It wasn’t pretty, by any means, but an already banged-up Chicago Bears managed to get the win against a similarly depleted Detroit Lions outfit. Adding to the typical tension was both head coaches seeking their first 1-0 start of their respective tenures. This was a game that came down to the wire and was decided by concentration, or lack thereof.
Head coach Matt Nagy made no bones about it, his team has much to address before they take on the New York Giants in the home opener next week. Sure, his quarterback rallied back from his own inconsistency. His defense had a timely takeaway. He even showed his maturation schematically and in personnel. It was equal parts win and getting away with one but that’s life in the NFL. So let’s look at some of the key takeaways, good and bad, in this game. Including an actual takeaway that could be a positive sign of things to come.
Bears Get Win, Despite Needing “Deodorizer”
Mr. “No no no, yes yes yes!” Himself
One thing is clear about Mitchell Trubisky and that is his time under center is going to be an absolute roller coaster of emotions. This game was no different, except that it was. Trubisky was much better at the beginning of the game than it may have seemed. Dropped passes and miscommunications amplified the shakiness we all should have expected. Three fourth-quarter touchdown passes will undoubtedly get more play from those inside Halas Hall.
He fell back into bad habits, compounding some of the failings around him, but he also found his composure and rhythm against a team he has traditionally torched. It’s fair to hold against him the slow start, but then you have to award the credit for staying focused enough to come back. His low point? Aside from a dropped interception, a fumble in the fourth quarter with 9:23 remaining after he brought the team within 10 on the previous drive with a touchdown throw to Jimmy Graham.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Mitchell Trubisky threw 3 TD in the 4th quarter of the Bears' comeback win, all of which were in a tight window (less than 1 yard of separation)
Trubisky's 3 pass TD are the most in a single quarter since Next Gen began tracking 5 seasons ago. pic.twitter.com/Z75bCO95rV
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 14, 2020
Trubisky found his stride late, after Detroit lost two starting corners, and cooked their secondary with Anthony Miller, who had three of his four catches and 58 of his yards in the fourth quarter. He found eight receivers in the game and made plenty of good decisions and throws. Was the “usual” shakiness more of the same or a product of no pre-season? Because for three-plus quarters it sure looked like more of the former.
Many, including the crew during the halftime show, were clamoring for Nagy to make a change at quarterback. His remarks about addressing what went wrong are nice but we all know winning is the best salve. Trubisky’s accuracy issues didn’t cost them this time. But with Foles waiting in the wings, he can’t afford to continue this way. Otherwise, those boisterous onlookers will get their wish.
The number of players that contributed to the comeback and win is most encouraging. As mentioned, Trubisky found eight different targets for his passes. He even looked good doing it once he stopped locking in on just Allen Robinson, who picked up right where he left off making spectacular grabs. Miller’s game-winning grab, an over-the-shoulder beauty with a defender draped over him, was a stark contrast to the would-be winning play; a drop by a wide-open (albeit rookie running back) D’Andre Swift going into the end zone.
Running the ball was back in style for the Bears on Sunday, they rushed 28 times for 149 yards. That’s significant because they only met or exceeded that total five times in 2019 going 4-1 in the process. They did it 10 times in 2018 going 8-2. It’s even more significant because the Bears trailed for much of this game. David Montgomery (13-64) and Tarik Cohen (7-41) paced the backfield but converted wideout Cordarrelle Patterson made for a nice third option, taking four carries for 19 yards. This was a good balance the Bears should look to continue.
This diving Allen Robinson catch 😲
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 13, 2020
Tight end has been a source of much ire from fans over the past two years. Trey Burton didn’t work out so they invested in Jimmy Graham and drafted Cole Kmet. The two combined with Demetrius Harris totaled three grabs and a touchdown (all by Graham) on nine targets. Not quite what anyone was hoping for but they also blocked well, helping out a still questionable offensive line.
The offensive line held up. That is meant to be a compliment, as they gave Trubisky plenty of time in the pocket whether he always used it or not. Trubisky was only under pressure once, per Pro Football Focus, and that came from the Lions best defensive player, Trey Flowers. Detroit isn’t the most strenuous test, though, so we should hold off on any judgments.
Defense is the calling card of the Chicago Bears. Always has been and probably always will be. But they had their hands full with Matthew Stafford and friends, even without Kenny Golladay. They targeted rookie corner Jaylon Johnson early and often, at one point leading to Marvin Jones welcoming him to the NFL buy trucking him after a reception. Johnson would get the last laugh knocking down a desperation pass in the end zone to Jones at the end of the game.
Danny Amendola was able to get free and grab five balls for 81 yards to lead the Lions in both categories, but the Bears held Jones to four catches and 55 yards. Linebacker Danny Trevathan had trouble with tight end TJ Hockenson, however, as he caught all five of his targets for 56 yards and a score.
Wait what pic.twitter.com/72k3MbaipE
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) September 14, 2020
Chicago felt the absences of two key players Sunday. Robert Quinn, their pricey free agent, missed the game after being spoken of as “ramping up” and not having an injury all summer. Akiem Hicks’ return helped, and he had the only sack for the Bears. The ground game was even more of a concern without Eddie Goldman. Detroit, not known for their ground attack, got 14 carries and 93 yards out of notorious Bears killer Adrian Peterson.
Kyle Fuller finally did it. He finally was able to secure a pivotal interception late in the game of the Bears season opener. Fans will recall Fuller has dropped key interceptions in each of the last two openers, 2018’s being the more egregious of the two. Sunday against the Lions was a different story. On a pass to Jones with 2:45 remaining, Eddie Jackson deflected the ball and Fuller was Johnny-on-the-spot.
Bears Manage Sloppy Win
Let’s be honest, a 21-point fourth doesn’t just “happen”. Things have to go your way and you have to capitalize. For at least one week, the Chicago Bears were able to do that. Their next challenge is to not need a rally in the first place. Something that’s proved to be a challenge against their Week 2 opponent, the New York Giants.
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