Bears

Studs and Duds from Bears' Week 7 loss to Saints

Studs and Duds from Bears' Week 7 loss to Saints

The Bears played what may have been their worst game in the Matt Nagy era in Sunday's 36-25 loss to the New Orleans Saints. This despite the fact that the Bears were coming off of a bye week that was supposed to be used to establish the team's identity on offense.

Instead, Nagy and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky created more questions than answers about not only this year's Bears, but also about Nagy's ability as a play-caller and Trubisky's potential to ever emerge as a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.

They weren't alone in their struggles on Sunday. The defense was atrocious, too. Facing a depleted Saints offense that was without Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook, the Bears allowed 424 total yards, including 119 rushing yards for Saints running back Latavius Murray.

There were a lot more duds than studs in Week 7:

Dud: QB Mitchell Trubisky

Beware the final stat line for Trubisky on Sunday. It will lie to you. Sure, he completed more than 63 percent of his passes, threw for more than 250 yards and had two touchdowns, but Week 7's effort against the Saints may have been the worst we've seen from the third-year quarterback. He was inaccurate. He made bad decisions. He floated turnover-worthy throws. And, the worst part? We're getting used to it by now. The Bears are stuck with Trubisky for the rest of this season and if the former No. 2 pick doesn't make a marked turnaround over the final 10 games, you can add quarterback to the team's wishlist this offseason.

Dud: OLB Khalil Mack

For the second consecutive week, Mack was invisible. And while it feels unfair to call him a dud considering all he's done for the Bears over his first 20 games, the fact remains that the Bears' pass rush was non-existent on Sunday, and it starts with Mack. He isn't getting any help from outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and there was no interior push without defensive lineman Akiem Hicks in the game, but generational players step up and make the key play when it's needed most. Mack hasn't done that in either of Chicago's last two losses.

Dud: ILB Roquan Smith

Smith is trending toward one of this team's biggest disappointments of 2019. His talent is undeniable, and when he's on his game, there are few linebackers who can match his heat-seeking style. But his struggles at the point of attack and in coverage were exposed yesterday. Murray's size and power gave Smith trouble. He has to play better considering the Bears need to make a decision on linebacker Danny Trevathan's future this offseason. If Smith's struggles continue, it could force GM Ryan Pace to keep the steady veteran around on another multi-year deal.

Stud: WR Allen Robinson

The impact Robinson is having on offense can't be understated at this point. He's the only sign of life from a unit that's been dead on arrival for most of 2019. Robinson ended the game with 10 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. He was Trubisky's first read on almost every pass play and was targeted 16 times. A-Rob is everything the Bears hoped he'd be. It's the other 10 guys on offense who haven't been.

Dud: RB David Montgomery

Montgomery's rookie season may have hit rock bottom on Sunday. He finished the game with just two carries for six yards and lost a costly fumble. The struggles with the offensive line have been well-documented, but at some point, Montgomery has to prove he can make something out of nothing. Right now, he hasn't done that. And it appears like the coaching staff is beginning to lose some faith in him.

Dud: RB Tarik Cohen

Cohen joins Montgomery as a dud from Week 7. He didn't fare much better on the ground (just 10 yards on three carries) and managed only 19 yards on nine receptions. His biggest moment in the game came at his own expense when Saints defensive back Chauncy Gardner-Johnson mocked his height. Cohen has to start flipping field position for this offense to stand a chance over the last 10 games. 

Stud: WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson

Patterson has to be a stud, right? Even if it's for just one play? It happened to be a pretty good one -- kickoff returned 102 yards for a touchdown -- and looked like the spark the Bears needed to wake up. Unfortunately, it would be one of the few highlights from an otherwise brutal four quarters at Soldier Field.

 

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

All week, reporters at Halas Hall tried to get Matt Nagy and the Bears to compare who they were during Week 1’s game against Green Bay to where they are now. And all week at Halas Hall, Matt Nagy and the Bears wouldn't bite. 

“We're both different. They're a little bit different, we're different,” Matt Nagy said. “They did a great job both as players and their coaches, so like I said yesterday, it feels like a while ago and that's why you play. You have a 16-game season and in division you get two chances. We'll just do everything we can to put it behind us and try to be better.” 

