Bears

Bears offense astonishing, but D-Line was key

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Bears offense astonishing, but D-Line was key

Sunday, Nov. 29, 2010
8:49 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Scoring a season-high 31 points wins high marks for just about everyone on offense, even the line despite allowing four sacks; that group settled in as the game went along and did not allow Philadelphia to dominate consistently at any point. The defense made plays when needed but was hit for 333 passing yards and a possible game-changing late TD. Still, a strong overall performance by an 8-3 team.

Quarterback A

Jay Cutlers 146.2 passer rating was a career best and four TD passes matches his best. His TD throw to Earl Bennett in the first quarter was one of his finest throws in two seasons, a low red-zone bullet that either his guy or nobody was going to catch. Cutler was sacked four times in the first half but maintained composure throughout for his best half of the season with three TDs, 7-for-10 passing and a 152.1 rating. Cutler finished with 14-for-21 passing for 247 yards and the TDs but most important, no INTs and had a total handle on the game.

Running backs A

Matt Forte broke off his left side for a 61-yard run in the first quarter to set up a TD and picked up 28 on a third-quarter carry that was the key starter for a 17-play drive of 83 yards. Forte finished with 117 yards on 14 carries and caught two of three passes for another 22 yards. Chester Taylor was ineffective again, with minus-three yards on six carries.

Receivers A

Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox each caught first quarter TD passes on precise throws from Cutler and wideouts provided solid blocking downfield to spring first-half plays for long yardage. Bennett and Knox provided excellent yardage after catches and Devin Hester added a game-high 86 yards on three catches. Greg Olsen scored on his one catch and he and Brandon Manumaleuna performed generally well in pass protection.

Offensive line B

A difficult grading situation. The Bears allowed no sacks of Cutler in the second half and Fortes runs were behind increasingly solid blocking. Assignments against a creative Philadelphia pass rush befuddled the Bears early, who allowed four sacks in the first half to squander momentum as well as yardage and possessions. LT Frank Omiyale was guilty of a third-down false start, then was beaten for a sack on the ensuing play and for a second sack in the second quarter. RT JMarcus Webb appeared to miss an assignment and leave rookie defensive end Brandon Graham unblocked for a sack, and breakdown between Webb and RG Roberto Garza left DT Mike Patterson unblocked for another sack. But give Philadelphias blitz looks credit for causing many problems.

Defensive line A

The rotating front four was arguably the key to the game, allowing the rest of the defense to focus on more than just Michael Vick, whom the Bears sacked four times in all. DT Henry Melton collected his third sack in three games, sharing a first-quarter takedown of Michael Vick shared with Israel Idonije and getting superb early pressure on Vick. DT Matt Toeainas seven-yard sack ended a drive and Julius Peppers third-down sack on a play from the Chicago-3 midway through the second quarter forced the Eagles to settle for a field goal. Peppers pursued and tackled Vick in the fourth quarter to force another FG. Tommie Harris pass deflection was a game turning point. Anthony Adams was credited with a sack of Vick.

Linebackers B

Brian Urlacher was initially credited with a team-high 10 tackles and appeared to force a fumble on a sack that wasnt credited to him. Urlacher broke up a pass while Lance Briggs added six tackles and Pisa Tinoisamoa was credited with two solo stops.

Secondary B

S Chris Harris pick off of a deflected Vick pass in the end zone and 39-yard return was a major turning point, from a Philly scoring shot at the Chicago-3 to a TD by the offense. Harris also had two passes broken up. Nickel back D.J. Moore turned in two impact plays with first-half blitzes and finished with six solo tackles, one for a loss. Vick passed for 333 yards but the game plan was to prevent big plays and force the Eagles to play on a long field.

Special teams B

Danieal Manning returned a kickoff 44 yards and Devin Hester opened the second half with one of 46 yards. Poor coverage on Brad Maynards booming first punt allowed DeSean Jackson a 35-yard return to set up a Philadelphia FG. Robbie Gould converted his one FG try from 23 yards.

Coaching A

Relying on basics and the scheme vs. Vick was superb and kept the Bears from leaving huge gaps. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli made stopping big plays the priority and the discipline staying with that plan was crucial. Mike Martz showed the run early with good effect and again called more than 20 runs by his backs. The Bears were clearly a team with solid focus and was not caught up in panic reactions against one of the NFLs best offenses and the No. 1 defense at producing turnovers.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

What's changed about Mitch Trubisky? Nothing, and the Bears are thrilled

What's changed about Mitch Trubisky? Nothing, and the Bears are thrilled

Guess they weren’t lying after all.

All year, the Bears have been telling us that Mitch Trubisky’s as even-keeled as they come. It’s about the only sound bite that comes up every Sunday, regardless of the outcome.

“It's confidence. Mitch is confident back there,” Taylor Gabriel said back in June. “So I feel like, like I said, it's just a drastic change from last year.”

Six months later, and Trubisky would have every reason, and then some, to be having a crisis of confidence. The Bears – then presumptive NFC favorites – kicked off the NFL’s 100th birthday party by scoring three points at home. He then sprained his shoulder in Week 4, ending the game in a sling on the sideline as he watched backup Chase Daniel once again look more comfortable operating the offense. Things got even WORSE when he came back, and the Bears’ historically-bad offense was booed early and often during their midseason four-game losing streak.

