CHICAGO — The Washington Commanders improved to 2-4 after beating the Chicago Bears (2-4) 12-7 on a blustery Thursday night in Chicago.
The Commanders will not apologize for the aesthetics. They didn’t need to look pretty, they just needed to win. And that’s all they did.
It remains to be seen if this win over the Bears gets their season headed in the right direction. There is a lot of work left after this victory. They take too many penalties — 27 in three games. They don’t score many points: 47 in the last four games.
But for now, he lets the Commanders (2-4) breathe after losing four straight. For a franchise where every week seems to bring a new round of problems, winning provides a much-needed balm.
Basic game: Midway through the fourth quarter, Washington punted after failing to convert on third down once again. But it turned out to be a beneficial move. Returner Velus Jones Jr. fumbled the punt and rookie Christian Holmes recovered the ball at the 6-yard line. Two runs by rookie Brian Robinson later, Washington took a 12-7 lead. Robinson’s first carry gained five yards, helped in part by a Wentz block after the rookie cut wide.
QB breakdown: Wentz’s lack of mobility limits the offense. It’s not just in blitz. It is difficult for him to extend the plays. Washington also ran him in what looked like a power sweep in the red zone, a curious call given the way he’s running these days. Wentz hurt his hand and came in with a shoulder injury, so that could have affected his passing on a windy night. Curtis Samuel dropped two passes, including one that would have put them inside the Bears 10-yard line. But, bottom line, he needs to play better if this offense is going to generate points and hope.
Promising trend: Defensive end Montez Sweat went sackless through the first four games of the season. There were times when he got close, but he needed a little more help from coverage to finish the play. He has gotten that help the last two games and has recorded three sacks and eight hits at quarterback. Sweat ransacked and harassed Justin Fields numerous times. If Washington is going to make noise the rest of the season, he needs Sweat to remain a force.
Worrying trend: Third downs. In its last four games, Washington has converted just 14 of 54 third downs, a function of an immobile quarterback and an offense seemingly unprepared to handle loads. Teams know that Washington likes to run crossovers, so they often eliminate that option, but they also know that Wentz will struggle under pressure. Washington needs to bring in more help for Wentz in those situations.
Understated stat to know: Leading 3-0 at halftime, Washington’s 88 yards in the first half were the fewest this season by a team at halftime.
Next game: vs. Packers (1 p.m. ET, Oct. 23)
The Bears are the second team this season to top 390 yards of offense and score fewer than 10 points in a game. Chicago left 14 points on the board in the first half and couldn’t finish the job when Fields had the offense in position to win the game in the Bears’ final drive, which ended just short of the goal line.
On that play, Fields connected with wide receiver Darnell Mooney, who caught the ball around a Washington defender but threw it away. While running back David Montgomery was spread wide on the floor on the other side of the field, it was Fields’ fifth read on the play, which the quarterback hinted there would have been a “five percent chance” that he would respond to him after to go. through the progressions of it.
Same problems, different game. And that goes beyond the quarterback game.
Fields was pressured 18 times Thursday, tied for the most in a career game. Fields has now been pressured on 46% of his dropbacks this season. That’s the highest rate of pressure a quarterback has faced in his first six games since ESPN began tracking pressures in 2009.
QB breakdown: Fields’ strong second-half performance at Minnesota didn’t last until Thursday night. The Bears had two trips into the red zone in the first half, the first of which resulted in Fields’ first interception inside the 20-yard line after he threw a ball at Commanders defensive lineman Efe Obada’s helmet, which was recovered by his teammate Jonathan Allen. The Bears’ next drive ended with another scoreless trip into the red zone. Fields had tight end Ryan Griffin wide open in the end zone and sent a ball past him on second-and-3 at the 3-yard line. Griffin had 4.05 yards of separation on that play, according to Next Gen Stats. Chicago had one more trip into the red zone, set up by the longest run of Fields’ career, a 39-yard fourth-quarter run that ended with Darnell Mooney catching and throwing a pass just below the goal line. . These three trips inside the red zone without scoring ties for the most red zone drives without a point in a game since 2000.
Bold prediction: Dante Pettis will return punts against the Patriots. Rookie Velus Jones Jr. has handled all of Chicago’s returns since his debut in Week 4. But a fumble on a punt return that allowed Washington to recover the ball at Chicago’s 6-yard line and score two plays later , after a sloppy punt against the Giants with two minutes left crushed any realistic chance of a comeback, will force the Bears to reconsider who they have on the punt return.
Silver lining: The Bears don’t play again until Oct. 24, giving them a full 10 days to recover before facing the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Shooting guards Lucas Patrick (concussion) and Teven Jenkins (shoulder) left the game briefly in the third quarter, leading to a mix-up up front that took Michael Schofield III off the bench before the two returned. Fields will feel the effects of being hit over 11 times and receiving four sacks. He was slow to get up after a couple of crushing shots to the ribs and appeared to hurt his left shoulder in the second half.
Worrying trend: Chicago’s passing rush has been virtually non-existent. Entering Week 6, the Bears had a 28% pressure rate (19), a 5% sack rate (22), and just eight sacks (tied for 25th). They improved on that last number against Carson Wentz, sacking the Washington quarterback three times, two of which were in blitzes, but only pressured the Majors quarterback on four of his 25 throwbacks (16%).
Understated stat to know: Fields has taken at least 2 sacks in every game this season and in 14 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL.
Next game: at Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, Oct. 24)