After watching tape of Sunday's 17-13 win over the Giants, Bears coach Matt Nagy on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him in the home opener at Soldier Field:
(1) Nagy saw improvement from the Bears defense in several key areas, most notably with the pass rush and on third downs.
After being limited to one sack in the season opener in Detroit, the Bears registered four sacks Sunday, their highest total since last Nov. 3 when they also had four in a road loss to the Eagles.
The sacks of Giants quarterback Daniel Jones Sunday were generated by outside linebackers Robert Quinn, Khalil Mack and Barkevious Mingo and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Quinn's came on his first play as a member of the Bears and resulted in a fumble that Mack recovered, setting up a field goal.
"I thought you felt more of a pass rush [against the Giants] on the front line with the defensive line and the outside linebackers," Nagy said.
The Bears defense also held the Giants to a 23 percent success rate on third downs (3 of 13) a week after allowing the Lions to convert 38 percent of their third-down opportunities (6 of 16).
"I thought we were really good on third down defensively," Nagy said. "There was one drive in the game where they went 95 yards where they only had one true third down in that whole drive, until they got down to the 1-yard line and had the third-and-goal at the 1 and the fourth-and-goal at the 1. But for the most part, I thought our guys and coaches did a really good job defensively on third down."
In addition to sacks and third-down efficiency, the Bears defense improved in most other stat categories from Week 1 to 2, including points (23-13), takeaways (1-2), total yards (426-295), rushing yards (138-135), passing yards (297-220) and first downs (25-22).
(2) Nagy was pleased with how the offense played in the first half but continues to want to see more consistency from the unit.
Mitchell Trubisky passed for 159 yards and two touchdowns in the first half in staking the Bears to a 17-0 halftime lead. But he was limited to 31 yards while throwing two interceptions in the final two quarters as the Giants crept to within 17-13 before their rally stalled.
The Bears rushed for 135 yards on 32 carries, led by David Montgomery, who gained 82 yards on 16 attempts despite missing part of the second quarter with a neck injury he sustained when he landed on his head after trying to hurdle a defender.
"Ultimately, our run game got better," Nagy said. "There's just some plays that I think we left out there, myself included, too, with calling plays, where we could've been better."
The Bears left points on the field following Quinn's strip/sack in the first quarter, settling for Cairo Santos' 34-yard field goal after a diving Anthony Miller dropped a perfect Trubisky pass in the end zone. In the second half, Miller failed to make a key third-down reception of a catchable ball along the sideline, leading to a punt.
"On the third-and-six, he was short on his route," Nagy said. "He cut it short. It probably looked like Mitch was late, but [Miller] was short on the depth of his route. Again, I go back to the details. He knows that. He understands that. He knew right away.
"Really, the way I look at it, I go back to the drop in the end zone where Mitch just threw a really good ball, and if [Miller] comes down with that, who knows confidence-wise how that turns for him the rest of the game? But that's a part of football, being able to bounce back after a drop.
"It was just one of those games; he didn't have as many attempts or targets. But he'll bounce back. I will look forward to it. He's a competitor. He cares and he wants to help the team win."
(3) Bears tight ends combined to catch just two passes for 33 yards Sunday, but Nagy was impressed with how they blocked in the run game.
Jimmy Graham had one reception for 18 yards against the Giants. Rookie Cole Kmet made his first NFL catch, a 12-yarder. And Demetrius Harris was targeted once but did not have a reception.
"I am really happy with how they're playing," Nagy said. "Production-wise and stat line-wise right now, you for sure don't see what we want it to be at. But I'm OK with that just because of the way that these two first games have gone.
"The way that our tight ends performed in that run game [Sunday], go back and watch those guys and watch them block. That's a huge part of this run game. Just as much as the O-linemen and what they're doing, and coach [Juan] Castillo [is doing], those tight ends are getting after it and they're enjoying it. Check out some of the effort by Jimmy Graham in run-blocking and tell me what you think.
"We'll see how the tight end production goes in the pass game, but I'm happy with those guys. I'm proud of them; Clancy Barone, too, coaching them."