Bears

Mitchell Trubisky showed progress against Ravens, and now can improve off a win

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USA TODAY

Mitchell Trubisky showed progress against Ravens, and now can improve off a win

BALTIMORE — If you’re looking for progress from Mitchell Trubisky from his first start on Monday night to his second on Sunday, his decision-making was better against the Baltimore Ravens than it was against the Minnesota Vikings. 

To that point: Facing a third-and-three near the end zone in the second quarter, Trubisky rolled to his left, didn’t see anyone open and threw the ball away. That was not the time to force a throw into coverage and risk turning the ball over. The Bears settled for a chip-shot field goal and took a 3-0 lead. 

“When you get in the point zone, you take an incompletion over a risky throw,” Trubisky said. “Didn’t put ourselves in a lot of sticky situations for that, we came away with points and it paid off in the end. Try to learn from my mistake last week, forcing the ball when I didn’t need to, this week play within myself and took what the defense gave me. And that’s a really good defense out there so it’s good to come away with a win, especially on the road.”

The Bears won, 27-24, not necessarily because of what Trubisky did (8/16, 113 yards, 1 TD), but more for what he didn’t. Jordan Howard carried 36 times for 167 hard-earned yards, 53 of which came with the Bears backed up near their own goal line in overtime. Tarik Cohen carried 14 times and threw as many touchdowns as Trubisky. The first wide receiver to record a catch was Kendall Wright about six minutes into the third quarter. 

“It’s all about what’s necessary to be done for the team and what you have to do to get a win,” Trubisky said. “Today, my job was to manage it (and) take care of the football.”

Trubisky, with time, won’t be asked to “manage” many games. But while we’re still in the nascent stages of his development as an NFL quarterback, and with the Bears’ coaching staff needing to win games, that’s what the task was on Sunday. He was asked to make a play in overtime, with the Bears facing a second-and-11, and he found Wright for an 18-yard reception that set up Connor Barth’s game-winning 40-yard field goal. 

That might’ve been a difficult situation for a rookie quarterback who hadn’t thrown the ball much — let alone with much effectiveness — for four quarters of the game. But that it wasn’t for Trubisky was a reminder why the Bears invested their highest draft pick in decades into him. 

“For a normal young guy it’s tough,” Wright said. “I don’t know how normal Mitch is.”

Trubisky’s biggest mistake came when he lost a fumble when Lardarius Webb sacked him and dislodged the ball, which C.J. Mosley recovered.. But after the game, Trubisky already seemed to have a grasp on what he did wrong on that play — he said he moved off his first read too quick, which caused him to not be able to see the blitzing cornerback. 

When he watches the film, Trubisky — and the rest of the offense surely will identify more things he could’ve done better. But unlike last week, he’ll be watching a game the Bears ultimately won. And that’s what counts, right?

“Every win is a good win,” Cohen said. “We might’ve got it ugly, but it’s a good win. So you gotta take that and run with it and try to run with it and string games together. And it’s really encouraging because we know that we made our mistakes so if we correct those, we know what kind of game it’s going to be.” 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel.  Kap is happy that Mitch Trubisky played ok and John Fox’s team lost again.  The panel disagrees.

Plus Leonard Floyd doesn’t have an ACL tear…. Yet. Should the Bears shut him down even if he gets good news?

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

With Sunday’s game on the line and the Bears owning the football at their 17-yard line, the offense needed a drive for field goal position to tie the Detroit Lions. But rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, with 1:03 on the clock, wasn’t thinking 3 points. He was thinking touchdown and a win, and the huddle knew it.

“I think that's his mindset all the time,” said guard Josh Sitton, who recognized something familiar in Trubisky’s face that Sitton had seen over his years with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. “He's a play-maker, he's got all the confidence in the world in himself and the guys around him.

“You can just see it on his face. I don't think he really says anything, he doesn't really need to say anything, you can kind of see it, by that look in his eyes. He's got what it takes to be a great player in this league.”

It was not intended to be any even remote comparison with Rodgers. More than eyes are involved in that. But while the drive Sunday ended in failure in the form of a missed field goal, something was noted in the process.

