10 thoughts after the Chicago Bears had another banner day running the football — the league’s top-ranked rushing offense steamrolled the Detroit Lions for 258 yards on the ground — and still managed to lose 31-30 Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
It was the first road victory for the Lions in more than 23 months. Of course, that previous win came in the same place against the Bears on Dec. 6, 2020.
1. The Bears have been making history of late.
Justin Fields broke Michael Vick’s record for rushing yards in a regular-season game by a quarterback a week ago, and Fields has a whopping 555 rushing yards over his last five games, the most in any five-game span by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
The Bears also became the first NFL team to score 29 points or more in three consecutive losses. They’ve scored 29 or more in four straight games overall, including an Oct. 24 victory at New England, but a suddenly explosive offense isn’t enough to hold off the opposition. Thus they find themselves 3-7 and seemingly unable to stop anyone.
This is a new predicament for an organization that for so long had the identity of a hard-nosed defense but seldom enjoyed a potent offense. It’s one thing to be diced up by Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, as the defense was last week. He has electric wide receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and there were mismatches across the board for the Dolphins to exploit.
It’s another thing to cough up 21 points in the fourth quarter to the Jared Goff-led Lions, who were without two of their top three wide receivers in Josh Reynolds and D.J. Chark. In fairness, seven of the 21 points came on Jeff Okudah’s interception return for a touchdown, but the Lions went 91 yards in eight plays for the winning score.
One of the game’s defining plays was made by Tom Kennedy, an undrafted free agent from Bryant University in 2019 who has been mostly a practice squad player and entered with 12 career receptions. Kennedy cut across the middle with a big head start on cornerback Jaylon Johnson on a 44-yard catch and run with the Lions facing third-and-8 on their 42-yard line and trailing 30-24 with 3:14 remaining.
It appeared Johnson, who was listed as questionable on the injury report with an oblique injury, was not moving at top speed, but he declined to speak with reporters in the locker room afterward. Johnson came out of the game briefly late in the second quarter, and the Bears were already down a cornerback with Kindle Vildor (ankle) out.
On Kennedy’s big play, the Bears brought a six-man pressure from dime personnel, rushing defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson and linebacker Nicholas Morrow. They were in straight single-high man coverage, and Johnson stopped his feet at the top of the route. He might have been anticipating a quick sit route at the sticks, but then he lost Kennedy.
Instead of trying to recover and get back to Kennedy’s hip, Johnson tried to undercut the route. He wasn’t running well, and that left a huge window for Goff. Bad play in a big moment, and when Goff has stability in the pocket — the pressure didn’t get home on a stunt — he can rip it with accuracy.
It wasn’t long ago the Bears were championing the fact their defense had been airtight in the second half. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said the unit would be better after the trade of linebacker Roquan Smith at the deadline, and that doesn’t look very prophetic. But really, what was Williams supposed to say, “We’re going to try to piece it together with the guys we have left”?
Reality is the Bears are struggling to get stops at critical moments. They’re not effectively rushing the passer, they’re not generating takeaways and they’re not playing the run well, although they did a pretty nice job limiting the Lions to 95 yards on 31 attempts (a 3.1 average).
Every team with a 3-7 or similar record has a host of issues. The Bears’ current problem is a better one to have than what they dealt with in recent years when they simply couldn’t reach the end zone with any consistency. There isn’t a shortcut to success for general manager Ryan Poles, but it’s easier to completely rebuild a defense while supplementing the offense than to have to do it the other way.
That’s where the Bears have been for years too. You looked them and said the defense is good or very good and could improve in a few areas here or there with a couple of moves. The offense, on the other hand, was overrated by too many administrations at Halas Hall and rarely had sustainable power.
Of course, this theory leans heavily on Fields becoming a more well-rounded and multidimensional quarterback. The passing game, when it was required, was a mess again against the Lions. But Fields has such an explosive ability to create big plays. He ran for a 67-yard touchdown a week after his 61-yard score against the Dolphins and carried 13 times for 147 yards.
