bears’ 36-yard line with about seven minutes remaining in the game. Cooper Kupp caught a pass well short of the line to gain, and Jackson arrived but failed to get under control and make any type of proper tackling effort. Kupp slipped free and went for 15 yards and a first down. Last week, Jackson owned the poor tackling that plagued his 2020 season and pledged he was working to improve. It didn’t show up here.
The Bears weathered the early score, held the Rams to a pair of field goals and then mounted a nice drive before halftime to pull within 13-7. They had to feel like while it wasn’t a crisp first half, they hung in there and maybe momentum would swing. What happened next? Stafford hit Kupp for a 56-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the third quarter. He ran a seam route, got behind nickel cornerback Marqui Christian and — boom — another blown play ended in the end zone. This one looked to be a blown assignment. Whether it was Christian or another member of the secondary, the Bears are unlikely to say. They didn’t carry the seam and didn’t overlap the seam and that shouldn’t happen, period.
The offense responded in the only manner the Bears can right now. It drove 81 yards on 16 plays, with Justin Fields scoring on a 3-yard run. With 4:14 remaining in the third quarter, the Bears were down by only six again.
Then it happened again. Stafford hit tight end Tyler Higbee on a deep flood route for a 37-yard gain on the fourth snap of the next possession. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith was trailing on the play and didn’t have any help over the top. Again, players appeared to be sorting out confusion after the play, which flipped the field and led to Darrel Henderson’s 1-yard touchdown run. The Bears were done trading scores with the Rams and the game was over.
“It was exactly what we had wanted,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “And it was (explosive plays) from a bunch of different guys.”
The Bears will look for explanations for their performance and then address the issues.
“I’ve got to get with Sean and watch the tape and see the why, see who it was because they had had too many,” coach Matt Nagy said. “You can’t give those big plays up for touchdowns. We’ve got to get that fixed. I have a lot of belief in our guys. I really do. Our guys, they know that we can play better. It’s not about overreacting. We’ve got to stick together, just stay together, get better.”
The Bears made only one defensive player available postgame and that was Smith, who was credited with a team-high 11 tackles. He was in the tough spot of serving as spokesman for the unit.
“We know what hurt us,” he said. “It’s about addressing it this week in practice because we know it will come again next week. There’s always little communication things here and there but that’s what you practice for. There was a few here and there. It was just a couple plays that they got.”
Smith went on to say this wasn’t “the standard” and the Bears need to “keep the standard the standard.” I’m afraid the standard has changed since Smith’s rookie season in 2018.
2. The flip side of all of this is with exception of a 41-yard run by David Montgomery on the second play of the game, the Bears couldn’t do anything explosive on offense.
This is going to be a big-time dilemma because that’s what the NFL is right now. It’s about what teams have the ability to create explosive plays on offense and limit them on the other side of the ball. I remember talking to a scout more than a year and a half ago and he told me he and others with his team were spending an exhaustive amount of offseason time on it. Who manufactured explosive plays and why? Who was routinely beaten by explosive plays and why? It was as if they were on a mission to unlock the key to winning football games.
That was the story of this Week 1 game. The Bears gave up two huge pass plays for touchdowns, another long completion that set up a touchdown and lost by 20 points. Their offense showed no big-play juice, but the Rams’ split-safety look is designed to eliminate just that and was among the best in the league with it in 2020. Something isn’t right when Allen Robinson is targeted 11 times and has six catches for 35 yards. Darnell Mooney has all the speed a receiver ever would need and had five catches for 26 yards. The Bears had only one completion go for more than 11 yards.
It’s going to be a long season if this cannot be corrected because the Bears are going up against some high-caliber quarterbacks who plays on a semiregular basis. Andy Dalton really couldn’t take many deep shots downfield as the team wound up on its third left tackle midway through the third quarter. Starter Jason Peters went to the sideline late in the second quarter with a quad injury and rookie Larry Borom suffered a left ankle injury leading to Elijah Wilkinson coming in. If Matt Nagy was considering many deeper routes and slower developing plays, this probably gave him pause. He said there was a double move called on the play that resulted in a sack for Aaron Donald.
It was a really a nice game for David Montgomery as he totaled 108 yards on 16 carries, the first Bears running back to top 100 yards in the season opener since Matt Forte had 141 in a 31-23 loss to the Packers in 2015. Montgomery is a talented back but he’s not going to win games in today’s NFL if the Bears continue to be bogged down without big plays. Montgomery could run for 150 yards and the Bears could still lose by two scores because it’s going to take them 12, 14, 16 plays to drive the length of the field and score. They had a 13-play drive that went 49 yards before turning it over on downs.
