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Patriots vs. Bears: Fan Notes from the Game

Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 38-31 victory over the Chicago Bears.

NFL: New England Patriots at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports


A win is a win is a win - it’s as easy as that. And the Patriots just brought home a road victory against a very good team with a stout defense while missing key starters. But after yesterday’s contest between the Patriots and Bears, you kind of have to wonder what the hell we just watched. That was just a sloppy game all around, the kind of thing you expect to see in a pop warner league with a bunch of kids just running around in circles the whole time. This just might be the NFL going forward - who knows. I’m just glad that the Bears were kept out of the end zone on that Hail Mary, otherwise I might still be MIA.

  • You don’t know how good it felt to finally get a break from all this primetime nonsense and be able to head over to Paddy’s for a 1 PM game for a change. I know it’s a short lived reprieve, as the Patriots have back-to-back primetime games over the next two weeks, but I’ll take what I can get.
  • The only negative with these 1 PM games? Dan Fouts. While I’m on record as appreciating his style of announcing, at this point I’m not entirely unconvinced that Fouts isn’t still calling games strictly because somebody lost a bet a long time ago. A few of his latest gems:
  • “Mitch Trubisky saw an opening at the line of scrimmage, so it’s in his best interest to run it there, because if he does, he can pick up a first down.”
  • “That’s a great catch by Howard. Trubisky put it a little behind him, and when the quarterback does that, the receiver is going to have to adjust his body to make the catch.
  • “It’s the Kush Push!”
  • Fouts was so pleased with himself for that last one - putting together two words that rhyme - that I almost had to forgive him for being completely incompetent.
  • The law of averages states that you should win a coin toss 50% of the time. Which bodes well for the rest of the year, as the Patriots haven’t won a coin toss in forever.
  • New England opened this game up exactly how we all expected them to - stretch runs, quick screens, and misdirections. Eight plays, 75 yards, and a score against a defense that looked completely overwhelmed.
  • On defense, the Patriots looked to go mostly nickel with what seemed to be Kyle van Noy as the lateral linebacker. As with Patrick Mahomes, the Patriots used a lot of disguised blitz packages to throw off the young quarterback. Five seemed to be the magic number in regards to rushers, with that fifth man coming from all over the place. They also seemed very focused on keeping both sidelines well defended, leaving the shallow middle of the field relatively uncovered. Trubisky was able to capitalize off the scramble, but not much else.
  • And when I say “capitalize off the scramble,” I really mean “do whatever the hell he wanted at any time.” It’s nice to know that the Patriots have faced, and beaten, the two most mobile QBs they’ll see all year - but when several inside sources have confirmation that containing Trubisky and preventing him extending the play by running was a major, major focal point this past week, you have to wonder if there just isn’t the manpower on that side of the ball to do anything about it.
  • That said, this is also the second week in a row where the points put up isn’t indicative of the defensive performance as a whole. Three Bears scores came off of turnovers, leaving the defense with a very short field.
  • But THAT said...turnovers and a very short field also seems to be the MO of the offense - and the special teams, it would appear - so I don’t know how much leeway I should be giving here.
  • One player that’s getting no leeway, from me at least, is DB JC Jackson. He had an unbelievable pick, I’ll grant him that for sure...but that was more or less his only good play of the day. He spent the rest of the afternoon getting burned and drawing flags (albeit some highly questionable ones). I never thought I’d be upset to see Eric Rowe re-injure his groin, but here we find ourselves.
  • Look no further for evidence of what momentum brings to a football game than the Patterson fumble. After that play, the Bears switched up their strategy and mixed in a few power runs with the RPO. When you defend the sidelines, you’re more vulnerable in the middle, and that once again opened things up for Trubisky to run it.
  • I should mention though, that plays like the Trubisky TD run are going to happen. That’s alright. It’s one of those plays that drives you absolutely crazy, and it seems like it happens to the Patriots more than any other team - I mean come on. You figure somebody, somewhere on the defense, would be able to catch that guy. But that’s kind of just the way football is going. The Tommy Bs of the world - surgical, smart pocket passers who run only as a last resort -are slowly being replaced by the Russel Wilsons and Patrick Mahmoes and Mitch Trubiskys. As the NFL becomes nothing but a quest for maximum points, it’s just more exciting. So get ready for a lot more of those.
  • The good thing about being born in the early 80s was that I was only four when the 85 Bears destroyed the Patriots, so I don’t look back on that game with too much despair. I have watched that game in full several times, and while it’s never fun to watch your team get spanked, I don’t have the emotional attachment to the 80s Patriots as I do to the 90s Patriots and beyond. And that Bears defense really was something to behold.
  • The best news I’ve heard in a while is that the Sony Michel injury, which looked absolutely gross, may not be as bad as we all feared. Adam Schefter has heard that it just might not be the season ending variety, which would be huge. Because while I actually like Kenyon Barner, I like Michel better. Barner is my Topanga, and Michel is my Kelly Kapowski. Really no comparison between the two.
  • I wonder if there’s any kind of “hold onto the ball even though you just suffered a massively painful and potentially season ending injury” drill.
