2022 Week 10 Game Recap: Lions 31, Bears 30 (by Ross Jacobs)
This game was dead even at halftime 10-10. Up until that point the Lions had mostly been the better team, but the Bears put together a good drive right before the half to tie it up. In the second half the Bears offense started rolling and they jumped up to a 24-10 lead and looked like they might put the Lions away...but then the Lions calmly marched down the field for a score and on the next drive Justin Fields threw an awful pick 6 that tied the game up for the Lions 24-24. Chicago would score once more but miss the extra point try and the Lions would capitalize with a go-ahead touchdown two possessions later for the win. The Bears got one final drive chance with plenty of time but Fields could barely gain a yard and the Lions took over on a Fields sack on 4th down.
The popular narrative after this game is that Justin Fields has suddenly become the football god that all the analysts always claimed he was and the Bears are no longer beatable because Fields will carry them to victory from here on out...we might as well induct him into the Hall of Fame right now...
Yeah, no. I'll talk about Fields specifically in a minute, but this idea that the Bears are suddenly a good team because Fields has been good for fantasy two weeks in a row...it's nonsense. Over the last five games the Bears have run for over 200 yards every game...and they are 1-4 in that time frame. “Oh but the defense is so bad that's why they are losing.” I mean fair enough I guess, they've lost the last 3 games while scoring 30 ppg, but they also won a game like that by holding the Patriots to 14 points and they also lost a game while scoring only 9 even though the defense held the Commanders to 14. The Lions have scored 27 or more points 5 times this season and they are just 2-3 in those games. How come nobody makes excuses for Jared Goff because his defense is atrocious? Everybody wants to replace him because he's soooooo awful.
Jared Goff is a better, more dangerous quarterback than Justin Fields every day of the week. I don't care if 100/100 analysts disagree with me, I'm not wrong.
The Bears are averaging 21.7 ppg on offense and the defense is giving up 24.7. Detroit's offense is averaging 24.3 ppg and the defense is allowing 29.3. So Goff has headed a better offense and dealt with a worse defense. Facts don't care about narratives.
Right now the Lions are 3-6 and the Bears 3-7 but I'll bet anyone that the Lions finish with at least 2 more wins than the Bears this year. I think they have an excellent chance to win around 4 more games and pull close to .500. And likewise I'll bet against the Bears and say I think they win 2 more games, possibly 3 with some luck. The Lions are simply the better team overall and the records will show that at the end of the year.
Fantasy Player Notes:
– Ok, let's talk Justin Fields since that's all anyone can talk about right now. He's sucked out loud for 2 years now but has back to back games running for 150+ yards (and losing both) and suddenly that means everyone was right all along and he's amazing, the best QB from his draft class, should have gone #1 etc etc.
Do you know what the single highest number of yards Fields has passed for this year in a game is? 350...300...275...250...225...?
No, it's 208. And that is the only game he's thrown for more than 190 yards all year.
I know passing yards aren't the be-all-end-all of quarterback evaluation, but the point is clear...Fields is NOT a good passer. He's not. I'm sorry but it's true, your feelings on this don't matter. It's the same battle that's been fought on Lamar Jackson for years. Are they good football players? Yes, unequivocally. But are they good passers? No, absolutely not. And that fact is going to hold them back in a lot of cases simply because by nature the offensive part of the game is much more efficient through the air than on the ground, the same as war is in real life.
There are times where these hyper athletic running quarterbacks are very difficult to defend and can do a lot of damage, put up a lot of points. My core argument isn't that that style of offense isn't possible...of course it is. My point is that it's not optimal and it's much easier to slow down than an elite passing quarterback. Josh Allen isn't one of the best 2-3 QBs in the league because of his legs, it's because of his arm. The running helps, it's a nice compliment, but if that's all he was he wouldn't be nearly so hard to defend.
Yes, Fields ran the ball like a champ here and that helped them gain a lead, but he also threw a hideous pick 6 that tied the game up for Detroit and then when he had plenty of time to drive for an easy field goal to win the game, he completely choked and could barely do anything.
When I criticize him, I'm not trying to pick on the things he does well. I'm simply pointing out the gaps in his skillset and how those gaps are going to cause him problems down the road. I don't believe for a second that Fields has suddenly turned the corner and now he's an elite player. Let's dive into my reasoning...