Think about the really impressive teams. They can all move the ball in big chunks. If you can’t do that in the league today, it’s really challenging to win on a consistent basis unless you have an elite and dominant defense. That defensive window to chase a championship for the Bears isn’t closing. It’s closed. Shut. There will be better weeks for the defense than this one, no doubt. But don’t confuse this for an elite defense.
3. Rookie Justin Fields offers some hope for big plays when his turn comes.
You knew Matt Nagy was going to find a way to get the rookie on the field and he did, for five snaps. Fields made an RPO read and went with the pass, firing a 9-yard strike to Marquise Goodwin on his first snap. He wound up with a touchdown in his NFL debut, scoring on a 3-yard run. He completed a shovel pass for one yard and handed off two times.
“It felt great finally getting out there in some real NFL action with the starters,” Fields said. “But, it wasn’t weird of me running in and out just because this past week we were practicing some of that stuff so I was used to it.”
Nagy said there wasn’t a set number of plays they planned for Fields. They had certain situations, particularly in the red zone, and they called his name. The Bears wound up being blown out and it was dink and dunk from Andy Dalton, who completed 27 of 38 passes for 206 yards. He was picked off once on a deflected pass intended for Darnell Mooney in the end zone. Before the masses come down too hard on Dalton, let’s recognize the offense reached Rams territory on seven of its eight possessions. The Bears were a modest 5 for 11 on third down, no small feat considering how terrible they were in this metric a year ago and in the preseason. So the offense was moving the ball. The Bears got stalled out a little in the red zone, ran into roadblocks on fourth down and the defense gave up the big plays.
The pro-Fields crowd is going to point out that the rookie first-round draft pick is the ingredient needed to unlock explosive plays in the offense. I think he’s going to hit some big plays this season, perhaps very soon. But it was telling that his passes came on an RPO and a gadget shovel pass, and he ran three times. Nagy didn’t call for him to take a five-step drop and work through his progressions. They’re going to get to that and maybe soon, but we didn’t see it against the Rams defense.
It’s hard to call five snaps something Fields can really learn from, but he heads into another week of practice with an opportunity to improve.
“You get a feel about the atmosphere, and see how fast those guys are coming,” Fields said. “It’s different behind the O-line, and the D-line and stuff like that, so it’s different when you’re actually on the field rather than being on the sideline. You just kind of get that experience in there and just being out there and getting used to the speed and stuff.”
He’ll be the best Joe Burrow he can in practice starting Wednesday as the Bears prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals.
“When I’m doing scout offense stuff, I’d do probably do stuff that I wouldn’t necessarily try in the games,” Fields said. “So, it’s good seeing what I can and can’t do throwing-wise. I can definitely try some stuff that I wouldn’t try in a game right now. But, as I progress and get better, I’d definitely be more comfortable doing some of those things in the game.”
4. It’s hard to make any sweeping judgments when it comes to the offensive line and the pressure associated with prime-time games.
The Bears didn’t seem overwhelmed by All-Pro menace Aaron Donald. Yes, he had the one sack but it was a quiet game. Former Bear Leonard Floyd was also held in check. There were ample running lanes and they looked strong on the interior as some figured they would. Right guard James Daniels might have been the Bears’ best run blocker last season before an October injury, and he looked like he had a nice return to action.
So if you’re keeping a tally of some of the positives from the Week 1 game, along with sustained drives and third-down success, the run blocking was definitely a plus. That being said, I have no idea what the Bears are going to do at left tackle. Jason Peters went out before halftime with a quad injury and didn’t return. The 39-year-old has been hampered by injuries for the last four seasons and none of the NFL folks I spoke to around the league, from front office men to scouts and coaches, figured there was a chance Peters would come close to giving the Bears a full season. We’ll see how long he’s sidelined. It could be Peters is back before his replacement Larry Borom, who suffered a left ankle injury at the end of the shovel pass from Justin Fields to Allen Robinson. If you thought it looked a little like when Kyle Long suffered a broken leg on a shovel pass at Tampa Bay when bodies fell on the back of his legs, you’re right.
That forced the Bears to turn to Elijah Wilkinson at left tackle and that’s not where they wanted to be. Wilkinson was signed as a swing tackle but the Bears didn’t even give him a shot to win the job, working to sign Peters before the first preseason game.
“We do have a little bit of depth there for those situations, but certainly against this defense, that’s not really what you want,” Matt Nagy said.
