While the Bears’ offense showed subtle signs of life against the Packers Sunday night, it would probably be dangerous to believe it is sustainable.
The bar has been set extremely low and Bears fans have been hurt too many times before. On the other hand, the tape doesn’t lie. There were improvements.
“We were a little bit better on first and second down,” Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky said. “You saw the run game open up a little bit and we were making them cover the whole field. I think when I’m out there, there is always the option for a quarterback run that they have to account for as well. I think we’re excited about those things.”
After weeks of failing to adjust, it was refreshing to see the Bears come out with a mobile quarterback, a reshuffled offensive line and a return to some of the concepts (i.e. under center, play-action) that aided the running game early in the season.
“I thought our overall execution was a little bit better last week. And I thought our sense of urgency and tempo in and out of the huddle, I think that’s something that the defense has to account for,” Trubisky said. “And I think those things help us get into a better rhythm and you saw us move the ball a little bit better.”
Don’t worry. I can see you rolling your eyes as you read this. Trubisky still turned the ball over three times and inexplicably ran out of bounds for a sack when he should have thrown the ball away.
“The main thing is taking care of the football. It’s easy to say, a little bit harder to do,” Trubisky said.
At this point, analyzing each mistake seems unnecessary. Both of Trubisky’s interceptions were avoidable, but he probably deserves a pass on the fumble because he was facemasked twice on the play. Whatever. By playing him, there are going to be mistakes the coaches have to live with.
But the trade off is that the offense might actually be able to move the football. Trubisky has some playmaking ability and his mobility masks the issues up front. By going under center and using play-action more, the coaches are making everyone’s job easier. Lazor would be wise to ditch the zone-read, as it’s never been one of Trubisky’s strengths – as frustrating as that is to accept.
It may very well be a trap, but it seems as if this could actually be the week where the Bears play as close to a complete game as they ever will this season. And yes, it helps that they’re playing the Lions – the same opponent that allowed the Bears end their four-game losing streak last season.
In four starts against Matt Patricia’s Lions, Trubisky went 4-0 with a nice 69.3 percent completion percentage, 1108 passing yards and 12 touchdowns to only one interception. Of course, Patricia was fired last weekend, so it’s possible the Lions will finally make adjustments and stop playing so much man-defense against him.
“You gotta expect the unexpected, but (playing man) is who they’ve been the last 11 weeks so to change during a week, we’ll see, but you gotta be ready for it,” Trubisky said.
Regardless, the Lions are reeling right now and it’s not inconceivable for the Bears to build on some of the offensive progress they made in Green Bay. Of course, it’s important to play with a lead, which is always a challenge for this team. Usually it’s the offense’s fault for playing from behind, but last week it was the defense that dug the hole.
“I think when you’re not down by a bunch of scores and not in that certain situation that you could have the whole playbook and stretch the field vertically as well as horizontally and have the run complement the pass as well,” Trubisky said.
If the defense returns to its more typical form – and against the Lions, they should -- then it should be expected that the Bears manage to finally play with a lead Sunday. Perhaps that would result in a game they actually control from start to finish. The only contest that resembled that this season was their Week 2 win against the Giants, but the Bears were fortunate to hold on after letting the Giants back in the game.
Yes, this could all be a trap. And I can’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid it. But don’t be surprised if your Sunday is actually enjoyable this week.