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Justin Fields, unplugged
The Bears treated their QB like the weapon he is, and man was that fun
There are only three preseason games these days (still three too many) but it was nice to see the NFL continue one of the most superfluous traditions, the Bears and Browns playing their final tuneup against each other.
The last time the Bears were in Cleveland Matt Nagy was busy sabotaging Justin Fields’ career. Nagy’s moronic game plan should have gotten him fired at halftime. While he did emerge from the tunnel that day to start the second half, mercifully he will not be on the sidelines for this one.
Adam Amin is on the call again, and he says the Bears haven’t had an undefeated preseason since 1994. That team went 9-7 and won the last road playoff game (in Minnesota) in franchise history.
Only three Bears coaches have ever won road playoff games. Two of them are Hall of Famers, one of them is Dave Wannstedt.
The Bears don’t have a sterling road playoff record. They are 2-8 in those games since 1948. The other win in that stretch, of course was the Bears 1984 win over the (then) Redskins at RFK. Somebody should do a podcast on that one:
Only 10 road playoff games in 74 years? Yikes. Lovie Smith never even had one.
Amin’s partner, Jim Miller has shaved off his goatee and it’s disorienting. He looks a lot like Fox 32 weatherman Mark Strehl.
Are you excited about seeing Roquan Smith play tonight?
Is this part of his post holdout hazing? Are they going to make him play without pads? Seems harsh.
Biggs also got very excited that Browns kicker Cade York made a 70 yard field goal in warmups.
Warmups. That’s basically like kicking off. No rush, no line. Cairo Santos could probably make 110 yard field goals in warmups, he just doesn’t want to.
Here’s a graphic the Fox 32 gang created for the game. I think we all should print this off and tape it to our bathroom mirrors. Nobody will get you ready for the day like The Flus.
Learn it. Live by it. Stop the loafing!
Cairo kicks off through the end zone. Hey Biggsy, that’s like an 85 yard field goal!
Jacoby Brissett is playing QB for the Browns, just like he will to open the regular season, because unlike Deshaun Watson he doesn’t sexually assault and harass masseuses.
Third and 11, Brissett completes a 10 yard pass to tight end David Njoku. Hey, they’re running the Bears offense!
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Corey Bojorquez is the new Browns punter. He was the scapegoat in the hilarious Packers playoff loss to the 49ers last year. And, he’s been replaced by Pat O’Donnell. O’Donnell punted for more than 25,000 yards for the Bears in eight seasons. Easy to rack up yards when you punt 12 times a game.
Dante Pettis returns Bojorquez’s punt after catching the ball at the six. He gets to the 20.
So here comes the offense. You can tell a lot about a team by their first drive of the final preseason game.
First Bears play is a handoff to David Montgomery who gets his first preseason carry and he’s hit four yards deep in the backfield. Some things never change.
Bears run a draw on the second play and Montgomery gets back to the line of scrimmage. Progress!
Fields throws on third down, he’s hit right away and its incomplete.
Ahh, the Bears offense. They’re reenacting the Browns game from last year.
This is fine. I’m just here to watch Trenton Gill punt.
On third and two the Browns go deep to Marcus Stroman but it’s incomplete. Shouldn’t he be getting ready for his next Cubs’ start? Oh, it’s Greg Stroman. Never mind.
The Bears defense has forced back to back three and outs. They have been consistently impressive in the preseason. We have no idea if they’re actually good, but it jumps off the screen how fast they play, how they always seem to be in the right position and whether you like the HITS thing or not1, you really see it show up when they are tackling, there are always several Bears sprinting to jump on the pile. This is not a bunch that would have left that fumble lying on the grass against the Packers.
OK, offense let’s try this again.
Montgomery doesn’t get hit right at the handoff and gains six yards on first down. Funny how that works.
Khari Blasingame THE FULLBACK! catches a pass for a first down. My inner meathead loves that the Bears have a fullback again.
Fields hits Darnell Mooney on a quick out for five yards. That’s the first time the Bears have had completed passes on back to back plays since 1986. Probably.
Fields scrambles and slides and…you’re not going to believe this, he gets hit in the head anyway. At least this time there’s a flag. That’s a really cheap shot by Browns linebacker Jacob Phillips. Several Bears ran over and started shoving Phillips. I hope Germain2 Ifedi isn’t too upset by that down there in Atlanta or wherever the hell that loser is now.
On the next play, Montgomery breaks off a 24 yard run and there’s a flag on tight end Ryan Griffin. Just dumb, he had his guy blocked and then grabbed his jersey for some reason.
Second and 20. Usually a death knell for any Bears drive, but Fields fires a 13 yard pass to Dante Pettis. It was a really nice throw.
Then, a bootleg throw to Cole Kmet who runs over a Brown to get past the marker for a first down. The biggest beneficiaries of the shift to this Packers hybrid of the Kyle Shanahan offense figure to be Fields (of course) and Kmet. This offense knows how to get tight ends open.
Then after an injury delay Fields draws the Browns offside. I’m gonna need a minute. This sudden burst of offensive competence is making me light headed.