No one can say they’re surprised that going into Week 2, the Bears may be piecing it together at left tackle. But Andy Dalton was hit only three times — all three on sacks — and the ground game got running. There are some positives for offensive line coach Juan Castillo to work with.
5. Until we next hear from chairman George McCaskey, we’ll be left with comments he made in January.
That’s when he said he wanted general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy to display progress this season after consecutive 8-8 seasons and a one-and-done playoff appearance last year when the Bears backed into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed.
One can only imagine McCaskey was exuberant when Justin Fields slid out of the top 10 in the first round of the NFL draft and Pace maneuvered up, paying a high price to trade with the New York Giants to get a young quarterback that could lead the franchise down a path toward progress.
Nagy’s contract runs through the 2022 season and when Pace’s second contract was announced at the conclusion of the 2017 season — on the same day John Fox was fired — it was set to run through this current season. Some believe after the Nagy hiring, the Bears tacked on a year to Pace’s deal to make it run concurrently with the coach, which would make sense. However, Pace has declined questions about the timeline for his employment. That will remain a story until the day someone steps up and provides clarity.
Some within the league believe the Bears made a crafty move because Fields’ arrival ensures Pace and Nagy will have longer leashes to see out the QB’s development process. That’s a common storyline when a team uses a high pick on a quarterback. However, recent history shows not as many coaches get the opportunity to see through the growth process with a first-round quarterback.
From 2015 through 2020 — a span of six drafts — there were 20 quarterbacks selected in Round 1. The head coach was fired after the rookie season of 10 of those quarterbacks. In only two cases was the general manager/team president in charge of personnel also fired.
Here’s a look at the quarterbacks drafted in Round 1 in that span with their draft position, team and the coach and GM if they were fired (italics indicates coach was fired in-season).
No. 1 Jameis Winston, Buccaneers: Lovie Smith fired (Dirk Koetter hired as coach)
No. 2 Marcus Mariota, Titans: Ken Whisenhunt and GM Ruston Webster fired (Mike Mularkey hired, Jon Robinson hired as GM)
No. 1 Jared Goff, Rams: Jeff Fisher fired (Sean McVay hired)
No. 2 Carson Wentz, Eagles
No. 26 Paxton Lynch, Broncos: Gary Kubiak stepped down citing health reasons (Vance Joseph hired)
No. 2 Mitch Trubisky, Bears: John Fox fired (Matt Nagy hired)
No. 10 Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
No. 12 Deshaun Watson, Texans
No. 1 Baker Mayfield, Browns: Hue Jackson fired (Freddie Kitchens hired)
No. 3 Sam Darnold, Jets: Todd Bowles fired (Adam Gase hired)
No. 7 Josh Allen, Bills
No. 10 Josh Rosen, Cardinals: Steve Wilks fired (Kliff Kingsbury hired)
No. 32 Lamar Jackson, Ravens
No. 1 Kyler Murray, Cardinals
No. 6 Daniel Jones, Giants: Pat Shurmer fired (Joe Judge hired)
No. 15 Dwayne Haskins, WFT: Jay Gruden and president Bruce Allen fired (Ron Rivera hired, personnel staff totally overhauled)
No. 1 Joe Burrow, Bengals
No. 5 Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
No. 6 Justin Herbert, Chargers: Anthony Lynn fired (Brandon Staley hired)
No. 26 Jordan Love, Packers
There is turnover throughout the league annually. In the six-year span, there was an average of 6.66 coaches fired for 20.8% turnover. Coaches with rookie quarterbacks were much more susceptible to losing their job. If you remove three outliers — Lynch (and Kubiak stepped down at the end of his rookie season), Jackson as the 32nd pick by Baltimore in 2018 and Love, who was drafted in a unique position behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay — that leaves 17 quarterbacks drafted in the top half of Round 1. Ten coaches in this group (58.8%) lost their job — nearly triple the turnover rate leaguewide.
Of the coaches who kept their jobs, some were established like Andy Reid in Kansas City and John Harbaugh in Baltimore. Doug Pederson went on to a Super Bowl victory in Philadelphia with Wentz starring for the majority of the regular season. Allen was drafted into a stabile situation in Buffalo. Murray was the hand-picked quarterback for Arizona’s new coach Kliff Kingsbury.
In seven of the 10 instances, including the Bears with Nagy, an offensive-minded coach was hired to come in. The outliers are Judge with the Giants, Rivera in Washington and Staley with the Chargers.