The 13-play drive for the Bears’ first touchdown Sunday was the longest sustained by the offense under Trubisky. And it was a statement possession for an offense that had not scored a first-quarter touchdown in nine prior games.

But if a negative among the many Trubisky positives was the fourth time in five situations that Trubisky has failed to direct a game-winning or –tying drive, which goes a long way to answering why the Bears are 2-4 under him. Actually the number of come-up-short drives is more than those if you count things like a three-and-out at Baltimore in regulation before Trubisky led a seven-play drive for a winning overtime field goal.

Still, looking a little deeper, Trubisky has gotten progressively “closer” to being the kind of finisher that the Bears have needed for decades. At the very least, Trubisky is keeping drives alive longer and longer, if not ending them with points. In these situations:

Vs.                     4th qtr/OT situation

Minnesota         1 play, interception ends potential winning drive

Baltimore          3 plays, punt, regulation ends in tie

                           7 plays, game-winning FG in OT

Carolina            Game already decided

New Orleans    2 plays, interception ends drive for tie

Green Bay        5 plays, ball over on downs on drive for tie

Detroit               11 plays, missed FG for tie

Within the huddle, the team confidence in Trubisky and vice versa has clearly grown, regardless of outcome, and that is something the offense did not consistently have in Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen or even Josh McCown.

“[Trubisky] is just growing and growing and you just see it,” Sittyon said. “You saw the talent right away and he just keeps ... the nuances of the game, he just keeps learning and learning. He gives you all the confidence in the world as a guy in the locker room and on the field, in the huddle.

“He has that look in his eye where you're thinking 'All right, he's going to get the job done.’”

Staff addition? Probably not but Bears have an opening

Taking a morning-after look around the NFL after the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Something to probably dismiss but at least worth mentioning… .

The Denver Broncos on Monday fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the same Mike McCoy who handled the Denver offense as John Fox’s OC. Don’t expect anything in-season, certainly not at this point, but the situation does offer an interesting future option if somehow Fox sees the fourth and final year of his contract, even looking further down the coaching road irrespective of Fox’s presence.

McCoy was ousted from a foundering Broncos situation, presumably over not being able to make anything much out of Trevor Simian

McCoy, who was the mix of candidates and interviewed to succeed Lovie Smith back in 2012, wouldn’t necessarily be brought in as offensive coordinator by Fox or anyone else. What about the role of “consultant” or “assistant head coach” added to the Bears offensive staff?

The Bears have neither position on the staff currently, and haven’t had an assistant head coach since Rod Marinelli had that as part of his title from 2009-2012 under Lovie Smith. Marinelli, like McCoy, had been a head coach as well.

Notably, Fox kept McCoy on his staffs when Fox was hired both in Carolina and Denver, a good measure of Fox’s take on McCoy’s offensive-coaching skills. Fox added the job of passing-game coordinator to McCoy’s duties as quarterbacks coach with Carolina in 2007-08. Since then McCoy coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Also notably, perhaps in the other direction, Fox might have brought McCoy to Chicago after the latter was fired as Chargers head coach after last season. That didn’t happen, possibly because McCoy instead wanted a full OC position, which wasn’t open with Loggains in place.

Offensive consultants aren’t necessarily staff bloating; they have been referred to as “coaches for coaches.” Bruce Arians brought in longtime OC Tom Moore when Arians became Arizona Cardinals head coach (following Phil Emery’s decision to go with Marc Trestman over Arians). Moore previously served as offensive coordinator, then senior offensive coordinator, then offensive consultant through the Peyton Manning years in Indianapolis. Moore subsequently became offensive consultant for the Jets (2011) and Tennessee Titans (2012), the latter stint while Loggains was offensive coordinator.

Longtime offensive line coach Jim McNally has been a “consultant” with the Jets (2011-12) and Bengals (2012-this season). Randy Brown was a kicking consultant working under Bears special teams coaches in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron regimes, going on to work under John Harbaugh in Philadelphia and Baltimore.