Chase Daniel

Bears' attempt to salvage Mitchell Trubisky's confidence points to serious trouble

Bears' attempt to salvage Mitchell Trubisky's confidence points to serious trouble

It seems pretty clear the Bears are trying desperately to salvage Mitchell Trubisky’s confidence. Some of the quotes that have come out of Halas Hall over the last few days have left everyone covering or following the Bears looking like the “hmm” emoji. Whether it’s Matt Nagy, Mark Helfrich or Chase Daniel, there is a united front when it comes to telling you how good Trubisky has been over the last two weeks. It was punctuated on Thursday, with Daniel proclaiming how great of a practice Trubisky had.

To quote Allen Iverson: “We talkin’ about practice?”        

The whole thing smacks of a bigger problem with the Bears quarterback. Clearly he’s struggled this year and there are a number of metrics that we can point to, to make that case. When you put his numbers up against the two quarterbacks who were drafted behind him, it gets even worse. NFL research tweeted out a comparison earlier this week between Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs), and DeShaun Watson (Texans).

Obviously, most Bears fans have heard this before and are reflexively sticking their fingers in their ears and singing "La-la-la-la." What is scary is that these stats do not take into account what Watson did on Thursday Night Football against the Colts. Those stats tell an even sadder tale. In the Texans' 20-17 win vs. the Colts, Watson had five completions of 30+ yards. Two of those passes went for touchdowns. To put that into perspective, Trubisky has only six completions of 30+ yards for the entire season. 

By now, you may be saying to yourself, “Laurence, it’s unfair to compare Trubisky to Watson and Mahomes.” Well, what happens if you compare Trubisky to Trubisky? Forget about 30+ yard completions for a second. Let’s bump the number up to 50+ yards. The difference is stark. Back in 2018, Trubisky had six completions of 50+ yards, the most of any quarterback in the NFL.

One of the biggest failings of the Bears offense this season is they still haven’t countered-punched. Last year, Nagy’s offense took people by surprise, but after Trubisky returned from his shoulder injury in Week 11, the book was out on how to slow him down. Most defenses decided the way to stop the Bears is to drop seven players into coverage, rush four and keep Trubisky confused until the rush gets home. Believe it or not, Trubisky is really good against “man” coverage. It was almost inexplicable that Detroit used it as their primary defense a couple of weeks ago. It is not a coincidence that Trubisky posted his highest passer rating (131.0) of 2019 against the Lions. A 12-yard check down in that game is one of the highlights that Nagy has pointed for an example of an improving Trubisky. 

At some point, stuff like that seems patronizing. The No. 2 pick in the draft is supposed to elevate his offense, not just be a bystander. If a third-year quarterback still needs public reassurances about practices and check-downs, the Bears are in serious trouble. Perhaps the Giants game will be a confidence booster for Nagy and Trubisky, but if he doesn’t play well, even in a win, what type of pop-psychology will the Bears staff resort to next: helmet stickers, orange slices or Dilly Bars?  

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Should the Bears start Tyler Bray in Week 12 if Mitch Trubisky can't play?

Should the Bears start Tyler Bray in Week 12 if Mitch Trubisky can't play?

Who would've thought entering Week 12 of the 2019 season there would be a legitimate conversation about whether quarterback Tyler Bray should start in place of an injured Mitch Trubisky? Even with a healthy Chase Daniel on the roster?

Bray, 27, has one career regular-season pass attempt (back in 2017) and has bounced from the Bears roster to the practice squad several times since joining the team in 2018. He's been a solid preseason player, however, and finished this summer with an 85.8 rating after completing nearly 62 percent of his passes for 608 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

With Trubisky's status for Week 12 up in the air after suffering a hip pointer in Sunday night's loss to the Rams, former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt is calling for Bray -- not Daniel -- to be the starter.

"I would play (Bray), I truly would," Wannstedt said Tuesday on The Score's Mully & Haugh Show. "I would not waste a game or two with Chase Daniel, I wouldn't. I would play this young kid and see if he can do anything, because he played good in the preseason in my opinion."

Chicago's loss to the Rams dropped their record to 4-6 on the year. They have a 1 percent chance to make the playoffs. Maybe it really is time to see what Bray has to offer.

"Playoff team, I'd go with Chase if Mitch couldn't play. No playoff team, I'd play the young kid," Wannstedt said.

At this point, why not? The Bears have nothing to lose and we know Daniel doesn't have a future under center in Chicago. Bray may not either, but at 27 years old, he could at least audition to be the team's long-term backup even if GM Ryan Pace moves on from Trubisky.

If there's a week to throw Bray into the lineup it's Week 12 against the Giants, whose secondary is downright atrocious. He'll at least have an opportunity to build some confidence, even if it will be short-lived.

It's a sad reality for Bears fans who had such high hopes in September. 

Bears grades: Trubisky down with a hip pointer and poor showing against Rams

Bears grades: Trubisky down with a hip pointer and poor showing against Rams

QUARTERBACKS: D

Mitch Trubisky was victimized by some less-than-crisp play by his wide receivers early in the game, and his interception looked to be the product of him not being on the same page with Anthony Miller. He did well to make some good throws in rhythm and in the face of pressure, especially early in the game — and the touchdown he threw to Tarik Cohen was a well-placed ball on the running back’s wheel route.

But while Trubisky wasn’t given much help from his supporting cast, gaining 190 yards on 43 passes still represents a disappointing night for him. He missed an open Ben Braunecker on a well-scheme play-action shot, and checked down to Cohen on a play on which the Rams were offsides. He averaged 4.4 yards per attempt, bringing his season total to an NFL-low 5.6 yards per attempt.