“When I looked at the list, it was less surprising just because when you add some context to it, you understand why a lot of the moves were made,” a national scout said after reviewing the chart. “Individually, just if you go down and look at it, Lovie Smith had been there in Tampa and hadn’t had success, Whisenhunt and Ruston kind of the same. With Fisher, the defense wasn’t effective anymore and that is supposed to be his expertise. The whole Fox thing, he didn’t know the Bears were taking Trubisky until the morning of the draft. Hue Jackson was a mess in Cleveland. The Todd Bowles firing was a little more interesting. They were just dysfunctional and the GM (Mike Maccagnan) should have been let go at the same time. I don’t know how he wasn’t. Wilks was one and done. Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen, that was a dysfunctional staff within a dysfunctional organization. Anthony Lynn, I think it was game management more than anything that got him and he wanted to start Tyrod Taylor over Herbert.
“What I look at in all of this, whether it is the GM, owner, whoever realizes, ‘OK, we finally have the quarterback we want. We better make sure we can support him with the right head coach and coaching staff in order to maximize his opportunity for success.’ They all looked at those current head coaches and they said, ‘This guy is not going to cut it.’ Perception is the GM found the quarterback or got the quarterback, so let’s give him time to support the quarterback.
“You also look at it and who is hired? Offensive gurus are hired as the replacement in most instances. Bottom line is I feel like the thought process would have to be, ‘We just got a top-tier quarterback or a top-tier quarterback prospect, this is a guy that was drafted in the top half of the first round or higher, we don’t want to have to draft there again.’ So, in order to have that opportunity, is this the right head coach or not? The conclusion was it’s not.”
It should be pointed out that in many of the instances where quarterbacks were selected at the very top of the draft, they were joining bad rosters. You generally don’t get the first, second or third pick in the draft with a playoff-ready cast of players surrounding that pick. So coaches in those situations could have been in jeopardy before the arrival of the quarterback.
“My first thought was when was the quarterback taken?” a pro director said. “Were they in the top 10? Was the GM fired too? Coaches that are on the hot seat, or are perceived to be on the hot seat, they hate a quarterback pick at the top of the draft because it’s so rare that turns into a win-now solution for him, right? GMs love the quarterback pick for the exact opposite reason — it’s a win later solution and they do everything they can to stick around and be proven right. Sometimes, they’re proven wrong.”
This isn’t presented to suggest Pace and or Nagy are on the hot seat. It’s believed they are under pressure to ensure the Bears are pointed in the right direction and they’re working with a roster that will look quite different a year from now. As the national scout said, there is context with each one of the personnel changes on the chart — and surely McCaskey will have his own unique criteria as this season unfolds. What it does suggest, though, is that a highly drafted quarterback doesn’t always provide stability for a head coach. Sometimes, it’s a short runway for that coach, and the development of Fields will be fascinating to track.
6. The entire offseason at Halas Hall was shaped around finding a quarterback.
The Bears had to consider every possible angle but primarily players that they could acquire via trade or through the draft. That’s where the big fish were anyway. Great quarterbacks almost never reach free agency. Countless hours had to be spent studying the options and then evaluating the chance of landing the quarterback. How many names did you hear the Bears associated with from January through the selection of Justin Fields in April?
It’s interesting because there are at least four quarterbacks on the schedule, including Matthew Stafford, they will go against this season after looking at them in the offseason. The Bears — at minimum — had a level of interest in Stafford. It’s unlikely the Lions would have considered trading him in the division. The Bears will face the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5 and some, at least early in the offseason, felt Derek Carr might potentially be available. No doubt the Bears studied him. The San Francisco 49ers come to Soldier Field in Week 8. Sitting with the 20th overall pick in Round 1, the Bears knew they might not have their choice of quarterbacks so they had to study North Dakota State’s Trey Lance. In Week 16, there is a road trip to Seattle to face Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Bears really thought they were closing in on a trade to acquire Wilson before free agency opened.
Maybe Fields will start a handful of those games for the Bears. It’s going to probably take a couple years to determine which teams made the best moves at the position this offseason.
7. Three of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round started Sunday.
New England’s Mac Jones had the best showing, although it came in a losing effort as the Patriots fell to the Dolphins 17-16. Jones completed 29 of 39 passes for 281 yards with one touchdown for a 102.6 passer rating.
