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2022 NFL season, Week 6: What We Learned from Commanders' win over Bears on Thursday

Washington Commanders
2022 · 2-4-0
Chicago Bears
2022 · 2-4-0


  1. Commanders run game does just enough. After last week’s nine-carry debut, Brian Robinson Jr. clearly earned the Commanders’ coaches’ trust for more work Thursday night. Robinson started, got the ball on the first two plays of the game and was in there late to help finish off Washington’s 12-7 victory. For the night, he carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown midway through the third quarter. Robinson wasn’t ripping off many big runs, but his 16-yard run on the front side of the two-minute warning was a back-breaker for the Bears. More than anything, he showed more burst than you might expect from a player who was shot in the leg multiple times in late August. Throw in a few nice runs each from Terry McLaurin and J.D. McKissic, plus a surprise cameo from Antonio Gibson -- who had four carries for 32 yards (all in the third quarter) -- and Washington grinded its way to a short-week road win. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
  2. Bears’ red-zone woes continue. The Bears were 2-for-2 in red-zone opportunities in Week 5 against the Vikings but 0-for-3 in the five-point loss to the Giants. On Thursday, the Bears matched the Giants game's inefficiency, with the game ending on Darnell Mooney’s fourth-down catch ruled down at the Washington 1-yard line. It was a fitting end for a team that is struggling to score points in some amazingly creative ways. The Bears had two promising early drives thwarted by red-zone turnovers -- one a pick, the other on downs. Justin Fields’ helmet deflection-interception on Chicago’s second drive had some bad luck to it, but did he think he could fit it through a tiny hole? On the next Bears series, they drove to the 1, and Fields’ overthrow to a wide-open Ryan Griffin on second-and-goal was far more egregious an error than Khalil Herbert getting stuffed at the goal line on fourth down. That was the second time this season the Bears faced fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line and failed to get in.
  3. Fields’ roller-coaster night deepens debate. Fields’ early mistakes were unmistakable. But so were the Bears’ offensive shortcomings. He was hit 12 times in the pocket, with five resulting in sacks, and that doesn’t count the number of times he was hit on 12 rushing attempts. Several times Fields winced following big hits and sat on the turf after them more than once. But he also misfired on throws and was at least partially guilty of once again holding on to the ball too long. Right now, Fields remains a giant mystery wrapped inside an enigma. His movement skill is uncommon, as seen on his 39-yard scramble that nearly helped win the game for the Bears. And he’s a good vertical thrower, as his bomb to Dante Pettis showed. But his overall refinement as a QB needs a lot of work; the execution on Chicago’s penultimate drive is good evidence of that. But how does improvement happen with an offensive line that can’t block and receivers who can’t separate or catch consistently? That’s the Bears’ biggest problem right now.
  4. Commanders win in spite of Carson Wentz. Like Fields, Wentz has a propensity to attract foreign bodies; they’re now the two most-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL. Again, there’s the Rorschach test of who’s to blame: the line or the QB? But with both of these quarterbacks, they certainly lack the ideal pocket presence you’re looking for. With the run game working fairly well, it made sense to lean on it and sprinkle in a few high-percentage passes when the game tilted Washington’s way. But no one can say with a straight face that this is the offensive formula the team wanted before the season, not with the receivers they have and with the price the Commanders paid to land Wentz, who was 12-of-20 passing for 99 yards in the win. It’s clear that Scott Turner and Ron Rivera -- coaches who might be fighting for their livelihoods -- have very little trust remaining in high-leverage situations to call for even moderately risky throws. And we didn’t even need to hear Rivera’s early-week comments on Wentz to know that. We just watch the games.
  5. Khalil Herbert has earned more touches for the Bears. When David Montgomery missed most of Week 3 and all of Week 4, Herbert was able to shine. He ran for a combined 234 yards and two TDs and caught all three passes thrown to him for 36 more yards. Last week against the Vikings, he was given four carries. On Thursday, he had seven -- and one of them went for 64 yards. This is not a plea to take the ball out of Montgomery’s hands but one to give Herbert an expanded diet. This could be a Jonathan Stewart-DeAngelo Williams type of partnership if the Bears want it to be. With Fields’ running ability, the Bears actually could be tough to defend once they build back the offensive line. 

Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Fields’ 40-yard TD pass to Dante Pettis had a completion probability of 22.9%, the most improbable completion of Fields’ career so far.

NFL Research: Carson Wentz improved to 7-0 on Thursday Night Football, which is the most wins without a loss in TNF history, which dates back to 2006. The next best number of wins without a loss is 2-0. 

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