It’s jarring to see the lowly Lions come in and move up and down the field and not have issues in the red zone, but Poles can make some major offseason moves to begin plugging the many holes on defense while also trying to shore up things around Fields. The Bears will be flush with more than $100 million in salary-cap space, and the loss moved them to No. 6 in the projected draft order by tankathon.com. At least two teams ahead of the Bears — the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers — could be hunting for a quarterback.
So maybe those who want to see the offense continue to put up points in exciting games that ultimately end in a Bears defeat to enhance draft positioning are happy. I know there’s a segment of the fan base that thinks this way. But it’s frustrating for those involved and many watching to see the defense appear so inept.
That’s also a difficult needle to thread consistently — losing high-scoring games — but the Bears have shown a sudden knack for it lately.
2. For the second consecutive week, when the Bears had to throw the ball at the end of the game, they were unable to do so.
Justin Fields was 2 of 6 for 13 yards in the fourth quarter. The Bears called 10 pass plays, including Jeff Okudah’s pick-six on a ball that should have been thrown at tight end Cole Kmet’s feet or sailed over the bench on the sideline. There were two sacks, a scramble that went for 1 yard and an incompletion negated by a defensive holding penalty.
That’s not unlike what happened a week ago in the 35-32 loss to the Dolphins. The Bears called 12 pass plays on their final two possessions and Fields was 2 of 6 for 4 yards, scrambling four times for 31 yards with two sacks.
Okudah’s pick-six came on a tight end screen on second-and-18. The Lions got pressure with a twist in the middle of the line, but Aidan Hutchinson really made this play by sniffing out the screen. He diagnosed it and didn’t rush, blowing up the play.
“It was honestly a crazy moment,” Okudah said. “On the sideline we were saying: ‘We’ve got to get a turnover. One of you guys has got to be the guy to change the course of this game.’ I took a lot of pride in creating that play for our defense.”
The offense wasn’t in a terrible spot at the end. The Bears took over on their 20-yard line with 2:17 remaining and three timeouts. Forty-five yards would have put them in range for a Cairo Santos field-goal attempt to win the game.
Fields ran for 5 yards around the right side on the first snap, and then Okudah almost picked him off again when he tried a shot down the right sideline to wide receiver Chase Claypool. The defensive holding penalty produced a first down, followed by an errant throw to Kmet, who lost his footing and then was removed from the game. Then came the two sacks, including one by Julian Okwara on fourth down that effectively ended the game.
Hutchinson converted speed to power on the first sack of the final possession, beating right tackle Riley Reiff. On the final play, on fourth-and-8, the Lions were playing Cover-1 Robber. The Bears had a dig route that was covered up, and Claypool wasn’t open on a comeback. The only other option was Darnell Mooney on a fade route. He wasn’t open either. The Lions took away the middle of the field with Byron Pringle on the dig route, and the Bears didn’t have a man-beater route.
Fields needed to get the ball out on fourth down, and his best option was probably the fade to Mooney. He has a take a shot if he can’t escape the pocket.
Fields completed 12 of 20 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, both to Kmet, including a 50-yarder when the Lions blew the coverage and left the tight end free. The offense totaled 408 yards, and anytime a team is in that range, there are a lot of positives. But when the Bears had to move the ball and time was of the essence, they couldn’t get anything done passing.
“I know on that last (possession) they were sending a lot of blitzes because they knew he was going to run outside the pocket,” Mooney said. “There was a lot of men in his face. Then they’ve sporadically got different defenders coming out going to a different man. It gets a little difficult.
“We definitely are going to have to do that (throw the ball effectively) in the fourth quarter, whichever team you are, regardless of how good or bad your rushing attack is. You have to be able to throw the ball at the end of the game.”
The passing game is a major work in progress, and improvement won’t happen overnight. The Bears did some cool stuff with tendency breakers like the route Kmet ran on his 50-yard touchdown, which led to a complete breakdown by the Lions. Perhaps there will be tangible improvement over the final seven games.
