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4 things we learned from Bears position coaches


Bears position coaches spoke to the media Monday via Zoom. Here are four things we learned from those sessions:

(1) Pass game coordinator/quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was impressed but not surprised with how well Nick Foles performed in Sunday's win over the Seahawks.

After learning Friday morning that he would make his first start of the season, the veteran quarterback led the Bears to a thrilling 25-24 comeback victory in snowy Seattle, throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham followed by a two-point conversion pass to Damiere Byrd with just 1:11 remaining in the game.

Starting in place of the injured Justin Fields (ankle) and Andy Dalton (groin), Foles completed 24 of 35 passes for 250 yards with one TD and a 98.5 passer rating.

"Nick made some real good plays for us," DeFilippo said. "If you look at the whole body of work of what Nick's been through in his career, I think it's a testament to him, his mental toughness to go out there and perform like he did."

DeFilippo has coached Foles in five of the last six seasons with the Eagles (2016-17), Jaguars (2019) and Bears (2020-21). Given the dramatic highs and lows they've experienced—from winning the Super Bowl with Philadelphia in 2017 to Foles breaking his collarbone in Jacksonville's season opener in 2019—the two made sure to appreciate what transpired Sunday in Seattle.

"Nick and I talked about that a lot actually," DeFilippo said. "He and I have been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together, anywhere from hoisting the Super Bowl trophy to the 11th play of the season against Kansas City in Jacksonville where he broke his collarbone."

(2) Receivers coach Mike Furrey called Damiere Byrd's reception on the game-winning two-point conversion Sunday "one of the most remarkable catches I've ever seen—on film, watching old-school film and obviously in person."

In the back of the end zone, Byrd leaped high to catch Foles' pass, landing on top of cornerback Sidney Jones IV and linebacker Jordyn Brooks. As the three players tumbled to the ground, Byrd held the ball aloft in his left hand while somehow getting his right knee down inbounds an instant before his right hand hit the ground out of the end zone.

"We were trying to get [Darnell] Mooney the ball in the flat and they passed it off; the corner ended up coming off on Mooney … so [Byrd] knew he was going to have to get open," Furrey said. "I expected him to be more in the corner. I didn't expect him to be sitting in the middle of the field. But him and Nick made it happen, and like I said, the result of the play, it's remarkable. That catch was absolutely remarkable."

After catching just five passes for 32 yards in the first 10 games of the season, Byrd has made the most of expanded playing time since Thanksgiving, recording 15 receptions for 227 yards and one TD in the last five contests.

"He's just consistently been staying patient and waiting for that opportunity, and he's taken advantage of it," Furrey said. "As his role has continued to escalate here over the last couple of weeks, we've been able to get the ball in his hands a little bit."

(3) When Jimmy Graham lined up across from a cornerback with Sunday's game on the line, tight ends coach Clancy Barone was confident something good was about to happen.

"That's a great matchup, advantage Bears, was actually the first thing I verbalized to the guys standing next to me," Barone said.

The 6-7, 259-pound Graham boxed out 5-10, 187-pound cornerback John Reid in the end zone and caught a 15-yard TD pass from Foles, putting the Bears in position to take the lead with a two-point conversion.

Graham now has three touchdown receptions this year, 11 in two seasons with the Bears and 85 in his 12-year career, the fourth most by a tight end in NFL history behind Hall of Famers Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111) and Buccaneers star Rob Gronkowski (92).

"Jimmy's been doing this for a long time, obviously," Barone said. "He has a skill set that very few people in this league can say that they have done better, and that's his red-zone efficiency and so forth. Just take his age out of it. He still, to this day, is a very viable red-zone target."

(4) Outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey is thrilled for Robert Quinn, who is just one sack away from setting the Bears' single-season record.

With a sack of Russell Wilson in Sunday's win over the Seahawks, Quinn increased his season total to 17.0, just 0.5 sack shy of Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent's franchise mark of 17.5 set in 1984.

"I'm excited for Robert," Shuey said. "I'm excited just for the season he's having. I can remember the '84 and '85 Bears. I remember how dominant they were, the physicality that they played with. I remember watching Richard Dent, and obviously his career speaks for itself."

Shuey is a big fan not only of Quinn as a player, but as a person as well.

"From my interactions with Robert over the past two years, he's such a genuine person that what you see is truly what you get from that standpoint, and so he does play and he lives in the moment, and that's real," Shuey said. "He doesn't take the next day for granted. I know he says that a lot, and I do believe that's real. He lives that way. He believes that.

"And so I think in this situation where he's on the cusp of potentially breaking a record, he's really looking at, 'How can I get a little bit better?' That's one of the things we focus on in the room week-to-week. It'll be another focus this week: how do we get six inches better on each play, to get closer to making a play that can change a game and help us win? I think that's Robert's approach."

Sunday's exciting 25-24 comeback win over the Seahawks was a true team effort. With that in mind, senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the top 10 players who contributed to the victory.

Larry Mayer

Bears Senior Writer