The Chris And Joe Show Rapid Reaction To The Giants��� 27 13 Loss

10 thoughts after the Chicago Bears combined a smothering defensive effort with the offensive line’s best performance to date to defeat the Las Vegas Raiders 20-9 on Sunday afternoon at raucous Allegiant Stadium.

Bears kicker Cairo Santos makes a field goal in the fourth quarter against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 10, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Bears kicker Cairo Santos makes a field goal in the fourth quarter against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 10, 2021.

1. The music pumped so loudly in the visitors locker room, you could hear it through several sets of walls in the bowels of this stunning new stadium just off the Strip.

Bears fans who packed the joint — it’s fair to say the crowd approached 50-50 — were delirious in the fourth quarter, drowning out Silver and Black fans and making Raiders quarterback Derek Carr contend with what sounded like a hostile road crowd in his own backyard as he attempted to rally his team.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs with the ball as Raiders safety Johnathan Abram prepares to make the tackle in the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 10, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Bears quarterback Justin Fields runs with the ball as Raiders safety Johnathan Abram prepares to make the tackle in the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 10, 2021.

Club Dub, Matt Nagy’s postgame creation in 2018 for victories, was open and thumping.

“I can hear it through like five walls, I think,” said tight end Jesper Horsted, who was active on game day for the first time this season and made the most of it, snagging a 2-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields early in the second quarter. “Everyone’s dancing. You’ve got guys like me who usually don’t get in that circle going and throwing some moves.

Fans arrive to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Fans arrive to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021.

“Everyone is very excited because it was a great game in all phases. The defense played their tails off. The offense is moving the ball and taking really long drives to eat up that clock. And special teams was lights out, too, against a really good unit.”

The Bears are right to feel good about themselves at 3-2 and a game behind the Green Bay Packers (4-1) entering Sunday’s NFC North showdown at Soldier Field. They should take time to enjoy the road win considering all they’ve been through in just a five-week span.

There was intense focus on the quarterback situation before starter Andy Dalton was injured, and many were eager to pounce on just about every word Nagy uttered. There was a dreadful loss in Cleveland in Week 3. Nagy handed over play-calling duties. He then promoted Fields when Dalton was cleared to return from injury, and there have been a couple of significant injuries along the way. That’s a lot to traverse before kicking off a Week 5 game across the country as a 5½-point underdog.

Maybe someone in the Bears locker room turned the volume to 11 with hopes that Raiders coach Jon Gruden would hear the beat. He, of course, joked about not having a disco in his locker room after the Raiders defeated the Bears in London during Week 5 of the 2019 season.

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021.

Both games were won in pretty much the same fashion. The Raiders imposed their will on the Bears in that game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It was the Bears’ turn Sunday to get the upper hand physically, with Nagy referencing Tyson Fury versus Deontay Wilder III, a classic heavyweight fight that took place Saturday night in Las Vegas with Fury winning on an 11th-round TKO.

Bears quarterbacks Justin Fields and Andy Dalton warm up on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Bears quarterbacks Justin Fields and Andy Dalton warm up on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

“We talked about last night in the team meeting,” Nagy said. “We talked about it all week long. This was going to be a fistfight in a back alley, and ironically we’re out here with that big fight last night and you could kind of feel how that was going to go today.

“Our players just really stepped up to the plate when they needed to at big-time moments. You can’t pick any one person out. Everybody did a good job. There’s signs of toughness throughout, signs of resiliency. Just across the board, everybody.”

Bears and Las Vegas Raiders fans find their seats before the game on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Bears and Las Vegas Raiders fans find their seats before the game on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Nagy has taken his share of hits already this season, some of them deserved. There’s no need to review the effort in Cleveland, and he has been awkward at times in discussing the quarterbacks and who is calling plays.

Bears fans watch their team warm up on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Bears fans watch their team warm up on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

But when a coach gets a team to respond like the Bears have, you have to step back and acknowledge that the Bears came here and played their butts off. They didn’t beat the Raiders with a bunch of big plays or fluky takeaways or long returns. They beat the Raiders down, and that requires the entire roster.

“Man, my blood is still going,” said running back Damien Williams, who started in place of the injured David Montgomery and had 64 yards on 16 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. “I feel like I did more in the locker room than I did on the field, all the dancing we were doing. It was a great team victory, so we felt good. Feel great about the win.”

There’s no telling what the Bears will do from here, but to be 3-2 having played four pretty good teams — I think the Cincinnati Bengals are trending up and I know the Los Angeles Rams and aforementioned Cleveland Browns are good — is a solid start. The schedule will remain a meat grinder for the Bears, but they earned the right to enjoy a long flight home before a day off and what should be some positive film review Tuesday.