Trubisky’s execution of a speed option on third-and-one led to the play being blown up for a loss — he pitched the ball too early to David Montgomery, and had he waited and baited a little bit longer, the play would’ve at least gone for a first down, if not a chunk gain. Coach Matt Nagy said he did not believe Trubisky’s hip injury impacted his decision-making on that play.

Chase Daniel didn’t do anything to provide a spark with the Bears facing a 10-point deficit about 60 seconds before the two-minute warning.

RUNNING BACKS: B-

Cohen’s route setup on linebacker Corey Littleton for his touchdown was superb, and he had a nice 17-yard catch-and-run gain in the first half, too. His 12-yard run was the Bears’ longest of the game.

David Montgomery didn’t have much anywhere to go with Aaron Donald bossing the line of scrimmage, gaining just 31 yards on 14 carries. His 19-yard reception on a swing pass was the Bears’ longest passing play of the game.

WIDE RECEIVERS: F

Miller and Allen Robinson were credited with drops by Pro Football Focus, and it looked like Taylor Gabriel was guilty of a drop, too, after the Bears recovered Todd Gurley’s fumble in the first quarter.

Gabriel and Miller had a few moments and combined to pick up five first downs, but Robinson was smothered by his ex-Jaguars teammate Jalen Ramsay, catching four passes on six targets for just 15 yards.

No fault, though, goes to Miller for streaking open in the first quarter, only to have Rams safety Marqui Christian make an excellent play to break up what would’ve been an 83-yard touchdown.

TIGHT ENDS: F

Braunecker wasn’t given an opportunity to haul in what would’ve been a chunk play off play action in the second quarter, with Trubisky sailing the pass over him as he seemed to find a soft spot in the Rams’ zone. Otherwise, Braunecker, J.P. Hotlz and Bradley Sowell (who played only two snaps) were non-factors both in the run game and pass game.

OFFENSIVE LINE: D

Both Rashaad Coward and James Daniels were punished by Donald, who had two sacks and four quarterback hits in a dominant performance. The bar was set high for this group after they muted Donald’s impact last year at Soldier Field, but they fell short of it on Sunday. Trubisky was under pressure for a little under 33 percent of his drop backs, and there weren’t many holes for Montgomery or Cohen to hit, again.

DEFENSIVE LINE: B-

Credit this group for rebounding after being pushed around a bit in the first half, in which Gurley ran for 64 of his 97 yards on 12 carries (5.3 yards/attempt). Gurley managed only 35 yards on 13 carries in the final 30 minutes, which felt more in like with the talent on the Bears’ front (even without Akiem Hicks) going against a depleted Rams offensive line.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: C-

Leonard Floyd played well against the run and had the Bears’ only quarterback hit of the game. But even though the Rams did everything they could to scheme Khalil Mack out of making an impact — with Goff rarely dropping back and extra players committed to blocking Mack when he did — it was jarring to not see the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history not even show up on the box score on Sunday.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A

Roquan Smith was all over the field and played his best game of 2019, notching a team-high 11 tackles while picking off Goff in the first quarter (it was his second career interception, and both have been on throws by Goff). His sideline-to-sideline speed and physicality were awfully welcome sights as the Bears played their first game without Danny Trevathan since 2017. Smith, notably, was key in stuffing Gurley short of the line to gain on two third-and-shorts.

CORNERBACKS: C

Without Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks lining up across from them, the Bears still allowed chunk plays to Cooper Kupp (50 yards) and Josh Reynolds (26 yards) that set up the Rams’ only two touchdowns of the game, though siloing off the cornerbacks here may not be totally fair given they might’ve expected safety help over the top.

Kyle Fuller dropped what would’ve been a go-ahead pick-six late in the third quarter, a play that felt like one the 2018 Bears would’ve made, but not the 2019 Bears.

SAFETIES: B

Eddie Jackson had his most impactful game of 2019, forcing a fumble (recovered by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) and hitting as hard as we’ve seen him hit in 2019. He stuck his nose in on a third-and-two run stuff of Gurley midway through the second quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F

Nagy said the Bears will not consider bringing in kickers for a tryout at Halas Hall this week, though it’s clear the Bears have a problem at that position with Eddy Pineiro. Pineiro sandwiched misses from 48 and 47 yards around Nagy’s decision to try to convert a fourth-and-nine instead of having him kick a 49-yard field goal, indicating the Bears’ coach is right back to where he was a year ago in not being able to trust his kicker.

Cordarrellle Patterson was bottled up on kick returns and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct while covering a punt.

COACHING: F

There were plenty of questions here that were overshadowed by Nagy’s decision to pull Trubisky from the end of Sunday’s game. Why did he decline a running into the kicker penalty on fourth and a long five that would’ve set up fourth and inches in the second quarter? The Bears were in their own territory, but Nagy was aggressive in that spot against the Detroit Lions last week and declined to be so again on Sunday (Donald probably had something to do with it, though).

Nagy’s decision to punt with 27 seconds left registered pretty high on the surrender index:

And while it’s understandable why Nagy’s trust in Pineiro appears low, the chance his rookie kicker were to make a 49-yard field goal were still higher than the chance his sputtering offense were to convert a fourth-and-long.

Nagy’s run-pass balance wasn’t the problem, nor were any glaringly-bad playcalls (the third-and-one option can be debated given Trubisky’s injury, but if he does his job on the play it’s likely successful). But ultimately, this game came down to the Bears finding another way to lose: They ran 22 more plays than the Rams, won the turnover battle, committed only two penalties and still managed to lose by 10 points. ‘

This is what a bad football team looks like. And ultimately, games like this do fall on the coach. 

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