3 and Out: Bears throttle Jaguars, playoff hopes still alive

Takeaways following the Chicago Bears’ 41-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Three moments that mattered

1. After piling up more than 40 points, the Bears made a change at quarterback – and it’s nowhere near the circumstances from the first Mitch Trubisky benching. After 265 yards and two touchdowns from Trubisky, Matt Nagy went to the bullpen – Nick Foles – to close out a rout of a win. Yes, it’s the hapless Jaguars, but the Bears pulled out a dominant second half at every level to boost their playoff hopes.

2. With 3:12 left in the third quarter, the Jaguars had eight total yards and promptly had another turnover on an interception by Roquan Smith – his second of the day. The Bears, meanwhile, found the end zone three times in the third quarter. The Bears scored 30 points or more for the fourth consecutive game, which is the longest streak in franchise history since 1965. Who would’ve predicted that stretch after the first Green Bay loss?

3. The final 30 seconds of the first half had all the fixings for a ‘poor football feast’. Trubisky threw an unquestionably poor interception in the end zone, but the Bears got the ball right back on an interception by Smith. Then, the Bears were able to squeeze in an additional 10 yards preceding Cairo Santos’ 24th consecutive field goal to take the 13-10 lead into the half. After that? Complete Bears dominance.

Three things that worked

1. Second half: The Bears scored four consecutive touchdowns and stonewalled the Jaguars offense in almost every fashion. The Bears surpassed 40 points for the first time since 2018. After that six-game losing streak, that says enough about the immense turnaround.

2. Bears offensive weapons: Jimmy Graham had two touchdown catches to raise his season total to eight – Just behind Robert Tonyan’s 10, which leads NFC tight ends. Allen Robinson reached 100 catches for the first time in his career, and David Montgomery had 95 yards and a touchdown.

3. Roquan Smith: Fresh off a Pro Bowl snub, Smith put an exclamation point on his excellent 2020 season. Smith had two interceptions and finished with eight tackles. Entering the week, Smith was second in the league in solo tackles and tied for fourth in total tackles. Smith might not be getting national attention for his production, but he’s no doubt been a force for the Bears.

Three things that didn’t

1. Pass rush: It’s probably a bit picky considering the Bears put up over 40 points, but the Jaguars’ offensive line allowed 37 sacks entering Sunday. Considering the talent, money invested and that former Bears quarterback Mike Glennon isn’t a mobile threat at all, mustering just one sack is a bit lackluster.

2. Cole Kmet’s rushing attempt: It ultimately doesn’t matter given how the game unfolded, but we can’t imagine we’ll be seeing Kmet getting a jet sweep at the 1-yard-line in the near future. The Jaguars stopped him very short and it set the tone for that red-zone drive that ended in a field goal early in the second quarter. We wonder how much influence Nagy had on that playcall.

3. Kindle Vildor: It is noticeable how much the defense misses rookie Jaylon Johnson opposite Kyle Fuller. Vildor, second on the afternoon with six tackles, ultimately worked out against a Jaguars wideout corps that doesn’t exactly inspire visions of the Kansas City Chiefs. But, the Bears will want a healthy Johnson back for the Packers next week.

What’s next?

The Bears’ playoff fate is still somewhat uncertain with a matchup against the Green Bay Packers next week. The Bears either needed to win their final two games or split them and get some outside help from the Los Angeles against the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.

Jacob Bartelson

Jacob Bartelson

Jake is a full-time sports reporter writing primarily for the Kane County Chronicle covering preps. His collective work is featured across several Shaw markets and platforms, including Friday Night Drive and Bears Insider. Jake began full-time in 2017.