Bears quarterback Justin Fields is coming off an NFL-record-setting rushing performance against the Dolphins — 178 yards, the most ever by a quarterback in a regular-season game. But he had been building up to that for a while, with 88, 82 and 60 rushing yards in his previous three games.
Fields is 11th in the NFL in rushing with 602 yards (second among quarterbacks behind Lamar Jackson’s 635) and has averaged 6.6 yards per carry. Fields, in fact, has averaged 79.1 rushing yards per game since Week 3.
Lions rookie edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft, will be among the defenders who will have to watch their step in attacking Fields. Hutchinson has 4oe sacks, but all of them in two games — three against the Commanders and 1oe against the against the Cowboys. No doubt he has the athleticism. He looked like a linebacker on a nifty interception of Aaron Rodgers at the goal line last week in a 15-9 upset of the Packers.
But every Lions defender will be on alert against Fields. Jalen Hurts rushed for 90 yards against the Lions in Week 1. Geno Smith rushed for 49 against them in Week 4. Rodgers rushed for 40 yards against them last week, including a 16-yard scramble on third-and-10. Fields, obviously, has the potential to do even more damage.
The Bears’ defense has been reeling since defensive end Robert Quinn and linebacker Roquan Smith were traded, allowing 70 points and 821 yards in losses to the Cowboys (without Quinn) and the Dolphins (without Quinn and Smith) the last two weeks. They had no sacks or takeaways against the Dolphins last week.
Their defense has been particularly bad on third down. The Cowboys (9 of 11) and Dolphins (5 of 10) combined to convert 14 of 21 third-down opportunities (66.7%), dropping the defense to 31st in the league in third-down conversions allowed.
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Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool played 26 snaps and caught two passes 13 yards against the Dolphins, four days after joining the team in a trade with the Steelers.
Claypool also drew a 28-yard pass-interference penalty and should have had a 36-yard gain on a missed pass-interference call with 1:29 to play that the league later acknowledged was a mistaken no-call.
Claypool figures to be even more of a target after his first full week with the Bears. Five receivers have had 100 or more yards against the Lions, including the Patriots’ Jakobi Meyers (7-111, one touchdown in Week 5).
The Bears’ offense still is in a developmental mode, but after scoring 33, 29 and 32 points in their last three games, Fields and the offense face rare expectations of success against a Lions defense ranked 32nd in the league. This is not the time for a step back.