Pat O'Donnell

Bears grades: Mitchell Trubisky does his job, special teamers do not

Bears grades: Mitchell Trubisky does his job, special teamers do not

The story of this game was the Bears had control of the game until two massive special teams gaffes allowed the Ravens to get back into the game, so that's what plays out in these grades:

QUARTERBACKS: B

The Bears didn’t ask Mitchell Trubisky to do much, with the rookie only throwing 16 passes in his second career start. Trubisky completed eight of those attempt for 113 yards and threw a 27-yard touchdown to Dion Sims. More importantly, Trubisky didn’t throw an interception. He did lose a fumble on a sack-strip where he said he moved off his first progression too quickly, which caused him to not see a blitzing Lardarius Webb. But even while executing a scaled-back gameplan on the road, Trubisky still made a few impressive plays: His athletic recovery of a high Cody Whitehair snap prevented Baltimore from scoring a touchdown, and his 18-yard completion to Kendall Wright set up Connor Barth’s walk-off field goal. 

RUNNING BACKS: B+

Jordan Howard was excellent, carrying a career high 36 times for 167 yards, with 53 of those coming on a 53-yard run in overtime that set up the Bears’ win. But even before that, Howard was running hard, showing good vision and, for the second straight game, attacked the edge well. Tarik Cohen gained 34 yards on 14 carries and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Zach Miller that was set up by repeated runs to the edge where Baltimore’s safeties crashed toward the line of scrimmage. Dinging this grade enough to not be an A: Cohen losing a fumble late in the third quarter that turned into a Ravens field goal, and Howard inexplicably running out of bounds to stop the clock with 23 seconds left. Howard’s lucky the Ravens didn’t make that count, a la Marion Barber against the Denver Broncos in 2011?

WIDE RECEIVERS: D-

It’s probably more of a coincidence that the Bears barely used their wide receivers in their two wins (four targets, two catches, 26 yards vs. Baltimore; four targets, one catch, nine yards vs. Pittsburgh), but it was another quiet day for this group. Kendall Wright is clearly the Bears’ best receiver, and by a percentage of Trubisky’s attempts, he was targeted on about 19 percent of them (Sims led with four targets). But Tanner Gentry (one target, no receptions) and Tre McBride (no targets) weren’t a factor in the gameplan, and McBride was guilty of an illegal block above the waist (though the Bears still scored on that drive). One other note: Wright, in addition to his two catches for 36 yards, delivered a punishing block on longtime Ravens star linebacker Terrell Suggs. The Bears were pushed around by Suggs a bit on Sunday, so they probably enjoyed that one.

TIGHT ENDS: B-

Sims and Miller were the recipients of the Bears’ two offensive touchdowns on Sunday, with Sims’ 27-yard grab an impressive display of strength to rip Trubisky’s pass away from Ravens safety Tony Jefferson. But Sims struggled in the run game against Suggs, who soundly beat him for losses of six and seven yards on a pair of plays. With two minutes left, the Bears went with Sims, Miller and Adam Shaheen (as well as fullback Michael Burton) and couldn’t pave a way for Jordan Howard to convert a third-and-one, which preceded Michael Campanaro’s 77-yard punt return score. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: B-

The Bears’ offensive line largely did a good job blocking for Howard and Cohen, but Whitehair had two more bad snaps (one didn’t count because of a timeout) that nearly cost the Bears. That’s become a legitimate concern in his game. Bobby Massie (holding) was the only offensive lineman flagged for a penalty on Sunday, which was a nice improvement from Monday night.  

DEFENSIVE LINE: B+

Another week, another dominant game from Akiem Hicks, who bullied third-string Ravens right guard Jermaine Eluemunor and recorded his fifth sack of the year while doing well against the run. Eddie Goldman notched six tackles and played one of his best games of the year, too. Mitch Unrein made a key play in overtime to hold Javorius Allen to two yards on second-and-five in overtime, and on the next play, the defensive line got good pressure on Joe Flacco to force an incompletion. The Ravens punted, and the Bears won the game on their next drive. 

LINEBACKERS: B+

Danny Trevathan made his presence known after his one-week suspension with six tackles and a sack, and Christian Jones — outside of an unnecessary roughness penalty that looked like a questionable flag — forced a fumble (which Trevathan recovered) and tied for the team lead with eight tackles. A Trevathan-Jones inside linebacker pairing looks like it can sustain itself until Nick Kwiatkoski returns, possibly by the end of the month. Pernell McPhee notched a sack in his return to Baltimore and drew a holding penalty in the third quarter. Leonard Floyd didn’t show up in the box score but he did draw a holding penalty in the first quarter with a good pass rush. 