“We’re putting up 30 points a game, so just finish when we get those late-game drives,” Fields said. “Keep growing. Like we talked about earlier, late-game drives, that situation with two-minute, just got to finish, put up points and just execute. That’s the next step for our offense.”
Fields has had success with some schemed opportunities, and when they have hit, it has led to some big plays. Mooney had receptions of 22 and 16 yards, the second of which was a low throw. Better ball placement and that might have gone for 26 or more.
So much has to be right for the passing game to click, and Fields has a long way to go as a pocket passer. But the consistent rushing attack — the Bears are averaging 201.7 yards, 33.6 more than the second-ranked Baltimore Ravens — gives the offense a base from which to expand.
“We’ve just got to execute in those (late-game) moments,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “Whatever that might be. It could be protection, it could be route depths, all those things that come into play in the passing game, but we’ll have to look at it with a critical eye.”
3. It was interesting to see offensive coordinator Luke Getsy call a read-option for Justin Fields on the first play.
Fields faked the handoff to David Montgomery and quickly darted around the left side for a 28-yard gain, instantly moving the Bears into Detroit territory on a drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal by Cairo Santos. The play put defensive end Julian Okwara in conflict and he tried to play Montgomery and Fields, and he’s not athletic enough to do that.
It’s almost as if Getsy wanted to get a feel from the jump for how the Lions planned to defend Fields. They did a decent job of corralling Fields in the pocket on passing plays — he didn’t kill them with scrambles — but, boy, did he gash them on designed keepers. The 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was another read-option, and Fields appeared to knock Lions safety DeShon Elliott out of the game (concussion protocol) at the end of a 1-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.
The 67-yard touchdown was a read-option with a twist. The Bears had 13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends and one receiver) for the third-and-2 play. It was zone blocking and they wrapped Cole Kmet, who came in motion. That influenced cornerback Mike Hughes, who had to play Kmet as a possible screen target on a run-pass option. That pulled Hughes from the play and opened a huge lane for Fields. Tight end Trevan Wesco got a great block, rookie safety Kerby Joseph took a terrible angle and Fields was gone.
“In terms of defending him in the pass game and in the pocket and him scrambling, I thought we did a pretty good job,” Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson said.
Linebacker Alex Anzalone faced Fields once last season and said the difference is stunning.
“The play design, what they’re telling him to do, what he’s able to do as far as being a scrambler, his ability to get off arm tackles, his speed — it’s a lot,” Anzalone said. “He’s hard to bring down when you do get to him in the backfield.
“Last week (against the Dolphins), it looked like he was scrambling around and there were less designed runs. We had a plan and it unfortunately didn’t go the way we wanted. He’s special. He’s hard to bring down.”
I asked Anzalone, a six-year veteran, how he compares the emerging Fields with Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, a former league MVP.
“The thing about Lamar is he’s probably a little more elusive as far as he’ll juke you out,” Anzalone said. “But Fields is fast and physical. His lower half is so strong. It’s insane. He’s a stud.”
I couldn’t tell if Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah, who played with Fields at Ohio State, was joking when he said Fields is faster now than he was in college.
“I didn’t realize how fast he’s gotten since college,” said Okudah, whom Fields outran on the 67-yard touchdown. “He is a fast guy now. I don’t even think he used to run in college. Now, he has some nice speed.
“It’s tough. The way they block it up, there’s not a lot of one-on-one opportunities to tackle him. You’ve got to beat a block and then make a play on a guy that is really elusive. So they’re doing a really good job. We’re going to watch the tape and next time we play them we’re going to have definitely more answers.”
The 258 rushing yards put the Bears in rare company. They are the 10th team to rush for 200 or more yards in five consecutive games, according to Pro Football Reference, and the first since the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bears previously accomplished the feat in 1956. The record for consecutive games with 200-plus rushing yards is seven, accomplished by three teams: the 1972 Steelers, 1948 San Francisco 49ers and 1947 New York Yankees.
