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.