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After Further Review

3 things that stood out to Eberflus in Week 9 loss

Bears coach Matt Eberflus
Bears coach Matt Eberflus

After watching tape of Sunday's 35-32 loss to the Dolphins, Bears coach Matt Eberflus on Monday discussed three things that stood out to him:

(1) Nothing jumped off the tape more than the remarkable performance of Justin Fields.

The second-year pro rushed for 178 yards—the most ever by a quarterback in an NFL regular-season game—posted a 106.7 passer rating and accounted for four touchdowns via three passes and a spectacular 61-yard run.

Asked what impressed him most about Fields' outing, Eberflus said: "Just the athleticism. The timing of his passing game was great. His deep ball passing has always been good; he's always thrown those very well. The intermediate passing is getting better. His pocket presence is getting better. And then the unscripted athleticism, the plays that he showed with the 61-yard run and the keepers, and really his discernment and his wisdom to be able to get down.

"I know there was one where he had an inside run and he slid after the first down marker. That was excellent. He limited his exposure in there. I think that was an important part going forward, being wise that way. Obviously [he's] just a tremendous athlete and the plays he made in that game to set the record were unbelievable; pretty fun to watch."

Fields' recent emergence has provided a major boost for all of Bears nation, inside and outside Halas Hall. In his last three games, the 2021 first-round pick from Ohio State has rushed for 320 yards and three touchdowns on 37 carries and passed for 453 yards with six TDs, one interception and a 106.1 passer rating.

"It's really good for our whole football team," Eberflus said. "I can see growth throughout the whole football team. And obviously, the quarterback is the No. 1 position in this sport and really all of sports. So it's really a joy to see him mature, see him get better and him wanting to improve every single week, and this week is going to be no different."

(2) Eberflus liked the creativity that offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and his assistants displayed.

On the Bears' second possession, six different players either ran the ball or caught passes: Fields, running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, receivers Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool and tight end Cole Kmet.

The offense converted 4-of-4 third downs on the 15-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Fields' 18-yard TD pass to Kmet early in the second quarter.

Getsy employed Kmet in a variety of ways on the possession. On third-and-1 from the Bears' 34, the 6-6, 260-pounder went in motion, ducked under center, took the snap and powered forward for a 1-yard gain and a first down. On the previous play, Kmet had gained eight yards on a jet sweep.

"I think that's really a credit to Luke, for sure, no question," Eberflus said. "But he has his staff, too, that put together those first 15 [plays] and those really creative plays they put together. They're going to keep building upon that.

"Those things are really good when you can give guys different jet sweeps. You can give one to a certain player and a different player, and that keeps guys off balance. As a defensive guy, you don't know when the guy goes in motion, is he going to accept the jet sweep or is he simply going to go in motion, or is it going to be a jet motion and a handoff?

"I think those creative ways are really good at stretching the width of the field, certainly on those plays, and those things open up things on the inside, too, in the play-action pass game. I think those are all really good things."

(3) Eberflus felt that a lack of execution was the reason the defense struggled.

The Bears defense allowed four 75-yard touchdown drives on the Dolphins' first five possessions as Miami took a 28-17 third-quarter lead. The unit did not record a takeaway, sack or a tackle-for-loss in the game and failed to pressure quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who completed 21 of 30 passes for 302 yards with three touchdowns and a 135.7 passer rating.

"It just comes down to execution," Eberflus said. "I was in the defensive meeting after I was in the offensive meeting today, and they spelled it out for them. They went through every third down and talked about alignment, assignment, key, technique. Then we went through every first down with the same thing. They all looked at each other and said, 'Hey guys, this is execution. We've got to execute better.' When I say 'execution,' that's coaches, the position coaches, the coordinator and myself, right? I'm the head coach. And the players. We've got to do it together and we've got to be better."

The defense did not do an adequate job of covering Dolphins receivers; Tyreek Hill caught seven passes for 143 yards and one TD and Jaylen Waddle added five receptions for 85 yards and one TD.

"When they're getting guys on the move sometimes, they're getting stack alignments, it's harder to get on them as you would like," Eberflus said. "That happened sometimes … and then the underneath cover guys have got to do a better job of being disciplined underneath to get up underneath those guys, and we have to do a better job reading our keys."

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