SECONDARY: A

Adrian Amos, knowing a lot of the attention would be on him, said after the game he’d give the game ball to Kyle Fuller. But both players deserve kudos for their work on Sunday: Amos tied for the team lead with eight tackles and returned his first career interception 90 yards for a touchdown; Fuller played the part of a shutdown corner, allowing five catches on 15 targets for only 43 yards, according to Pro Football Focus, with three pass break-ups (Amos had two PBUs, too). Fuller and Amos' tackling was solid, too. Bryce Callahan returned his second quarter interception 52 yards to the Baltimore 20-yard line, which set up Cohen’s touchdown pass to Miller. A ding here: Eddie Jackson took a poor angle on Alex Collins, allowing the Ravens running back to pick up 30 yards instead of about 12. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Maybe Bobby Rainey’s 96-yard kick return shouldn’t have counted, but that it came down to whether or not Josh Bellamy grazed Rainey’s shin is still a problem. And Michael Campanaro’s 77-yard game-tying punt return was inexcusable — yes, the Bears didn’t have special teams ace Sherrick McManis on the field for it due to an injury, but that cannot happen in that situation of a game. Amos checked into a max protect look, and Pat O'Donnell's booming punt gave Campanaro plenty of room to return it. Cre'Von LeBlanc, replacing McManis, struggled in protection and fell down twice on the play. Those two return scores were enough to give this unit an F despite Connor Barth winning the game with a 40-yard field goal. 

COACHING: D+

The Bears put an emphasis on cleaning up the sloppy play that plagued this team for the first five weeks of the season, and for the first three quarters, it looked like that emphasis paid off. But the last 18 or so minutes of regulation were brutal, with the Bears fumbling three times (losing two), committing five penalties and squandering an 11-point advantage after Amos’ pick-six. Allowing a 77-yard punt return and successful two-point conversion when up eight is horrendous. Howard running out of bounds with 23 seconds left was a mental error that John Fox would’ve had to answer for had the Bears lost because of it. On the positive side of things here: Dowell Loggains’ gameplan, while conservative, wound up working against a solid Ravens defense, and he deserves credit for designing yet another successful trick play. Without those two special teams mistakes, the Bears' offense would've done what it needed to control the game. 

How the Bears pulled off that awesome fake punt against the Minnesota Vikings

How the Bears pulled off that awesome fake punt against the Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Amos scanned the 11 Minnesota Vikings players in front of him and rubbed the front of his jersey with both of his hands. That was the sign: It’s go time. 

Amos knew the play would work — “if I wasn’t 100 percent confident I wouldn’t have called it,” he said. The Bears practiced it all week after special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers picked up something while watching film of the Vikings’ punt return team. The middle of the field would open up if the Minnesota was in a certain punt return look, and that’s the one Amos saw. 

It wasn’t clear the play would work, though, the first couple times the Bears ran it in practice. It was “a little shaky,” linebacker Christian Jones said, on the practice fields at Halas Hall this week. But punter Pat O’Donnell and running back Benny Cunningham practiced the throw and catch a few extra times during Sunday’s walkthrough, which Cunningham said not only built confidence in the two of them but in the rest of the team that the play could be successful. 

So when O’Donnell got the ball, his calm toss to Cunningham looked more at home during an idle break at a backyard barbecue than in a nationally-televised Monday night football game. 

“Great throw,” Cunningham said. “Great throw.”

O’Donnell was a little more self-deprecating: “10-yard little dump pass, it’s easy, right? You could do it,” he said. 

Cunningham had a certain first down ahead of him, but he didn’t want to settle for just that, not with the Bears trailing, 10-2, at the time. The veteran running back dodged two tackles to get in the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown that, through five games, is the Bears’ longest passing play of the season. 

“They kind of teased me throughout the week, saying I had to make (returner Marcus Sherels) miss,” Cunningham said. “So it just felt good to make him miss and get in the end zone and make that play and not have to go in to the film room knowing I let him tackle me.”

Cunningham’s touchdown, had the Bears’ won, would’ve been viewed as the turning point in Monday night’s game. But even in a defeat, that the play worked so well is worth highlighting. 

“We were excited to do it,” Amos said. “On the punt team, you’re always excited to do a little something to change it up. It was a big moment in the game.” 

First time for everything: Punter completes longest Bears pass of the year

First time for everything: Punter completes longest Bears pass of the year

Monday's night Bears-Vikings game was all about Mitch Trubisky for Bears fans, but the longest pass play of the Bears season isn't Trubisky's, nor Mike Glennon's.

It's Pat O'Donnell that has that honor. That's punter Pat O'Donnell.

With the Bears trailing 10-2 in the third quarter, O'Donnell lined up for a punt but immediately passed to Benny Cunningham, who beat two defenders in the open field to score  38-yard touchdown. That's the longest passing play of the Bears season.

Glennon's long completion of the year is 29 yards. Trubisky's long on Monday was 20 yards.

The easy joke is to say that O'Donnell is now the quarterback of the future for the Bears, but by his own admission he said he's never run a fake punt pass play before.

He said as much in an interview on Bears Postgame Live with host Laurence Holmes. Check out clips from the interview in the video above.

"It was the first ever fake that I’ve ever tried to complete in a game, let alone college, little league, so it was nice to have that on Monday Night Football with Benny Cunningham making that touchdown," O'Donnell said.

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