So I've heard a lot of nonsense about what has happened with Fields over the last few weeks and a lot more nonsense about how people think this is the new norm, so I want to shed light on the data.
Over the last 5 games Fields has started running the ball about 50% more than he did the previous 5 games (12.4/g to 8.4/g). Over that same time frame he has also averaged more yards per rush (9 ypc to 4.6). The large increase in his ypc can be attributed almost solely to the last two games where he has averaged 162.5 ypg on 28 carries for an average of 11.6 ypc. The two teams he played, the Dolphins and Lions, are giving up the #1 and #3 most points on average to QBs this season and both teams are bottom 8 in points allowed per game among NFL teams this year.
Does anybody really think Fields is going to continue to average 11.6 ypc when he starts facing better teams? Come one. The increase in volume is nice assuming it keeps up (and I have no doubts it will), but to expect him to average 100 yards rushing per game is ludicrous. Let's say he continues averaging about 12 carries per game, a more reasonable expectation is 5-6 ypc which gives us an average of about 60-70 yards rushing per game...nice but not off the charts.
I've already covered his passing numbers a bit, but I want to point out a few more things about it...if we split up his passing stats into the same categories as we did his rushing numbers (last 5 games vs first 5 games) we'll see that his passing attempts have gone up significantly over the same time frame as well! Over his first 5 games he averaged 17.6 attempts/g and over the last 5 that number has gone up to 23.8. His passing yards per game have gone up from 135.8 to 162 over that span which means his yards per attempt has actually gone down in that same time. I think that completely destroys the idea that the threat of him running is suddenly going to open up the passing game for him. That may be true on any given play but it doesn't hold when we look at the big picture. The occasional big play does not make up for the fact that he's terribly inconsistent and can't complete shorter passes on a regular basis.
Over the last 5 games, Fields has thrown for 9 TDs and run for another 5. Over his first 5 games he only threw 3 and ran for just 1. Why does everyone assume his most recent 5 games is his new normal and he'll continue to do that every week? It makes no sense why you would project that out infinitely. His previous games, even going back to last year, suggest that this is a blip and not some new pattern.
What I see is that Fields has finally discovered he can run (funny how it took him 2 years to figure out that he's 230 lbs and runs a 4.4 so it's probably a good idea if he does that...) and has increased his volume. That's a good thing and good of Matt Eberflus to encourage it. That gives this team the best chance to win. It is concerning it took them this long to figure it out however...and that increase in running met with a fortunate schedule stretch and thus Fields just had the two best fantasy games of his career. I agree that he is a viable fantasy QB1 now, and I'll break down the math below, but I don't believe for a second that he's about to embark on some legendary stretch where he finishes as the QB1 overall. Just because he beats up two of the worst defenses in the league does not mean he'll do that to everyone. His next 4 opponents are the Jets, Packers, Eagles, and Bills...all very good defenses.
So if we back up for a second and add up everything we know about Fields and his current trends, we can expect him to continue to throw for about 160 yards per game, run for, let's say 65 yards, average about 1 passing TD per game and rush for about 1 per game (I'll give him this even though I think it's a bit high just to see what it would mean for him...it's actually much more likely he only averages about .5 per game for the rest of the year). So in a 4 point passing TD league that gives us an average of about 22.9 points per game if he averages a rushing TD every game (unlikely) and 19.9 if he averages .5 per game. Good numbers but not QB1 overall numbers. 22.9 would be QB4 just a hair above Joe Burrow and 19.9 would make him QB9 just ahead of Geno Smith.
If Fields does much better than that I'll be shocked. For context, Lamar Jackson has averaged over 25 ppg for an entire season just once in his career, that magical year in 2019. He ran for over 1200 yards and 7 TDs that year, but the real reason that he was so dominant is because he also averaged over 200 yards passing per game and threw 35 TDs. Fields isn't anywhere close to those numbers and I don't see why that magically changes now. We've established that he's firmly in the QB1 camp, but I don't believe for a second that he's suddenly the top scorer now. Remember all the way back in week 3 of 2022 when Lamar was the top scorer and coming off back to back 40+ point games? What's he done since?
