THE MORNING AFTER: Surprisingly, Osweiler’s offense is the Bears’ ‘kryptonite’
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – If optimism was brewing in anticipation for the first game after the bye all week, it started boiling a couple of hours before the contest.
After a few days of speculation, Ryan Tannehill was out of the lineup with shoulder issues, leaving backup Brock Osweiler to start against the Bears.
In what has been close to a dream start for Matt Nagy’s first season with the team, this figured to only make things better. The much-maligned Osweiler would be facing a Bears defensive unit that was near the top of every statistical category in the NFL, which included 18 sacks.
They were not only coming off an impressive win over Tampa Bay in Week 4 but also the bye, leaving Vic Fangio’s unit rested and ready for a Tannehill-led Dolphins’ team. Put in Oswelier, and it figured to be another banner day.
No so fast. In fact, those rooting for the Bears should have remembered their previous outings against the quarterback.
The 6-foot-7 signal-caller beat the Bears in his first career NFL start in November of 2015, helping the Broncos to a 17-15 victory. Ten months later, he was starting for the Texans against their opponent from Chicago in Houston, once again leading his team to a win.
Surely he wouldn’t do that against this defense? Yet somehow he did. After weeks of strong play and, at times, domination, Osweiler proved to be the Bears’ “kryptonite” again.
He threw for a career-high 380 yards, three touchdowns, and managed to not let a pair of interceptions by Kyle Fuller or a goal line fumble in overtime hurt him. He got a strong performance for ageless running back Frank Gore, some nice runs after catch from Albert Wilson, and his throws late were on the money when it counted.
Of all people, it was and Osweiler-led offense that couldn’t be contained by this Bears defense and managed to prevent a single sack against himself, and improved to 3-0 against his opponent from Chicago in his career.
“Our guys, trust me, they’re good tacklers and those guys are good ballcarriers, too, when they have the football. And so you have got to give credit to them for playing a good game and running well with the ball,” said Nagy of the defense. “They made plays, and so you can’t take anything away from them for that.”
Or Osweiler, who was far from perfect, but found a way to be effective for the better part of the contest. He got the Dolphins on the board in the first quarter with a touchdown pass to Nick O’Leary. When the Bears’ offense woke up in the second half, he was able to lead a pair of field goal tries in the third to keep the game close.
Gore helped to compliment his throws by rushing for 101 yards on 15 carries, while Wilson made a strong Bears’ defense look human in the fourth quarter. One a 43-yard touchdown and a 75-yard score, the receiver worked his way around the opponent’s secondary for a pair of memorable scores.
“We will give credit to them, but just not getting those screens under control,” said Fuller of the breakdowns on the touchdowns. “We just gave up some big yards on those.”
But the most shocking remains the fact that the Bears didn’t get a single sack against a less-than-mobile quarterback.
Credit some game planning for that, along with a minor ankle injury to Khalil Mack that he played through, but Osweiler managed to stay away from a strong Bears’ front seven to stay upright the entire game.
“We didn’t get any sacks. You can’t assess it if there’s no sacks,” said defensive tackle Akiem Hicks when asked about the pass rush.
So why couldn’t they get to him?
“I can’t say. Got to look at the film. I got my ipad in the bag.”
Perhaps he’s a bit confused about how Osweiler’s unit gained a season-high 571 yards against the Bears on the afternoon. Was it the heat? Was it Mack’s injury? Was it the magic of Osweiler against his opponent from Chicago working again?
“That’s not what you want. You want to finish out the game on defense,” said Mack, who was held without a sack for the first time in his tenure with the team. “Got to get it corrected. Look at the film and get it corrected.”
While wondering how Osweiler got the better of the Bears again.