Cam Ellis

Power Rankings Roundup: A win is nice, but it doesn't change much

Power Rankings Roundup: A win is nice, but it doesn't change much

The Bears finally ended their losing streak, but the Power Rankings weren't that impressed. Turns out, barely beating Jeff Driskel doesn't give you a lot of credit. Here's what they're saying:

NBC Sports Chicago - #21
The four-game losing streak is over, but did Mitch Trubisky's three-touchdown game inspire enough confidence to believe this team can make a run?

NFL.com - #21
Things got more interesting than they should have in the final minutes, but the Bears held on against a Lions team missing Matthew Stafford.

ESPN - #20
Basically, the Bears have to win Sunday night to keep their dim playoff hopes alive. At 4-5, the Bears are 3.5 games behind Green Bay and 2.5 behind Minnesota in the NFC North.

Sporting News - #19
The Bears got what they needed from Mitchell Trubisky against a bad Lions defense to stay in the playoff hunt and help Matt Nagy with his job security. The hard part is keeping that up against better teams.

CBS Sports - #21
So they do have a passing game? Maybe turning off the TVs helped Mitch Trubisky. He was good against the Lions to keep their season alive.

Sports Illustrated - #23
The Bears stepped on the gas to start the second half and their defense held off a backup quarterback on two potential game-winning drives. Mitchell Trubisky was better (16-of-23, 173 yards, 3 TDs) and the Bears can show some fight with a win next week against a reeling Rams team.

USA Today - #21
Mitch Trubisky is fair game, but remember that Chicago's 36 takeaways in 2018 greatly aided him and offense. Team has 12 takeaways so far this year.

The Athletic - #21
Did Mitchell Trubisky resurrect his lost season? It’s probably too soon to say (and he’s got a prime time game next week against the Rams, who for all their issues on offense have a defense that can wreck a quarterback), but for Bears fans, Sunday was a much-needed change, with three touchdowns from Trubisky, on three straight drives in the middle of the game, and a win over the Lions. For at least a few days, maybe Trubisky can turn the TVs back on.

Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and "it's getting stressful."

Eddie Jackson's in the longest turnover drought of his life, and "it's getting stressful."

At this point last season, Eddie Jackson had forced turnovers in three of the first four games, and was coming off a first half highlighted by a 65-yard scoop and score against the Bills. Jackson ended the season as the defense's most consistent playmaker, which makes the underwhelming first half of 2019 even more confusing. Big plays aren't coming like they used to, and the Bears' defense – Jackson especially – are still trying to figure out why.

"You know I really can’t even answer that," he said on Tuesday. "We’ve just got to continue flying around and try to make plays on the ball."

"That’s like a trick question - I really don’t know how to answer that. You’ve got to fly around. Guys got to make plays on the ball, strip the ball, or get in position to make plays and try to intercept it and things like that. Really don’t know." 

The last time Jackson scored was in the Bears' Thanksgiving game last season. He jumped a slant from Matt Stafford and ran it back 40-something yards, winning the game for the Bears; it was his 5th touchdown through 27 career games. Now he's played 39 games and still stuck at 5. 

"This is the longest it’s ever been in my life , playing football, without an interception, without a touchdown – ever," he said. "So it’s getting stressful. I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

His numbers, outside of turnovers, are also down, but Jackson still feels like he's playing well. Through his first two seasons he earned a reputation for always being around the ball, and for whatever reason, that just hasn't been the case so far in 2019. 

"I’m one of my biggest critics, so I just feel like I need to get in more positions to make plays, if that makes any sense," he said. "Like I said, it’s a different system, there are different things, so you’ve just got to buy in and control what you can control. And that’s dominating my square and my man. Wherever I’m in, just got to dominate that." 

The Bears spent Tuesday morning watching game tape from last year's Rams game, which in theory bodes well for Jackson's confidence. Not only did he play well (1 INT), but the Bears shut down a Rams offense that had scored 30 points or more in four straight games. Holding LA to a couple field goals was one of the biggest moments of the Bears' season. 

"Our preparation in practice was dead on," Jackson said. "Details, everyone was locked in. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and for us to come out and stand up how we stood up last year, it was some sight to see." 

The Bears will try and replicate that type of performance on Sunday night, and with the game-plan focused on forcing Goff to throw from the pocket, Jackson's going to get his chances. He admitted that there have been other chances throughout this season that he's been tempted to 'cheat' on, but has tried to stay disciplined within his first NFL system change. 

"You don’t want to press too much," he said. "It’s hard doing that, especially having the type of secondary that we have back there and even the type of confidence I have in myself and the type of player I am, you want to jump things.

"I’m just happy we won the last game, but just being that type of competitor, you want the ball. It’s going to come, that’s all I can tell myself." 

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How Kyle Long's injury started the process of switching James Daniels and Cody Whitehair

How Kyle Long's injury started the process of switching James Daniels and Cody Whitehair

How important was Kyle Long to the Bears' offense? The right guard went on IR four weeks ago, and the Bears are still dealing with the issues that his absence creates at other positions. 

Not only did Long's injury mean that the Bears were going to have to lean on Rashaad Coward before they would have liked, but it also largely drove the decision to move James Daniels and Cody Whitehair back to the positions they played last season – Whitehair at center, and Daniels at left guard. 

"You have Kyle over there, veteran, steadying guy next to James, between him and Bobby," Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said. "Now you have a guy that was a defensive lineman playing that spot, and with Cody in there, it's a steadying factor." 

Without Long, Whitehair's now the most senior member on the Bears' interior line. Drafted in 2016, he's got two years on both Daniels and Rashaad Coward, the latter being moved onto the offensive line when Nagy took over in 2018. Given how the offense has looked through 10 weeks, there wasn't a lot of harm in giving the switch a shot. 

"I think you have a balance when you look at it," Nagy added. "Before, you have experience wise, you’re dealing with Leno on the left, right? Cody and James and Rashaad. That was one of the things that we looked at with that switch. And then I think you kind of balance it out a little bit."

Daniels' versatility across multiple positions is a big part of the reason why the Bears took him 39th overall in 2018. It's also a big part of the reason why they're confident that moving back to guard halfway through the year won't throw him for a loop. He did, after all, start 10 games (nine on the left, once on the right) there as a rookie. He ended his rookie season with a Top-40 grade from to Pro Football Focus, and was one of only 35 guards to not allow a sack. 

"I just like him period," Hiestand said. "I just like him as a football player and as a person. He gives us everything he has every day. He's got a lot of ability and over time as he gets stronger and becomes more confident playing in this league and grows and matures, he's gonna be fun to watch."

The Bears were as unified as they were non-committal when asked if the switch was permanent. They were proud that Daniels "handled [the news] great," and praised his team-first approach, a response that isn't automatic with 23-year-old 2nd round picks that get replaced. And for the conspiracy theorists out there, there was no input from the quarterback room. "We've got enough on our plate," QB coach Dave Ragone quipped. 

It's not going to be an overnight fix, which was pretty clear after the game against Detroit featured Whitehair struggling out of the shotgun, two penalties from Daniels, and five sacks allowed. Still, the Bears will have to go 6-1 or 7-0 to have any realistic chance at a playoff berth, and moving Whitehair back gives them a better shot at doing that. It just may mean a few more hiccups, but that's nothing new this year. 

"Going through a couple of snap issues here or there, there were a few of those yesterday," Nagy said. "We’ve been through that before and Cody’s done a great job of pulling through that. We just know that making that switch, for a lot of different reasons is more beneficial." 

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