Bears

Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy deliver Bears' most impressive win in a long, long time

Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy deliver Bears' most impressive win in a long, long time

Wow. 

As we slogged through the first few weeks of the 2018 season, a common refrain emanated from Halas Hall: Just wait. The offensive breakout is coming. 

On Sunday, it happened. Mitch Trubisky threw 6 touchdowns as the Bears bulldozed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-10, in one of the biggest victories by this franchise in recent memory. The Bears go into their early off week 3-1 with, all of a sudden, a quarterback who looks more than competent. Trubisky looks downright dangerous. 

Yes, it was just one game against a depleted Buccaneers’ secondary. But that’s not important right now, in the immediate aftermath of such a mighty walloping. What’s important is what Trubisky did. He hit open receivers for explosive plays. He cooly operated the offense and showed excellent poise in the pocket. He didn’t let a missed throw snowball into two or three missed throws. His decision-making was outstanding. 

Essentially, all the things that were causes for concern regarding the second-year quarterback were addressed on Sunday in an emphatically positive way.

It wasn’t just Trubisky, though. Matt Nagy’s playcalling, combined with outstanding games from Trey Burton, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, consistently led to the Bears’ pass-catchers finding themselves open in oceans of space. The offensive line kept a clean pocket for Trubisky all afternoon, allowing him to not be bothered and get “happy feet” or anything close to a lack of comfort.

And the Bears’ defense, yet again, turned in a dominant afternoon. Khalil Mack had another strip-sack — his fourth consecutive game with one of those — while Eddie Jackson and Danny Trevathan each tallied an interception, bringing the Bears’ total to seven this year (they had eight in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017). The only blemish was Akiem Hicks getting ejected for making contact with an official in the second quarter. 

But on a larger level, this game — and the week leading up to it — was a masterstroke by Nagy. The Bears’ offense hadn’t shown any signs of being able to take advantage of a depleted, bad defense, then did just that on Sunday. Perhaps things were simplified for Trubisky, and that’s why the Bears’ quarterback began hitting open receivers after struggling with that in Weeks 1-3. But whatever happened behind the scenes at Halas Hall this week, it worked to absolute perfection on Sunday. 

The Bears now head into their off week (as a shout-out to colleague John “Moon” Mullin, it’s not a bye week, it’s an off week) riding a wave of positivity that hasn’t been seen around these parts in an awfully long time. It’s too early to say the Bears are legitimate playoff contenders, but if this is the version of Trubisky we see over the final 12 games, this is a team that very well could end up playing in January. 

Former Bears DC Vic Fangio off to rough start as Broncos coach

Former Bears DC Vic Fangio off to rough start as Broncos coach

Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was one of the few head-coaching candidates last offseason whose reputation in the league was based on defense. With most teams looking for the next young offensive guru, Fangio's stature as a veteran defensive coach made the Denver Broncos' decision to name him their head coach a pretty bold move.

After a 3-6 start and a change from Joe Flacco to Brandon Allen at quarterback, Denver's lacking offense has sparked internal frustration, according to CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora.

The real source of the difficulty, however, appears to be Fangio.

Fangio has had issues with offensive assistants, the sources said, and at one point top receiver Emmanuel Sanders in essence walked out on the team, leading to his eventual trade. Lines of communication have been strained, and Fangio has been quick to dispute play calls and come across as overbearing on the headsets, sources said, which has created issues in-game and otherwise.

Fangio's time in Chicago was highlighted by the dominant performance of the Bears' defense in 2018, one that led the team to an NFC North championship and its first playoff berth since 2010.

But he was never able to establish himself as the kind of coach who could handle the media or other responsibilities that come along with being atop the coaching food chain. His to-the-point and sometimes brutally honest style worked well for a grizzled defensive coordinator, but head coaches are held to a different standard.

It would be unfair to expect Fangio to change who he is at this point in his coaching career, which began with the New Orleans Saints 33 seasons ago. 

Maybe we're just starting to see why it took so long for him to actually land a head coaching position.

(Too) Bold Predictions: The Blake Bortles-Mitch Trubisky debate gets answered once and for all

(Too) Bold Predictions: The Blake Bortles-Mitch Trubisky debate gets answered once and for all

(Too) Bold Predictions aims to take nuanced, well-researched information and use it to make wildly improbable predictions. Analysis! 

J.J. Stankevitz
1. Eddie Jackson -- finally! -- has his first two interceptions of the season.
Does this count as a bold prediction if I've predicted it, incorrectly, multiple times this year? Whatever. Either way: It finally happens! Jared Goff has nine interceptions this year and the Rams' offense has looked broken at times. Sunday should be a nice opportunity for Jackson to finally get that takeaway he's so hungry for, and we'll say he stacks another one on it. These things do come in bunches, after all.

2. Blake Bortles vs. Mitch Trubisky gets settled once and for all.
Sean McVay intentionally put Blake Bortles in the Rams' loss to the Steelers last week, as if one of the NFL's foremost offensive minds was taken over by Jason from "The Good Place." The prediction here: Things go catastrophically wrong for Goff in the first half Sunday night, but the Bears aren't able to capitalize, holding a 6-0 lead at halftime. With the Rams' season on the line, McVay breaks the glass and gives Bortles a shot in the second half, which goes...actually, kind of well? I have the Rams beating the Bears in my official prediction, and I wouldn't imagine a Bortles-led offense would be good enough to beat the Bears. But is a Trubisky-led offense good enough for the Bears to beat the Rams? This could be an ugly, yet fascinating, night if Bortles and Trubisky wind up quarterbacking against each other.

Cam Ellis
1. David Montgomery has his most impressive game of the season. 
The Bears probably aren't going to have a lot of success running it through some of the interior gaps, because, you know, Aaron Donald and all. The Rams' run defense is great (3rd in DVOA) so getting over the (kind of arbitrary) 100-yard mark may not happen, but without Adam Shaheen, Trey Burton, and Jalen Ramsey smothering Allen Robinson, the Bears aren't going to have that many options available to them on Sunday night. It sounds like Montgomery may be a gametime decision, but it's hard to imagine how the Bears move the ball at all without him. Whether it's total yardage, the number of touchdowns, or some jaw-dropping display of his space alien abilities to avoid being tackled, Montgomery's the story on Monday morning. 

2. The Bears' offense looks as good as it has all year. 
Like I said in prediction 1, the Bears' offense goes into Sunday night with a serious lack of NFL experience at the skill position. Shaheen and Burton are out, so they'll have to rely on JP Holtz, Ben Braunecker, and Bradley Sowell, who I promise are all real people. Allen Robinson has to go up against Ramsey, and David Montgomery's ankle has made him a maybe. But who cares?! All the common sense says a Trubisky/Cohen/Braunecker core probably isn't getting the best of Wade Phillips, but (Too) Bolds is not the place for common sense. For no rhyme or reason, something about the Bears' offense clicks tonight. Will it be fun? Yes! Will it continue going forward? No!