Bears Grades: Fox, Gase hit Packers with 'heavy' personnel at outset


Bears Grades: Fox, Gase hit Packers with 'heavy' personnel at outset

The biggest change in the fortunes of the Bears this offseason was the coaching change, because of its direct effect on the on-field portion of the organization. The results were in evidence vs. the Green Bay Packers even in a 31-23 losing effort Sunday.

Coordinator Adam Gase hit the Packers with “heavy” personnel at the outset, with just Eddie Royal as a lone wide receiver and tight ends just about everywhere. The result was a smash-mouth start with a long Matt Forte run and then later a big completion into a vacant seam to Alshon Jeffery. The opening drive featured some no-huddle as well as the Bears succeeded in taking the game to the Packers, a reversal of form from recent seasons.

“That’s how we like to operate,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “We do a lot of that stuff in practice, pretty normal procedure for us. We can back it off and huddle up. We’re going to keep mixing it up throughout the year. The guys like it. It seemed to work pretty well.”

[MORE GRADES: Quarterback ¦ Running back]

The balance and play design was creative and used the entire width of the field while staying with a power philosophy. Gase called 18 running plays to 23 passes in the first half, with Cutler turning three scrambles into 20 yards. A unit already without rookie Kevin White lost Eddie Royal for a time after a blow to the head, further undercutting the abilities to spread to the field both horizontally and vertically but the offense did not stall.

If there was an oddity it was in the fourth quarter when the offense threw four incompletions inside the Green Bay seven, including three after reaching a two-yard line.

“I thought we had a great plan against what they did defensively,” said coach John Fox. “I thought our offensive coaches did a tremendous job, maybe other than a couple of red-area stops that I thought were pretty much the difference in the game, in comparison.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans]

What the Packers did offensively was creative in keeping the Bears from some of what they wanted to do schematically. Vic Fangio’s defensive schemes were as advertised – completely beyond anything shown in preseason and in all manner of alignment. The Bears were rarely in straight 3-4 sets early but used 3-4 personnel Jared Allen and Pernell McPhee in on-the-line sets.

“We knew after the first quarter that they wanted to get us out of the 3-4 and more into nickel and run the ball,” said defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins. “That’s part of football, getting us out of our strong points. It’s still up to us to execute, though.”

Special teams were gashed for returns averaging 35.3 yards per kickoff return as players appeared to take themselves out of sound gaps in several instances.

“We were going to have to be near-flawless to beat them, and we didn’t quite reach that,” Fox said. “But I think there were a lot of positive things that we’ll be able to build on as a football team moving forward as we get ready for Arizona.”

Moon's Grade: A-

Bears in must-win game vs. Redskins after NFC North dominates Week 3

Bears in must-win game vs. Redskins after NFC North dominates Week 3

Rarely is a Week 3 game described as a must-win, but in the case of the Chicago Bears' Monday night contest against the Washington Redskins, it may just be. 

Chicago's win last Sunday over the Broncos was a critical victory that evened their record at 1-1, and while a .500 start after two games suggests a playoff berth is still a very realistic possibility, the early-season returns from the rest of the NFC North have turned up the heat.

Week 3 was dominated by the division. The Packers, Vikings and Lions all won their games in impressive fashion. Detroit was especially terrific in their win over the Eagles, who were favored entering the week. 

Green Bay's victory over Denver moves them to a perfect 3-0 to start the year, while the Lions also remain undefeated at 2-0-1. The Vikings improved to 2-1 with their win over the Raiders and will be Chicago's next opponent in Week 4.

If the Bears lose Monday night, they'll fall to 1-2 and last place in the NFC North. That, coupled with a divisional game next Sunday, is a potential doomsday scenario if Chicago goes 0-2 over that span. They'll be 1-3 and left clawing for a wildcard over the final 12 games, especially if the Packers upend a banged-up Eagles squad Thursday night.

Obviously, a win over the Redskins changes that outlook. They'll return to Soldier Field with confidence and momentum against the Vikings; a sweep improves their record 3-1 and still very much neck-and-neck with the Packers.

As crazy as it may seem, Chicago needs a win Monday night in the worst way. If they come up short, the season could quickly come apart at the seams. 

Former GM says winning a Super Bowl with Mitch Trubisky isn't feasible

Former GM says winning a Super Bowl with Mitch Trubisky isn't feasible

Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky has been bruised and battered by the media and even some fans after a sluggish start to the 2019 season. But the Bears are 1-1 and have a winnable game on deck Monday night against the Washington Redskins, so things could be worse.

The pressing question Bears fans should be asking themselves, however, is how much better can this team actually be? Is Chicago a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Do they have a Super Bowl quarterback under center?

According to former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi, the answer is no.

Lombardi penned an article for The Athletic that outlined several reasons why he isn't a believer in Trubisky or the Bears' chances to win a Super Bowl despite having what he described as a great defense.

Trubisky is not fluent in playing quarterback, he lacks overall instincts for the position, accuracy, and when the game speeds up, he slows way down. He is a great athlete with a strong arm playing the position, not a great quarterback with high-level instinctive skills. Pace fell in love with the the athlete, the arm, the movement, and he forgot about the traits that are essential to play the position. Instincts matter more than anything; being quick-minded is way more important than being quick-footed. If you watched Trubisky and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady work out, without knowing their history, you would pick Trubisky every time. But Brady knows how to play the position, Trubisky doesn’t.

This may be the most damning criticism of Trubisky so far, but it shouldn't be all that surprising. Lombardi has long been a Trubisky-doubter and was one of his biggest haters last season, too.

The problem this time around is Trubisky hasn't provided many reasons to suggest Lombardi is wrong.

Now, the suggestion that Trubisky doesn't know how to play quarterback is obvious hyperbole. He was a decorated high school recruit, had a very successful senior season at North Carolina and flashed top-tier potential in 2018, his first season in Matt Nagy's offense. But his pedestrian first two games this season have added fuel to Lombardi's bonfire and the only way to extinguish it is with a breakout performance in front of a national television audience Monday night.

Through two games this season, Trubisky's completed 58.3% of his passes for 348 yards, 0 TDs and one INT.