Brett Hundley

Bears-Lions aftershocks: Trubisky's 'best game,' per John Fox

Bears-Lions aftershocks: Trubisky's 'best game,' per John Fox

The past several weeks coach John Fox has noted the progress that rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky has made. Monday it was naming the 20-10 loss to Detroit as Trubisky’s best game, which Trubisky himself didn’t entirely agree with or dispute.

“Yeah, uh, you try and look at the process, not the outcome,” Trubisky said. “I got better in some areas, but obviously we’ve got to take care of the football to give my team the best chance to win. Did some things well, got better in some areas but the turnovers hurt us and that’s what really kept us out of the game. So, it’s good to see me get better, but we want to have a chance to win every single game.”

Give the kid points for straight-up accountability, and he later detailed some of the specifics such as footwork or where he forced a throw.

And cynically, the best-game thing might be a little of Fox sending a message upstairs that he and his staff have done some good work developing the rookie franchise quarterback. That’s actually a fair self-appraisal; Fox may be core-conservative to a fault, but he also had to make do for two years with Jay Cutler, plus a sprinkling of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

Fox is a decidedly extreme longshot to avoid dismissal two weeks from Monday, and the development of Trubisky – four of his last six starts have produced passer ratings of 88 or higher – is perhaps the only significant positive in favor of his staff.

“When you go back and look at the tape, you go through the mechanics, you go through just the decision-making, there was really a lot of good that Mitch did,” Fox assessed. “Everybody looks at the box score they see the three picks. But it was probably arguably his best game.

“I think the thing that's impressive about Mitch is you know in a couple of situations where we might not have been lined up right, he corrected it. We had a situation where a guy was lined up wrong; he corrected it. Three, four weeks ago I'm not sure that happens. You know there was a couple of throws where I mean mechanically he's really sound, he's staring down the barrel with somebody right in his face and he drills a completion on third-and-18. So there was really a lot of good. I know the result is not what everybody wants, I understand that but as far as his growth and his maturation I thought probably his best game as far as just him goes.”

Some just-wondering odds and ends… .

How concerned should anyone be that the Green Bay Packers were 3-4 (win-pct. .428) with Brett Hundley, while the Bears are 3-7 (.300) behind Mitch Trubisky? Not sure if that says as much about either of the two first-time NFL starters as it does the talent base around each, which was certainly the question after the Bears’ loss to the Packers after the off-week… .

Any perceived gap between Bears and Browns is problematic. The Bears have lost three games by three or fewer points; the Browns have lost four. The Bears lost to Green Bay by seven points the last time they met; the Browns lost to the Packers by six and made the Packers go to overtime to beat them. Both losses were to the Hundley Packers and were home games.

‘Splain it to me, Lucy

As far as the catch rule is concerned (and no, I do not understand its application), just wondering:

Why does a receiver have to “survive the ground” as per NFL SVP of Officiating Al Riveron said in justifying the overturn of Pittsburgh tight end Jesse James’ TD catch vs. New England, but a quarterback or running back stretching to, say, the pylon not have to hold onto the football until after impact?

James and Dez Bryant, among too many others, had control of the football long enough and securely enough to make a football move, as in stretching to reach the goal line. That should be enough to establish enough “possession” to establish control, which should stop mattering once the player has broken the plane of the goal line, or in Bryant’s case vs. the Packers once upon an NFL time. Why can the ground not cause a fumble outside the end zone but be part of an incompletion inside the end zone?

“Umm, I'd be hard-pressed [to explain the catch-rule],” Fox said, fairly avoiding outright criticism that could get him fined. “Every time I turn on the TV or watch plays… we've made it interesting, for sure.”

And on the subject of “Huh?” – why is hands-to-the-face an infraction when done by, say, an offensive or defensive lineman, but not when a running back bends a defender’s head back with a stiff-arm?

Given golden opportunity, Bears defense couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers' substitute in gut-wrenching loss to Packers

1112-brett-hundley.jpg
AP

Given golden opportunity, Bears defense couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers' substitute in gut-wrenching loss to Packers

Aaron Rodgers was standing on the sideline in a big winter coat, his hands buried in his pockets rather than unleashing a discount double check.