This year’s Bears are the exception among the 10 teams to have rushed for 200-plus yards in at least five straight games. They are 1-4 in those games. The other nine teams went a combined 48-4-2 during their streaks. The difference? I don’t know a lot about those specific teams, but I do know the Bears aren’t doing a whole lot right except for running the heck out of the football.
4. Former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt gave Luke Getsy his third coaching job back in 2010.
Wannstedt hired Getsy as a graduate assistant on a University of Pittsburgh staff that also included Bears running backs coach David Walker. Wannstedt, who coached Bears quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko at Pitt, has been excited to see how the offense would unfold since the spring.
“I kind of jumped on the table for Luke and Andrew and David back in training camp,” Wannstedt told me last week. “I went up to the facility and saw all of those guys and my initial comment in July, the question was can Justin Fields be the quarterback of the future?
“My comment was I don’t know how the quarterback situation is going to work out. The one thing I do know is that Luke knows how to run the football. A lot of these offensive coordinators — I learned this a long time ago — in the interviews they all tell you that they want to run the football. Very few of them believe it.”
Wannstedt said he lumps the vast majority of offensive coordinator candidates into two categories. Either they don’t actually believe in running the football despite what they say, or they don’t really understand what it takes to do it effectively.
“Luke is a guy who understands it and believes in it and knows the importance of it,” Wannstedt said. “So I’m excited about where they’ve taken this team. I just hope … what they’ve done with the offense overall and with Justin Fields is really the talk of the NFL. The development of Justin Fields — but the development of this offense really — there’s a lot of teams around the league that should take a close look at what the Bears are doing. Because these other teams are having similar problems with young quarterbacks and they haven’t figured it out yet.
“They do very little drop-back passes. That’s where Justin was getting hit. That’s where he was throwing interceptions. Because of inexperience at the receiver position, inexperience on the offensive line, Luke and the offensive coaches basically made up their minds: ‘You know what, our best chance is we’ve got to get him away. We’ve got to get him on the move.’
“And there’s a lot of these offensive coaches — I heard this not long ago — ‘Oh, we don’t want to roll our quarterback out because he only has two options and he can’t find the fifth read,’ and all that bullcrap. Fields throws the ball extremely well on the move. It helps the protection and it gives them a run-pass option, which we are seeing more and more of.”
Wannstedt raved about Getsy’s ability to take the personnel he has — and everyone knows the Bears will be looking to upgrade at some positions in the offseason — and get the best out of what he’s using, accentuating players’ strengths while trying to minimize their weaknesses.
“In 17 years as a head coach, I hired a lot of assistants, and there are assistant coaches that are playbook coaches and there are assistant coaches that think outside the box,” Wannstedt said. “And the difference is a playbook coach can come in from a job — let’s just use Luke and the Green Bay Packers — and he’s with Green Bay and he’s got their playbook and that’s what they want to do with the Bears. And he knows that offense frontward, backward, but that’s basically what he knows and believes.
“Then there’s outside-the-box coaches, which are guys — and I would put Luke in that category — that all of a sudden, for whatever reason, we’ve got to make some changes. To be successful with our guys, we’ve got to make changes. Now, what we can do? We can roll out. We can throw bootlegs. We can put in quarterback runs. We can throw screens to the receivers, the tight end, the running backs.
“I’ve always separated assistant coaches, and the majority of them are playbook assistants. There are very few that are outside-the-box thinkers, and Matt Eberflus, give him credit, he made a great hire with Luke.”
While Getsy worked under Wannstedt for only one season, Wannstedt had a good feeling that Getsy would have quick upward mobility in the coaching business.
“You could tell, No. 1, that he connected with the players,” Wannstedt said. “No. 2, the guy had ideas, and then No. 3, there was a real respect with Luke that he was not the coordinator, he knew his niche, he could get his points out there and fit in with the staff. I thought he was a great staff guy, which was critical for me.