Different might be an understatement. Gone are Kyle Long and Bobby Massie. The Starting-Center-James-Daniel experiment is over, and Mike Davis is playing in the NFC South now. Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton – though the latter didn’t play in Week 1 – are on IR, too. Normally, losing two starting tight ends, a ‘starting’ running back, and the entire right side of the offensive line means you’re spending the last month of the season scouting for 2020. Instead, the Bears head to Lambeau Field on Sunday with a path to the playoffs still in front of them. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now. We’re a different team,” Mitch Trubisky said. “There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. 

“I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Perhaps the biggest difference between Week 1 and Week 15 has been the play of Trubisky, who looked like he was headed for a clipboard in 2020 before regaining his form over the last month or so. His comfortability in the offense is night and day compared to some of the struggles he went through during the first half of the season. If you ask him – which, duh, we did – he’ll tell you he’s felt the most growth off the field. 

“I just would say mental toughness, the ability to block out things on the outside,” he said. “Adversity, obviously, early in the season with people talking on the outside and then having to play through injuries and stuff, and just coming together closer as a team. My teammates having my back, that really gives me the most confidence.” 

The 14-week turnaround isn’t all about confidence, as Nagy 202 has morphed into something not expected but effective nonetheless. The running game has stabilized and they’ve found successful plays out of 4 WR sets – even if one of those receivers is Montgomery/Tarik Cohen. In Week 1? Montgomery had six rushes and the Bears ran two plays out of 10 personnel. Nagy said that he thought something clicked on Trubisky’s touchdown pass to Ben Braunecker against the Lions. 

“There's something there,” he said. “We felt it a little bit in the Chargers game, we just weren't effective in the red zone. But because we won the [Lions] game it magnifies it a little bit more … And then we just kind of started putting things together and I think over time we've just felt like it's just started to click. I don't know if it's specifically one play or not but that's probably my best guess.” 

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team prepares for what Nagy calls a “cat-and-mouse” game against Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who perhaps knows Trubisky better than any other opposing coordinator in the game. 

“Coach Pettine has done a great job throughout his career of being almost tendency-free,” he said. “And they’re even better now with how they deploy those guys, and it’s kind of a perfect, perfect storm of scheme and talent, and the guys on the back end help them out too.” 

The Bears are playing with a looseness that might come from essentially being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but oddly, it continues to work for them. And when you have to go play Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau with your season on the line, you don’t question what works. 

“I love it. You want to go against the best all the time,” said Akiem Hicks, who was taken off IR and will start on Sunday. “If you’re a true competitor, you want the best competition.”

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

With Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverly and the Los Angeles Clippers in town to face the Bulls, you knew the question was coming. Both Rivers and Beverly are from Chicago and not shy about their affection for the city. 

"Do you and Pat talk about coming to Chicago?" a reporter asked, during Rivers' pregame media scrum, Saturday night.

"We talk about Chicago, probably every single day," Rivers said with a hint of a smile. "We talk about the Bears the most."

That led to Rivers rapid-fire addressing a number of ruminations on the current state of the Bears, including his respect for head coach Matt Nagy.

"I’m a big Bears fan. A big Nagy fan. I think he’s a terrific coach," Rivers said. "I just do, every once in a while you get a feeling about someone, and I have that about him."

High praise coming from Rivers, the 13th-winningest coach in NBA history and an NBA Finals champion in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.

Now, he coaches the third-winningest team in the league in the Clippers, but he still finds time to keep up with current Chicago affairs.

"[Beverly and I] talk about everything with Chicago. We talk about the dominance of Proviso East [Rivers' high school alma mater] over Marshall [Beverly's alma mater], and every other team. He doesn’t like that conversation very much," Rivers said.

He added that he even contemplated driving down for the Bears' Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football (the Clippers were in town for a game with Milwaukee that Friday).

And as for tomorrow's crucial division game against the Packers, Rivers made his position abundantly clear.

"Well, you know what I think," Rivers said, when asked for a prediction for the contest. "Are you kidding me?"

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