3 Takeaways from Bears' Week 2 Win
Has the Justin Fields era officially arrived in Chicago? Based on what transpired Sunday, that may turn out to be the case.
Fields, who was taken by the Chicago Bears with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, took over the offense when Andy Dalton exited with a knee injury. And while Fields didn't immediately dazzle, he still helped lead the Bears to their first win of the season, a 20-17 home victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The final score may have been close, but Chicago was in control for most of the day. It had a 17-point lead before Cincinnati scored a pair of touchdowns in the final four minutes, 39 seconds. But the Bengals couldn't tie things up late, as the Bears ran out the clock by picking up a pair of first downs on their final drive.
Here are three takeaways from Chicago's Week 2 win.
There Will Be Some Growing Pains for Fields
Fields has a ton of potential and possesses the skills to become a dynamic NFL quarterback. But he's not going to step in and immediately put up huge numbers, which was shown during his first extended regular-season action for the Bears.
Taking over for Dalton in the second quarter, Fields went 6-for-13 for 60 yards and an interception, while also rushing for 31 yards on 10 carries. He made a big play when he needed to, though, scampering for 10 yards on Chicago's final drive and picking up a key first down to help it close out the victory.
Still, Fields knows there's plenty he can do better, and he plans on showing continued improvement.
"I don't think I'm pleased with how I played at all," Fields said, per Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press. "I think there's a lot more in me that I have to show. I know there's gonna come a time. I know it's not gonna happen overnight, so I'm just gonna keep grinding. No matter what happens, I know I'm meant for this. I'm meant to be here."
It's not yet known how much time Dalton will miss. But if it ends up being a week or two, he may not get his job back if Fields lives up to potential and starts showing what he's capable of. It's also possible that Fields will endure some more struggles before he reaches that point, as to be expected from a rookie QB.
Smith Shows Why He's Among NFL's Top LBs
Since coming to the Bears in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, Roquan Smith has developed into one of the NFL's top inside linebackers. He compiled more than 100 tackles in each of his first three seasons and entered this year with four interceptions and 11 sacks in 44 career games.
Smith also has the ability to make big, game-changing plays, as he showed Sunday against the Bengals.
With 10 minutes, 55 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Smith intercepted Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow and returned it 53 yards to the end zone, marking the first touchdown of his NFL career. That score pushed Chicago's lead to 17-3, while preventing the Bengals from potentially putting together a game-tying drive in the process.
"It was pretty sweet—besides giving the ball on my first pick-six to a fan," Smith said, per Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times. "In the moment, I wish I would have kept it. But I’m sure I made his year."
As for Smith's year, this could end up being his best yet. In addition to his interception, he already has 19 tackles and a sack through the Bears' first two games, and there are no signs of the 24-year-old slowing down anytime soon.
Defense Could Make Bears a Playoff Contender
Smith wasn't the only player on the Bears' defense to make a big play on Sunday. In fact, Chicago had three interceptions in the span of four plays for Cincinnati's offense in the fourth quarter, as Burrow found out firsthand how dangerous the Bears' defense can be.
After Smith's pick-six, second-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson notched his first career interception on the Bengals' next possession. When Burrow got the ball back, he was picked off by Angelo Blackson, as the defensive lineman also recorded the first interception of his career.
It was a sequence that secured Chicago's win. And if it's a sign of things to come, this defense may be the reason why the Bears end up making the playoffs out of the NFC North this season.
"Throughout the week, there was an emphasis in order to bring those characteristics—energy, passion, playing hard throughout the snap, having those things as messages during the week," Chicago defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said, per Seligman. "And just before the game, we reminded ourselves of this is what we want our defense to look like. Then, we came out and showed it today."
The first team in their division to win a game this season, the Bears could be in store for a successful year if their defense continues to play like this.