Fields drills a ball to Griffin for…what is this thing called…the thing where you get six points…a TOUCH what? TOUCHDOWN!
The Bears scored on a seven play, 80 yard drive in four minutes. Fields was five-for-five for 55 yards to five different receivers, and it was a nice mix of getting Justin out of the pocket and the o-line giving him time when he was in the pocket. You know, like a real NFL offense.
Miller just broke down the TD pass play and showed how a guy he called Eqwanamous St. Brown ran a route to occupy the safety. I know Equanimeous is hard to say, but I’m only going to want to call him Eqwanamous from now on. Eqwanamous sounds like some weird Australian mammal.
Another third down, another Browns pass short of the marker. The Browns are going to go for fourth and one at their own 33, because it’s preseason. They barely get the snap off, and Brissett completes a short pass to Njoku for their first first down of the night.
D’Ernest Johnson converts another first down on a run around right end. D’Ernest?
Browns send York out to try a 58 yarder. Much to Brad Biggs’ chagrin it knuckles and misses badly to the left.
Bears take over at their own 49. and the drive starts with Eqwanamous’ first reception of the preseason.
Another nice run by Montgomery and it sets up a nicely executed post corner to Pettis for another touchdown.
Bears up 14-0. That drive was so efficient, it felt very un-Bears like.
On a second and four the Browns run a screen, but the Bears snuff it out, Kindle Vildor is there and…D’Ernest Goes Nowhere. Know what I mean, Vern?
Kyler Gordon makes a nice play to break up the third down play and there’s a flag on the play, that’s offensive pass interference on the guy Gordon was covering, Njoku.
Third and six, Fields scrambles but doesn’t run, instead he gets some room and completes a pass to Pettis for a first down.
Amin and Miller are talking about the line. Amin says they have “depth and versatility.” No mention of talent. Miller says Reilly Reiff gives them depth behind the young tackles Larry Borom and Braxton Jones. “Reiff can play both spots.” At the same time?
The drive stalls after a short pass to Montgomery on third down comes up a yard short. Looked like Monty was going to truck the Browns defender and get the first, then didn’t. Maybe he’s saving that for the Niners in week one?
Bears get a takeaway (that’s the T in HITS). Nice play by Jeremy Lincoln, or whoever the hell 39 is on this team. Oh, it’s Greg Stroman.
After a first down throw to Isaiah Coulter, Fields makes a great touch pass to N’Simba Webster.
Then Fields does a cool thing on a screen pass where he leans around a defender to get the pass off sidearm, and Khalil Herbert runs for a first down. I’m about to pass out.
Third and seven and the Bears run a toss to Herbert for six. They are on the Browns 31 and they go quickly and Fields sneaks for the first down.
It’s the little things that they could never do under Nagy. Two weeks in a row, Fields has used the cadence to draw guys offsides. Last week they thwarted a Seattke review challenge by getting to the line quickly for the next play and here they catch the Browns in a bad personnel group on short yardage by rushing to the line on third and one. Every good team does this stuff, and none of it is complicated, but the Bears have a history of screwing it all up. It’s really nice to see them do it right.
Fields rolls out with Herbert running along with him in the flat, he fakes a throw, then looks like he’s going to run and then rises up and drills a pass to a wide open Cole Kmet for the Bears third touchdown pass of the half.
Just look at this thing.
I’m gonna need a cigarette.
Fields is 14-16 for 156 yards and three touchdowns.
Miller says, “The Bears are using Fields the way they should have used him last year.”
Preach, Brother Miller. Preach.
The Browns are in the hurry up and Brissett finds rookie David Bell for a couple of first downs. On third and ten the Bears run the slowest d-line stunt I’ve ever seen and Brissett hits Bell for another first down. Looked like Justin Jones was running a 5K with his very circuitous route to the QB.
Cleveland faces a forth and nine with 1:09 and they’re kicking the field goal. York makes a 57 yarder. It’s 21-3 Bears. Fields has taken off his rib pads and doesn’t have his helmet. If he’s staying in for the final minute of the half he’s getting pretty cocky.
Nope, it’s Trevor Siemian time. Whoo!
After a nice pass to Coulter for a first down, Siemian gets sacked and fumbles and the Browns have the ball at the Bears 40.
I’ve seen enough. I think Fields should be the Bears starting QB. Sorry, Trev.
You know how most coaches have that huge laminated play sheet that looks like a Dennys menu? The Flus looks like he’s using a Dennys napkin with the menu in his pants.
Josh Dobbs is in for the Browns he nearly throws a pick to Vildor, but the pass was so bad that Bears’ safety AJ Thomas was also in the area and he accidentally knocked the ball away from Vildor.
Vildor knocks a pass away from former Bears star Javon Wims in the end zone, so the Browns will try another long field goal. York makes a 46 yarder and it’s 21-6.
After a three and out on their first possession, the Bears offense scored three touchdowns in four drives with Fields throwing three TD passes and one incompletion in 15 attempts. We’ll see what it looks like in a couple of weeks when they’re playing for real, but holy shit that was fun to watch.
