Matt Barkley

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?

The Bears actually had the best receiver in football for a stretch last season

The Bears actually had the best receiver in football for a stretch last season

This may surprise you, but the 3-13 Chicago Bears actually had the best wide receiver in the NFL for a stretch in 2016.

And no, it was not 2013 Pro Bowler Alshon Jeffery, who is considered one of the top receivers in the game when healthy. In part, because he was only on the field for 12 games last season and when he was playing, only produced 52 catches for 821 yards and two scores.

It was actually Cam Meredith, Chicagoland native and Illinois State University product:

In the final five games of 2016 — with Matt Barkley throwing to him — Meredith caught 31 balls on 43 targets for 439 yards and two touchdowns. That's a 72.1 catch percentage.

As a special bonus, he also threw a two-yard touchdown pass.

If you extrapolate those few weeks over a 16-game season, Meredith would be on pace for 99 catches, 1,405 yards and six TDs. AKA: Jeffery's aforementioned 2013 Pro Bowl season (89 catches, 1,421 yards, 7 TDs).

On the 2016 season, Meredith had 66 catches on 97 targets for 888 yards and four scores in only his second season in the NFL as an undrafted free agent.

Beyond Jeffery's health issues, Meredith's emergence looms as a possible huge reason why Ryan Pace's front office let Jeffery walk this offseason.

Bears to use tutor approach for Mitch Trubisky's NFL orientation

Bears to use tutor approach for Mitch Trubisky's NFL orientation

Coming into this year’s draft with just 13 starts at North Carolina, Mitch Trubisky projects to have a slightly steeper learning curve if only because of experience. The Bears have a plan to address that with a slight staff tweak to intensify and accelerate the rookie quarterback’s development beyond this weekend’s rookie minicamp.

Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone will devote additional coaching time to Trubisky, while offensive coordinator — and former quarterbacks coach — Dowell Loggains works with the offense and vets Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez in addition to Connor Shaw, who is coming off a broken leg last preseason and worked with Loggains with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

NFL teams occasionally hire an additional assistant position coach for rookie quarterbacks, particularly when the head coach is not himself a former quarterbacks coach. Because of Loggains’ background, which included coaching Jay Cutler to his best NFL season (2015), working with Brian Hoyer and getting something out of Matt Barkley last year, the Bears did not expect to add staff for the care and feeding of the No. 2-overall pick (Trubisky).

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Trubisky will be tasked with learning NFL defenses, his own offense and technique modifications. He worked primarily out of the shotgun at North Carolina but has been working on taking direct snaps since January.

“It's been a seamless transition,” Trubisky said after his selection by the Bears. “I feel like working under center has helped me become even more consistent with my footwork and I felt like they were impressed and saw everything they needed to see, so I feel like being athletic is going to help that transition and continue to improve my feet, so it was good.”

The Bears ran 63 percent of their snaps out of a shotgun last season, albeit in part because of being routinely in catch-up, passing situations through their 3-13 season.