Bears

Keeping an eye on the Vikings

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Keeping an eye on the Vikings

With the St. Louis Rams already traded out of No. 2 and Robert Griffin III, the current big unknown in the draft next Thursday is what the Minnesota Vikings will do at No. 3.

It is a pick that could become picks, and GM Rick Spielman has let it be abundantly known that he is waiting by the phone for offers for the pick.

If no one calls, the Vikings are expected to take USC tackle Matt Kalil. That could be it but

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Thursday I believe Kalil is the choice, and if not Kalil, then Claiborne, referring to LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, considered one of the top four players in this draft.

Mayock said Claiborne and Alabama running back Trent Richardson were the next highest-ranked players in the draft after quarterbacks Griffin and Andrew Luck.

Mitch Trubisky and Allen Robinson at the heart of complete offensive performance

Mitch Trubisky and Allen Robinson at the heart of complete offensive performance

Allen Robinson posted his fourth-lowest receiving yards total and third-lowest reception total of the year in the Bears' potentially season-defining victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

His impact wasn't omnipresent — in a game where Mitch Trubisky, the runner, was completely unleashed and the Bears' defense, without four starters, locked down a talented Cowboys offense, there was much to cheer at Soldier Field.

But the plays Robinson made seemed to matter the most.

Early in the second quarter, it was a game-tying touchdown snare on a five-yard slant, delivered on-time and on-target by Trubisky. Then, two third-down catches on a drive that put the Bears ahead 17-7 at the half. The second of those catches was also his second touchdown of the game — with a first-and-goal from the eight yard line, the Bears had just run two futile jump-ball plays for Javon Wims.

Stagnation in goal-to-go situations has been a common lament for fans and pundits frustrated with an offense that, until the last three games, had appeared to drastically regress this season. Tonight, it was Robinson to the rescue. It's been that way all season, even without overly-gaudy receiving figures every single week. He is perhaps the most talented and accomplished skill player on the offense, and a bon a fide safety blanket for his third-year quarterback.

So it's no surprise that in Trubisky's best game of the year (when factoring in the skill of the opponent and leverage of the situation) Robinson was at the heart of so many meaningful plays.

"I think for us [he and Trubisky] by having almost two seasons together, we're just trying to continue to work on whatever we can," Robinson said. Referring to the second touchdown, a play that Robinson saved from disaster by wrenching the ball from Cowboys LB, Jaylon Smith: "I knew it would be a bang-bang play. You know, that's something that we worked on all week and we knew that it would be bang-bang."

For Trubisky, it was a play that demanded and displayed the level of trust that he and Robinson have built. He, after all, had thrown an interception the quarter before into traffic on the Cowboys' side of the field.

"Just playing free. Just trusing my instincts, really trusting Allen," Trubisky said. Then again: "Really just trusting 12 [Robinson]. When I put it up in his area, he's going to come down with it."

"Those two got a connection right now... Let 'em keep doing it," Charles Leno said with a chuckle, of Trubisky and Robinson. "They look like they're just playing backyard football right now."

That must continue for the Bears, heading into a crucial stretch of the season that they've conjured from the jaws of collapse. The prevailing mantra for many in the locker room after the game was simple: One week at a time. 

Well, next week the Bears travel to Lambeau Field. In the team's debaculous defeat at the hands of the Packers on opening night, Robinson was a lone silver lining (see what I did there?), hauling in seven catches for 102 yards.

"We're definitely on the verge of going up right now," Robinson said. "We're finding our groove."

It certainly appears so, and it comes just in the nick of time. 

As Mitch Trubisky goes, so do the Bears. Right now, that looks like a good thing.

As Mitch Trubisky goes, so do the Bears. Right now, that looks like a good thing.

CHICAGO – The only person who wasn’t happy for Mitch Trubisky was Mitch Trubisky. 

If you watched the suited, showered, and subdued Trubisky stand at the podium under Soldier Field on Thursday night, you would have never guessed he just kept the Bears’ playoff hopes alive by throwing for 241 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-24 win. Instead, the much-maligned quarterback navigated through the 12-minute press conference with the enthusiasm of someone reporting for jury duty.

“Nah, I don’t care about that,” Trubisky said, when asked if he’ll take a moment over the next 11 days to enjoy the win. “I’m just trying to get better every week. Continue to stay hungry and progress each week. We’ve gotten better over the last couple weeks – I’m talking as a team – and that’s what’s most important to me. That’s what allows you to play better as an individual - if you focus on the team first.” 

Aside from the hip debacle in Los Angeles, the quarterback’s infamously-unflappable demeanor hasn’t changed much throughout the few ups and many, many more downs of his third NFL season. What has changed, noticeably, has been his play on the field. Trubisky has ended the last two games with quarterback ratings over 100 and finished both with completion percentages over 70% – the first time he’s gotten over that benchmark since Week 3 against Washington, and only the third time all year. He’s now thrown six touchdowns in two games; Trubisky didn’t even have his sixth touchdown pass of the season until Week 10. 

He was not without flaws on Thursday night, as another ill-advised red zone interception shot the Bears' first drive in the foot. But once again, it was his response – a six-play, 46 yard drive that resulted in the tying score – that had the Bears talking after Club Dub allowed the media in. 

"He's the same guy whether he throws a pick or he doesnt," Charles Leno said. "He's the same guy from the beginning of the game to the end. That's what I love about him."

And while he wasn’t interested in spending time talking about his mini-renaissance, his teammates were more than happy to set the record straight. 

“He’s been a leader,” said Anthony Miller, who continued his strong second-half play with another touchdown catch of his own. “A lot of people have been doubting him, calling him this, that and the third. But we’ve been rocking with him in this locker room. We’ve always had confidence in him, coach has had confidence in him, and he’s just showing y’all we he can do. It’s no surprise to us.”

“We followed our leader Mitch…” added David Montgomery. “ … For me, it’s like a ‘ah-ha!’ moment. Because you see somebody work so hard day-in and day-out. But you’re finally able to see it. A lot of people kind of jumped ship on 10, but Coach Nagy always preaches about staying together as one, and Mitch steps up. I’m just happy for him and happy he’s our quarterback.” 

A packed Soldier Field was even treated to some vintage (if you consider 2018 to be a long time ago, which the Bears players DEFINITELY do) Trubisky on Thursday night. At the start of the 4th quarter, in a two-score game, the Bears dialed up on option play on 1st and 10. Trubisky made the right read, tucked the ball and – after some fine blocking up front – shook Cowboys’ safety Xavier Woods out of his shoes on the way to a 23-yard score. 

“The best part of that, for me, was how excited my teammates got afterwards.” Trubisky said. “Really cool moment. It was good.” 

The Bears have fully adopted the no-one-believes-in-us mantra, but in the quarterback’s case, it’s true. Everyone on the Bears have stood behind him – perhaps at times to a fault – and now, or at least the next 11 days, that decision is starting to feel justifiable. 

“I think one thing is for sure, everybody is seeing what type of people we have on this football team,” Nagy said. “No one has flinched. We've pulled together, become even tighter. We're winning football games now. We're playing as a team.”