Bears

What you need to know from Bears-Vikings: Bears proved John Fox and Dowell Loggains correct

mitch_trubisky.jpg
USA TODAY

What you need to know from Bears-Vikings: Bears proved John Fox and Dowell Loggains correct

While Mike Glennon was slogging through his four ineffective starts, the message from John Fox — as to why he wasn’t going to make a quarterback change — was that the entire team needed to play better. After the Bears made the switch to Mitchell Trubisky, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said the rookie quarterback wasn’t a “magic wand” who could fix all the other problems plaguing the offense.

On Monday, both the Bears coach and offensive coordinator were proven right with sloppy play from the supporting cast around Trubisky, as well as the quarterback himself. Trubisky made a catastrophic decision late in the fourth quarter when he threw across his body toward Zach Miller, who was blanketed by All-Pro safety Harrison Smith. Smith picked the pass off at the Bears’ 22-yard line, setting up Kai Forbath’s game-winning field goal.

Trubisky was solid in the first quarter, then slogged through the second and third periods without much success. But a tipped pass into the hands of Zach Miller — and the mesmerizing two-point conversion that followed — re-invigorated the Bears, and the crowd at Soldier Field.

The Bears’ offense, especially early and late in the game, looked more dynamic with Trubisky under center. Trubisky routinely did things that weren’t asked of Glennon, like rolling out and throwing on a bootleg or running play action on a fake zone read. Trubisky clicked through his progressions and for the most part made good decisions — at least until that fourth quarter interception — though not necessarily good throws.

But consider this: On the Bears’ six possessions in the first half, they committed a penalty on four and fumbled on another (when Charles Leno was beat by Everson Griffen, leading to a sack-strip that set up Minnesota’s go-ahead field goal). Dion Sims dropped two passes and Trubisky’s accuracy escaped him for stretches, too.

Trubisky started the game with seven completions on nine attempts in the first quarter; he went 5/16 after the first 15 minutes.

It took Pat O’Donnell — yes, the punter — throwing a 38-yard touchdown to Benny Cunningham on a fake for the Bears to get in the end zone for the first time. That was a strong point in favor of coaching, but the Bears had to burn too many timeouts, including one early in the fourth quarter that meant the offense didn’t have even a slim chance to win the game after Forbath’s field goal.

Worth noting on defense: The Bears lost inside linebacker John Timu during the game, meaning they were down four players at that position (Timu, Jerrell Freeman, Nick Kwiatkoski and Danny Trevathan), and it showed on Jerrick McKinnon’s 58-yard touchdown. Timu, notably, was given defensive play-calling duties for this game.

The over-arching point for the Bears, though: They now have a regular-season data point on which to begin evaluating Trubisky. Where he is when the season ends Dec. 31 — against the Vikings — will be the most important storyline to follow in 2017. The interception he threw was a bad mistake, but it’s now a teaching point for Loggains and Dave Ragone.

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.