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Lessons from Bears loss to Bengals, good or bad, impossible to sort out

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Lessons from Bears loss to Bengals, good or bad, impossible to sort out

Upon reviews, bad games and performances are rarely as bad as they seemed at the time. And the good ones are likewise seldom as good as they were on first impression. 

That may be the case with the Bears’ 21-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. But how does anyone know? The 2015 preseason has become one of the most useless previews in recent recollection, regardless of wins and losses.

Apart from isolated individual good plays, it is difficult to envision mitigating details showing up on film that didn’t show up on the field of Paul Brown Stadium Saturday night.

But the real problem with assessing the state of the Bears (2-1) is the continuing flood of injuries, which have served to illustrate that some members of the depth charts are not starter-grade NFL material should they be called upon. (Special teams not so much, with that unit piling up five penalties of its own.)

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But if you thought the Bears were a bad team, Saturday confirmed it. If you believe they’ll be better than people think, you have injuries as a rationale for what you saw and didn’t see in Cincinnati.

The offense? Besides the projected top four wide receivers all out with injuries, what positive there was for a No. 1 offense that failed to score a touchdown in its third and longest appearance on the field lay in Jay Cutler remaining turnover-free even with a complement of wide receivers, all of which will not be in the NFL when someone starts keeping score for real.

In fact the Bears have turned the ball over just once (an interception of Jimmy Clausen at Indianapolis) in 171 plays. After Cutler led the NFL with a personal total of 24 and the Bears averaged one turnover every 34.7 plays last season, this is at least something. The fact that the Bears haven’t done much with the ball except hang onto it is another question entirely and one that won’t get a major test in game situations until the Green Bay Packers are at Soldier Field on Sept. 13.

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“I don’t want to take anything away from the [receiver] group out there [Saturday],” Cutler said. “What we asked them to do, they did well. Those guys went out there and played hard, they made some catches when I put the ball on them. We had a little bit of rhythm in that two-minute drive, and they did well. If we get guys back, great, and if not, I think all the guys we have right now did well.”

“Well” being a relative term considering the circumstances, in which Cutler clearly is grading on a curve.

The defense? The Bears lost two of their top three defensive linemen before Cincinnati had finished even one possession. The play of the secondary, which saw Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron go 12-for-12 and convert 71 percent of third downs, traces to what is or isn’t happening up in front of them. 

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The defensive line, which opened with arguably its "hoped-for starters" for Week 1 – Eddie Goldman, Jarvis Jenkins, Jeremiah Ratliff – was without Goldman (concussion) and Ratliff (foot) even before the end of the first Cincinnati drive. Given that the line is the bedrock of either side of the football, critiquing the overall is an exercise in futility. 

Defensive backs and linebackers didn’t tackle well; easy evaluation. But until the Bears have something close to their best front, good luck finding meaningful conclusions, good or bad, in what’s played out so far.

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.