Bears

Bears grades: The good and bad of Mitchell Trubisky, and a lot of bad for the coaching staff

Bears grades: The good and bad of Mitchell Trubisky, and a lot of bad for the coaching staff

QUARTERBACKS: B-

Mitchell Trubisky’s final line was the best of his career: 21/35 for 297 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers. He found Josh Bellamy on an outstanding throw for a 46-yard touchdown, and showed good chemistry with Dontrelle Inman and Kendall Wright throughout the game. But too often did Trubisky look tentative, leading to him being sacked five times (not pulling the trigger on a throw to an ostensibly open Bellamy looked rough). Even if that total was due to a lack of trust with his receivers or pass protection, Trubisky needs to be more consistently decisive. It’s all part of the learning process for the rookie quarterback.

RUNNING BACKS: D+

Why Tarik Cohen only had one run and two targets may be a better question for the Bears’ coaching staff, but if he’s only going to be on the field for 13 snaps (22 percent of the offense’s total), the team needs to find a way to make those limited snaps count more. Jordan Howard rushed 15 times for 54 yards but was dropped far too frequently at or behind the line of scrimmage. Benny Cunningham looked to provide a spark in the second quarter when he rumbled toward the goal line on a screen, but he lost the ball while stretching for the pylon, leading to that challenge that brutally backfired. Cunningham, after the game, said it was a “bad decision” to try to stretch the ball for the pylon in that situation. 

WIDE RECEIVERS: B-

Inman was solid in his first game with the Bears, catching six passes for 88 yards on eight targets, though he did have a drop on the final possession of the game. He was as advertised — a savvy, lengthy target who can play on the outside, which Trubisky hasn’t had since taking over for Mike Glennon in October. Wright (five catches, 46 yards) benefitted from Inman’s presence in that the Bears went to more three-wide sets, allowing him to wriggle into open space from the slot. Bellamy, though, struggled outside of separating on his 46-yard touchdown, dropping a few passes and committing a holding penalty away from what would’ve been a Cohen run into the red zone. Curiously, Bellamy played two-thirds of the Bears’ offensive snaps, while Tre McBride (who had three catches for 92 yards against New Orleans before the off week) only played seven snaps. 

TIGHT ENDS: D+

Adam Shaheen caught two passes for 39 yards early in Sunday’s game, then wasn’t targeted again the rest of the way. He wasn’t consistent in taking over for Dion Sims as the Bears’ No. 1 run blocking tight end, which might explain why he only played 31 snaps (a little over half of the Bears’ offensive total). Daniel Brown, who had two catches for 23 yards on three targets, played 38 snaps. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: C-

Hroniss Grasu was pushed back far too frequently by Mike Daniels and the Packers’ defensive line, and Green Bay was able to have fairly consistent success stuffing Howard. Not all of Trubisky’s sacks were on this group, though, and Charles Leno and Bobby Massie (outside of a false start on Massie) played well. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: C+

It looked like there may have been some miscommunication between Pernell McPhee and Mitch Unrein on Brett Hundley’s 17-yard scramble on third down in the fourth quarter — McPhee made an inside pass rush move, leaving yards of green grass exposed for Hundley to scramble into. After the play, McPhee seemed to look toward Unrein, who was lined up to his left, wondering why he didn’t make an outside move to contain Hundley. The Bears’ defensive line generally did a good job in limiting Packers running backs — Jamaal Williams had 67 yards on 20 carries — but wasn’t able to get off the field as much as we came to expect in October. 

LINEBACKERS: C-

Leonard Floyd did well against the run and teamed up with Sam Acho for a sack, while Nick Kwiatkoski delivered a sack and a team-leading 10 tackles. But Christian Jones, who was tasked with communicating the defensive calls, struggled in that role Danny Trevathan took on in recent weeks. McPhee didn’t register much of an impact (one tackle, one hurry), either. 

