Bears position coaches spoke to the media Monday at Halas Hall. Here are five things we learned from those sessions:
(1) Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was impressed with how rookie Justin Fields helped the Bears turn a 20-6 fourth-quarter deficit into a 27-26 lead last Monday night against the Steelers.
After failing to score on their first five possessions of the game, the Bears produced two touchdowns and two field goals on their next five drives, capped by Fields' 16-yard TD strike to Darnell Mooney with 1:46 to play.
"We didn't start out as fast as we wanted and you saw growth throughout the game of our whole offense and Justin obviously," DeFilippo said. "The quarterback plays a big part of that. But the fact that you're on the road, Monday Night Football … you'd be disrespecting the game a little bit if you diminished the importance of that stage. And to see a young guy come through and have the second half like he did and keep his composure and his calm I think is huge. It was just a really cool thing to see."
In the second half, Fields completed 12 of 18 passes for 228 yards and a 128.2 passer rating, including gains of 50, 39 and 28 yards. On the go-ahead TD, he scrambled to his left and rifled a pinpoint pass to Mooney.
"That was not an easy angle," DeFilippo said. "I always listen to hockey goalies and people talk about angles of the puck, and it's very similar to when you have to deliver the football on time and accurately. You have to understand the angle and where the defender is and where he could cut off the route and maybe make a play on the ball. I thought both those guys did a great job of doing that."
(2) The TD pass from Fields to Mooney showed receivers coach Mike Furrey the cohesiveness the two exciting young players have developed.
"It's not talked about enough because it looks easy," Furrey said, "and that's when you know the chemistry is there and they're starting to have a good understanding of being where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there and how it works out. Nobody talks about it because that's how it's supposed to go. It's pretty neat."
After a breakout rookie season in 2020, Mooney has taken his game to another level in 2021, leading the Bears with 36 receptions for 450 yards and two touchdowns.
"The one thing that's really neat that's going to continue," Furrey said, "is the development of him just understanding the game, the timing of the game, how to continue to either get open at the right time or stay open, and then scramble. The touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, probably not enough credit goes to him of being able to scramble, get out of there, get loose, get open, keep his feet in bounds in a big moment, on a big stage. A lot of credit to him and his growth.
"It's just part of that growth and it's something that's continuing every single day. His knowledge of the game and being able to mesh his knowledge of the game and his ability, it's obviously heading in the right direction. It's been fun to watch."
(3) Nose tackle Eddie Goldman finally looked like Eddie Goldman against the Steelers.
The sixth-year pro excelled in Pittsburgh, recording a season-high four tackles, including two for no gain and one for a one-yard loss, all on running plays. It was the type of performance that had earned Goldman a reputation as one of the NFL's best run-stuffers before he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
"I thought it was his best game; he looked dominant out there," said defensive line coach Chris Rumph, who praised Goldman for his patience against a Steelers offense that didn't run the ball up the middle very much.
"It wasn't his type of game," Rumph said. "I tell those guys all the time, 'Just make your plays. If you make your plays, that's enough. Don't go out there and try to mow someone else's grass.' I thought he handled his business real well. Now, it's time for him to put a couple games back-to-back. I think his legs are starting to get back to him. He's starting to get a feel for it a little bit. We will see what happens this week, but all indications are he will continue to get better."
Jenkins returned to practice Monday for the first time since offseason workouts. The second-round pick from Oklahoma State had been sidelined with a back injury that required surgery Aug. 18.
Castillo said that Jenkins will practice at both tackle positions as he eases back into action.
"He's going to be either or," Castillo said. "But you have to start at one place. [Monday], we started him at left tackle just to get comfortable because I think the hard part for a lineman is just getting out of his stance without hitching. If you have to [hitch] to get out of your stance, you're going to have a problem because those guys are going to beat you."
Jenkins has the perfect teammate to learn from in veteran left tackle Jason Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer. "J.P. is really a good one for him to look at, just getting out of your stance, exploding out of your stance," Castillo said. "That's the first thing. That's something that he hadn't done. He had been doing it on the air, but it's different now doing it against guys."
Castillo has been impressed with how Borom has performed in his first two NFL starts at right tackle in the Bears' last two games, lining up at times opposite the 49ers' Nick Bosa and the Steelers' T.J. Watt.
"The nice thing for Larry is that we have to remember that Larry played in the SEC," Castillo said. "I don't know if there are Bosas in college, but the thing with Larry now is Larry is a pretty good athlete, [who weighs] 341 pounds. Here's a young man going against these real dudes. You have to remember Larry is a real dude, too. When you're 6-5 and a half, 341 pounds, you're an athlete, you're a real dude. There are real dudes going against real dudes."
(5) As Cole Kmet gains more experience and confidence, the second-year tight end's production continues to increase.
Kmet has 44 targets and 28 receptions through nine games, matching the exact numbers he posted in both categories all of last season when he was a rookie. After catching 10 passes for 81 yards in the first five games this year, he has 18 receptions for 203 yards in the last four contests. That includes a season-high six catches for a career-high 87 yards in the Bears' loss to the Steelers.
"He's done well, and I think his confidence is evident," said tight ends coach Clancy Barone. "You watch his confidence as a route runner and his feel for the offense and knowing what routes should be open versus what coverages and how to adjust certain routes against certain coverages."