Bears

Bears grades: Mitch Trubisky, offensive line shine in Thanksgiving win over Lions

Bears grades: Mitch Trubisky, offensive line shine in Thanksgiving win over Lions

QUARTERBACKS: A-

Mitch Trubisky’s two 30-plus yard throws on third downs to Anthony Miller on the Bears’ go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter are the starting point here. Those were big time throws no matter the competition, and showed a certain level of confidence we haven’t seen Trubisky possess at times in 2019. He let those throws rip and gave Miller chances to make plays, and was rewarded for his aggressiveness and confidence instead of trying to fit a shorter throw to the sticks into a tight window. 

Trubisky did well to go through his progressions and pick out Jesper Horsted and David Montgomery for touchdowns, too, with that throw to Horsted displaying outstanding touch. 

But four throws don’t tell the entire story of Trubisky’s game, which otherwise was solid. He was on time and on schedule with most of his throws, allowing him to complete 17 of 19 passes on first down and convert a handful of other third downs in important moments outside of that final drive. 

Yes, the Lions’ defense plays a lot of man coverage — and plays it poorly — but this was Trubisky’s best game of 2019. His grade is only marred by his one interception, which came when he stared down Allen Robinson and threw the ball late and behind his receiver, allowing cornerback Darius Slay to jump in front of the route and pick the pass off. 

RUNNING BACKS: B+

David Montgomery took advantage of the good blocking in front of him, displaying excellent vision, patience and toughness to pick up 75 yards on 16 carries (4.7 yards per attempt). He did well to not get re-routed by Lions linebacker Christian Jones on his game-winning touchdown catch, too. 

Tarik Cohen didn’t make much of an impact, though, gaining only 35 yards on seven touches (four catches, three rushes). 

WIDE RECEIVERS: A-

Miller’s speed and physicality shined in his nine-catch, 140-yard game, with his 35 and 32-yard snags on third down over Lions cornerback Justin Coleman turning out to be two of Thursday’s biggest plays. Allen Robinson, too, had another steady game — though he dropped a first down on the Bears’ go-ahead drive. 

Javon Wims had his most productive game as a pro (five catches, 56 yards) though was flagged for two illegal block above the waist penalties. Still, credit Wims for playing well in place of the injured Taylor Gabriel. 

TIGHT ENDS: B-

Without Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen and Ben Braunecker, the Bears didn’t involve their depleted tight end room much on Thursday. But Horsted’s highlight-reel touchdown catch was a standout moment for this unit, while J.P. Holtz did some good things in the run game to help out there. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: A-

Cody Whitehair and James Daniels delivered some of their best combo blocks of the season, while Rashaad Coward held his on on the right side of the interior to help spring Montgomery’s effective day. Credit Cornelius Lucas for playing well in place of Bobby Massie at right tackle, too, while this entire unit did a good job of giving Trubisky time to throw and allowing their quarterback to be comfortable in the pocket. 

There were still some penalties on this group — a facemask assessed to Coward pushed the Bears into a first-and-32, for instance — but this group played some of its best football of 2019 on Thanksgiving. They’ll need to keep this level of play up against some better fronts in the coming weeks — the Lions, after all, were without stud run stuffer Damon Harrison. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-

The good news is Akiem Hicks is eligible to return to practice this week, with the possibility he can coming off injured reserve for the Bears’ Week 15 trip to play the Green Bay Packers. The bad news is the Bears’ defensive line was pushed around on Thursday, with Detroit’s running backs averaging a little over four yards per carry. There wasn’t much in the way of a pass rush from this group, too. 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: B-

Khalil Mack didn’t hit home for a sack but still managed to pressure Lions quarterback David Blough five times, this in the face of frequent double and triple-teams. Leonard Floyd, though, only managed two pressures on 32 pass rushing snaps, per PFF. His most notable contribution Thursday’s game was shoving Blough as he threw the ball away, resulting in a roughing the passer flag (one that, while “weak,” gets called every time). 

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A

Roquan Smith was all over the field, notching career highs in tackles (15) and sacks (two). Without the defensive line playing at their usual level against the run, a lot of the Bears’ run stopping chances fell to Smith and Nick Kwiatkoski, who also played well with seven tackles and one near game-sealing interception. 

CORNERBACKS: C-

Calling something a “tale of two halves” is often football speak for excusing poor play early in games, but in this case, it’s not a terrible explanation. Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller both got toasted by Kenny Golladay on double moves, and the Lions consistently gave Blough open receivers to throw to during the first 30 minutes on Thursday. 