DEFENSIVE BACKS: D

We’ll start with the good: Adrian Amos made a nice play in the box to stop Ty Montgomery short of a first down on third and one, Cre’Von LeBlanc hit home on a free run at Hundley for a sack, and Kyle Fuller began his day with a nice pass break-up. But this unit lacked the kind of big plays it was able to deliver against the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, with Fuller dropping a possible interception on the Packers’ first drive and the Bears not really coming close to an interception or forced fumble after. Fuller struggled on Sunday, missing some key tackles and getting beat by Adams for 1) the Packers’ first passing touchdown since Aaron Rodgers’ injury and 2) a backbreaking 42-yard completion just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. Prince Amukamara jumped a gap too early on Montgomery’s 37-yard touchdown run, too, while Hundley finished with a passer rating of 110.8. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: B+

Connor Barth, who was just seven for 11 on field goal attempts entering sunday, hit all three of his tries from 44, 45 and 49 yards. Kudos to him for making an adjustment during the off week and holding up his end of things on Sunday. 

COACHING: F

The Bears were flagged 11 times in the first half (only seven were accepted), a total that looks even worse coming out of an off week. That lack of discipline — especially in a game against a Packers side that looked deeply flawed without Aaron Rodgers — doesn’t reflect well on John Fox and the coaching staff. There were some odd personnel decisions, like using Bellamy so much, Cohen so little and Jones in a communication role. And while Fox, fairly or unfairly, took a lot of the blame for the challenge flag that led to Benny Cunningham’s fumble out of the end zone, the decision to throw the flag and the lack of foresight by anyone to realize the possible negative outcome of it falls on this group’s grade, too. 

Recalling Chet Coppock – snapshots of a character, who also had character

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NBC Sports Chicago

Recalling Chet Coppock – snapshots of a character, who also had character

The news that came out Thursday, that Chet Coppock had died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident earlier this month in Florida, was sad on so many levels. That you didn’t have a chance to say “good-bye,” that you didn’t have a chance to say “thank you,” that you won’t have more of “those” kinds of Chet moments.

But one of my favorite movie moments is at the end of “The Last Samurai” when Tom Cruise, the wounded ex-U.S. soldier who’d fought with the Samurai, is asked by the young Japanese emperor about the death of Ken Watanabe’s Samurai character Katsumoto, “Tell me how he died.” To which Cruise says, “I will tell you, how he lived.”

Somehow that’s the feeling thinking about Chet – little fun snapshots of how he lived.

Snapshots like listening to Coppock on Sports, and appreciating that Chet deserves a spot in the pantheon of those who created a genre.

Like how we in the media laughed imitating Chet’s questions, which routinely went on long enough for you to run out for a sandwich and be back before he was finished. But the chuckle was how Chet wouldn’t directly ask a guest, “So why did you make THAT idiotic play?” No, Chester had this tack of, “So, what would you say to those who would say, ‘You’re an idiot?’” Of course, it would take a minimum of two minutes for him to wend his way through the question, but the results were always worth waiting for.

Like “Your dime, your dance floor.” 

Like grabbing lunches with Chet while I was working on the ’85 Bears book, but in particular while I was writing “100 Greatest Chicago Sports Arguments.” The specific in the latter told me a lot about Chet, far beyond just the information he was sharing.

The “argument” was over who was the greatest Chicago play-by-play broadcaster. Now, Chet of course suggested tongue-in-cheek that he belonged in the discussion; after all, as he pointed out, a high school kid at New Trier games, sitting by himself in the stands, doing play-by-play into a “microphone” that was one of those cardboard rollers from bathroom tissue, oughta be worth something.

Chet’s nomination for the actual No. 1 was Jack Brickhouse, the WGN legend who Chet noted had done play-by for every conceivable sport.

But the reason for Chet’s vote for Brickhouse wasn’t about any of that. It was, Chet said, because Brickhouse beginning back in the mid-‘50s, when the Cubs were integrating with Gene Baker and Ernie Banks, had very intentionally made it clear with his broadcasting and behavior that Baker and Banks were “Cubs,” not “black Cubs.” Brickhouse’s principles had left an impression on a then-young Chet.