Ryan Poles is crammed into the booth with Adam and Jim to start the second half. When asked why Roquan didn’t play he said, “He was out early for warmups and there was some tightness.” Oh, some tightness. In what, his pants? Adam and Jim do not ask where Roquan was tight. Poles says, “I think he’ll be alright.” I hope Ryan knows more about general body tightness than Cubs’ trainers know about jammed fingers.
The Bears go three and out and Gill punts to Browns returner Easop Williams. Easop? He probably spells it that way so people aren’t always confusing him with the Greek fables guy, Aesop.
Do I only know Aesop from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons?
Poles is talking about the Bears need to “keep finding talent.” My guess is that between cutdown day and the first game the Bears will add at least six (and probably more like eight) players cut by other teams to their 53 man roster.
The Bears just need more good players. Poles has done a decent job turning over the top heavy mess that Ryan Pace left him, but he has to take advantage of any incremental improvement he can to the roster. The reality is that good teams will release better players than some of the guys the Bears are counting on to play big roles for them, and I think Poles will be aggressive.
At the conclusion of the interview, Amin says, “Thanks for joining us. Good luck this season, bud.”
Darrynton Evans breaks off a nice run but then on his next carry he lands funny. Not ha ha funny. Looks like it might be his right leg, but he spent a lot of time holding his nuts while he was on the ground.
Siemian finds the great Chris Finke for a first down. And then they nearly hook up on a deep corner that might have gone for a TD, but Finke drops it. And you wanted to be our scrappy, white preseason wide receiver star.
Amin says one NFL team’s fans will get to enjoy a great radio team doing their games, and apparently he means the Bears? They show Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer in their radio booth. Surprisingly, Joniak does appear to facing the field. You’d never know it from the way he calls a game.
The Browns finally score a touchdown, they go for two and Josh Dobbs jumps at the goal line and gets obliterated but apparently got the ball over. It’s 21-14 and Nathan Peterman is going to need to engineer a scoring drive to push the lead back up to more than a TD to save the Bears’ precious perfect preseason record.
Amin talks about the orange helmets the Bears are going to wear twice this season, and he asks Jim if he knows that George McCaskey used to work in the Bears’ equipment room. We all know that. We’ve heard the stories about what a notoriously thorough ball rubber upper George was.
Adam says that George has a binder of Bears’ historical clips (of course he does) and that in 1936 the Bears wore an orange and white helmet.
Aren’t these the ‘36 uniforms? I’m confused. My biggest problem with the new orange helmet is that they’re going to wear it with the orange jersey. I think it would look better contrasted off the regular home blues.
Peterman can’t generate a first down, so Gill punts back to the Browns with 13:38 left.
The Bears force a punt and Joe Thomas blocks it, so they’ll start their next possession on their 46.
Peterman fakes a handoff and hits Kevin Shaa for 20 yards. Then they run an end around to Shaa and he gets lit up and loses a yard.
Bears send Cairo Santos out for a 48 yarder and he hits the upright. I guess it was his cruel way of reminding the Browns that they signed Cody Parkey AFTER the Bears did.
College dorm room hot tub enthusiast Josh Rosen is trying to lead the Browns down the field and Wims is balling out against fourth stringers.
With 3:20 left the Browns face a fourth and six and Rosen hits Wims at the goal line, but Stroman is there to battle Wims for it and it falls incomplete.
But on the first play from scrimmage, De’Montre Tuggle fumbles and the Browns recover at the 10 yard line. Probably not a great sign for De’Montre’s chances of making the team.
First play after the turnover is a touchdown pass from Rosen to Mike Harley Jr. Not former Cubs first rounder Mike Harkey.
Wait, no after review the refs rule Harley was down just short of the goal line. Rosen tries to sneak it in, but the Bears stuff him.
Third and goal from the one, Rosen sneaks again, and scores.
The Browns will go for two. Nobody wants overtime in the preseason.
Rosen throws a fade to Wims, but it’s more of a line drive and Stroman is there to knock it away. The Bears still lead 21-20.
A nice run by Evans (who has returned from kick to the balls) and a long pass from Peterman to Coulter and the Bears can take a knee and round out the perfect preseason.
For our own sanity, I think we, as fans, needed to see the Bears offense show something before the two week wait for the regular season. And did they ever. Fields has looked comfortable in the offense in all three games, but this was his first extended run of play and he just got better and better. He showed off his ability to make every kind of throw, squeezing them into tight windows, using touch down the sideline and they used design plays to get him out of the pocket, and put defensive backs in impossible situations with the fastest guy on the field running at them while still having to worry about him throwing it.
He’s an incredible weapon, and they’re using him like it.
We know they’re not going to win a lot of games, but can’t they just be fun for once?
Just maybe they will be.
Football coaches love acronyms and they are easy to mock. But honestly, the simple ones like HITS actually work.
I apologize, because Germain is barely germain to his discussion.