Why Mitch Trubisky wasn't willing to write off the Bears' sloppiness in Cincinnati

Why Mitch Trubisky wasn't willing to write off the Bears' sloppiness in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI — The results in his preseason debut weren’t much different for Mitch Trubisky than what was customary in 2017: Two ineffective runs, then a short completion or an incompletion on third down, then a punt. 

Trubisky quarterbacked the Bears’ first two drives in their 30-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday evening at Paul Brown Stadium, completing two of four passes for four yards and a passer rating of 56.2. But while the results were shades of his dour rookie year, they weren’t what Trubisky felt like he and the offense had been building toward over the last few days of practice. 

And that’s one reason why Trubisky wasn’t willing to write off the sloppiness of the first-team offense as this group shaking off some rust. 

“Our standards are higher that we expect to be better,” Trubisky said. “No excuse for first preseason game. We have a bunch of experienced guys from last year, so there shouldn’t be any jitters. Maybe guys were excited, but it’s very simple — come out here, do your job, do exactly what we were doing in practice. We practiced our butts off this week. We just came out here and were sloppy.”

Trubisky added that he thought it was “surprising” the offense was so sloppy. A few examples of what he was talking about: He and Kevin White couldn’t connect on a deep shot on the first play of the game, White dropped a pass, Eric Kush was beaten back by Geno Atkins for a sack and Cody Whitehair was whistled for holding. Those accounted for four of the 10 snaps Trubisky took (only eight were official — there was a roughing the passer penalty that bailed out White’s drop, and then Whitehair’s penalty). 

“You definitely want to see a better start out of this offense," Trubisky said. "That was definitely not the way we’d been practicing, and that’s not what this offense is going to be this year."

It was somewhat telling that Trubisky was frustrated with how things went on Thursday. A few thoughts on it: First, he doesn’t have the gravitas of an experienced veteran to say “oh, well, it’s the first preseason game.” Second: Well, it was sloppy, and that kind of play isn’t up to the standard Trubisky set for himself and the Bears’ offense this year. 

“It’s going to be changed, because that’s not who we are or who we want to be,” Trubisky said. 

From a bigger-picture standpoint, though, this still was only Trubisky’s first preseason game of 2018. The Bears haven’t begun gameplanning for opponents yet as Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich have focused on installing plays on a daily basis. Nagy said he thought Trubisky’s operation of the offense was smooth, and came away with neither a negative nor positive grade on his starting quarterback. 

“This is so early right now, it really is,” Nagy said. “… It will be fun as we go here to get them some more snaps, let them get into a rhythm and, really, for all the guys to get into a rhythm offensively. He’s going to have eight snaps to take a look at and see what was right and what was wrong, but it’s hard to judge off of eight plays.”

It’s worth noting, too, that the following players did not participate in Thursday’s game: Jordan Howard, Benny Cunningham, Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Dion Sims. Tarik Cohen nominally started, but didn’t touch the ball. So while Trubisky was working with his starting “U” tight end (Trey Burton), a presumptive starting wideout (Anthony Miller) and his entire starting offensive line (for the first series, until Kyle Long came out for the second one), there were plenty of pieces missing that are expected to be ready for Week 1. 

From an even bigger picture view, Thursday’s game being sloppy shouldn’t be too surprising, given the installation process of learning had generated some sloppy practices in Bourbonnais to this point even if they hadn't come in the last few days. There’s still a month until the Bears’ season-opening trip to Green Bay, and nobody around these parts is close to worrying about how Trubisky and his teammates are growing into the offense. 

But to Trubisky’s credit, he was frustrated. He was disappointed. And that’s probably how the Bears want the face of the franchise to feel after not performing to the level he believes he can reach — even if it was “only” a preseason game. 

“You get limited to so many plays, so you go out there and try to do the best you can with it,” Trubisky said. “It’s gotta be better. It will be better.”

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

It may only be Week 15, but Matt Nagy's already winning awards. 

Earlier today, Nagy was chosen as "having done the NFL’s best coaching job in 2018 in voting released Friday by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press." 

AP football writer Howard Fendrich explained the decision, saying,″(Nagy’s) overseen a total turnaround of the Bears in just his first year as an NFL head coach, taking a team that hadn’t finished above .500 since 2012 and turning them into the best of the NFC North. He’s an offensive guru who learned from former boss Andy Reid, and Chicago’s play calling has been creative and fun — and overcome limitations at the QB spot to be good enough to let a superb defense lead the way.”

Nagy's led the Bears to a 9-4 record in his first year as head coach, with a chance to win the division if the Bears can beat the Packers this weekend. 

Nagy came in ahead of Pete Carroll, who finished in 2nd place. Andy Reid, Nagy's mentor in Kansas City, rounded out the top 3. 

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Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

USA Today Sports Images

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

A thought here after watching Thursday night’s Chargers-Chiefs tilt, which featured eight flags for either defensive pass interference or defensive holding...

As the NFL makes it harder for defensive players to play defense (and as TV ratings go up), the Bears are one of the cleanest teams when it comes to their opponents’ passing game. They rank second among teams with only eight combined defensive holding and defensive pass interference penalties: 

1. Dallas (5)
2. Chicago (8)
3. Oakland (10)
4. Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers (11)
6. Arizona, Indianapolis (12)
8. Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Houston, Philadelphia (13)
14. Cincinnati, New York Jets, Seattle, Tampa Bay (14)
18. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (15)
20. Los Angeles Rams (16)
21. Buffalo, Minnesota, New England (17)
24. Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, San Francisco (18)
29. Atlanta, Miami (20)
31. New Orleans (23)
32. Kansas City (36)

The Chargers entered Thursday night’s game tied with the Bears with eight holding/pass interference penalties, but where whistled for three during the game — and not all were clear fouls, either. And that kind of stuff can be annoying for defensive players around the league to see. 

“100 percent,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “.. .I’ve seen some things, I’m like come on, man. But there’s some things you can’t control. Control what you can control, and that’s go out there and play ball and to the best of your ability try not to hold or get a flag for pass interference called on you.”

Jackson credited four members of the coaching staff with the Bears’ ability to avoid holding/interference penalties: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson and quality control assistant Sean Desai. From teaching proper technique for being told what to watch out for, this is a well-coached group. Only cornerback Prince Amukamara — who’s usually in press coverage, subjecting him to the most contact — has been whistled for multiple interference or holding flags this year (he actually has half the Bears’ total, with four). 

“It’s a combination of both (coaching and technique) I would say,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The players, technique-wise is a big part of it. You’ve got to be really disciplined in that area. And then I think the other part of it is with the coaching is making sure that they’re watching to make sure to see where they’re at with it. So far, to have that, you want that overall as a team to be the least penalized, specifically in that area, that’s always a good thing.”

Consider it another feather in the cap of the league’s best defense: Even when passing-oriented rule changes and tweaks supposedly make it harder to play defense, the Bears largely haven’t suffered for it. 

“It’s more difficult for the referees, too,” Nagy said. “It’s difficult for them. It’s difficult for the players. There’s some subjectiveness to it. But you gotta try to not be too grabby.”  

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