I hadn’t known any of that. But Chet did, and that he had taken a lasting impression from what he’d heard growing up said something about Chet as well as Jack. That impressed me, and frankly has always been my favorite Chet story.

So losing an institution like Chet is sad; Chet did say that, no, he wasn’t an institution, but rather that he belonged IN one. But at least he came our way.

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

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USA TODAY

Behind Enemy Lines: Looking at where the Bears fall in their opponents’ schedules

Week 1: Packers at Bears (TNF / NFL Season Opener)

It’s NFL Opening Night. Really not much else to say here. The Packers do host the Vikings in Week 2, so there’s that.

**10 days off**

Week 2: Bears at Broncos

No shortage of juice for the Broncos here. On top of Vic Fangio getting the opportunity to take down his former team, it’s the Broncos home opener. There’s also some ridiculous stat out there about the Broncos being something like 75-2 in Week 2 at home or something (*Not the actual stat, it’s buried in TweetDeck somewhere), so this one will be tough.

Week 3: Bears at Washington (MNF)

 

Washington’s schedule

Week 1 at Eagles

Week 2 vs Cowboys

Week 3 vs Bears MNF

Week 4 vs Giants

Week 5 vs Patriots

So Washington hosts the Bears in the midst of facing all three of their divisional opponents in the first four weeks of the season. I don’t know what it means, I just know I found it interesting. Worst case scenario for the Bears is that Washington is (more than likely) 0-2 and needs to throw the kitchen sink at the Bears to “save” their season on Monday Night Football. But then there’s this: Washington is 2-14 on Monday Night Football since November of 2008.

Week 4 Vikings vs Bears

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 3 vs Raiders

Week 4 at Bears

Week 5 at Giants

Week 6 vs Eagles

Divisional games aren’t typically let down or look ahead spots and that certainly holds true for both teams here. I’d watch out for that Giants game in New York sandwiched between the Bears and Eagles if I were a Vikings fan though.

Week 5 vs Raiders in London

 

Raiders Schedule

Week 2 vs Chiefs

Week 3 at Vikings

Week 4 at Colts

Week 5 vs Bears in London

Week 6 BYE

All bets are off for these London games. The Khalil Mack trade revenge game certainly should be a Bears win, and after facing a murderers row of the Chiefs, Vikings and Colts, the Raiders could be limping across the pond.

Week 6  BYE

Week 7  Saints vs Bears

 

Saints Schedule

Week 6 at Jaguars

Week 7 at Bears

Week 8 vs Cardinals

As JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and I talked about on the Under Center podcast I actually think it’s a good thing the Bears are facing a likely Super Bowl contender coming out of the bye week. Last season, they faced the Dolphins and Giants coming out of the Bye, and the extended post-Thanksgiving break respectively and they lost against bad teams. No excuse for not getting up for this game. And as you can see, there’s nothing to distract the Saints from the defending NFC North champs.

Week 8   Chargers vs Bears

 

Chargers Schedule

Week 6 vs Steelers

Week 7 at Titans

Week 8 at Bears

Week 9 vs Packers

So the Chargers were 7-1 on the road last season, but I think their road success and their 12-4 record come back to earth in 2019. Last season was their first season winning 10+ games since 2009. And we saw the real Chargers (not) show up against the Patriots when it mattered most in the AFC Divisional Round. Give me a healthy dose of Philip Rivers throwing a temper tantrum after Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks combine for the Bears fourth sack of the day.

Week 9 at Eagles

 

Eagles Schedule

Week 7 at Cowboys (SNF)

Week 8  at Bills

Week 9 vs Bears

Week 10 BYE

Week 11 vs Patriots

The already tall task of avenging last season’s double doink playoff heartbreak gets even tougher with the way the schedule falls for Jordan Howard’s new team. Having the Patriots looming could have been advantageous for the Bears, but this being the Eagles’ last game before the bye nixes any chance Doug Pederson’s team will be looking past the Bears and ahead to a Super Bowl LII rematch. Big game at a big point of the season for both teams.

