Offense scores, defense in preseason win vs. Browns

Grading Bears offense and defense in preseason win over Browns appeared first on NBC Sports Chicago

CLEVELAND – It’s the next that counts.

The Bears wrapped up their preseason schedule Saturday night with a 21-20 win over the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The score doesn’t do justice to the Bears’ performance.

The starters that head coach Matt Eberflus chose to play saw significant action in the first half as the Bears jumped out to a 21-6 lead. A late fourth-quarter rally by the Browns’ B and C teams saw Cleveland within an inch, but the Bears’ defense was able to succumb to the two-point conversion to seal the victory.

Quarterback Justin Fields played Saturday night on the shores of Lake Erie, and the Bears defense had its way with a Browns offense without many playmakers.

Here are our grades for the Bears’ 21-20 preseason finale win over the Browns:

VIOLATION

Eberflus planned to give Fields and the first-team offense significant time Saturday night, hoping the unit could showcase its progress throughout camp and translate it into production on the scoreboard.

Mission accomplished.

After a rocky possession derailed by blocking issues in the run and pass game, Fields dismantled the Browns.

The sophomore quarterback went 14-of-16 for 156 yards and three touchdowns while leading scores of 80, 52 and 62 yards.

Fields opened the scoring by darting to tight end Ryan Griffin for a 22-yard score. On the following possession, he threw a dime to Dante Pettis for a 12-yard score on a silky route after the corner. Fields capped his day by finding a wide open Cole Kmet for a 24-yard touchdown to put the Bears up 21-0.

The Bears’ starting offense has been shaky in few snaps in the first two preseason games, but Fields and Co. finished the exhibition season on a high note Saturday in Cleveland.

Grade A

URGENT ACCESS

The pitching and offense will understandably make headlines for their game at FirstEnergy Stadium. But the Bears’ ground game should also get its credit.

David Montgomery made his preseason debut and showed how his powerful running style can thrive in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s wide-area offense. Montgomery rushed nine times for 28 yards, but the physicality with which he ran set the tone for the Bears’ offense.

Khalil Herbert rushed four times for 14 yards and Darindon Evans added 18 yards on four carries. De’Montre Tuggle’s last hit was the only blemish on the ground attack.

There were no big plays on the ground, but the Bears’ running game was able to do enough to allow the passing attack to work.

The offensive line rebounded after a poor opening drive to pave the way for Montgomery on the next four drives.

There are things to clean up, but the potential for the Bears’ ground attack to become lethal.

Work to be done, though.

Grade: B-minus

DEFENSE OF PASOS

Five of the Bears’ most important defensive players did not suit up Saturday for the finale.

Robert Quinn had the night off as a veteran, while Jaylon Johnson and Roquan Smith both sat out due to tightness. Safety Eddie Jackson also missed the game and is day-to-day. His partner, rookie Jaquan Brisker, remains out with a hand injury.

Despite those absences, the Bears’ defense played well against a Browns team that was without Deshaun Watson, Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper or Kareem Hunt.

The Bears held Jacoby Brissett to 13-of-23 for 109 yards and a second-quarter interception by Greg Stroman. Josh Dobbs got the Browns into the end zone with a touchdown pass to Miller Forristall, but those were the only fireworks a sluggish Browns offense could produce Saturday.

The amount of talent on the sidelines for the Bears’ defense and the Browns’ offense must be considered. But overall, Alan Williams’ unit did its job in Cleveland

Grade: A-minus

RUN DEFENSE

Without Chubb or Hunt to tackle, the Bears’ defense finished the preseason with an outstanding performance.

Justin Jones set the tone early when he broke through the line and hit D’Ernest Johnson for a 1-yard loss on the second play of the game.

The Bears held the Browns to 78 yards on 28 carries (2.8 yards per carry).

Outside of the very first drive of the preseason, when Patrick Mahomes diced them up, the Bears defense has been a disciplined and basically sound unit that throws to the ball.

Adding Smith to that equation will give them even more juice when the games count.

You can hang this show on the fridge.

Grade A

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