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After Further Review

3 things that stood out to Eberflus in Week 5 win

After watching tape of Thursday night's 40-20 road win over the Commanders, Bears coach Matt Eberflus on Friday discussed three things that stood out to him in the game:

(1) Eberflus saw quarterback Justin Fields' confidence and comfort level continue to grow.

The third-year pro excelled for the second straight game, throwing for 282 yards and four touchdowns with a 125.3 passer rating versus the Commanders after producing 335 yards and four TDs with a 132.7 rating last Sunday against the Broncos. In the process, Fields joined Jay Cutler as the only quarterbacks in Bears history to throw for four TDs in back-to-back games.

"You can just see the confidence," Eberflus said. "When you have growth in your profession or my profession or him being a pro quarterback, you can just feel it. And you can feel the guys around him, the comfort level and the confidence that they're having, the chemistry that they're having. You can see it in practice, you can see it in the games. To me, it's just about the growth, it's about the execution and then the consistency of that execution in the games and practice. We've seen it."

Eberflus is seeing Fields play with poise and confidence and take more shots down field, in part because of the chemistry he's developed with his receivers. The quarterback's bond with DJ Moore was especially evident Thursday night, with the veteran receiver setting career highs with 230 yards and three touchdowns on eight catches.

In the last two games, Fields has completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 617 yards with eight TDs, one interception and a 131.2 passer rating.

"That's growth," Eberflus said. "That's really where it is. And then the consistency of that, just stacking games like he had the last two. Just keep stacking them up. That's what he wants to see and what we want to see."

(2) Eberflus saw multiple reserves step up and perform well in place of injured starters.

The Bears were forced to shuffle their offensive line after center Lucas Patrick exited in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. They also had to rely on fullback Khari Blasingame—who hadn't had a rushing attempt since 2021—to help protect a late lead after running backs Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson and Travis Homer all left the game with injuries.

After Patrick exited, veteran Cody Whitehair moved from left guard to center and Teven Jenkins stepped in at left guard, making his season debut. Jenkins played 37 snaps while second-year pro Ja'Tyre Carter subbed in for 11 plays.

Despite those changes, the offensive line excelled against one of the NFL's best defensive lines. The unit provided excellent protection for Fields—especially in the first half—and opened holes for a running game that generated 178 yards on 32 carries. The line helped the Bears score on all five of their first-half possessions in taking a 27-3 halftime lead.

"If you look at the way the offensive line played," Eberflus said, "with the different matchups they had in there, versus their defensive line and the different people we had to put in there, the pieces and parts in there. I thought the O-line coach (Chris Morgan) did a great job."

The secondary was already shorthanded heading into the game, with veteran defensive backs Eddie Jackson and Jaylon Johnson watching from the sideline in street clothes due to injuries.

Two cornerbacks made the most of their expanded playing time. Fifth-year pro Greg Stroman Jr. registered an interception and a sack on a well-timed blitz and rookie fifth-round pick Terell Smith generated a takeaway by ripping the ball away from tight end Logan Thomas and recovering the fumble.

Check out the best images—taken by Bears photographers—from Thursday night's 40-20 victory over the Commanders at FedExField.

(3) Eberflus was pleased that the Bears were able to finish strong.

After dominating on both sides of the ball for nearly three quarters last Sunday against the Broncos, the Bears committed two turnovers and other mistakes as Denver rallied from a 28-7 deficit for a 31-28 victory.

What transpired late in that game was still very fresh on the Bears' minds when they took a 27-3 halftime lead over the Commanders.

"The message to the team for halftime was simple," Eberflus said. "That we've learned a lot of lessons together as a group through this adversity, and one of them is that we have to finish. And the guys did a good job with that, sticking in there, playing one play at a time and finishing the game the way it's supposed to be finished there."

After punting on their first two possessions of the second half, the Bears scored on three of their final four drives of the game. Moore sealed the win with just over four minutes remaining when he leaped high over cornerback Kendall Fuller to haul in a Fields pass and raced 56 yards down the left sideline for a TD that increased the Bears' lead to 37-20.

One key factor—and difference from last Sunday—was that the Bears generated two takeaways and didn't commit any turnovers.

"We got the ball," Eberflus said. "I told those guys if you get that right, most times it will be right. And we did a good job protecting it. Overall, I'm proud of the guys for the game that they had."

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