Now the fun part: RC and I have a new bet that we want everyone to follow along with. Over the next 5 games RC wins if Fields runs for over 500 yards and the Bears offense averages 25 or more ppg – and I win if he fails to reach either goal. Is Fields set to take off on an epic stretch like 2019 Lamar and destroy everything in his path? Or is he going to fall back to earth like so many other promising young QBs when the schedule turns against him? Coffee is on the line…
*RC NOTE: I am investing Justin Fields…for the next few weeks. My premise/thought is…unlike Lamar, Hurts, Willis, etc., Fields was never a big runner in college or the pros (until the last few weeks). Fields fancied himself a pocket passer who could run if he needed to but really never needed to at Ohio State, and then didn’t run (except for his life) in the pros until a few weeks ago. And when I say run – I mean run on purpose, as a lead punch, as a weapon…not just a guy flushed out of the pocket and can go.
But 4-5 games ago, Fields started running more purposefully out of the pocket and I think he surprised himself how effective he was at it…I even wrote about that same feeling a few weeks ago, that it looks like Fields just discovered he has a superpower he never knew he had…and now it’s opened up a world of possibilities.
Suddenly, the Bears are scoring 30+ PPG over the past 4 games.
Suddenly, Fields is running for 100+ yards a game and for long TDs.
Suddenly, Fields is throwing for TD passes in the NFL. Five TD passes his first 7 games of 2022…then 7 TD passes the last three games.
Suddenly, Fields is the talk of the NFL.
Suddenly, Fields is no longer being discussed as a bust that needs to be replaced in 2023.
Suddenly, Fields is gonna be a wealthy man.
It’s all ‘suddenly’ happening. Not by plan…not the past has become present – this is all new. And what’s next to happen is defenses will overcompensate to try and stop Fields…and that means little/no pass rush, and a ton of time to sit in the pocket and find wide open receivers (because coverage can only hold so long). It’s already starting to happen – thus the 7 TD passes in the last three games. Fields had 7 TD passes all last season as a rookie. Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson became decent enough passers and won MVPs due to defenses fearing their running ability – and Fields is a better, more groomed passer talent than either of those guys…but still not a great traditional pocket passer, but he’s about to have the chance to be an unconventional, lowly pressured decent pocket passer.
Last season, Fields ran the ball 10 times in a game as his season high. The last five games: 12-14-8-15-13 carries in games.
Three rushing TDs in Fields’s first 16 NFL games. Five rushing TDs in his last four games.
It’s all just unfurling for Fields, and I don't think he’s fully figured out all the things that can be done when you can run like this…all the passing openings, the lack of a pass rush coming at him, etc. It’s all just now happening for him…he’s transitioning from mobile pocket passer to running QB weapon. It’s still just happening/evolving.
At some point defenses will scheme better for it, but this is all new to them too. There’s no tape for this. It’s all new to Matt Eberflus, it’s like a brand new QB has been delivered to him…and he’s starting to unleash it and plan around it/for it/with it…or just ride its coattails.This isn't going away anytime soon.
To recap everything said above: Fields running more is a very good thing, smart of him, smart of his coach, and I think it continues. It likely doesn't help in the win column this year, but perhaps in 2023 if Eberflus gets the defense going this team could win 10+ games on the back of Fields running a lot and chunking bombs...similar to the random good years that Cam had. What I don't think continues is him averaging over 11 ypc and scoring at a very high rate. I believe that was largely schedule driven and a much tougher schedule is coming to get him over the next few weeks. Regardless of the degree of his success, he is firmly entrenched as a QB1 for the rest of the schedule simply because running quarterbacks are a cheat code due to the way fantasy scoring works. Always have been, always will be (more so in 4 point leagues than 6 point ones).
And finally, just because Fields can run fast that does not mean he's suddenly an elite quarterback or that the Bears offense is elite. He's definitely a much more dangerous player when he's running more often, but I believe his passing ability is far too limited to lead to long term success due to the nature of the game. To my mind, and maybe I'll be proven wrong, Fields is a lesser Lamar for fantasy and real life. Good player, dangerous at times, but also going to struggle in certain situations when he can't run.
I can't totally discount the possibility that as defenses hyper focus on Fields running, that the passing game opens up and he starts killing defenses that way. It's possible in theory, something to consider. I, for one, am not buying the hype. I've seen this pattern too many times. I'm going to need to see a few more games before I buy in. If he can continue developing as a passer (which I've never seen happen except for Josh Allen) then maybe he does become a Lamar clone and Chicago becomes a very difficult team to beat with a good defense. It's possible. I just think it's unlikely. I don't think Fields is the caliber of passer that Lamar is.
