Mitch Trubisky took advantage of a leaky Giants secondary at times, and was more aggressive pushing the ball downfield against a defense that’d allowed 50 plays of 20 or more yards before Sunday. He threw for a season-high 278 yards, though his 6.8 average yards per attempt was his fourth-highest of 2019.
The first interception he threw may not have been his fault, as he said he and Allen Robinson were not on the same page. But decision-making still was an issue — he missed an open Ben Braunecker, who was quite literally right in front of him, on the Bears’ first drive of the game, and nearly threw an interception in the end zone in the third quarter. An ill-advised and under-thrown deep ball was picked off by rookie Julian Love in the fourth quarter.
It was refreshing to see Trubisky use his legs more, as he scrambled for a first down on a third-and-11 backed up near the Bears’ goal line and also rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter. Trubisky’s seven rushing attempts were a season high.
But entering Sunday, quarterbacks had an average passer rating of 103.9 against the Giants. Passer rating does not tell the whole story — like the 89 yards left on the field by Ben Braunecker’s drop and Cody Whitehair’s hands to the face penalty — but Trubisky’s 69.0 mark fell well short of that.
Overall, this game felt a little below average — which is disappointing given the Giants’ defense presented an opportunity for a true get-right game for Trubisky.
RUNNING BACKS: C-
It’s hard to blame David Montgomery for gaining 22 yards on 13 carries (more on that in the offensive line section). When the holes were there, he hit them — like on a 13-yard gain in the first quarter.
Tarik Cohen had another bizarre game with limited effectiveness as a receiver, catching seven passes for only 29 yards with one drop. Through 11 games, he’s averaging four yards per target — a full yard worse than his 2017 average.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B+
Robinson and Anthony Miller had their best games of 2019, largely at the expense of rookie corner Corey Ballentine. Robinson caught all four of his targets against him for 107 yards, including his 32-yard touchdown and 49-yard chunk gain. And all six of Miller’s receptions — which went for 77 yards — were when he was matched up against Ballentine.
Robinson has proven his ability to be a go-to guy no matter who’s lined up against him. Miller, though, needs to build on this game as he faces some stiffer competition over the final five weeks of the season.
Taylor Gabriel did have a drop, though his one catch was on a well-executed route for a 19-yard gain.
TIGHT ENDS: F
Braunecker’s drop was brutal, coming with the tight end wide open with a chance to at least get the Bears near the Giants’ goal line. A few plays later, Trubisky was intercepted.
Once again, the Bears’ tight ends were largely invisible — Braunecker did haul in a first down at one point — and did not help matters in the run game.
OFFENSIVE LINE: D
Charles Leno Jr. was probably unfairly victimized early in the game. He wasn’t the party at fault for missing a block on a sweep to Cohen on the second play of the game — his assignment appeared to be cornerback DeAndre Baker, and it looked like right guard Rashaad Coward missed his second-level assignment, leading to linebacker Deone Bucannon making the tackle. Leno, then, was initially seen by the FOX broadcast as being the guilty party for the hands to the face penalty assessed to Whitehair.
Either way, there was only one play on which the Bears’ run blocking was successful — a 13-yard run by Montgomery in the first half on which both guards pulled and delivered solid blocks to spring the rookie running back. Outside of that run, though, Montgomery gained nine yards on 12 carries, with the Bears’ offensive line consistently failing to get a push for him.
This group’s pass protection allowed Trubisky to take more deep shots, so credit them there. But once again, this group continued to be struggle massively in the run game — like on a third-and-one in the fourth quarter, which this group was not able to generate enough push for Montgomery to pick up.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B+
This group was solid, doing its part to limit Saquon Barkley to a little over three yards per carry. Roy Robertson-Harris had a few good pass rushes while Nick Williams recovered the fumble forced by Khalil Mack.
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: A
Mack had his most dominant game in weeks, bullying left tackle Nate Solder for a strip-sack while dealing two more hits to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. He registered a pressure on eight his 33 pass rushing snaps, per PFF, which was good, but not as good as…
… The day Leonard Floyd had. While Floyd didn’t get a sack, he had four quarterback hits and eight total pressures on 31 pass rushing snaps in what was his best game since Week 1. The Bears need Floyd to continue making the sort of impact he made opposite Mack, which will help free up Mack for more opportunities to get the quarterback if opposing offenses can’t feel comfortable always singling up Floyd.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS: A-
Nick Kwiatkoski had another nice game, registering a pass break-up and tackle for a loss while helping limit Barkley’s effectiveness. Roquan Smith wasn’t as good as he played last week against the Los Angeles Rams, but still registered a tackle for a loss as well.
Kyle Fuller limited the receivers he covered to five catches on eight targets for just 15 yards, while Prince Amukamara was fine opposite him. Buster Skrine did well to limit Golden Tate’s effectiveness out of the slot, too, holding the veteran receiver to one catch for four yards — and no yards after the catch.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had one of his best games of the season, with his physical tackling and good coverage the sort of things his agent will point to when he hits free agency this offseason. Eddie Jackson played with good physicality, too, though he lost Tate on a fourth-down heave that miraculously wound up being a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sherrick McManis dropped an interception that would’ve prevented the Bears from being pinned back near their own end zone for their first drive of the game.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
It was a sloppy day for Chris Tabor’s group, with Eddy Pineiro booting the opening kickoff out of bounds (leading to boos raining from the stands before the clock even started). Pat O’Donnell shanked a 13-yard punt, there was a holding penalty on Joel Iyiegbuniwe on a punt return, and Jabril Peppers sprang a 40-yard punt return in the second quarter.
Pineiro, too, missed a 48-yard PAT, though he did hit two short field goals from 24 and 26 yards.
Saving this grade from an F, though, was the coverage play of Cordarrelle Patterson. He was the only reason Peppers didn’t get more than 40 yards — perhaps a touchdown — on his punt return, and Patterson’s hustle downed an O’Donnell punt deep in Giants territory midway through the fourth quarter.
Matt Nagy did well to get Robinson and Miller matched up on Ballentine quite a bit — especially Robinson in the second half. Nagy should not be blamed for Braunecker’s drop or Whitehair’s penalty, if not for which the story of the first half would’ve been quite different.
There weren’t any play calls that egregiously stuck out as bad in re-watching the game. The Bears were more aggressive on both sides of the ball, too, which speaks to Nagy’s ability to keep a team with little to play for together. Yes, Nagy’s coaching helped get the Bears into this mess, but it’ll be important for 2020 if this group doesn’t fracture over the season’s final five games.