Buffalo Bills

Bears grades: A fine day for Mitch Trubisky against a good defense

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USA Today

Bears grades: A fine day for Mitch Trubisky against a good defense

QUARTERBACKS: B-

While Mitch Trubisky’s final numbers weren’t pretty (12/20, 135 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 76.0 passer rating), he didn’t try to force anything and made good decisions against a salty Bills defense. He converted a trio of third-and-longs in the first half, impressively finding Anthony Miller for 19 yards on third and 10, Taylor Gabriel for 22 yards on third and seven and Trey Burton for 26 yards on third and 15. That third-and-15 conversion allowed the Bears to get in the end zone for the first time in the game. All three of those throws represented progress for Trubisky. 

He did make one bad decision on his first drive, when he tried to extend a play instead of throwing the ball away, leading to a fumble and a seven-yard loss that took the Bears out of field goal range. His interception came when he sailed a throw over the head to Burton in the second half, when the game was largely out of reach. 

“I cannot begin to tell you how good this defense is,” coach Matt Nagy said. “They’re a really good defense and our guys knew that all week long. We talked about bringing a lunch pail all week. It was going to be a physical game. The one thing that, No. 1, we won, that is always the only thing that matters. No. 2, there (were) times in the game where I thought he led that team and he made plays where we needed to make plays, and that’s what’s most important in this process with Mitch. He’s putting us in great situations, so I’m really proud of him. 

RUNNING BACKS: B-

Jordan Howard delivered his most physical run of the year when he plowed over Bills safety Jordan Hoyer for an 18-yard touchdown, and he started the Bears’ scoring with a one-yard plunge into the end zone, too. Howard still finished with only 47 yards on 14 carries, but didn’t get much help from his offense line. Tarik Cohen had a quiet day, only netting five yards on six carries while catching one of two targets for eight yards. Taquan MIzzell was targeted twice in his first action of 2018, catching one for five yards. 

WIDE RECEIVERS: C-

Miller made a big impact early, taking a pitch for a nine-yard run on the first play of the game and making some impressive catches on his way to a five-reception, 49-yard game (his taunt of Bills coach Sean McDermott, who thought Miller bobbled a catch while going out of bounds, was amusing). Taylor Gabriel caught three of five targets for 45 yards but did draw a 47-yard pass interference flag on one of Trubisky’s only deep balls of the game. Josh Bellamy went 0-for-2 in targets and didn’t make an impact, while Javon Wims only played six snaps with Allen Robinson and Kevin White inactive. This group, though, clearly missed Robinson. 

TIGHT ENDS: C+

Burton did well to identify the soft spot in the Bills’ defense to catch that 26-yarder to convert a third-and-15 and set the Bears up for a touchdown, and also he caught Trubisky’s garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter. He was flagged for a dodgy offensive pass interference penalty, though. Dion Sims left the game after being placed in the concussion protocol. 

OFFENSIVE LINE: C

Trubisky was rarely under pressure, which was a positive, but too frequently did guards James Daniels, Eric Kush and Bryan Witzmann get blown back and give Howard very little room to run. Charles Leno committed false start penalties on back-to-back snaps on the Bears’ second drive, and was guilty of another one midway through the second quarter. Daniels was flagged for holding in the first half, too. 

DEFENSIVE LINE: A+

Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman absolutely dominated the Bills’ offensive line and were critical in holding LeSean McCoy to a laughable 10 yards on 10 carries. Most of Chris Ivory’s 36 yards on seven carries came after the game as well over. If you want a starting point for the Bears’ defensive dominance against the Bills, start here. Jonathan Bullard played well against the run while Roy Robertson-Harris delivered a punishing sack late in the fourth quarter, and Nick Williams took advantage of his opportunity with Bilal Nichols out to notch a quarterback hit, too 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: A

Leonard Floyd had his most disruptive game of the season even though he didn’t hit home for a sack. He did take advantage of an excellent play by Kyle Fuller to turn that into a pick-six, his first interception and second touchdown of his NFL career. Isaiah Irving recorded his first sack of 2018, while Aaron Lynch notched a sack, too and was active in pass-rushing situations all game. the only blemish here was Lynch getting flagged for a Hingle McCringleberry-esque hip thrusting unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which Nagy said he won’t allow to happen again. 

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A+

Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan combined for 25 tackles and were absolutely everywhere against the run. Smith played a critical role in Eddie Jackson forcing a fumble he dashed back for a touchdown, coming from a blitz to the sideline to hit tight end Jason Croom and allow Jackson to rip the ball out. The Bills were occasionally able to get Smith or Trevathan in a matchup mis-match, but not frequently enough to make a real dent in the Bears’ defense. Sunday was this pair’s best game of the year. 

DEFENSIVE BACKS: A+

Sunday was one of Kyle Fuller’s best games with the Bears, if not his best game. He had a hand, literally, in three interceptions — he dislodged/deflected passes that were picked off by Floyd and Adrian Amos, and then intercepted one of his own. The fact that Eddie Jackson — who forced, recovered and returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown — doesn’t get first mention here speaks to how good a game Fuller played. Jackson also tackled well in run defense and against the Bills’ short passing game. Amos, too, had an outstanding game, notching his first sack of the season, breaking up a pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone and, like the rest of the back end, tackling well. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: B 

This unit pulled things together after a suspect start that saw Pat O’Donnell punt only 23 yards to the Bills’ 18, and had Sherrick McManis be flagged for a block in the back on a Tarik Cohen punt return. Josh Bellamy made a nice play to help down an O’Donnell punt at the Bills’ 11-yard line, and Cohen had a classic no-no-no-no-yes 38-yard punt return that helped get the Bears a 28-0 lead before halftime. Cody Parkey connected on field goals from 23 and 45 yards, too. 

