Payton Presser: Bears are searching for consistency
After last week’s embarrassing outing against the Packers, the Bears could have either felt sorry for themselves and made us fans suffer through another game, or they could have come out, set the tempo, and given themselves a chance to win. The Bears found themselves somewhere in the middle. It was the tale of two halves for the Bears on Sunday. Despite not being able to put together two solid halves of football, the Bears found themselves in the game all the way up to the end, ultimately losing 27-24 to the Lions. First thing I need to get out of the way is the Connor Barth missed field goal to tie the game in the fourth. It happens, the Bears need to address the issue and move on. OK, I’m done with that and it’s time to move on.
The Bears have been searching for balance within the offense all season. With the lack of weapons at the wideout position, Dowell Loggains and the offensive staff have had trouble finding ways to get Jordan Howard his carries while getting their home run threat Tarik Cohen into the mix. The Bears found the right formula on Sunday. We saw the Bears got Cohen lathered up early. The difference from the prior weeks: The Bears dictated how the Lions would play them in the first half. Setting the tempo was a big reason for their success.
It’s no secret that the Bears’ bread and butter is their run game. Teams have been stacking the box all season trying to make the QB beat them. When you’re good at something and another team knows it, you must produce and put up numbers. Running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen both chipped in. Howard racked up his 4th 100-yard rushing game as he carried the ball 15 times for 125 yards and 1 rushing touchdown. The Bears organization had to hear the cries from the fans for Cohen to get more plays within the offensive game plan. Cohen carried the rock 9 times for 44 yards and had 4 catches for 15 yards. His 15-yard touchdown that tied the game in the 4th was amazing. He’s a game-breaker. With all that said about Howard and Cohen and then throw in Shaheen, who played a solid game, I’m having hard time understanding why all three weren’t on the field for the final drive. Not sure there is anything that John Fox or Loggains can say that will justify it in my mind.
For all the grief I give Loggains, today I have to give him credit on his play calling early in the game. Not only did he get Cohen going, he found a way to get TE Adam Shaheen going as well. With Zach Miller being out, Shaheen needs to fill the security blanket void for Trubisky. The Bears offensive line gets a lot of credit because they bounced back from their performance last week. It helped to have the band back together on Sunday, especially Kyle Long, who has a large impact when he’s on the field. I like what I’m seeing out of Mitchell Trubisky. The rookie is making strides in his game. If the Bears can just leave the handcuffs off the young man and let him play, it will be better for him in the long run. Trubisky will tell you the biggest thing he needs to work on is being more consistent. I keep seeing those flashes in the rookie. But as the season winds down, I would love to see him have a nice base as he heads into the offseason. He finished the day completing 18 of 30 passes for 179 yards and 1 touchdown with an 88.1 passer rating. His run on 4th down and 16 late in the game to pick up the 1st down and keep the drive going was just amazing. It showed that the young man can make plays to set his team up for success. That play will be one that will be in Trubisky’s highlight reel when it’s all said and done. One of the biggest things that I like about the young man is he’s mentally tough and he is a competitor. Down the line, as the organization starts adding more playmakers around him, I think we will really see his game elevate even more.
The Bears defense had a tough task in slowing down Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense. They got back to being stout against the run, holding the Lions to just 65 yards on the ground. On the flip-side, the pass defense was taken advantage of. Most of the day, the Lions wideouts seemed to get open whenever they wanted. The hardest part about defending Stafford is you have to pick your poison, whether to send pressure or not. Even though the defense gave up 299 yards in the air, they held the Lions to 20 points on the day which is 7 points less than the Lions are averaging on the season. The biggest loss of the day was when Leonard Floyd went down. The second year man was carted off the field after hurting his knee in a collision with Kyle Fuller as the two were trying to bring down Lions running back Theo Riddick. Another injury to the defensive side of the ball and one that they couldn’t afford.
Consistency has been what Fox’s team has been searching for all season long. Listening to the players from the locker room after the game, most mentioned consistency at some point in the interview. The hardest part of this season for me has been that this Bears team has been in almost every game they played except the two Packers games and the Buccaneers game. They are so close, but can’t get over the hump. The reason why they can’t get over the hump is there aren’t enough playmakers on the roster. Not saying there are no playmakers on this squad, but not at the positions where they need them. This year was never about finding a way to the playoffs, but for a team and organization to be better than they were last season. So far, they have the same number of wins as last season. But this team is better than last year’s team. This team knows they are close. That’s what makes watching this season so hard. It’s a Bears team that has a way to go, but has found a way to stay close in games this season. If you think that losing is going to hurt the development as a QB, you probably never played the game before. The game of football builds character and Trubisky alongside his other young teammates will grow from this season. Taking steps forward is the game plan from here on out. The next test will be next Sunday when the Bears travel to Philly to take on the soaring Eagles. Another big test of a team that has been tested all season. See you next week. #BearDown