People called for Cam Newton, and Andy Dalton. People even called for Eli Manning! The city of Chicago 'Irish Goodbyed' the Bears’ franchise quarterback and it didn’t change him for a second. At least, not from where the head coach is sitting.  

“You know, even within our team and our offense, you can go through some struggles,” Matt Nagy said on Wednesday. “And you feel that – and confidence is a part of that. Whether it’s individually how you’re playing, same thing.”

So has there been any change in his demeanor, now that a thousand Daves from Winnetka aren’t constantly on-the-line yelling for his replacement?

“Not really, no,” added Nagy. “It hasn’t.”

Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone acknowledged the expectations facing Trubisky and pointed to his knack for playing well late in the game, or in important moments. To Ragone, it's the sign of a quarterback who has the skillset to make it as, as he calls it, a “Top Gun.” Trubisky will only be 25 when his fourth NFL training camp begins next July, and the Bears are thrilled with the leadership qualities they’ve seen from the 13th-youngest player on their roster.

“Obviously your play on the field is hugely important to you continuing to be the face of a franchise, but there’s a lot more that goes into playing quarterback in the National Football League than just throwing a slant route on time,” Ragone said. “Hopefully you can grow into it, and I think you see as a kid who came in here when he was 22, and is now 25, he’s maturing not just as a player, but as a person.”

As for Trubisky himself, the quarterback mentioned that if this season has taught him anything, it’s how to better stay unaffected by the media narratives he was so infamously hearing around Halas Hall. Like, for instance, when Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams talked about how the Packers’ plan to beat the Bears in Week 1 mainly involved “forcing [Trubisky] to play quarterback.” Trubisky was unspectacular (26-45, 228 yards) in that loss, and on Wednesday, if you can believe it, mostly (mostly) wasn’t biting on the Revenge Game narrative – just like the Bears like it.

“I got enough motivation from the outside, and I guess that’s even more motivation,” he said. “I didn’t hear that. I don’t really care.”

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First and Final Thoughts: The Bears head to Lambeau with the season on the line

First and Final Thoughts: The Bears head to Lambeau with the season on the line

Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games. J.J.'s on Paternity Leave, so Bulls producer Rob Schaefer is filling in. 

Final Thoughts on Week 14

Rob Schaefer: The Bears took care of their business last Thursday against Dallas. Unfortunately, when the Sunday and Monday slate of games had concluded, they weren’t any closer to the playoff berth they — somehow — found themselves within shouting distance of entering Week 14. In fact, they’re now further away. 

Perhaps the Rams and Vikings felt the Bears nipping on their heels, because both teams were dominant on Sunday. The Vikings (behind three Danielle Hunter sacks) made David Blough look like… well, David Blough, in a 20-7 victory over Detroit. Expected, but a gut-punch nonetheless. Even more concerning was the Rams returning to their early-2018 offensive form in beating down the surging Seahawks 28-12. Per FiveThirtyEight, the Bears enter Week 15 with a 2% chance of making the playoffs.

Still, you have to feel good about the way the defense responded against Dallas after losing Roquan Smith (on top of the starters they were already missing), and Mitch Trubisky’s four-touchdown (three by air, one by ground) performance, moving forward. Even if they don’t make an appearance on Wild Card weekend, the Bears can still salvage something from the end of the 2019 season if Trubisky and others continue to progress.

Cam Ellis: Lots of players were good against Dallas, but the only real thought I've had that's lingered since last week's win is this: good for Trubisky. Beating the Cowboys doesn't – or shouldn't – change how the Bears feel about him as their long-term solution, but it was great seeing him have his first real, positive moment of 2019. For what it's worth, the loudest Soldier Field got all night was when Trubisky scored on that 23-yard scramble. Let's watch it! 

The place erupts when he's still 20 yards out. Who knows what happens at quarterback after these next three games, but given the type of guy the Bears say he is, and how hard he works, it was nice to see him succeed in a big moment. 

First Thought on Week 15 

Schaefer: Green Bay’s defense started the year stingy, but has faded against premier competition as the season has worn on (they’re currently 20th in in league in defensive DVOA). If the Bears can’t pull this one out (or those competing with them for the last wild card spot continue to win), the first place to look for silver linings will be Trubisky. Improvement on his stat line from opening night (26-of-45, 228 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) is requisite to taking anything positive from this game.

Ellis: Imagine if the Bears had literally anything but the hardest remaining schedule in the NFL. The good news is that the Bears get the toughest one over with first? They've won at Lambeau twice in 10 years, although if you've scrolled down this far I imagine I don't need to tell you that. It's hard to decide whether getting Akiem Hicks back is better for this team's performance or their attitude – he'll probably be at least somewhat limited physically, but just having him out there, especially without Danny Trevathan or Roquan Smith, gives the Bears that returning-cavalry vibe that always adds a little extra juice this time of year. Aaron Rodgers has gutted them too many times to not expect it as this point, but if the Matt Nagy Era Bears have shown anything, it's that they tend to rally well in these type of situations. They'll be a tough out at worst.