After watching tape of Monday night's impressive 33-14 win over the Patriots, Bears coach Matt Eberflus discussed three things that stood out to him in the game:
(1) Eberflus credited the emphasis on fundamentals and techniques in practice with helping the Bears dominate the Patriots on both sides of the ball.
After a 10-0 lead turned into a 14-10 second-quarter deficit, the offense scored on five straight possessions, while the defense generated four takeaways on eight Patriots drives, enabling the Bears to score the game's final 23 points.
Eberflus felt the performance was a direct result of what he and his staff emphasized during extended individual periods in practice during the team's mini-bye.
"Just wanted to thank the coaches and the players for really taking the mini-bye to really focus in on those fundamentals and techniques in individuals during the course of the week," Eberflus said Tuesday at Halas Hall, "translating that into the team periods and then working that into the game."
Eberflus' belief in the importance of fundamentals and techniques is rooted in his past as a linebacker at Toledo and as an assistant coach in college and the NFL.
"I've been around a lot of good coaches in my past," Eberflus said. "I've taken a lot of good things from them. It's coach [Rod] Marinelli. It's [Gary] Pinkel. It's my high school coach. It's coach [Nick] Saban. Whoever that is, they're fundamentalists at heart. They believe in the position coach and player relationship because the backbone of your team is always the position coach and their relationship with the player.
"How do you get better execution? How do you get better fundamentals? It's through that partnership. That's something we believe. That's something I've seen and confirmed with my own eyes when I was younger. It's something that I've preached now for several years as I've gotten into these positions as a defensive coordinator and obviously a head coach. It's something we believe in and something that's very important to us."
The focus on fundamentals and techniques will remain a top priority.
"It's something that we do every week," Eberflus said. "We really pick out something that we want to make sure the guy gets better at and we focus on that. If we keep doing that, the guy will be a better product on the football field, a better performer from Week 1 to Week 6, Week 6 to Week 12."
Check out the best images—taken by Bears photographers—from Monday night's 33-14 victory over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
(2) Eberflus praised offensive coordinator Luke Getsy for keeping the Patriots defense off balance by varying his play calls.
After a thorough evaluation during the mini-bye, the Bears called more designed quarterback runs and read-option plays than at any point this season. Justin Fields took advantage of the opportunities by rushing for a game-high 82 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.
"The mix and match of the in-pocket, out-of-pocket, the different protections we were using to really focus on the strengths of our football team and our offensive unit I thought was excellent," Eberflus said. "[Getsy] really did a nice job of keeping things off balance for the opponent, and it was good."
That was particularly true on third down as the Bears converted 11-of-18 opportunities (61.1 percent). It was their most third-down conversions since Sept. 13, 2015, when they were successful on 11-of-17 chances against the Packers.
Fields was responsible for 10 of the 11 third-down conversions via five passes for 89 yards and five rushes for 38 yards.
Asked what impressed him most about the quarterback's performance on third down, Eberflus said: "Just the efficiency of it. Of course it matters how you get it done, but it's getting it done, so that's important. He utilized his legs when he needed to. We thought he executed well on third down and the numbers show that."
The Bears had converted just 4-of-21 plays of third-and-10 or more in their first six games. But on the same drive Monday night, Fields scrambled for 20 yards on third-and-14 and completed a 17-yard pass to Darnell Mooney on third-and-16.
The pass to Mooney helped the offense dig out of a second-and-25 situation and set up Cairo Santos' 23-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, giving the Bears a 20-14 lead. It also helped the Bears double up with field goals on the final drive of the first half and the opening possession of the second half.
"When you get to those parts of the halves—the end of half and the start of the half—those are important parts of the game for us," Eberflus said. "We really talk about those. We really work those in practice and we really teach and coach those during the course of the week. Those are important pieces for us to be successful as an offense, defense and kicking team."
The Bears' top picks in this year's draft both recorded their first NFL interceptions as part of a four-takeaway effort by the defense. Brisker, a safety from Penn State, created the first turnover with a leaping one-handed interception of a Mac Jones pass in the second quarter. Brisker also recorded seven tackles, second most behind Roquan Smith's 12.
Gordon produced the Bears' final takeaway, intercepting a Bailey Zappe pass late in the game and returning it 42 yards.
"It's staying the course," Eberflus said. "We've said it before with ups and downs, ins and outs, and those guys have had that. But if you keep your eyes forward and focus on detail and focus on improving every week, you will see a better product.
"Are there going to be some more adversities coming up? Sure. That's the way life is. That's the way football is. But if you keep yourself in a positive mindset, [and] say, 'How can I get better, how can I improve, and I've got a partner right here in my coach that's going to help me do that,' then you'll see improved play during the course of the year."