Brett Favre? He was probably wearing a good pair of Wranglers and throwing passes to his dog somewhere in Mississippi.

This was the Bears’ best opportunity to beat the Green Bay Packers in years. And they couldn’t do it.

There was much made of the fact that the Bears were favored against their longtime rivals for the first time in nearly a decade. The chatter all week was that the Bears finally had a quarterback edge, with Mitch Trubisky figuring to be better than Rodgers’ fill-in, Brett Hundley, who led a dismal offensive output during a three-game losing streak that mustered only 44 points.

But the oddsmakers out in the desert didn’t factor in the Bears playing like this.

Sunday’s 23-16 loss was a story told by one self-inflected wound after another, the Bears repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot with penalties or defensive breakdowns or challenged touchdowns that resulted in turnovers (don’t ask about that last one, we’ll be here all day).

But the Bears have a struggling offense themselves. Fluky football stuff happens all the time — especially to a team that’s failed to win as often as John Fox’s has. What couldn’t be explained was the performance of this defense, one going up against not Rodgers, not Favre, but Hundley. This should’ve been the Bears defense — which has played at times this season like one of the league’s best — dominating an overwhelmed opponent.

Suffice it to say, things didn’t play out that way.

“This is a game we for sure thought we had,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said, “and we came up short.”

That’s one way of putting it, the Bears’ allowance of 23 points to a team that averaged 14.7 a game in the three contests prior with Hundley at the helm. A defense that took the ball away from offenses led by Cam Newton and Drew Brees couldn’t wrest it from one led by Hundley.

It was a defensive breakdown that allowed the Packers’ first touchdown of the game, a 37-yard scoring dash by Ty Montgomery. But the Packers’ fourth-quarter score stung worse.

Trubisky had just launched a deep-ball touchdown pass to get the Bears within three points. A menacing defense that’s stood tall so many times this season could’ve done it again and given the ball back to the offense with a chance to take the lead — the defense did sack Hundley five times Sunday.

Instead, Hundley did what Rodgers and Favre did to the Bears so many times before.

Hundley immediately responded with a five-minute, 75-yard scoring drive. After marching down inside the Bears’ 40, Hundley faced a key third down and scampered away from the Bears’ defense, toward a wide-open area of the field that picked up 17 yards and the first down and got his team in the red zone. Two plays later, he had his team in the end zone with a 19-yard touchdown toss to Devante Adams.

It was something Bears fans have seen an awful lot of before. They just didn’t expect to see it from Hundley. And maybe the Bears defense didn’t either. But they let it happen, and with it, the game was all but finished.

And so it was another loss to the Packers — the Bears falling to 3-16 against their rivals dating back to the start of the 2009 season, including that 2011 playoff game — this one a little more gut-wrenching than many of the ones that came before it.

“We’re definitely disappointed as a team, but we’re not discouraged by any means,” Amukamara said. “Not taking away from Green Bay did. Brett played a great game, and he’s been getting better ever since he started. But a lot of the stuff was self-inflicted on ourselves, and that’s just been the theme this year. And when we’ve had enough, it’ll stop, but we’ve got to make a decision.”

“We kept giving up too many yards on the run, we gave up some big passes, some big plays. We always want to limit the other team, the amount of big plays and rush yards,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “It’s on us, it’s a team thing. And especially on the defensive side of the ball, everyone will tell you the same thing. We didn’t play our best game.”

In the end, it was one gigantic missed opportunity. Maybe the Bears were asleep at the switch. Maybe they were just outplayed by an upstart group of Packers reserves — in addition to Hundley subbing in for Rodgers, the Packers lost two running backs to injuries in this game and had a less-than-healthy offensive line. Didn’t seem to matter.

But with their team favored, with their longtime tormenter relegated to street clothes, the legions of fans streaming out of rain-soaked Soldier Field probably will all go home with the same memory: “Remember when Aaron Rodgers was hurt and the Bears still couldn’t beat the Packers?”