Don’t look now, but the Bears … might be good? Who knows how impressive a win over the Dallas Cowboys will be when the season ends, but dropping 31 points on that defense is objectively one of the brightest moments of a season that, all of a sudden, doesn’t feel so lost after all. The Bears are back over .500 for the first time since Week 5 and are now firmly on the heels of both teams that stand above them in the playoff standings. Here’s where the arrows are pointing after the Bears’ 31-24 win:
Hon. Mention Up: Mitch Trubisky, JP Holtz (!), the weather for a night game in December
Hon. Mention Down: Tarik Cohen, Riley Ridley, Jason Garrett’s job security
ARROW UP – Allen Robinson
If he wants to, Allen Robinson’s probably going to the Pro Bowl, whenever the Pro Bowl is. He didn’t have the gaudiest stats on Thursday night but made his catches count – of his five receptions, two of them were touchdowns. He now has seven touchdowns on the season, the second-highest number of his career. Robinson’s established himself as a bonafide No. 1 receiver this season, and there’s most likely a BIG OL’ extension coming his way this winter. He was playing well before the offense started clicking, so imagine how tantalizing the idea of Robinson finally getting to play in an offense that works is.
ARROW DOWN – Roquan Smith
What a bummer. Smith had been the defense’s best player over the last month, and he looked like a legitimate star at times on Thanksgiving. The length of recovery for a pectoral injury varies, but with three weeks left, things look bleak. If his season is over, what a weird one it was. He started slow, had that mysterious absence, but then managed to come back and put together a strong two-month run.
ARROW UP – Matt Nagy
The Bears looked ready for Thursday night’s game, which has not always been the case this season and is certainly more than you can say about Dallas’ effort. Credit for that goes to Nagy. The coach also gets credit for a game plan that looked – surprise! – remarkably balanced, as the Bears ended up passing the ball 31 times and rushing it 34 times. He got Trubisky into an early rhythm with some smart screens and bootlegs, something that clearly played into how comfortable the offense looked to end the first half.
ARROW DOWN – Opening Drive Defense, Again
The Cowboys converted four different third downs on their 17-play drive to open the game. Four! They came from all distances, too. First came 3rd-and-1, then 3rd-and-3. After that were conversions on 3rd-and-11 and, finally, 3rd-and-8. It was the exact opposite of how they were worked on the first drive of last week’s game, but the result was the same, and once again the offense came onto the field playing from behind. This feels a little pedantic considering the defense only allowed one other touchdown all night, but it also feels notable that the Bears’ defense has gotten off to slow starts in consecutive games.
ARROW UP – Kyle Fuller
Fuller’s quietly had a great season. It doesn’t look as good on paper without the interceptions, and he’s had quite a few bounce off his hands, but his pass-jumping instincts have been terrific this year. Fuller held Amari Cooper to 83 yards on six catches and finished second among all Bears defensive players with seven tackles. With Prince Amukamara out with a hamstring injury, Fuller’s ability to keep the Cowboys’ passing game out of sync all night was especially admirable.