A short week between games also means condensed timeframe for looking both back at what just transpired in the Bears 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings, and ahead to what those things might foreshadow in Thursday’s rematch in Detroit with the Lions.
The Bears are averaging 3.5 touchdowns per game this season, approaching double the 1.9 per game last year. So it figures that their celebrations of those scores should step up appropriately.
Team chemistry/unity/personality/whatever is always easier to detect when said team is winning. But the touchdown celebrations orchestrated (literally and figuratively) by wide receiver Anthony Miller and safety Eddie Jackson are worth a footnote.
Not so much for the amusing creativity of Miller’s “boys in the boat” rowing team, or Jackson’s musical-conductor performance with the assembled defense. More for, as more than a few folks noted on Monday, the fact that the whole team jumped into the skits. These were not look-at-me, solo-showboating exercises by the player scoring the touchdown; they were the kind of group endeavors that teams do.
The Bears can be excused for being a bit out of practice celebrating touchdowns after their miseries of the last five years. Now that it’s happening with increasing frequency, the performances figure to step up in style.
Matt Nagy has set the tone for more than just offensive schemes, remarking, “If you’re not enjoying the moment, then why are you playing?... I like our players to have fun when they play.”
Besides being his 22nd consecutive start and moving him ahead of Rex Grossman on the consecutive-start list, the win over the Minnesota Vikings got Mitchell Trubisky to .500 as a starting quarterback (11-11).
Much is usually made about an offense distributing the football among an array of receivers. Matt Nagy and the Bears offense went a different direction with six different ball carriers against the Vikings, and got those six the football in the first half alone.
The Bears may have opened as four-point favorites over the Lions for Thursday’s game, but the Lions have beaten the Bears four of the last five times the teams met on Thanksgiving Day.
How much more accurate has Mitchell Trubisky become from last year to this? He wasn’t happy with his performance against the Vikings (20-for-31 passing) but Trubisky had just four of his 12 starts in 2017 in which he posted a completion percentage higher than 60. Of his 10 starts in 2018 he has just two starts in which his success rate was BELOW 60 percent.
THE defensive stopper
Take a quick read of another outstanding piece by NFL.com reporter Jim Trotter if you want a glimpse at one of the stories behind the big story of the 2018 Bears defense.
JT, a longtime pal dating back to a chance meeting too many years ago while waiting together to chat with Terrell Davis after a Denver Super Bowl win, is simply one of the best covering this league and was in town for Bears-Vikings.
What he delivered out of Sunday night was a look at how important it was that the Bears retained Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator, which wasn’t a done deal after the shakeup that ended the tenure of John Fox. Fangio was interviewed but never a serious candidate for the head-coaching job, but his retention was pivotal to some of the linchpins of what has become a contender for title of the best defense in the NFL.
"When we didn't know if Vic was going to be back or not, and then we found out that he was going to be here, there was so much enthusiasm with all the guys," defensive lineman Akiem Hicks told JT. "We were texting each other and we were excited about having that opportunity to have that same defense again, because it makes it easier on you as a player. So it was big, huge, monumental. We would not be here without that. Not even possible."