Chicago Bears fan Daniel Saguanpong, of Las Vegas, works the grill outside of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Oct. 10, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Chicago Bears fan Daniel Saguanpong, of Las Vegas, works the grill outside of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Oct. 10, 2021.

“Guys lock in,” free safety Eddie Jackson said. “We block out all the noise and we rally around each other and continue to fight.”

There’s a level of belief in the locker room. The emergence of Fields as a talent who should only improve brings a new level of energy. Nagy hasn’t nailed every decision, but what coach does? He has hit enough lately to have this group feeling remarkably better than it did two weeks ago, when it looked like nothing could go right.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields walks off the field while warming up to face the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Bears quarterback Justin Fields walks off the field while warming up to face the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

2. You have to appreciate what the Bears did offensively — and we’re going to dive into it — but first let’s establish that two games do not establish an identity.

That’s not to take away from what the Bears did in winning this game and defeating the Detroit Lions in Week 4. It’s just not possible to meander for 2½ seasons and all of a sudden fall into having a legitimate identity with elements of the playbook the team can hang its hat on week in and week out. But the Bears very well could be on their way to determining an offensive identity. I will say that much.

Fans arrive to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Fans arrive to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021.

Consider they were without two tight ends who have been effective blockers in Jesse James (personal) and J.P. Holtz (quadriceps) and were calling on Damien Williams, who limped off the field in Week 4 with a thigh injury, to start at running back with rookie Khalil Herbert serving as a reserve. They bumped up Ryan Nall from the practice squad and lined him up in the backfield as a fullback a few times, and reserve offensive lineman Alex Bars played 16 snaps by my unofficial count as a blocking tight end. And they got after the Raiders up front.

Fans arrive to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Fans arrive to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas before a game between the Bears and Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021.

A week after the offense had 39 rushing attempts against the Lions, the Bears had 37 carries versus the Raiders and totaled 143 rushing yards. Williams had a long gain of 14 yards, and Herbert, who carried 18 times for 75 yards, had a long of 11. The Bears weren’t gashing the Raiders but they delivered body blows time and again. The league’s last-ranked team on third down converted 5 of 7 in the first half in vaulting to a 14-3 lead.

It’s really something for the Bears to have 37 or more rushing attempts in consecutive games. You have to go back to November 2010 for the last time that happened, when the Bears had a combined 77 rushing attempts in a 27-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings followed by a 16-0 win at Miami. They had 37-plus carries in back-to-back games in 2006 in blowout wins over the Seattle Seahawks (37-6) and Buffalo Bills (40-7).

That’s it for this century. You have to go all the way back to the start of the 1989 season for the last time the Bears had 37 or more rushes in three consecutive games. That was a different era of football.

The Bears got after a Raiders front anchored by defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Quinton Jefferson. From the 400 level of the stadium — and it felt like the 900 level, it was so high — it looked like the interior of the offensive line had a really good game in knocking the Raiders off the ball. Williams and Herbert both ran with power.

The Bears ran 60 offensive plays, and by my count 34 were with the quarterback under center. That’s a week after they had 57 snaps against the Lions with 31 plays from under center. The offense took a total of 40 snaps under center in the first three games combined, and now there have been 65 the last two weeks with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor calling plays.

“You guys would probably agree there’s a little bit of an identity going on right now,” Matt Nagy said. “That’s real. And how do you build off of that? When you have that running game, it certainly makes things a lot easier in a lot of different ways.

“I’ll remind you that defense we played against today is pretty good. They can get after you. You have to be careful how much you get into (dropping back) because they don’t need to blitz a lot. They play their stuff and get after you at the edge, so you’ve got to be able to run. And our guys did that.”

We’ve heard Nagy talk about finding an identity before, and then he seems to get pulled away from the running game. The Bears will encounter problems moving the ball on the ground, and all of a sudden they go through a four-game stretch in which the running game looks like an afterthought.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields warms up to face the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Bears quarterback Justin Fields warms up to face the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

They won’t be able to run the ball 30-plus times every week. It’s not feasible. Fall behind and have to start playing catch-up and you could see Justin Fields have a game with 40 pass attempts. A week after going 11 of 17 against the Lions, Fields was 12 of 20 for 111 yards. Andy Dalton completed one pass for 8 yards.

The Bears did it on the ground, and for that, they put faith in the offensive line.

“Can you ask me that (Monday) after I watch tonight?” Nagy said when asked if it was the line’s best performance this season. “I would say it felt good to have all those rushes, what was it, 37 or 38 rushes for whatever it was? It felt like we were rushing the ball for 5 yards a carry. And when you have that, it’s huge. I can say in part, yes.”

Subtract Fields’ three rushes for 4 yards, and Williams and Herbert averaged just under 4.1 yards per carry. It probably felt better to Nagy because the Bears did a nice job of staying out of too many third-and-long situations, and they wore the Raiders down.

Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson warms up to face the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson warms up to face the Raiders on Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The change to Lazor has created a different dynamic for the Bears, and it will be interesting to see how things develop. A running game is a rookie quarterback’s best friend, and the offense also isn’t putting stress on the line, especially the tackles.

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) warms up at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Oct. 10, 2021. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) warms up at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Oct. 10, 2021.

“It feels good to have that,” Nagy said. “And now what we’ve got to do is, as we go through this identity and figure out where we’re at, is be able to grow with that, right? Because teams start to see who you are and they’re going to have counter ways to counterattack you and we’ve got to counter that. We always talk about you’ve got to keep them chasing the cat’s tail. So that’s important.”

How long will it take the Bears to truly create an identity on offense that feels legitimate and not temporary? A half-season is certainly fair to ask when you’re talking about evaluating substantive change. But give the coaches credit for the designs the last two weeks and the players credit for executing, especially the guys up front in the middle — guards Cody Whitehair and James Daniels and center Sam Mustipher.

3. Matt Nagy’s announcement Wednesday that Justin Fields will be the starting quarterback even with Andy Dalton returning from the bone bruise in his left knee ended around-the-clock hand-wringing from those who were adamant about seeing the first-round draft pick play now.

Reality was Nagy would get to that decision sooner rather than later even if he didn’t come out and say that publicly. If you took a step back and considered the scope of everything involved here, it was the only thing that could happen.

Was it clumsy and unnecessarily awkward at times how the Bears arrived here? No question, and that, almost as much as Nagy’s reticence to publicly anoint Fields, created more public angst. What matters moving forward is the performance of Fields, who is in position to potentially start 15 games in his rookie season. Nagy didn’t cave to public pressure or get a directive from above that it was time to start Fields. Fields has been the key for Nagy all along.

Nagy’s future as head coach of the Bears has been tied to Fields’ development since the moment the Bears traded up in the draft to take a shot at a quarterback. That was the most telegraphed pre-draft move the Bears have made in some time. The entire league knew it would happen — or at least that general manager Ryan Pace would try like hell to pull it off. The only questions were which team the Bears would be able to put together a deal with and which quarterbacks would remain on the board when their pick came.

Chicago Bears kicker Cairo Santos (2) makes a field goal in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Oct. 10, 2021. The Bears beat the Raiders 20-9. © Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune Chicago Bears kicker Cairo Santos (2) makes a field goal in the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Oct. 10, 2021. The Bears beat the Raiders 20-9.

They managed to get the 11th pick in a deal with the New York Giants and were fortunate that Fields, the fourth passer selected, was still available. Barring a sizzling hot beginning to the season by Dalton, which didn’t happen against the Los Angeles Rams, things were going to shift to Fields quickly. As Nagy explained, that process sped up a bit when Dalton was injured.

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs the ball in the second quarter Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs the ball in the second quarter Oct. 10, 2021, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

So here the Bears are with 12 games remaining and a ton of time for Fields to play, and evaluations of the trade to acquire him and his developmental process will be put under the microscope. As I detailed in this column after the season-opening loss to the Rams, coaches of first-round quarterbacks haven’t necessarily gotten the extended time to develop their young passers as you might think.

Chicago Bears linebacker Trevis Gipson (99) celebrates a sack in the third quarter on Oct. 10, 2021 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Chicago Bears linebacker Trevis Gipson (99) celebrates a sack in the third quarter on Oct. 10, 2021 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

From 2015 through 2020 — a span of six drafts — 20 quarterbacks were selected in Round 1. The head coach was fired after the rookie season of 10 of those quarterbacks. Included in that list is former Bears coach John Fox and Anthony Lynn, whom the Los Angeles Chargers fired after last season even after Justin Herbert threw for 4,336 yards with 31 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions as a rookie and ran for five more touchdowns. Lynn was heavily criticized for game management issues, and his plan was to go with Tyrod Taylor at the start of the season before a freak injury sidelined him. Still, Herbert’s rapid ascension didn’t secure Lynn’s future.

Chicago Bears inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (44) tackles Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Willie Snead (17) in the fourth quarter. © Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune Chicago Bears inside linebacker Alec Ogletree (44) tackles Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Willie Snead (17) in the fourth quarter.

I don’t believe there are a lot of parallels between Nagy and Lynn. Every situation has its own unique circumstances. If Fields can come close to the type of numbers Herbert posted, he would look incredible when you stack him up against the quarterbacks who preceded him in Bears history. The Chargers have been blessed with outstanding play at the position in Philip Rivers and before him Dan Fouts.


Video: David Carr on Jon Gruden: 'Kind of tough' for Derek Carr, Raiders to move forward (NFL)