COACHING: B-

It seemed a little curious as to why Nagy left his first-team offense in with a 25-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, which he explained on Monday as going with his gut. Still, seeing Gabriel be tended to by trainers with about five minutes left in a blowout win was an unnecessary scare. 

The Bears were heavily penalized — 14 times for 129 yards — which, yes, partly had to do with a nit-picky officiating crew. But the general lack of discipline was at least slightly concerning for a team that only committed 13 penalties in its last three games, and hadn’t been flagged more than seven times in a game this year.

All that being said, the Bears’ gameplan worked well. Vic Fangio’s defense smothered the Bills’ run game, and the Bears’ offense took what was there and capitalized when gifted good field position.   

Why the Bears’ blowout win over Buffalo could be a sign of good things to come

Why the Bears’ blowout win over Buffalo could be a sign of good things to come

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Maybe the only time the Bears weren’t in control of their 41-9 thwacking of the Buffalo Bills was when Aaron Lynch thrusted his hips too many times after a sack. Or too slowly. 
 
“I’ll probably get the same amount in in a shorter time period,” Lynch said, cracking up himself and a group of reporters assembled around his locker. “So I’ll probably go a little faster this week.”
 
That penalty allowed the Bills to score their only touchdown of the game, which came when Nathan Peterman plunged a couple feet into the end zone for the first rushing score allowed by the Bears in 2018. But other than that, the Bears’ defense shut down a Bills team that, while severely sub-optimal, did manage to beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road and gave the Green Bay Packers’ offense some problems this year, too. 
 
On a more serious note, Lynch made a persuasive point about why the Bears shouldn’t take for granted what they did against Peterman and the Bills’ offense on Sunday. 
 
“Nick Mullens, San Fran, stepped up, balled out,” Lynch, a former San Francisco 49er, said. “Peterman could’ve done the same thing. But we stepped up as a defense as a whole, as a whole team and came out here and played a good game.”
 
The Bears (5-3) controlled their meeting with the Bills (2-7) game from start to finish, even if the final stats didn’t necessarily bear that out on the surface. The Bills out-gained the Bears, 264 to 190, while running 81 plays (to the Bears’ 46) and possessing the ball for 34 minutes and three seconds (to the Bears’ 25:57). The Bears became the first team in 2018 to win a game in which their offense totaled fewer than 200 yards — something no team in the last 15 years has done more than the Bears (seven times). 
 
And yet, there never felt like the Bills had a legitimate chance of even being competitive with the Bears, let alone winning on a picturesque fall Sunday in western New York. There’s something to be said for that.
 
“All three phases played really well, so you can keep building on what you’re doing well and fortunately there’s a lot of things that we’re doing well right now,” tight end Trey Burton said. “So we gotta keep building on it.”
 
Burton would know — while with the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2017, he saw what kind of an impact controlling games start-to-finish can have on a team. And even then, the Eagles’ largest margin of victory last year in the regular season was 28 points. The Bears have won games, now, by 38 (against Tampa Bay) and 32 (against Buffalo) points. 
 
That’s not saying the Bears are a better team than last year’s Eagles, of course, but it is pointing out how difficult it is to win by such wide margins in the NFL.
 
“We’re staying hungry, we’re not getting complacent, we want to keep being the best defense, we want to keep being a better team,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “Each week we want to keep putting the most into it and getting the most out of it. That’s the difference between our team now. We work hard, but we know what our goal is, and we push one another. And that way our team keeps getting better.”
 
There’s something to be said for winning multiple games in a season by 30 or more points, too. The 2018 Bears are the 28th team to do so in the last 10 years, and of those teams, 21 made the playoffs, and only one of those teams finished under .500 (which was the 2014 Carolina Panthers, which made the postseason with a 7-8-1 record). 
 
So looking at the Bears’ blowout win over the Bills from the lens of the Peterman-led Bills being a bad team is too narrow of a viewpoint. The Bears are a good team, and good teams don’t always do to bad teams what the Bears did to the Bills on Sunday. 
 
The Bears’ 2018 outlook will come into focus between now and Thanksgiving, but they’ll head into that critical three-game stretch against the NFC North buoyed by comfortable-to-dominant wins over the New York Jets and Bills. 
 
“The positive moments — us getting up big, early, so as long as we just came together and kept our foot on the gas,” wide receiver Taylor Gabriel said, “I feel like we can build on that.” 

We called Bills' fans a laughing stock and they responded in the coolest way possible

We called Bills' fans a laughing stock and they responded in the coolest way possible

So, it's been a weekend. 

Two days ago, we tweeted out this video about Bills Mafia: 

It's a little spicy, sure. Arguably too spicy. Calling anyone a laughing stock is not a prudent way to make friends. Bills fans were understandably Mad Online and probably Mad Offline also. 

But, to their credit, their clapback was about as classy as clapbacks get: 

https://twitter.com/xtremerm/status/1058773584338972673

It should be noted that Bills Mafia is notorious for their philanthropy. As of Sunday night, the collective efforts had raised almost eight thousand dollars. Way to go, Buffalo. Consider this our Mea Culpa.