View from the Moon: Bears feeling something different even in MNF loss to Vikings

View from the Moon: Bears feeling something different even in MNF loss to Vikings

The tectonic plates of the Chicago Bears offense shifted Monday night in Soldier Field. They didn’t move far enough – the Bears fell to 1-4 with a 20-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings – but they moved. And everyone in the building felt it.

“I felt it,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright. “I think everybody felt it.”

The “it” was largely the energy/buzz/whatever that accompanied the NFL debut of Mitch Trubisky, the quarterback for whom GM Ryan Pace traded up to No. 2 in the 2017 draft to be sure he didn’t lose Trubisky to someone else.

But there was more than Trubisky happening, even as he threw an interception late in the fourth quarter that turned into Minnesota’s three winning points instead of the rookie leading his new team to a game-winning score of its own. Best guess is that storybook endings will be coming in the Trubisky Era, just not quite yet while he’s learning to read defenses and playbooks, not storybooks.

“He gives us a chance to win,” said one member of the offense, leaving unsaid the unfortunate reality that Mike Glennon had reached the point where he didn’t.

Maybe that was the big point, the main takeaway even from a defeat – a 1-4 team genuinely believing it can be a winner. That belief was nowhere to be found after the Tampa Bay and Green Bay games and was in danger of being extinguished.

The game-killing late interception Monday may have been vintage Jay Cutler. And the production was very Glennon-esque, even sub-Glennon-esque: 12-for-25 passing (48 percent), 128 yards, a TD pass, the interception and a passer rating (60.1) lower than any of Glennon’s four.

But this was different.

“I think our guys feel it,” said coach John Fox. “They feel his presence… . He’s got what it takes. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

What is different that the Bears do believe they have a quarterback with whom they can win, even win with because of. It has been quite some time since he Bears truly believed in their quarterback. Believed in much of anything, really.

Coaches clearly believed, and that in itself seemed to be something different. Special teams scored a touchdown of a fake punt when punter Pat O’Donnell threw the first pass of his football life. Not to be outdone for panache’, the offense used a double-reverse followed by a pitchout from tight end Zach Miller to Trubisky, who’d started the play handing off to running back Jordan Howard.

Desperate teams try gimmicky things. Monday night didn’t have any “desperate” to it. Even Trubisky’s interception was a correct read, to a single-covered receiver with a step on safety Harrison Smith, just not thrown quite far enough. “He was trying to make a play,” said Miller, the intended target on the play. “You gotta love everything about it.”

A critical point: Trubisky established himself as a quarterback who can run, but isn’t a running quarterback. He was drafted for his arm more than his legs, and when Trubisky broke contain evading the rush – he appeared to bail out too early on several occasions – he was looking to throw and for the big play, not to demonstrate his rushing prowess.

Coordinator Dowell Loggains called 29 pass plays and 26 running plays, trusting in his offensive line to do enough against a good Vikings front to establish the play action the Bears want as a linchpin of their offensive structure. It didn’t happen sufficiently – Bears running backs averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per carry, the third time in five games the offense has fallen short of 4 yards per carry.

The offense had six possessions in the first half and managed at least one penalty or a fumble on five of them. The fumble was Trubisky’s on a strip-sack when Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen beat left tackle Charles Leno to the outside. The Vikings netted all of 55 first-half yards; the Bears gave them 45 in penalty walkoffs.

Meaning: Much more (or less) was happening on offense than the Mitch Trubisky Experience.

But “I believe in this team,” said linebacker Leonard Floyd, who himself contributed two sacks, four tackles for loss and an additional quarterback hit. “Once we get that first win, we’ll start stacking them.”

Maybe Floyd was forgetting that the Bears already do have a first win this season. Or maybe Monday was the “start” of the season. He would not be alone in that point of view.

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Mel Kiper thinks these players could be available to Bears in 2nd round

Believe it or not, the Bears are in good shape for the 2020 NFL Draft, even without a first-round pick.

This year’s class of prospects runs deep with talent and several players chosen between picks 33-50 will have upside similar to first-rounders from years past.

The Bears have two picks in that range — Nos. 43 and 50 — and have a great opportunity to add two starting-quality players by the end of Day 2.

But which players are likely to be available when they’re on the clock? 

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. published his new mock draft Friday and it offers a good look not only at who the potential first-round picks will be but also the cluster of highly-ranked prospects who will fall into Round 2.

Here are five players who didn’t make Kiper’s first-round cut that the Bears will give strong consideration to. 

Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

Fromm is likely to be the highest-rated passer still on the board when the Bears are on the clock in the second round. And while he doesn’t have elite traits, his experience as a starter in the SEC adds an element to the Bears' quarterback room that’s currently missing. Plus, his accuracy on short and intermediate routes is a good fit for Matt Nagy’s offense.

Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

The best tight end at the 2020 Senior Bowl and arguably the top tight end in the draft class slips out of Kiper’s first round and potentially into the Bears’ lap at No. 43 overall. Hopkins is an athletic yet undersized pass-catcher at the position who would immediately challenge for the starting job in Chicago.

Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

Lewis looks the part of an NFL edge rusher. and with questions surrounding the future of former first-round pick Leonard Floyd, the Bears are likely to target a player who can help add some juice on the outside rush track. Lewis’ production (only seven sacks the last two seasons) will likely create enough questions about his upside to push him into the second round.

Austin Jackson, OT, USC

The Bears offensive line was a big weakness in 2019 and there’s no doubt it will be a high priority in the 2020 NFL Draft. The pressing question is whether the Bears will attack offensive tackle or guard first, but with a player like Jackson making it to the second round in Kiper’s mock draft, they'd be hard-pressed to pass him up.

Lloyd Cushenberry, iOL, LSU

Cushenberry was one of the top offensive linemen at the 2020 Senior Bowl and will be a riser throughout the draft process. He may end up being the best interior lineman to slip to the second round, and like Hopkins, would be an immediate upgrade and potential starter on Day 1 of his rookie season.