In the showdown between new Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and the old one, it was the Carolina Panthers and Sam Darnold winning 19-14. Wilson was 20 of 37 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick, fell in a big hole early for Jacksonville and wound up at 28 of 51 for 332 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in a loss to the Houston Texans.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan had Trey Lance on the same plan as Justin Fields. Lance got four snaps, one a 5-yard touchdown pass and three carries that totaled 2 yards in a victory at Detroit.
The 2021 QB class, only the third time five quarterbacks have been selected in the first round, will be debated weekly. Try not to ride the roller coaster and get caught making knee-jerk reactions. The quarterback development game is a marathon.
8. I liked the decisions Matt Nagy made in the first quarter when the Bears went for it on fourth-and-4 on two occasions.
The first time, the Bears were at the Rams’ 41-yard line and Los Angeles had just taken the lead. Why not be aggressive? To win as a considerable underdog on the road, you’re going to need to make some big plays. Andy Dalton’s pass to Allen Robinson was incomplete.
The Bears had fourth-and-4 at the Rams’ 38 on the next possession and Dalton couldn’t get a pass off as there was a strip/sack.
The one I wondered about was the decision to go for it on fourth-and-15 from the Rams’ 30-yard line with 10:07 remaining in the game and Los Angeles ahead 27-14. A 48-yard field goal is no sure thing, but the Bears paid Cairo Santos this offseason and the chances of him making that kick are exponentially greater than a bogged-down offense coming up with a big play. Turns out, this didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it was an interesting decision and reading into it, perhaps you can wonder if Nagy had doubts about his defense. A field goal would have brought the Bears within 10 points — it still would have been a two-score game. The play, a pass for Darnell Mooney, was broken up by Robert Rochell.
“Some of it’s just the feel of where you’re at,” Nagy said. “There were things, offensively, that one play when Aaron (Donald) had that sack (on another fourth down), we had a double move out there. It was a little pump play and he made a play. Sometimes there’s a risk-reward when you take a shot. And if that doesn’t happen, then maybe we have a guy and we hit it down the sideline, but that’s what you’re dealing with when you play this team.
“That’s kind of what I was getting to the other day with Aaron. You can contain him, but then at a crucial point, because I still felt like we were moving the ball and getting into the big red zone.”
I don’t think Nagy was necessarily wrong. It was just a tough spot to be in with an offense that couldn’t get a big momentum-shifting play.
9. By my count, there were 82 touchdowns through the first 15 games of Week 1.
The Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders will close the slate Monday night.
That total is five short of the league record for touchdowns on opening weekend that was set just last season. There’s got to be a decent chance the Ravens and Raiders combine to reach the end zone five times, right? There was a record number of points scored last season too.
I’m just reinforcing the point you probably understand — the Bears have some work to do.
10. SoFi Stadium was truly a spectacular venue for a football game.
It was dazzling and that’s not a word you throw around very often to describe a building. It’s easy to dream about the Bears constructing a new stadium in Arlington Heights, but just remember this fancy building came with a $5 billion price tag.
10a. All four NFC North teams are 0-1, so the Bears didn’t lose ground in the division.
10b. Not a good sign for Duke Shelley to be a gameday inactive after entering the offseason, training camp and preseason as the nickel cornerback with the most experience. Shelley is too small to be a force on special teams and the coaches went with Marqui Christian as the third cornerback. It will be interesting to see how they evaluate him.
10c. One more thing that was bothersome about the defense? It did a really nice job of shutting down the run for the first three quarters. Rams running back Darrell Henderson had seven carries for 12 yards. Then, when everyone in the stadium knew the Rams were going to run the ball, the defense couldn’t get a stop. Henderson had nine carries for 58 yards in the fourth quarter. It’s not like the Bears defense was tired.
10d. Outside linebacker Trevis Gipson had a really nice preseason rushing the passer against some lesser competition at offensive tackle. Maybe the Bears will think about working him into the rotation to see if some of that success can carry over into the regular season.
10e. Inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe was inactive for the game and there’s a good chance his absence was because of the shoulder injury that had him on the injury report. He was limited in practice during the week. He’s been a core special teams performer and was replaced by Josh Woods, who was bumped up from the practice squad.
10f. This game marked only the second regular-season game under Matt Nagy when the Bears went off as a touchdown or more underdog. The Rams were favored by 7 ½ points. The Bears were a 7 ½-point underdog for the Nov. 29 game last fall at Lambeau Field when they lost to the Packers 41-25.
10g. The Fox crew of Kevin Kugler, former Bears quarterback Mark Sanchez and Laura Okmin will call the home opener at Soldier Field against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.
10h. The Bears opened as a 3-point favorite over the Bengals at Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.