After watching tape of Sunday's 20-9 win over the Raiders in Las Vegas, coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him in the Bears' second straight victory.
(1) Nagy praised a stifling defensive effort that was led by star outside linebacker Khalil Mack.
The Bears held the Raiders to one touchdown while registering three sacks and one takeaway. They also limited quarterback Derek Carr to 206 yards passing, well below his NFL-leading average of 300 yards per game entering the contest.
Facing the team that traded him to the Bears in 2018, Mack recorded eight tackles—tying for the most he's had in one game with the Bears—and one sack. He also drew a holding penalty that nullified a Raiders touchdown, sacked Carr on a two-point conversion attempt and stuffed running back Josh Jacobs for no gain on fourth-and-1.
"Defensively, I really felt like we were relentless the whole day against a really good offense," Nagy said. "You could feel it. It was a game where we were able to affect them, and I think it all started, too, with '52.' Every single play, Khalil was all over the place. It was really one of those games you could see that they knew where he was on every play, and he was still able to affect the game.
"The other guys, his teammates around him, helped him with that part. So, all in all, it was 11 guys on defense that were just flying around against a really good offense with a lot of good skill players."
Outside linebacker Robert Quinn did not record a sack for the first time this season. But the 11-year veteran continued to produce impact plays. The most impressive came when he hustled to chase down receiver Hunter Renfrow after a 9-yard reception on the first play of the second half.
Bilal Nichols followed by tackling Jacobs for a one-yard loss, and after wide open receiver Bryan Edwards dropped a pass deep down the field, the Raiders were forced to punt without picking up a first down.
"Robert Quinn had a really good play," Nagy said. "The effort was awesome. You see that in practice. Robert does that in practice. When you can take a practice clip and see that in the game, it's pretty neat to see. That was really important."
Mack leads the defense with 5.0 sacks, just ahead of Quinn's 4.5. The dynamic duo is a major reason the Bears top the NFL with 18 sacks.
"When you have a guy like Robert Quinn that's playing at a high level, I mean, maybe one of the highest levels he's played at in his career, playing like that only brings attention to him to help out 52," Nagy said.
"When Khalil plays how he did, now you have both those guys on the edges playing like that. Everybody else, it helps them out, and now they start playing better, and so it's a domino effect. They're complementary to each other, and they're having fun with it now."
“Defensively, I really felt like we were relentless the whole day against a really good offense.” Bears coach Matt Nagy
(2) Nagy was pleased that the Bears running game produced 143 yards and one touchdown on 37 carries, especially in such a physical game.
With starting running back David Montgomery unavailable due to a knee injury, rookie Khalil Herbert rushed for 75 yards on 18 attempts and veteran Damien Williams ran for 64 yards and one TD on 16 carries.
"It was really impressive," Nagy said. "You get these opportunities in a game like that, you know that the run game has to be really important and those guys did that and they stepped up and they did it with help.
"I said yesterday the offensive line and tight ends [deserved credit for blocking]. You go back and watch that tape, you better include those wideouts in there, because there were some awesome blocks by the wideouts. The one that jumps out to me is [Darnell] Mooney out there on the touchdown run, sticking his nose in there and getting leverage like he did. But Damiere Byrd had a bunch of stiff blocks. It was neat to see. Those were two that I think of, but all the wideouts were blocking, too, so it was pretty neat."
Entering Sunday's game, Herbert had just three NFL carries—all after Montgomery was injured a week earlier in a win over the Lions. But the Bears didn't shy away from giving him the ball when they were protecting a 14-9 lead in the fourth quarter against the Raiders.
"He did a great job," Nagy said. "When you have 18 carries, you're doing something right. Him and Damien were complementary to each other. You saw some really good times where he hit that zone and he stuck that right or left foot in the ground, planted it, and he went north and south and got seven, eight yards every time.
"I like his vision. I like his patience. I also like his toughness, and you see it when he's returning kickoffs. He's smooth, and people bounce off him, so he's got good contact balance. I really like where he's at."
(3) Nagy credited offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and defensive coordinator Sean Desai with executing their game plans at a high level.
In his second straight contest calling plays, Lazor again relied on a productive ground game to sustain drives and take pressure off rookie quarterback Justin Fields. The 37-carry, 143-yard outing Sunday came after the Bears had rushed for 188 yards and three TDs on 39 attempts a week earlier in a win over the Lions. It's the first time the Bears have had at least 37 rushes in back-to-back games since 2010.
On a 16-play, 86-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter, Lazor called nine runs and seven passes.
"Bill did a really good job of mixing it up, in that entire drive put a couple different runs in there, which is good," Nagy said. "It kind of calms down their defensive line. And then just in general, I felt like the wide receivers' timing was good. Justin's timing was good. He had protection. It's just everything kind of clicked."
Mostly everything clicked for Desai and the defense as well. In the second half, the Bears did not allow the Raiders to advance past their own 38-yard line on five of six possessions.
"Just being on the headset and listening to him, I thought he was really on to being able to see where they were at and predict what they were going to do," Nagy said. "That's a credit to that whole coaching staff and Sean really looking into it because that's a great offensive scheme and great players and they do a lot of different things and they've got a lot of different weapons.
"I just feel like big picture [Desai] had a good feel on how he wanted that thing to go, and he stuck to it and stayed patient in a lot of different ways. It's impressive. We had that Week 1 against the Rams; that was a tough game. And I really believe that he's done a great job kind of building that identity on defense, and once you get that and guys start believing in what they're able to do together, it works, it's good."