Despite being shorthanded at a handful of positions in Week 4, the Chicago Bears (3-1) neutralized the offense of the Minnesota Vikings (2-2) with a commanding 16-6 win at Soldier Field for their third consecutive victory. The Bears now share first place in the NFC North with the archrival Green Bay Packers (3-1), and Minnesota drops to last place behind the Detroit Lions (2-1-1). The Bears offense wasn't spectacular but they did just enough to be competitive, the defense was the star of the show again, and Eddy Pineiro's golden leg is still working its magic. Here are five takeaways from the Bears big win before heading to London to play the Oakland Raiders in Week 5.
1. Chase Daniel proves his worth again
After completing just 2-of-3 passes for nine yards, Mitchell Trubisky left the game due to injury in the first quarter. He fell on his left (non-throwing) shoulder after getting strip-sacked by Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter on the opening drive of the game and was seen wearing a sling. Daniel took over for the remainder of the game and proved why the Bears have continued to employ him as QB No. 2. The 11-year veteran went on to complete 22-of-30 passes for 195 with a touchdown. He was sacked twice and finished with four rushing yards on five carries.
Trubisky has been diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder and slight labrum tear but he's not expected to undergo surgery. Since the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder, he should be able to return and play through it. He will travel with the team to London this week but Daniel will get the start. Trubisky will be reevaluated during the Bears bye week and he may be able to return for the Week 7 game vs. New Orleans.
2. Next man up across the board
Trubisky wasn't the only one who would sit this one out. Moments before kickoff the team announced that linebacker Roquan Smith wouldn't play due to unspecified "personal reasons" although he was present on the Bears sideline during the game. All that's being said about Smith at the moment is that there is concern for his well being. But once the game began backup Nick Kwiatkoski (10 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, sack) filled in admirably in Smith's absence. Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel was held out after sustaining a concussion against Washington last week, but Allen Robinson (7 catches, 77 yards) and Javon Wims (4, 56) held down the fort.
No Akiem Hicks (knee) and Bilal Nichols (hand), no problem. Roy Robertson-Harris, Nick Williams, and Eddie Goldman (combined for 12 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 TFLs) manned the front line with no issues. And despite not having guard Kyle Long (hip) before the game, and losing Ted Larsen (knee) during the game, the Bears' offensive line only gave up two sacks against the Vikings. The Bears showcased their depth and talent on Sunday, but eventually, they'll need everyone to be healthy.
3. The defense holds strong again
Against Minnesota, Chicago totaled six sacks, five tackles for a loss, six QB hits, two pass deflections, and two fumble recoveries. It was a busy day as Kahlil Mack (1.5 sacks), Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (4 tackles, fumble recovery), and Danny Trevethan (8 tackles) among others all registered on the box score. The Bears held Dalvin Cook, who entered the game as the NFL's leading rusher, to just 35 yards on 14 carries (2.5 ypc). Kirk Cousins was sacked six times and had to settle for most short passes (17 of his 27 completions went for less than 10 yards). Chicago also had to takeaways and won the time of possession battle 35:27 to 24:33. Imagine how dominant this defense will be once everyone is healthy and on the field together.
4. David Montgomery continues to grow as the Bears feature back
The rookie from Iowa State only ran for 53 yards (2.5 per attempt) against the Vikings, but with 21 carries he was the Bears' workhorse for the third week in a row. Montgomery leads the team 200 yards on 58 carries (3.4 ypc), which is more attempts than the rest of the team combined (101 total). He has one touchdown and also has chipped in 61 receiving yards on eight catches (tied for fourth on the team). He's evolving into the offensive threat that head coach Matt Nagy envisioned right before our eyes.
5. Pineiro's golden leg
Even with a pinched nerve in his knee, the Bears' placekicker continues to get the job done. He made all three of his field goal attempts (38, 30, and 25 yards) on Sunday. He's 8-for-9 on the year and has yet to miss an extra point (9-for-9). His 30 points are nearly half of the team's entire total (66). The Bears may still be a work in progress but at least it appears that the kicking game is in excellent hands.
(Top photo courtesy of www.chicagobears.com)