Bears OTA observations: Defense wins day vs. Fields, offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – The Bears returned to Halas Hall on Wednesday, one day after they had an OTA taken away due to a violation of offseason contact rules. The final OTA of Matt Eberflus’ first offseason at the helm had to have the new head coach smiling.
Why? The defense won the day.
Cornerback Jaylon Johnson was back with the first team Wednesday and marked the occasion with a clean pass breakup against rookie Velus Jones Jr. Jones returned the favor by beating Johnson on a crossing route for a big gain later.
Apart from Jones’ big play and a nice grab from Darnell Mooney down the right sideline, the Bears’ defense was the story Wednesday.
Rookie safety Jaquan Brisker showed his coverage instincts with a pass breakup against running back Khalil Herbert. Then, DeAndre Houston Carson intercepted a pass that quarterback Justin Fields forced into double coverage.
While the defense shined Wednesday, Eberflus noted that it was Fields and the offense’s day Monday.
“The offense had an outstanding day on Monday,” Eberflus said. “I think I counted 11 chunk passes and one chunk run during that day, and I thought the defense today came back on Wednesday, OK, and did a really nice job of executing, had a lot of nice plays on the ball. You guys saw a couple tips that were there, had some nice interceptions, and today we got a lot of nice situations and a lot of two-minute situations, and some red zone scenarios, end of game plays, we got that as well.”
About that end of game situation …
On the first play, Fields evaded a defense that can’t get near him and completed a pass to Equanimeous St. Brown to get the Bears across midfield. A false start by rookie tackle Braxton Jones, who got reps as the first-team left tackle Wednesday, moved the Bears back 5 yards.
On the next play, Fields threw high and over the middle for St. Brown. The ball clanged off St. Brown’s hands and right to Houston-Carson, who cemented the day for the defense with another interception.
A shaky day for Fields doesn’t concern Eberflus, who views the back and forth between the offense and defense as a natural way to prepare the Bears for the ebb and flow of Sundays in the NFL.
“So, when we’re playing the game, that’s going to happen during the course of the game, so we understand that, and I’ll talk to the players about this,” Eberflus said. “One side during the course of the game might struggle at first, or they’re playing, sometimes it’s, ‘Hey, that team has a really good offense,’ so our defense is really going to have to step up and play while our offense is going to have to dominate that game or vice versa.
“Or, we’re just having a hard time playing on defense to start, and our offense has got to pick them up. It’s the Bears. It’s our football team. … That’s just a microcosm of the game, this week right here.
“I think that’s a great learning lesson. And then we’re both rolling, we’re both hot, and then we dominate our opponent, then we win the game by 10 points. But particularly in the NFL, you know that it’s going to come down to the 4th quarter, it’s going to be less than seven. So, we’ve got to be ready to go. That’s why we’re practicing all these situations because that’s what it comes down to in this league.”
Other OTA notes:
— Rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon didn’t participate Wednesday. Eberflus said he was in the building but wouldn’t comment further. Robert Quinn also wasn’t present.
— Safety Eddie Jackson and edge rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad were present but only did work on the side.
— As mentioned above, rookie tackle Braxton Jones worked with the first team at left tackle while Larry Borom shifted to right tackle and Teven Jenkins played with the second team.
— The Bears will have a three-day mandatory minicamp next week before breaking for the summer.
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