“He was a great communicator with the players and connected, but he would come up with ideas. He had a real sense of presenting them in the way he could get his point across.”
5. The Bears made another critical special teams error when Cairo Santos missed an extra point wide left.
The miss came after Justin Fields’ 67-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the Bears ahead 30-24. The loss to the Dolphins in Week 9 featured a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, the result of a missed block by running back Khalil Herbert. Earlier in the year, rookie Velus Jones had issues with muffed punts.
Now the Bears seem to be taking turns with breakdowns on special teams, and that’s problematic for a team with such a slim margin for error. Santos missed two extra points in the heavy rainstorm during the Week 1 win over the 49ers but has made all 14 of his field-goal attempts this season — including four from 40 to 49 yards and four from 50-plus.
Santos also was penalized for a kickoff that went out of bounds, but the Lions did nothing with the resulting premium field position.
“It didn’t come off right,” Santos said of the missed extra point. “I just have to look at what happened, (look at) myself and make the correction.
“It’s easy to just count one, one point, oh, yeah, it’s a tie. But there’s so many things that happened and that’s how we all feel. We all have a lot of opportunities to make plays and help the team win. At that point in the game, we didn’t make the extra point, so we just didn’t end up tying the game because of that point. But so many things for why we didn’t come out with 31 points at the end of the game.”
Santos said he has been kicking with a lot of confidence, and that’s evident in how he has performed on field goals. He remains as reliable of a player as the Bears have on the roster.
The Bears also had a holding penalty on a punt that gave the Lions a 10-yard boost to begin a possession on their 45-yard line, so plenty to clean up for a unit that otherwise has been pretty darn good.
6. Rookie punter Trenton Gill remains a bright spot on special teams.
If Gill can handle the change in weather, he could make a run at the team record book. His gross average of 47.5 yards would be the best in team history. Pat O’Donnell, whom Gill replaced, holds that mark at 47.0 in 2017.
More importantly, Gill’s net average is 40.7 yards, and that would tie O’Donnell (2019) for the best mark in team history. Adam Podesh (40.4 in 2011) is the only other Bears punter to have a net average of 40 or more for a season.
Gill ripped a terrific punt late in the fourth quarter, a 46-yarder that drew a fair catch from Kalif Raymond at the Lions 9-yard line. Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower couldn’t ask for a better kick in that situation.
Weather will be a big factor. It was 34 degrees at kickoff, and when I talked to Gill during the week, he couldn’t think of colder conditions he has played in.
“I was training for the draft and we were outside the whole time in Charlotte, N.C.,” he said. “It was probably 20 or 30 degrees (at the coldest). Coldest game I’ve played in? I don’t know. Probably one of the later games at N.C. State. It was in the 40s.”
The ball doesn’t fly off the foot as well when it gets colder. Combine that with the swirling winds at Soldier Field, and the Bears are unlikely to have the league’s leading punter.
How can Gill combat the cold when the ball won’t play the same as it does in warmer conditions?
“Having good placement,” he said. “You could hit a 56-yard ball (when it’s warm), but if they return it 10 yards, that is the same if you hit one that goes out of bounds at 46. I’ve just got to be really good with that, putting the ball to the sideline so there’s no room anyway. Even if it’s not flying as far, I can get all net (yardage). Just have to play the conditions as best I can.”
7. The Bears had a 24-10 lead when linebacker Jack Sanborn dropped into coverage and snared a high pass from Jared Goff intended for running back D’Andre Swift.
It showed real awareness in space and was a great play that could have turned the game with 11:42 remaining. Instead, a hands-to-the-face penalty on Jaylon Johnson wiped out the takeaway. Johnson might not have gotten wide receiver Trinity Benson in the facemask. Benson dropped to the ground on the play as his knee gave out. He left the stadium using crutches.
