Bears

Presented By Bears Insider
Bears

Here are two stat lines for Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky:

A: 39 completions on 60 attempts (65 percent), 521 yards, 8.7 yards per attempt, four touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 107.7;

B: 162 completions on 263 attempts (62 percent), 1,337 yards, 5.1 yards per attempt, six touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 74.3.

A is what Trubisky has done in the third quarter this season, including in Sunday’s 19-14 win over the New York Giants. B is what he’s done in the first, second and fourth quarter.

That bizarre discrepancy played out against the Giants. Trubisky completed 10 of 14 passes for 155 yards with both a passing and rushing touchdown in the third quarter, as the Bears surged to a lead they didn't relinquish. In the other three quarters, Trubisky and this offense were woefully ineffective: 15 of 27, 123 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

“You'd like to have that coming out of the tunnel in the first quarter, so we've got to figure out a way to do that,” Trubisky said. “But I think just coming together, halftime adjustments, and when things get frustrating, we kind of pull together and have each other's backs.”

Trubisky was not in the mood for platitudes regarding himself and the Bears’ offense, sticking to a theme of “it’s not good enough” throughout his postgame press conference. If anything, though, the first half of Sunday’s game proved what general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy have communicated for weeks: Trubisky has to play better, but it’s not all his fault.

Trubisky was, indeed, victimized by some things out of his control. There were a handful of drops, none more egregious than a wide-open Ben Braunecker’s in the first quarter. A hands to the face penalty on Cody Whitehair wiped out what would’ve been a 60-yard completion to Allen Robinson. More penalties and poor run blocking did not help Trubisky, either.

On Trubisky’s first interception, he said there was miscommunication with Robinson, leading the quarterback to expect the wide receiver to do something he didn’t. Whether it was mostly Trubisky’s fault or mostly Robinson’s fault, the end result of Alec Ogletree picking off the pass was the same.

And Trubisky, certainly, is not absolved of blame for what was a three-point half, with those points coming when the Bears started to unlock their offense with an up-tempo two-minute drill late in the second quarter. But an organization with “serious confidence” in Trubisky can point to the failures around him as a reason to stick with him into the future.

More importantly, though: Can the Bears take what Trubisky has done in the third quarter this year and use that as reason to still believe in the future ahead of the 2017 second overall pick?

The Bears' offense, led by Trubisky, is explosive and efficient in the third quarter. They score touchdowns and don’t settle for field goals, and are good enough to match up against defenses both good and bad. This is what "Football 202" was supposed to look like. 

“We made some adjustments and came out with some more energy and we started making plays,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “Mitch was dicing them up. We got some plays that we really liked and we called them and it was all good.”

Part of that third quarter success, too, might be explained by what the Bears did in the two minutes before halftime. By necessity, the offense was up-tempo, eschewing substitutions for speed and quickly marching downfield for a field goal.

“When we get in it it’s just like a machine,” wide receiver Anthony Miller, who had four catches in Sunday’s two-minute drill, said.

Miller added the rhythm he and Robinson got into late in the first half made them feel “untouchable, like nobody could guard us.” That level of confidence has not been evident for most of the season.

Is the Bears’ answer to start a game with an up-tempo drive, largely keeping the same personnel on the field and trying to get a defense on its heels that way? That may be a little too simplistic, but this offense seems to operate at its best when it’s moving fast and not becoming bogged down in the complexities of it.

“On the ball, (the defense) can't substitute and we're not substituting either, so everybody knows where their spots are at and we're playing fast, and I think that's when we play free and guys are getting in the right spots and guys are making plays,” Trubisky said. “I’m seeing the defense, and they're not doing a bunch of crazy looks because we're going fast, and they've got to respect that.”

For an offense that’s had plenty of issues with its details this year, it sounds like an ideal solution. Or at least worth a calculated shot, understanding that it might not be feasible to go up-tempo for an entire game. Whatever it is, if the Bears want to prove their internal confidence in Trubisky is grounded, finding a way to translate that third quarter success into the rest of a game would be a start. 

Because what the Bears have done in the third quarter shows there is a good offense buried beneath this year’s mountain of failures. That can either be a good thing, as in something on which to build for 2020. Or it can be a massively frustrating point, if the only glimpses of the offense this was supposed to be come right after halftime and disappear well before the game ends.

“Enough is enough — it's the sloppiness, the mistakes, everything, it has to stop,” Trubisky said. “We've got to get better as an offense. We have too much talent and we're wasting, because we're hurting ourselves, so we've just got to be better and if everybody does their job I think we'll be fine and I think that's what you see in the third quarter coming out.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.