Objectively, there's a whole lot to like about the Bears' 36-7 win on Sunday afternoon. To start, the Bears scored 36 points. In one game! Things more or less went Chicago's way from their very first snap, an 80-yard touchdown run from David Montgomery that felt two years in the making. Mitch Trubisky threw for three touchdowns and – more importantly – didn't turn the ball over once, Allen Robinson topped 1,000 yards on the year with another huge performance, and the defense sacked Deshaun Watson six times. For the first time in almost two months, the Bears looked like a good football team.
"I'm proud of our players and coaches for being able to be resilient and focused in and locked in as to where we're at," Matt Nagy said. "I thought in pregame, I had a sense of the vibe and the energy of where we were. It felt good. For those guys, I wasn't sure how it was gonna go, but they proved it. All three phases played together. This is the first time all year that we've had that."
And to be clear, when the Bears have each phase clicking like they did against the Texans, they are a good football team – or, at least, a better one than their six-game slide would have suggested. Their patchwork project on the offensive line seems to have worked enough to field a functioning ground game, which feels pretty close to a modern day miracle given the state of affairs with that unit only a few weeks ago. Montgomery's long run was so effortless, in fact, that the running back admitted it 'really had nothing to do with [him].'
"You probably could run through that hole and run the 80 yards," Montgomery joked, or maybe not. "Just being able to have that line move and push the way they did and create that amazing hole, it’s crazy. I just seen it and I hit it. I had Allen Robinson blocking on the outside. If it hadn’t been for him, I probably would have gotten caught."
If it hadn't been for Robinson, a lot of things probably would have gone differently. A nine-catch, 123 yard performance solidified his second straight 1,000 yard season; his touchdown grab with 11 seconds left in the first half essentially put the game out of reach before halftime.
"That was something we talked about -- a look we didn't even get this week in practice," he said of the three-yard catch that put Chicago up 30-7. "But I had told [Trubisky] if we get this look, this is how I'm going to run the route. We were on the same page, so he knew where I was going to be at right when we got that look."
Even Trubisky played as close to a blameless game as he's had all year. The Bears will take a completion rate over 70% without any turnovers every day of the week and (especially) twice on Sunday, and the QB operated at a level of extended comfort that's rarely been seen during his tenure. He even outplayed Watson, which lowkey might be the most rewarding aspect of the win for fans who had to hear the comparison discussed 358 times on Sunday's broadcast.
"I was just so focused on what I need to do for my team that it really allowed me to block everything else out," he said. "Just the situation that we were in, being on that little losing streak, that makes you sick to your stomach. So I was willing to do whatever it took for the team today to just go out and get a win, whether it was handing the ball off every time or throwing it every time. Obviously that’s extreme, but I was willing to do whatever it took to go out here and get a win, and that’s what we did."
The issue with all this optimism (being happy is the worst!) lies in the fact that it's arrived as the Bears pick up their 6th win of the season in mid-December. Scoring 36 points is great, but it's fair to wonder why only six of those points came after halftime. Montgomery's day was terrific, but it's fair to point out that he only had 33 yards after the first play of the game. The offensive line wasn't porous, but it's fair to note – which Nagy did – that penalties are still a problem for that group. It was nice to see the Bears put some elbow grease into scrubbing, but the writing's still on the wall.
"Like I’ve been saying for the last three weeks, we’re finally, I think, starting to create an identity," Nagy said. "You’re feeling it. You’re seeing it on the scoreboard."
Even if they want to point at the scoreboard, the Bears didn't earn anyone's trust back by beating a horrendous Texans team. What they earned is time – time to delay judgement while they prove they can, you know, score more than 13 points against the Vikings next Sunday, or beat the 1-12 Jaguars in two weeks. They earned time to prove that this offense isn't beyond saving, and time to show that this defensive core shouldn't be gutted quite yet. 8-8 still feels like the endgame for this group, but let's wait and see: the Bears offense scored 36 points today – anything's possible.