Pro Bowl

Takeaways from a Bears-intensive Pro Bowl: Some good and not-so-good plays on a rainy afternoon

Takeaways from a Bears-intensive Pro Bowl: Some good and not-so-good plays on a rainy afternoon

A game in which keeping score is optional – AFC 26, NFC 7, just FYI –  takeaways are optional, too. But the presence of seven Bears in the game played at just a notch above walk-through pace made Sunday’s goings-on worth a look… .

…if only for comic relief. Seeing Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott on special teams and as a defensive back, plus running backs Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara as defensive linemen, pushed the second half over the line into “silly.”

But anyhow, just as a general information point: The last two times the Bears had as many overall Pro Bowl selectees (eight with idled Khalil Mack) as they have this year, they were coming off those Super Bowl appearances – which, of course, guarantees nothing, since the 1985 and 2006 teams didn’t return to glory. The ’06 team took four years just to make the playoffs, and the ’85 team lost their next two first-round (divisional) games… .

…Kyle Fuller distinguished himself with a second-quarter interception of an Andrew Luck pass. Why this warrants noting is because Fuller, who tied for NFL-high with seven interceptions, was operating without benefit of a pass rush (apologies to defensive lineman Akiem Hicks; “rush” is used only advisedly in Pro Bowls) in a game played far below regular or even training camp speed….

…Mitchell Trubisky’s second pass as a Pro Bowl quarterback was one of those should-have-been-intercepted’s, and Trubisky, filling in since the Rams’ Jared Goff will be otherwise engaged next weekend, was intercepted on his first pass of the second half after completing three of four to finish a scoreless first half. The interception effectively buried Trubisky’s passer rating (24.5), for those keeping score, and it was difficult to tell if anyone really was….

…Cody Whitehair at center and Charles Leno at left tackle gave the Bears representation on the offensive line, although being part of an offense that netted just 148 yards, compared to the 416 of the AFC, isn’t going to be a signature moment for either. The NFC ran the football just nine times in 45 plays….

…Hicks was credited with a pair of tackles.

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Kyle Fuller's interception highlights Bears Pro Bowl performance

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USA TODAY

Kyle Fuller's interception highlights Bears Pro Bowl performance

The Bears' defense is still providing highlights despite the season ending nearly a month ago.

Akiem Hicks and Kyle Fuller provided fans with a familiar sight during Sunday's NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando. With Hicks providing pressure, Fuller intercepted Colts quarterback Andrew Luck early in the second quarter.

Fuller and Hicks tallied three tackles combined, though defensive intensity is much lower in the Pro Bowl than a regular NFL game.

On offense, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed 5-of-9 passes for 34 yards and no touchdowns. However, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. intercepted Trubisky to start the third quarter.

Running back Tarik Cohen was voted to the Pro Bowl as a return specialist, though he carried the ball one time for two yards. In the end, the AFC picked its third-straight win over the NFC by a convincing score of 26-7.

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Mitch Trubisky becomes first Bears QB named to the Pro Bowl since 1986

Mitch Trubisky becomes first Bears QB named to the Pro Bowl since 1986

Mitch Trubisky is going to the Pro Bowl, with the Bears' quarterback replacing Jared Goff on the NFC roster with the Rams advancing to the Super Bowl.

Trubisky was previously named a Pro Bowl alternate after throwing for 3,223 yards with 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 95.4. Trubisky's passer rating ranked 10th in the NFC, behind Drew Brees, Russell Wilson (who replaced Aaron Rodgers on the NFC roster), Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz (who's injured), Goff, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kirk Cousins, Rodgers and Dad Prescott. Trubisky's 3,223 yards rank 11th in the conference, while only three NFC quarterbacks threw more interceptions than Trubisky (Jameis Winston, Josh Rosen and Cam Newton). 

Still, the Bears will take Trubisky's invite to the Pro Bowl as a positive marker in his development even if his production wasn't in the top half of quarterbacks in his own conference. He's the first Bears quarterback to be named to a Pro Bowl since Jim McMahon in 1986. 

In the aftermath of the Bears' first-round playoff exit, coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace and Trubisky's teammates said they were pleased with the growth Trubisky made in 2018

“We're lucky to have him," Nagy said. "I'm looking forward to the future. I really am, with him, because the city of Chicago is lucky to have that kid at quarterback.”

Trubisky will join defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller, safety Eddie Jackson and returner Tarik Cohen at the Pro Bowl, with linebacker Khalil Mack dropping out after tweaking his knee against the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson's inclusion in the Bears' press release about Trubisky would seem to indicate he'll be going to Orlando after missing the Bears' final three games of the season with a sprained ankle. 

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