  • The good QBs figure out what the Patriots do to confuse them, and Trubisky did that. He stopped looking for the sidelines and was perfectly content to allow receivers to sit in the massive, gaping holes in the middle of the field - when he wasn’t running for a first down. Thank Tebow he isn’t more accurate, because he missed some WIDE open guys yesterday.
  • You have to wonder how many times Adrian Clayborn is going to get great penetration, push his lineman right back, then swat at nothing but air as the quarterback moves about six inches up in the pocket.
  • Once again, I should say it: James White is the most important non-Brady member of this offense. It was true pre-Michel, and it’s doubly true now. Not just as a pass catcher, either; the Patriots needed short yards to close out the game, and White delivered. It kind of makes you wonder why a 5’10”, 190 lb. back is able to pick up two yards on 3rd and 1 while all six feet and 250 lbs of LeGarrette Blount would get stuffed on those runs every single time, but that’s the past.
  • Speaking of the past...everyone remember 2011? That year when the Patriots had to score 100 points a game because the defense couldn’t stop anyone? Might want to look up that season and try and remember how the Patriots made you feel.
  • I’d actually go so far as to say that, thus far, the 2018 Patriots are even more frustrating than the 2011 team, and that’s because they seem to be a unit of missed opportunities. The 2011 unit just looked lost out there, but at least managed to generate a lot of turnovers. 2018 thus far has been seven straight games of near sacks, missed tackles, dropped interceptions, losing contain on 3rd downs, and failures to capitalize on plays that can change the game. It’s a very odd place to be, as this defense has been historically opportunistic, even during the years when it has been historically bad. And a middling D that misses chances to get off the field is great recipe for dusting off the golf clubs in early 2019.
  • There are few things I love more than the slo-mo, wide-eyed “OH S***” look that they always show on a muffed punt.
  • I can 100% acknowledge that I wouldn’t have written that last note had Edelman not recovered his own fumble.
  • I miss old games vs. the Bears. Those were always over by halftime.
  • Trey Burton: nine grabs for 126 yards and a TD. Eric Ebron: nine grabs for 105 yards and two TDs. I guess good for New England for holding Travis Kelce to a mere 61 yards on five catches...but if the tradeoff for that is a running back and a receiver combining for 327 yards and four TDs, maybe letting tight ends do whatever the hell they want is the way to go.
  • Here’s the thing that really concerns me about yesterday’s defensive performance: not including the short field scores off the turnovers, the Bears did exactly three things - crossing route, TE seam pass, and Trubisky run. All three worked, every single time, for the entire game. There was no adjustment whatsoever. Every time the Bears deviated from those three plays, something bad happened to them. The Patriots used to be a great 2nd half team, and this year they aren’t. Their 2nd half possessions yesterday went FG, punt, touchdown, interception, punt. No thanks.
  • But maybe this was the ultimate Yin and Yang game. Because it seems like for every stupid play the Patriots made, they then went and made a great one to compensate. Patterson fumbled a kickoff, then ran one back to the house. JC Jackson commits a few penalties, then makes a great pick. Ryan Allen shanks a punt just before halftime to give the Bear a shot to double dip on points, Hightower blocks one and van Noy scoops it up. Defense drops two gimme picks, so Jackson and Jones make two impossible ones. If this is going to be the way it is for the rest of the year, we all need to start pulling our weight and going way out of our way to be nice to everyone.
  • I’m glad that Dont’a Hightower took a page out of the Alec Shane Guide to Self Defense on that punt and led directly with his face. Trust me, that enough, and people will stop messing with you.
  • Somebody check milk cartons everywhere for Phillip Dorsettt. Although that’s an old cliche now, isn’t it? Missing people don’t go on milk cartons. Where do they go? Twitter? Somebody check Twitter for Philip Dorsett? I don’t like that. You can’t find anything on Twitter besides hot political takes and angry people.
  • Josh Gordon isn’t all that fast, is he? Or is he really fast, but still a little hobbled? Or does he just have one of those really long strides that makes him seem slow? I could have sworn that 55 yarder that set up New England’s only TD of the 2nd half would have gone to the house.
  • Gordon keeps getting better every single game. He’s still good to be in the wrong spot at least once a contest, but he’s also an amazing hands receiver that allows Brady to take risks he otherwise wouldn’t be able to take. Case in point: on fourth and short, Tommy B saw iso coverage on Gordon on the outside, with the DB pushing him towards the sideline. That’s a risky throw for a back shoulder, as it skates close to out of bounds and relies on pinpoint precision and timing. But Brady was able to throw it more to the inside, which allowed Gordon to make the adjustment and reach for it to convert on an absolutely massive play.
  • I can;’t believe I’m about to write this: what a game from LaAdrian Waddle. I don’t think I heard his name mentioned once all day, and Khalil Mack finished the game with a single tackle.
  • They moved Mack all over the line, too - nuthin. Credit to Trent Brown as well.
  • If I’m the Bears, there are two things that kept me awake last night: that the team came within one yard of tying it up on a last second Hail Mary but fell short, and that the Bears packaged draft picks, traded up, skipped Pat Mahomes, and got Trubisky instead.

Back to primetime we go. Not sure if the Patriots will be facing Josh Allen, Nathan Peterman, or Derek Anderson...but whoever it is, grab them from the fantasy waiver wire and start them immediately. Should be another shootout.