Week 10 vs Lions

 

Lions Schedule

Week 9 at Raiders

Week 10 at Bears

Week 11 vs Cowboys

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Nothing jumps out from the Lions perspective here. Should be a ‘get right game’ for the Bears coming off IMO their toughest stretch of the season. There is some letdown potential with the lowly Lions dropped into this otherwise murderer’s row 5 game stretch.

Week 11 at Rams (SNF)

 

Rams schedule

Week 10 at Steelers

Week 11 vs Bears  (SNF)

Week 12 vs Ravens (MNF)

Super Bowl hangover anyone?? The Bears laid the defensive blueprint for how to beat the Rams – and the thing I can’t still get over: it’s great that a mic’d up Sean McVay realized the Patriots were using the Bears scheme early in the Super Bowl. But how did he not have a counter for it at that point? A team beat you this exact way? The Bears finish what they started a season ago by sending the Rams into a tailspin while Mitch cements himself as a household name.

Week 12 vs Giants

 

Giants Schedule

Week 11  BYE

Week 12  at Bears

Week 13 vs Packers

We’re doing this again are we? Huge letdown spot for the Bears against what should be a really bad team coming off their bye week and the Bears have a short Thanksgiving week looming. I don’t like it. Not even a little bit.

Week 13 at Lions (Thanksgiving)

 

Lions Schedule

Week 12 at Washington

Week 13 vs Bears  (Thanksgiving)

Week 14 at Vikings

We saw the Bears handle a brutal 85-hour turnaround from Sunday Night Football to Thanksgiving last season – so they’ve been here. Last year’s Thanksgiving game did actually come down to Kyle Fuller making a game-saving INT in the end zone at the end of the game. Definitely edge Bears but anything can happen on Turkey day.

**update! I found the Broncos stat!  51-8-2 in weeks 1-2 at home.  Carry on.****

Week 14 vs Cowboys (TNF)

 

Cowboys schedule

Week 12 at Patriots

Week 13 vs Bills

Week 14 at Bears (TNF)

Week 15 vs Rams

Getting funky with back to back Thursdays. The Bears did do this in 2014, losing against the Lions and Cowboys in that order as the Trestman era was coming to its Real Football Coaches of Chicago (in)glorious ending. For my money, I have this as the most pivotal game of the season. With 10 days off afterward, a win could propel the Bears into their crucial home stretch (and the playoffs) in the driver’s seat.

**10 days off**

Week 15  at Packers

 

Packers Schedule

Week 13 at Giants

Week 14 vs Washington

Week 15 vs Bears

Week 16 at Vikings

Week 17 at Lions

Well here’s some fun with schedules. The Packers finish with three straight against the NFC North. And they get to warm up for it with back to back games against the NFC East’s least. Does the Matt Nagy era come full circle from Lambeau heartbreak in the 2018 opener to cementing his second straight divisional crown in enemy territory?

Week 16 vs Chiefs (SNF)

 

Chiefs Schedule

Week 14 at Patriots

Week 15 vs Broncos

Week 16 at Bears (SNF)

Week 17 vs Chargers

Definitely a roll of the dice by the schedule makers to have the Andy Reid – Matt Nagy, mentor vs pupil, reigning MVP vs reigning top defense this late in the season. This game very well could mean nothing to either or both teams. But for everyone’s sake, let’s hope we all get the primetime early Christmas present of watching Patrick Mahomes vs the Bears defense with everything on the line.

Week 17 at Vikings

 

Vikings Schedule

Week 14 vs Lions

Week 15 at Chargers (SNF)

Week 16 vs Packers (MNF)

Week 17 vs Bears

Another fun schedule wrinkle where another NFC North opponents close with a division heavy final stretch. Normally I would have a problem with the Vikings getting to end the season with all three of their NFC North home games in the final month. But we saw what the Vikings did at home with their season on the line against the Bears in the final week last season, so I have my doubts as to whether they’ll even still be alive at this point.

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