But in the second half, two plays stand out: First, Amukamara making a critical tackle to stop a screen on third down and force a punt after Trubisky’s interception; and second, Fuller’s tackle of J.D. McKissic for no gain on third and one only a few yards from the Bears’ end zone. Blough averaged 11.9 yards per attempt in the first half but 4.4 yards per attempt in the second half. 

SAFETIES: C+

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was bailed out by Fuller’s tackle of McKissic, since his offside penalty gave the Lions that third and one try. Some of the deep ball issues the Bears’ secondary had weren’t necessarily on Clinton-Dix and/or Eddie Jackson, but it was nonetheless jarring to see a first-time starter tear through a defense that hadn’t allowed many explosive plays this year. Jackson did get his first interception of 2019 on Detroit’s last play of the game. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Cordarrelle Patterson’s 57-yard kickoff return set up a short field for the Bears’ offense on their opening possession, which was converted into a touchdown. That was the good here; the bad is Nagy’s continued distrust of Eddy Pineiro in passing on a 50-yard field goal to try to convert a fourth-and-six in the second quarter. Also, the Bears were not able to recover an odd “onside” attempt when Matt Prater blasted a squib kick off up man Deon Bush. 

COACHING: B

The Bears’ script on their opening drive worked for the first time in two months, and the offense finished strong with that nine-play, 90-yard drive. Any time a team wins on Thursday, it’s representative of a good job by coaches to find a gameplan that works without any real practices during a truncated week. 

But there still were some head-scratching decisions, like Nagy passing on that long field goal to try to convert a fourth and six — and then having a pre-snap penalty follow after a timeout. The Bears nearly ran an offensive play with 10 men on the field — again coming out of a timeout — before sending Riley Ridley racing on to the field at the last second (Nagy took the blame for that, not putting it on his rookie receiver). 

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Former CFL star Tre Roberson has chance to emerge in Bears' secondary

Former CFL star Tre Roberson has chance to emerge in Bears' secondary

The Chicago Bears' decision to release veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara has created a void in the starting lineup on defense, one that recent CFL free-agent signee Tre Roberson will be given a chance fill. The Bears are expected to add more candidates for the job over the next couple of months, but Roberson (who was courted by nine teams this offseason) will have his shot.

“I just feel real comfortable there,” Roberson told Bears All Access about why he chose Chicago. “When I came on my visit to the Bears, my workout just felt like I was at home. They made sure I was real comfortable in every aspect of the trip. I just feel like a great place to be is close to home. I’m from Indianapolis, so it’s not too far away.

"We’ve been to Calgary, so it’s a long way from home. So I just feel like it was the best place for me, and I feel like I can help the organization get to the next level, which is winning the Super Bowl.”

Roberson's two-year, $1.235 million deal is a low-risk, high-reward transaction for GM Ryan Pace. At worst, Roberson turns into a contributor on special teams and a solid depth cornerback. But if the Bears catch lightning in a bottle and Roberson emerges as a legitimate and reliable starting cornerback, his contract will turn into one of the biggest bargains in the league.

Roberson had 10 interceptions during his two seasons in Canada, including seven in 2019. He was considered the top CFL free agent making the jump to the NFL this offseason and was rewarded with the most lucrative contract a Canadian League star has received since Cam Wake.

Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine (slot) have two of the three cornerback gigs locked up, and Kevin Toliver will likely get the first crack at replacing Amukamara (assuming the Bears don't add a veteran free agent this March). Even if they select a rookie early in the 2020 NFL draft, Toliver should have the first opportunity to prove he belongs in the starting lineup. He logged 175 snaps in 2019 and looked like an ascending talent.

By the time the regular season rolls around, however, it could be Roberson who goes from starting in Calgary to lining up as a starter in Chicago.

Taylor Gabriel says goodbye to Chicago in two-part Twitter post

Taylor Gabriel says goodbye to Chicago in two-part Twitter post

The Bears parted ways with wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, releasing him and cornerback Prince Amukamara on Friday.

Gabriel, who played two seasons with the Bears, took to Twitter to thank the fans and the city of Chicago as a whole for his time with the squad. His kind message came attached to video clips of two of Gabriel's six receiving touchdowns as a Bear.

Over his two years and 25 games with the Bears, Gabriel racked up 96 receptions, 1,041 yards, and 6 touchdowns.

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