Bears regress to their 2017 mean in uninspiring loss to Lions

Bears regress to their 2017 mean in uninspiring loss to Lions

DETROIT — Whatever positive vibes the Bears generated in their blowout win last weekend were quickly snuffed out by a conservative gameplan and sloppy, undisciplined play in a 20-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Saturday at Ford Field.

For the Bears, Saturday was rife with penalties (13 for 97 yards), minimal running gains, short throws and missed opportunities. It was a return to the kind of football this team had all too consistently played since the bye week, and is why the Bears are 4-10 — with an 0-5 record against the NFC North. Whereas last week’s 26-point win over the Cincinnati Bengals provided, perhaps, a flicker of hope for John Fox to save his job, yet another dismal loss lacking any semblance of “progress” likely extinguished that.

The Bears entered halftime down by only 10 points despite a dismal showing in the first half, punctuated by Fox’s decision to punt on fourth-and-one from his team’s 45-yard line. With the Bears’ defense looking gassed, the Lions executed a 10-play, 97-yard touchdown drive highlighted by Marvin Jones beating Eddie Jackson on a third-and-18 heave for a 58-yard gain.

While the Bears struggled to move the ball in the first half — only picking up five total first downs and averaging 2.1 yards per run — the second half turned into something a little more sinister.

Mitchell Trubisky was picked off on the second play of the third quarter, when he rolled to his left and overthrew Kendall Wright into the hands of cornerback Darius Slay. He threw a worse interception on third-and-goal from the five-yard line in the fourth quarter, with Quandre Diggs picking that one off. There will be teaching points from those interceptions, of course, and a lack of execution around Trubisky certainly didn’t help his case.

Trubisky did rebound to make some quality throws in the second half, like a 22-yarder to Markus Wheaton and a 19-yarder to Wright. Managing to lead a touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter on a drive on which the Bears committed five penalties was a decent accomplishment for him, though not necessarily his teammates.

But this game felt like a step backward for Trubisky and the rest of a team that played so well just six days ago. But maybe instead of a step backward, it’s more accurate to view this as a regression to the mean — and that’s the level of play for a team that, for the fourth consecutive season, will finish with 10 or more losses.

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

The Bears have completely flipped the narrative of their 2019 season over the last three weeks, thanks in large part to Matt Nagy's offense finally resembling the 202-level that was promised last summer.

It may have taken quarterback Mitch Trubisky a little longer than expected to arrive this year, but if his last two games are an indication of his development in his second season under Nagy's tutelage, the Bears have a bonafide quarterback. And it's been a while since that could be said.

"Mitchell Trubisky is hot, there's no doubt about it," NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said Thursday. "He seems so much more comfortable. Decisive. He's accurate with the football. Running around at the proper time. I don't think it was all Mitchell Trubisky's fault with the struggles of the offense, either."

Those struggles spanned the first half of 2019 when Chicago seemed incapable of sustaining drives or scoring points. It began with Week 1's three-point output against the Packers and continued through Thanksgiving Day when Trubisky finally got his mojo back, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions.

With Trubisky clicking, and the running game receiving a jolt from rookie David Montgomery's productive back-to-back weeks (in which he's averaged more than four yards per carry in successive games for the first time all year), the Bears appear capable of beating just about anyone. 

They'll need to. If Chicago wants to keep their weak playoff pulse going, they have to win out. And that includes games against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings. 

The odds seem stacked against them, and it's their own fault. It took way too long to get the offense going, but it's better late than never. 

According to Simms, the Bears are that team no one wants to play.

"They're a dangerous team right now. They really are."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Just when it appeared like Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was entering his final half-season as the team's unquestioned starting quarterback, the last month happened.

Trubisky's play has steadily improved over the last five games and reached what may have been his watermark moment in Week 14 against the Cowboys. He completed 74% of his passes for 244 yards and three passing touchdowns while adding a season-high 63 rushing yards and a score on the ground. It marked the second week in a row that Trubisky's completed over 74% of his passes; he connected on 76% of his throws a week earlier against the Lions.

Trubisky's recent success is a far cry from the mentally broken player he was after the first month of the season. He has his confidence back. In fact, he's playing with more confidence than he's ever shown as a pro. His recent success is a direct and obvious result of his evolution between the ears.

The Bears were circled as a team that was likely to be in the quarterback market this offseason because of how terrible Trubisky looked early in 2019. And there's still a chance that GM Ryan Pace will look to add some healthy competition to the roster, but if Trubisky continues to play well, that competition will be for the backup job. 

It's also worth noting that one of the more appealing quarterback targets this offseason probably won't make it to the open market. Titans starter Ryan Tannehill continues to enjoy a remarkable comeback season and appears destined to sign a long-term extension with Tennessee sooner than later. After Tannehill, the discount quarterback rack includes names like Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota, players who a month ago would've been viewed as marked upgrades over Trubisky.

It doesn't feel like that's the case anymore.

Barring a massive regression from Trubisky over the next three games, it's starting to feel like he's winning back Chicago's confidence one game at a time. 

With all that in mind, here's the updated Bears QB Big Board entering Week 15:

Bears QB Big Board (Dec. 12, 2019)

1. Mitch Trubisky (Bears)
previous: 2 (Dec. 3)

2. Andy Dalton (Bengals)
previous: 1 (Dec. 3)

3. Ryan Tannehill (Titans)
previous: 3  (Dec. 3)

4. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
previous: 4 (Dec. 3)

5. Marcus Mariota (Titans)
previous: 5 (Dec. 3)

6. Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)
previous: 6 (Dec. 3)

Outside looking in (list cut down to three)...

-Jake Fromm (Georgia)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

-Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

- Cam Newton (Panthers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.