“What a nice play by Sanborn,” Matt Eberflus said. “Gosh, getting in the window there, that was really a game-changer for him and his growth. Obviously he had the two sacks and had the interception, had 13 tackles I believe it was (12 actually), so he really had a nice game today for us.
“In terms of the penalty, I’ve got to go back and look at it, but what I saw on the Jumbotron, we’ll see if I see what I see tomorrow.”
Maybe that’s one reason Johnson declined to talk to reporters. Perhaps he was so upset about the critical call, one of nine penalties that cost the Bears 86 yards. But I’m just guessing.
Sanborn showed a knack for getting to Goff on the blitz and was part of the good run defense I referenced above.
“If you go back and look at the preseason, you saw what kind of player he was,” Eberflus said. “He’s very instinctual, makes a lot of plays on the ball, always reads his keys. He’s always on it that way. We’re pleased with where he’s going.”
8. With the exception of Justin Fields, has any player helped himself more in the last three weeks than tight end Cole Kmet?
He has 11 receptions for 126 yards and five touchdowns in that span. Kmet had a team-high seven targets with four grabs for 74 yards and two scores Sunday. His five touchdowns in three weeks is three more than he had in his first two seasons, a span of 33 games.
Kmet wasn’t on the field at the end of the game after he was dinged up following a collision with cornerback Jeff Okudah. Matt Eberflus said he didn’t know about Kmet’s status, but the tight end indicated he thought he would be OK.
That’s important for the Bears because as the running game continues to dominate, it’s opening clear passing windows for Fields and defenders are being influenced by the run action. That finally has made Kmet the big target in the middle of the field that can help the quarterback.
“Cole is getting better each and every week with his route running, and he works hard day in and day out,” Fields said. “Definitely happy for him the way he’s growing and the way he’s continuing to improve each and every week. Just the extra work we put in after practice.”
It’s not out of the realm of possibility to think Kmet could have 10 touchdowns this season if he remains healthy, and he has been a model of durability through 2½ seasons. Mike Ditka holds the Bears record for a tight end with 12 touchdowns in 1961. Jimmy Graham (eight in 2020), Greg Olsen (eight in 2009) and Ditka (eight in 1963) are next on the list.
9. The Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday waived defensive tackle Jerry Tillery, their first-round pick in 2019.
The move came a week after Tillery was a healthy scratch for the Chargers’ Week 9 game in Atlanta. It’s always noteworthy when a team dumps a former top pick in the middle of a season, and you don’t have to read too far into coach Brandon Staley’s comments to realize Tillery, a Notre Dame product, had worn out his welcome with the organization.
“Competing visions for the role moving forward, and it just became clear that it wasn’t going to be a fit anymore,” Staley told Los Angeles media Friday. “Where we’re headed as a team wasn’t going to be compatible with Jerry and where he’s trying to go.”
Tillery was the second former first-round pick to be waived last week after the Las Vegas Raiders dumped safety Johnathan Abram on Tuesday. The Packers claimed Abram off waivers, reuniting him with special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia. The Denver Broncos also submitted a claim for Abram.
It will be interesting to see if the Bears take a shot at Tillery in waivers Monday. They’ve struggled on the defensive line, and the position undoubtedly will be a high priority for GM Ryan Poles in the offseason. Tillery is coming out of contract at the end of the season so the Bears would have him for only seven games (eight weeks), but it would be enough time to evaluate if he’s a player the team could consider after the season. Chances are Tillery would have to sign a prove-it deal in 2023 — wherever he goes — in an effort to enhance his value.
Tillery, who missed practice last week for what the Chargers called personal reasons, was fourth among the team’s defensive linemen in playing time with 190 snaps. Former Bears assistant Jay Rodgers, regarded as one of the better defensive line coaches in the league, coaches the Chargers line.
Tillery had a career-high 4½ sacks last season. In seven games this season, he totaled eight tackles (five solos), one sack, two quarterback hits and one forced fumble. He has 10½ career sacks and 29 starts, although he was strictly a reserve this season.