Ok, that's an entire article's worth of words just on Fields, let's quickly talk about everyone else that played in this game.
– Jared Goff once again was highly efficient and productive and led his team back to a win while his defense struggled. It's so irritating to me that he gets belittled because everyone made up their minds years ago that he sucked despite all the evidence to the contrary. I hope (and believe) Detroit knows what they have and don't try to replace him anytime soon. I don't think they will, they had their chance this past year and didn't even look at rookie QBs, but you never know when the media pressure might finally get to these guys. Goff is a damn good player and a nice QB2 for fantasy.
– If there's anyone that still doubts that Jamaal Williams is the lead RB now, I advise you to watch this game. This staff doesn't trust D'Andre Swift and rightfully so. He's a talented back but he gets hurt too easily and too often and now he's started trying to hit a homerun every time he touches the ball and it's costing the team yards. The team is even starting to rotate in Justin Jackson more at this point because he's just more reliable than Swift (Jackson actually played almost 1/3 of the snaps). There's no place for hero ball in Detroit and it's going to get Swift kicked out of town if he doesn't shape up. I wouldn't be surprised if they trade him this off-season. He almost certainly won't be in Detroit in 2024 when he hits free agency. Williams is the heavy touch lead now and an RB2 unless something changes. He came up just inches short of another TD here.
– Amon Ra St Brown is healthy again and back to his WR1 ways. He wasn't doing anything special looking as usual but somehow teams just don't seem to cover him. He had at least half a dozen catches here where nobody touched him at the line, he ran straight, made a cut with nobody in the camera shot, and caught an easy pass over the middle against a soft zone coverage. I don't know why it works but it does. Hope you traded for him while he was hurt.
Tom Kennedy is finally playing! It only took them 10 games to realize he needs to be on the field. Of course, he only got 2 targets but he snagged one of them for a sweet 44 yard catch and run. Please Detroit, I'm begging you, get this guy more involved. 5-6 targets a game is fine.
– Now that Fields is running the ball more, it's eating into the RBs stats even more for Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery. It's a full 50/50 split between them now and I think it might be moving towards a heavier tilt to Herbert in the future because he's clearly the superior back of the two. It's not debatable at all if you watch them, and I think Eberflus knows it. We'll see if he's got the guts to push the better player over the one more highly drafted. Herbert went on the IR this week, so that story gets delayed longer.
– Cole Kmet has been on fire the past 3 weeks with 5 total TDs but lest anyone get too excited he's still only averaging 3-4 catches a game 30-40 yards. He popped with 74 here but 50 of it came on one long ball where he got lost while the defense chased Fields. That won't happen most weeks and I don't believe the TDs will keep coming. I've already covered why I think the passing TDs were high for Fields and I don't think that is sustainable. This is still a very low volume passing game and Kmet just isn't good enough to reliably get open. Enjoy this stretch because I don't think it will continue.
Same goes for Mooney and Claypool. I'm sure they'll have a game or two here or there where Fields finds them for a bomb and they get a 3-101-1/4 line or something, but that's going to be rarely and it's impossible to predict when it will happen. I don't trust this passing game one lick.
– I barely remember the name Jack Sanborn from before the 2022 draft. Somehow he flew under the radar, a generic looking linebacker from Wisconsin with mostly average-ish measurables (very nice 6.96 3-cone and 1.59 10-yard split though). He was overshadowed by his more athletic, more productive teammate, Leo Chenal, and went undrafted but made the final 53 man roster. He played 90% of the snaps here (he became a starter after Roquan Smith was traded) and responded with 12 tackles, 2 tfl, 2 sacks, and had an INT called back because of a penalty.
I was blown away by what I saw. Fast first step, great eyes, reacts quickly and diagnoses the play, hits like a truck...he's the Chicago version of Josey Jewell. In his first start last week he had 7 tackles. I see no reason this can't keep up. Fantastic find by Eberflus and the Bears.
Snap Counts of Interest:
57 = Kmet
53 = Mooney
31 = Brown
27 = Pettis
13 = Claypool
40 = Montgomery
23 = Herbert
51 = Raymond
50 = Amon Ra
38 = Kennedy
46 = Wright
25 = Williams
19 = Swift
17 = Jackson
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