24 degrees/ SNOW/ 8 MPH wind
Key Decision #1:
- Tarik Cohen had the latitude to not fair catch a punt with a cover man speeding down field, and instead returned the punt 28 yards to the Chicago 43-yard line. The Bears went on a nine-play, 57-yard touchdown scoring drive that put Chicago up 6-0. (The PAT was blocked.) It’s surprising to see a rookie have this type of latitude to take chances, but Cohen has excelled in various role this year and seems to have the confidence of the coaching staff.
Key Decision #2:
- Cleveland Browns running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson had two second-half carries. Abandoning the ground game in a 6-3 game in inclement weather was a curious decision. Even after the Bears scored on the first drive of the second half to make it a 13-3 game, running the ball might have been a good decision considering the weather, and Browns QB DeShone Kizer’s struggled to establish a rapport with his wide receivers. (Corey Coleman had one catch for 3 yards and Josh Gordon had two catches for 19 yards).
- The Cleveland offense suffered as a result of abandoning the running game and they did not have a snap in the red zone in the game. Running the ball to help a struggling and young QB is something that the Browns should likely explore in the 2017 finale and in 2018.
Key Decision #3:
- Of course, Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was going to heavily blitz a rookie quarterback. We wouldn’t have expected anything less. The Bears offensive line gave up five sacks to the Browns, but QB Trubisky persevered and completed 14 of 23 passing attempts for 193 yards. He also ran for 44 yards and a score. RB Jordan Howard also ran for 44 yards and found the end zone on a pass and run. The blitz gaveth and it tooketh away on Sunday. It stopped a few Chicago drives but the Bears also hit the Browns on some screens and QB scrambles for explosive plays.
Key Decision #4: (CHI leading 6-0 / 1 & 10 CHI 36 / 1:33 Q2)
- After a 16-yard completion to Josh Bellamy to start the drive and a 14-yard Trubisky run for a first down, Chicago had the ball at midfield and a fresh set of downs. The Bears then threw two straight incompletes to Josh Bellamy. On third down, Trubisky was sacked and the Browns took a timeout to stop the clock and force the Bears to punt.
- The Bears took little time off the clock and forced the Browns to use only one timeout. They have three running backs that have shown to be effective in the screen pass game. They could have run the ball and run the clock down and used their own timeouts to get in position to attempt a field goal or even a touchdown. But the Browns took their timeout and took over at their own 22-yard line with 31 seconds remaining and two timeouts. The Browns moved the ball down to the Chicago 30-yard line and Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez hit a 48-yard field goal in difficult conditions to cut the Bears lead in half (6-3).
Key Decision #5: (CHI leading 13-3 / 3rd & 14 CLE 28 / 5:22 Q3)
- Mitch Trubisky completed a 13-yard pass to Tarik Cohen. Bears head coach John Fox challenged the spot on the play as he believed that Cohen had earned a first down. The ruling on the field was upheld. The Bears would lose a timeout. This set up the very next play which also triggered a key decision….
Key Decision #6: (CHI leading 13-3 / 4th & 1 CLE 15 / 4:47 Q3)
- Rather than attempt a 33-yard field goal, Chicago attempted a 4th down conversion. Jordan Howard took a handoff and ran over the right side of the line for an eight yard gain and a first down. The Bears pulled ahead two plays later when Trubisky ran a quarterback draw for a score to make the game 20-3 and out of reach.
- Normally attempting a field goal and tacking on points to make it 16-3 would be the call we think would be the best call. However, given the conditions and a PAT having been blocked earlier in the game, and what a blocked kick could mean in terms of a momentum swing, we think that attempting the conversion here was the best call.
- This was a battle of two coaching staffs that faced each other in the 2017 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
- DeShone Kizer threw two INT’s. He leads the league with a total of 21 interceptions.
- Bears CB Kyle Fuller is finally healthy and playing like a former first-round pick. Fuller followed Browns WR Josh Gordon for most of the afternoon and had an interception in the corner of the end zone to end a Browns drive towards the end of the first half.