Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on Week 12

J.J. Stankevitz: It wasn’t the best day for the Bears' cornerbacks, but let’s give some love to Kyle Fuller for the tackle he made on JD McKissic at the end of the game that saved a touchdown on third and one forced the Lions to kick a field goal. It allowed the Bears to go down and score a game-winning touchdown instead of a game-tying touchdown, and who knows how that drive would've gone if it were a seven-point deficit facing the Bears instead of three.

Fuller has not played as well coverage this year as he did in 2018 or even 2017, but he still is a solid, reliable cornerback who does a lot of good things against the run. And you cannot discount that hard-hitting ability Fuller has to go down and make tackles on running backs -- that does come in handy at times during seasons and we certainly saw its impact against the Lions on Thanksgiving. 

Cam Ellis: Mitch! I was cathartic watching Trubisky play well, so I can't even imagine how it must have felt for Trubisky. The Lions are bad, yeah, but that effort won't beat THIS team arguments are just so lame. The Bears have shown flashes of it throughout the last couple weeks, but it'd be nice to see them put together a full game's worth of run-dominant offense that opens up Trubisky to hit on some of those play-action shots. The Bears are right in that they can't just run play action – or tempo – all game, but we've seen enough variety to know there's *some* sort of successful offense buried in there. 

 

The Bears have said publicly that last week's successful first drive was just a matter of players executing, but there were plenty of schematic and gameplan variations that I'll bet they go back to on Thursday night. No one's confusing Detroit and Dallas' defense, but getting points early is so crucial to the offense's energy. 

First Thoughts on Week 13 

Stankevitz: I’m fascinated to see what happens with Mitch Trubisky in the first game he'll play with true production-based confidence since Week 4...when he got hurt on the first drive of that game against the Vikings. So we didn’t really get a true test of how he might play with a bit of confidence, which'll be especially important against a talented Cowboys defense.

The Cowboys' defense is eighth in yards allowed per pass attempt (6.3), so this will by no means be as easy a game as Trubisky found against the suboptimal defenses of the Detroit Lions and New York Giants. Dallas' defensive brain trust of Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard is fantastic, and while the Cowboys are in a dismal rut, it's not because of their defense.

But maybe a boost of confidence from Trubisky and Anthony Miller will help the Bears overcome the good defense in front of them -- which, if they do, would be a tremendous boost for the end of 2019 and, also, what this team can do in 2020.

Ellis: I know the Cowboys' front seven is talented, but the numbers still say you can run on them. They've allowed six straight games of at least 100 yards, are ranked 18th in rush defense DVOA, and are allowing 4.1 yards per carry. Matt Nagy's job is to figure out how to attack the defense's weakness while riding some of Trubisky's new, performance-based confidence that J.J. was talking about (and if you can believe it, he was not interested in telling me how he planned to do that this week). Nagy's got some big decisions to make over the next month in regards to how he'll coach the offense. Trubisky openly advocates for tempo, and the Bears are starting to figure out how to move the ball in a more run-and-play-action style offense. 

Neither of those are Nagy 202, though should be credited for incorporating both more often of late. Will he put a full pause on Nagy 202? Is there a middle ground? The Bears don't have any more room for experimentation, so it'll be fascinating to see how the Bears look on Thursday night.