After watching tape of Sunday's 23-20 win over the Texans, Bears coach Matt Eberflus discussed five things that stood out to him:
(1) Eberflus was pleased that the defense eliminated the missed tackles that plagued the unit a week earlier in a loss to the Packers.
"The tackling improved," Eberflus said Monday at Halas Hall. "That was a big emphasis from us last week, so it paid off."
After allowing the Packers to rush for 203 yards and average 5.3 yards per carry, the Bears limited the Texans to 99 yards on the ground and 2.7 yards per attempt.
Eberflus gave two examples of improved tackling fundamentals. One came late in the third quarter when Roquan Smith knifed into the backfield and dropped running back Dameon Pierce for a 3-yard loss on third-and-1 from the 2. The key stop forced the Texans to settle for a field goal that tied the game 20-20.
"If you watch Roquan on his TFL, him getting up into the line of scrimmage, that was a big emphasis," Eberflus said. "That's called getting up on the runner. When you do that, you really are in a position of power and you're able to wrap through the hamstrings and your pad level is lower, and when you take a guy's legs away, it's hard to run that way and there were several examples of that."
Another came early in the fourth quarter after the Texans had taken over at the Bears' 39 following a Justin Fields interception. On third-and-14 from the 43, Nicholas Morrow blew up a screen pass, tackling tight end Pharoah Brown for a 5-yard loss, forcing Houston to punt.
"If you look at how low [Morrow] was in that tackle and where the runner went, he went directly backwards," Eberflus said. "That's a way to secure a good tackle, and that's the style we want to play and the style we want to use."
(2) Eberflus was thrilled to see the Bears rush for 281 yards, their most since Sept. 30, 1984, when they compiled 283 yards on the ground versus the Cowboys.
After starting running back David Montgomery exited with an injury on the Bears' second possession of the game, second-year backup Khalil Herbert ran for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
"We're doing a really good job of moving the line of scrimmage in the running game right now," Eberflus said. "So we're certainly pleased with that."
Eberflus clarified Monday that Montgomery is dealing with an ankle injury, not ankle and knee issues as initially reported. The Bears coach also reiterated that Montgomery is "day-to-day" and may even play Sunday when the Bears visit the Giants.
"We'll see what happens on Wednesday and going forward from there," Eberflus said.
(3) While Fields conceded that he "played like trash," Eberflus insisted that awakening a dormant passing game will be a group effort.
The Bears rank second in the NFL in rushing with an average of 186.7 yards per game, but they're dead last in passing, averaging only 78.3 yards.
"It's everybody," Eberflus said. "It really is. It's the receivers, it's the tight ends, it's the running backs, it's the quarterback, it's the protection. All of those come into play with the timing and the rhythm of the passing game. It's all 11 of us. It's all 11 of us and the coaches and everybody involved."
Fields struggled with accuracy Sunday in completing 8 of 17 passes for 106 yards with two interceptions and a 27.7 passer rating. Eberflus said that this week in practice, the second-year quarterback will work on his footwork and timing.
"A lot of that is the pocket, too, at times, when we were looking at the film," Eberflus said. "We've got to make sure we have a clean pocket for him to ride the pocket up and then deliver the ball."
(4) Eberflus was impressed with several aspects of Smith's performance.
The two-time second-team All-Pro linebacker registered 16 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and a key interception that set up Cairo Santos' game-winning 30-yard field goal as time expired.
"Him just playing free, him knowing the spot and him knowing where to go quickly, and you can see that," Eberflus said. "Obviously all the tackles that he made, the interception and the impactful plays he made in the game. So just being able to play within the confines of the defense and understanding what's in front of him and understanding exactly where he needs to be, when he needs to be there, and he did a great job."
(5) Hearing that Darnell Mooney returned to the field after the game to catch balls from a "JUGS" machine showed Eberflus exactly what the receiver is made of.
Mooney was disappointed after dropping a screen pass and failing to catch another high throw. He finished the game with just two receptions for 23 yards.
"That's the kind of player he is," Eberflus said. "He wants to figure it out. He's going to figure it out, and man, he's a worker. So when you have the talent and you've got the work ethic and the work habits behind that, that's a good combination to have. And that's who he is."
Check out the best images—taken by Bears photographers—from Sunday's victory over the Texans at Soldier Field.