“He’s sort of been productive this season,” one personnel director said Friday night. “But really hit or miss. Can flash a little bit. He has a little ability to rush the passer. He can get on the edge a little bit. But plays really tall, hollow, doesn’t fight in the run game, can get pushed around. I don’t want to say he’s feast or famine because he really hasn’t feasted much. But he’d have a couple flashes.”
Tillery is 6-foot-6, 295 pounds, and one thing Matt Eberflus covets for his defense is length. It’s worth keeping in mind when wondering if the Bears might consider kicking the tires on him.
“I liked the player when he was coming out,” a national college scout said. “He was one of those guys that was really talented but probably didn’t have the mindset to achieve his potential. Didn’t play to his potential there and didn’t necessarily have the makeup to achieve his potential. I’m not surprised he hasn’t had success.”
The personnel director and the national scout said it wouldn’t surprise them if the Bears — or any team that feels undermanned on the interior — take a shot on Tillery. There’s no risk involved, and occasionally an abrupt change of scenery can be motivating for a player.
10. Speaking of defensive linemen, that’s where the Bears now are working practice squad player Sammis Reyes.
He was signed to the developmental squad Oct. 18 and spent the first three weeks at tight end before switching to defense and playing end last week.
Reyes, the first NFL player born in Chile, has an incredible backstory as a former college basketball player that I detailed a couple of weeks ago (see No. 7). At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, he certainly has the frame to be an edge rusher, but except for a week during preseason practice in high school, he never has played defense.
“We’ll take this week to see how everything goes,” Reyes said. “We’ll have a conversation next week. I’m having fun with it. I’m enjoying it. I am trusting Coach (Matt Eberflus). He knows what he’s doing. I’m putting my head down and working — whatever they want me to do.
“I’ve played it for a couple days, but defensive end feels like me.”
Reyes is absolutely chiseled, and teammates last season in Washington, where he played primarily special teams, joked with him about playing defensive line.
“They planted a seed in my head, maybe I can do that,” Reyes said. “Playing basketball, the first thing everyone thinks for a (player transitioning to football) is tight end. Testing it out is fun.”
10a. Right guard Teven Jenkins left the locker room with a clear limp. He was inactive with a hip injury that was added to the injury report Thursday. Jenkins was on the injury report the week before with a back issue. He briefly came out of the Week 6 game against Washington with a shoulder issue. Jenkins was pulled from the Week 16 game in Seattle last season with a stinger, and of course back surgery knocked him out for the first half of his rookie season. He has been a nice development at right guard, but the list of ailments he has dealt with is increasing and worth noting.
10b. The Bears went with their five best receivers Sunday, and that left N’Keal Harry and Velus Jones Jr. without uniforms. Byron Pringle took Harry’s place on the game-day roster after being activated from injured reserve, and Jones was scratched for the second consecutive week.
“Yeah, that’s what I really said last week,” Matt Eberflus said. “We thought for us it was the best five receivers up for this particular game, and that’s what we decided was best for the Bears this week. Again, with Dante (Pettis) doing a good job on the punt returns, he’s continuing to do a nice job back there catching the ball and he got some good yards today too.”
Pringle was part of special teams; I spotted him on the kickoff and punt teams. He had one catch for 12 yards.
10c. Slow day for wide receiver Chase Claypool, who was targeted twice and had one catch for 8 yards. Until the Bears get more volume in the passing game (they had only 20 attempts), it will be difficult to get everyone an appropriate number of targets. I’m thinking about Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet, Claypool and even the running backs.
10d. Will the Atlanta Falcons turn to rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder for Sunday’s game against the Bears at Mercedes-Benz Stadium? They are 4-6 and coming off two consecutive losses in which they totaled 32 points with veteran Marcus Mariota at quarterback. Ridder was a third-round pick from Cincinnati.
10e. The Falcons opened as three-point favorites over the Bears at Westgate SuperBook.