Grades from the Bears' Week 1 loss to the Packers.
While Mitch Trubisky wasn’t done any favors by the Bears’ run-pass imbalance or his offensive line, the simple fact of the matter is when an offense only scores three points, it falls on the shoulders of the quarterback. Especially a quarterback drafted second overall entering his third year in the NFL.
Trubisky was lucky to only have been intercepted once, with a poor decision to loft a throw toward Cordarrelle Patterson in the first half only not picked off because Packers cornerback Kevin King couldn’t hang on to it. The interception he did throw came on the Bears’ third and final play in the red zone of the night, on which ex-teammate Adrian Amos picked him off in the end zone.
Here’s how coach Matt Nagy explained what he saw after watching the tape of the play:
“He's seeing it right, meaning that it was a look there where he was throwing in a corner route and the nickel fell off late when he went to throw it,” Nagy said. “So he was trusting him one-on-one with Amos, but the nickel (Tramon Williams) fell off late, and it ended up like a double-coverage forced throw. Those are one of those ones, right after you let it go you want it back.
“And we're gonna continue to keep working with his eyes, making sure he's going to where my eyes are going during the game and then also, too, in that situation, they're playing soft and off and they're letting you dink and dunk underneath. That's a learning tool for him.”
That singular throw did not cost the Bears Thursday night’s game, though it was effectively a knockout blow. But Trubisky’s inconsistency with decision-making and accuracy was noticeable leading up to that interception.
Football’s a team game where all 11 players have to do their jobs. Every single aspect of the Bears’ brutal three-point effort was not on Trubisky. But a lot of it was.
RUNNING BACKS: C
This feels more like an “incomplete” grade than anything else. The Bears attempted only 12 running plays not involving Trubisky, and even if some of the run/pass disparity was due to Trubisky choosing to pass on RPOs, it still was too much.
David Montgomery had a couple of good runs but had only 18 yards on six carries. Mike Davis, same deal (five carries, 19 yards). And it’s really not even worth it to consider Tarik Cohen a running back given this disparity:https://twitter.com/PFF_Bears/status/1170032665333911553
Cohen was his usual reliable self as a pass-catcher, snagging eight of 10 targets for 49 yards, though his longest play was nine yards. He did not record a rushing attempt for only the second time in his career (the other being in 2017’s Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers).
WIDE RECEIVERS: B
Allen Robinson was spectacular, snagging seven of 13 targets for 102 yards while running open on a handful of other plays on which he wasn’t targeted. He was one perfectly-timed Tramon Williams shove away from a catch that would’ve put the Bears on Green Bay’s goal line in the third quarter and looked to be Trubisky’s most trusted target throughout the game.
It may have felt a little odd to see Anthony Miller play fewer snaps than both Cordarrelle Patterson and Javon Wims, but he didn’t flash much during training camp practices and suffered an ankle injury that wiped out much of his preseason work at Halas Hall. He wasn’t targeted until the Bears’ final drive, while Wims was targeted twice and Patterson three times. Trubisky and Patterson couldn’t connect when the receiver ran open on the third-and-10 play that preceded Nagy deciding to go for it on fourth down instead of kick a field goal late in the third quarter.
TIGHT ENDS: F
Trey Burton was missed from this group. Adam Shaheen dropped one of his two targets — while Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander made a good play to dislodge the ball, it’s one the third-year tight end should want back (that play preceded Trubisky's third-and-10 interception in the end zone). Converted offensive lineman Bradley Sowell was beat by a blitzing Amos on the third-and-one play on which Patterson was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage for a loss.
OFFENSIVE LINE: F
There’s an argument to be made that the Bears’ offensive line had the most disappointing day of any unit on the offense. Most notably, James Daniels was badly beaten by a Kenny Clark swim move to drop Patterson on that aforementioned third-and-one, to the point where Nagy — accurately — made the point that even Walter Payton would’ve been stopped on that play (Daniels was also flagged for holding). An apparent miscommunication between Daniels and Kyle Long led to Blake Martinez sacking Trubisky in the first quarter, and according to Pro Football Focus, the Bears’ quarterback was under pressure on a hair under 40 percent of his drop backs.
An offensive line that committed only 12 holding penalties in 2018 was flagged three times for it (only two were enforced, as the Packers declined the one on Daniels). After Charles Leno was whistled for a 10-yard hold, he was flagged for illegal hands to the face, pushing the Bears into a first-and-30 that turned into a laughable first-and-40 after Taylor Gabriel’s offensive pass interference penalty. Kyle Long committed the Bears’ other holding penalty.
“I’ve said it the last seven years, losses usually come down to (the guys) up front,” Long said. “There are things I wish I would have done better. The guys around me I’m sure would say the same thing.”
DEFENSIVE LINE: A
Roy Robertson-Harris was an absolute monster, totaling five pressures and two sacks on only 17 pass-rushing downs. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano deployed him strategically in those pass-rushing situations and Robertson-Harris absolutely delivered in them. The two sacks Robertson-Harris had Thursday night put him one shy of his career season-long high, which he set in 2018.
Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Bilal Nichols led the Bears’ run-stuffing charge, while Hicks chipped in with a sack and four pressures. There’s zero to worry about with this unit.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: A
Leonard Floyd was a star, looking violent, strong and quick as he bullied his way to two sacks (he would’ve had a third if not for a Kyle Fuller illegal contact penalty). His sack in the third quarter was critical, as instead of allowing a play to get the Packers into field goal range he dropped Aaron Rodgers for a seven-yard loss, forcing a punt. He also did well against the run and did not allow a completion in 11 coverage snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
Khalil Mack didn’t have a sack but was nonetheless outstanding, notching three hurries and doing well to set the edge against the run. And yes, he was held a few times that didn’t result in a flag.
Aaron Lynch only played eight snaps but recorded a sack on one of them, while Isaiah Irving recorded a pressure on one of his seven snaps.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A-
Roquan Smith looked fast and decisive, though a defensive pass interference penalty cost the Bears 38 yards (but no points, at it turned out). He and Danny Trevathan did well against the run. It’s tough to feel bad about this unit.
The 47-yard bomb Rodgers hit to Marquez Valdes-Scantling wasn’t really Prince Amukamara’s fault (more on that in a bit). Buster Skrine whiffed on a tackle early in the game but rebounded with a strong series toward the end of the first half, and allowed a cornerback-best 56.3 passer rating when targeted, per PFF. Fuller and Amukamara had solid games in coverage, even if the Bears didn’t generate a takeaway.
Driving this grade down is the rough series Deon Bush had early in the second quarter. He bit hard on play-action, leading to that aforementioned 47-yard completion.
“I just moved to the left and was peeking for a safety, who wasn't there,” Rodgers said.
Bush, a few plays later, was bodied up by Jimmy Graham for the only touchdown of the game. Why he, and not starter Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, was in the game is a question that still lingers — especially because, for what it’s worth, Clinton-Dix was the Bears’ highest-graded player Thursday night by Pro Football Focus.
“I didn’t get into the why part,” Nagy said Friday. “But in that situation, we had a position there to be able to try to make a play with the coverage that was called and it didn’t happen.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-
Eddy Pineiro made his first field goal attempt in a Bears uniform, connecting from 38 yards — but followed it up with a kickoff that went out of bounds, giving Green Bay the ball at its own 40-yard line and flipping field position in the process. The Bears committed two holding penalties on punts, which conspired to back the team up deep in its own territory, including to start its last-ditch fourth quarter drive.
Cohen did have a solid 11-yard punt return that gave the Bears the ball at their own 43-yard line to begin their first offensive possession of 2019, even if it didn’t result in points. Pat O’Donnell generally had a good day punting.
Nagy lost the in-game chess match to Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, with scrambled playcalling and odd decision-making showing up in a way that wasn’t the case often — if ever — in 2018. Going for it on fourth-and-10 instead of kicking a 51-yard field goal felt like too strict an adherence to special teams coordinator Chris Tabor’s recommendations, especially when the Bears’ offense hadn’t done anything prior to that call late in the third quarter to indicate it could pick up the necessary yardage to move the sticks.
“That was past the exact number that we talked about for that depth,” Nagy said. “You could do it, but I just didn’t want to break our rule of saying where we’re at. The other part of it too was we weren’t down there very often, so to myself I was feeling like you know what, we have an opportunity here to get one and to get a touchdown and put us up rather than put us down one.”
The run-pass ratio was far too out-balanced for a game in which the Bears were never losing by more than one possession, even in accounting for some of Trubisky’s RPO decisions leading to the appearance of more passing plays than Nagy actually called.
Two overall takeaways, though: The Bears felt unprepared for this game. The 10 penalties assessed to the team included two delay of game penalties on the same drive — one because the offense only had 10 players on the field, another because of a personnel issue. Nagy wasn’t wrong to not call timeout in those situations, but that they were even issues in the first place was horrendous.
“Too many mental mistakes that we just typically don’t make,” Nagy said.
The larger takeaway, though: This was the first time it truly felt like Nagy was out-coached over the course of a full 60-minute game since becoming the head coach of the Bears. An offensive-minded coach paired with a third-year, top-picked quarterback is not supposed to produce a three-point game, even if the opposing defense is much-improved with a well-respected coordinator.
Or, to put it another way: The Bears held Rodgers, their longtime tormenter to the north, to 10 points...and didn't win. It wasn't like 2018's opener, which could've been written off to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time doing the kind of stuff that'll get him a gold jacket someday. Rodgers was mortal on Sunday and the Bears let him off the hook.
So back to the drawing board goes Nagy and his coaching staff. They’ll need answers quickly, because going to Denver is not an easy task:
Good morning, Bears fans. It’s probably too early to look ahead to Week 2. But for those hoping the Bears will bounce back and win in Denver, there’s this: pic.twitter.com/q3lkf7fTEg— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) September 6, 2019