Bears 16, Broncos 14: Whose arrows are up and down after the Bears' first win of 2019

Bears 16, Broncos 14: Whose arrows are up and down after the Bears' first win of 2019

Eddy Pineiro! Club Dub is open again, as the Bears' just pulled out a 16-14 win against the Denver Broncos. Here's whose arrows are up and down:

ARROW UP – David Montgomery

Once again, the stats don’t tell the whole story. Montgomery only finished with 62 yards on 18 rushes, but he again looked like one of the team’s most dynamic players. The rookie back was an integral part of the Bears’ 3rd quarter touchdown drive:

Not only was it his first career touchdown, but the score helped curb (for the time being, at least) some of the ever-growing panic that’s surrounded the offense. The Bears clearly wanted to get him more involved than he was in Week 1 – he ended the first half with more touches (8) than he had all game (7) against the Packers. If it’s possible for there to be a silver lining to the Bears’ offense, it’s Montgomery.

ARROW DOWN – Mitch Trubisky

It was better than the Green Bay game, but Trubisky’s performance still left a lot to be desired. His final stat line (16-27, 120 yds) looked clean enough, but it was the plays that he didn’t make that stood out the most. His touch on deep balls was off, under-throwing what would have been an easy touchdown to Tarik Cohen on their first drive and later badly over-throwing David Montgomery on a (questionably-called) fade route in the second quarter. This team is built so that they can afford these types of performances every once in a while and still compete, but there’s no denying it at this point: he needs to be better.

ARROW UP – Special Teams

More specifically, the guys that do the actual kicking. Eddy Pineiro continued his season’s strong start, going 3-3 on field goal attempts that included a (at the time) career-best 52-yarder in the 2nd quarter. He then, you know, hit the game-winning field goal from 53. Punter Pat O’Donnell quietly had a terrific game, racking up 257 yards on 5 punts, while averaging close to 60 yards per. He pinned the Broncos deep in their own territory more than a couple times on Sunday, highlighted by a 75-yard boomer (with the help of a fortunate bounce).

ARROW DOWN – Mike Davis

It’s been an underwhelming first two games for Davis. After rushing for only 19 yards on five carries against the Packers, Davis finished Sunday’s game with one yard on three carries. He wasn’t target once in the passing game, despite Trubisky targeting Montgomery (4) and Tarik Cohen (3) seven times. The Bears’ haven’t yet found a useful role for Davis, and it’s clear right now that he’s RB3. 

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Will 'special' throws help Mitch Trubisky keep his job with the Bears in 2020?

Will 'special' throws help Mitch Trubisky keep his job with the Bears in 2020?

Every so often, Mitch Trubisky has conjured up the sort of eye-catching “special” throws expected from a former second overall pick. A few popped up in the Bears’ win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, specifically his 18-yard touchdown strike to Ben Braunecker and a 33-yard deep ball to Allen Robinson with pressure in his face. 

Those two throws represent two of the more encouraging moments for Trubisky during his third year in the NFL. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone called Trubisky’s touchdown to Braunecker “great,” and was impressed by the throw to Robinson given he got hit after releasing it. 

“He lets that thing go with the anticipation, which we’re always preaching to him,” Ragone said. “To me, even though that play wasn’t a touchdown, that throw in general is kind of what obviously we’re hoping more and more of those type plays as the rest of the regular season moves on.”

The question the Bears have to ask themselves is this: Is Trubisky’s ability to make outstanding throws enough to out-weigh the glaring issues encompassing their quarterback and an offense averaging just 18 points per game?

Plenty of teams and coaches have been enamored by “special” abilities in quarterbacks (Jay Cutler, for these purposes, is a prime example). Plenty of coaches, too, have been drawn by the allure of being the guy to finally harness talent that shows up occasionally on highlight reels. 

It’s how the Bears can, at the least, talk themselves into keeping Trubisky as their starting quarterback for the rest of 2019. And it’s how general manager Ryan Pace, speaking on WBBM-780 (the Bears’ flagship radio station) prior to Sunday’s game against the Lions, can make this argument as to why he’s confident in Trubisky: 

“I think this is all part of playing quarterback in the NFL.” Pace said. “Every quarterback goes through this and it’s just part of the experience. … There’s growth that happens on the field. There’s growth that happens off the field. Other young quarterbacks around the league are going through it, the same thing, and honestly we’re proud of the way that Mitch is handling it.”

“You see it within games right now. You saw it in Philly, it was really a tale of two halves. So he’s fighting his way out of it within games. 

“We all know that Mitch can play better. Mitch knows that. He’s just in the process of navigating through this along with the rest of the offense. He has confidence in himself. His teammates have confidence in him. And we’ve just got to fight through this.”
Pace does not speak to the media during the regular season, and is not going to send a message to his quarterback when coach Matt Nagy is sticking behind Trubisky (to put it another way: If he had already determined Trubisky weren’t his 2020 quarterback, he wouldn’t say it publicly). 

Between lauding those special throws and — accurately — pointing out not everything in 2019’s offense is Trubisky’s fault, though, there is some groundwork laid for the Bears to build an argument for not changing starting quarterbacks in 2020. 

But the Bears need to be careful when it comes to thinking they can harness Trubisky’s “special” ability. Quarterbacks, generally, are who they are after making 32 starts — and Trubisky on Sunday will start his 35th game in the NFL. The late-emerging successes of Alex Smith (who was with Matt Nagy in Kansas City) and Drew Brees (who was with Pace in New Orleans) are the exceptions to the rule, not the rule. 

Still, the more “special” throws, the better for the Bears’ (slim) chances of making 2019 a relevant season in their 100-year history. But the Bears in 2020 will need to strike a proper balance between evaluating the occasional high-degree-of-difficulty completion and the routine decisions made by Trubisky. 

“Just continue to try to do my job and I think those really good throws will come,” Trubisky said. “And just, when the normal play is there just continue to make that and put my team in a good position to stay on the field, convert third downs and just try and score points, ultimately.”

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The Bears pranked Tarik Cohen about his height and unfortunately it is hilarious

USA Today

The Bears pranked Tarik Cohen about his height and unfortunately it is hilarious

Some athletes are short, and some athletes are tall (sports!). That's just a fact of life.

And hey, another fact of life is that Tarik Cohen is 5'6. The Bears almost certainly know this, and yet: 

Tarik, I'm sorry. None of this is your fault, and really this isn't even about you. Poor Eli Apple's probably in the locker room scrolling Instagram and ranting to no one in particular about how he made that joke three weeks ago. In a perfect world people who are are 5'6 always have towels available to them, but for now it remains a timeless prank. 

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