Payton Presser: Is this Bears season over yet?

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Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (10) on the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The 2017 Bears season has been a roller coaster. The plan was to travel to the Motor City and play spoiler to the Lions’ playoff dreams. In last week’s win over the Bengals, we saw a team that was clicking in all three phases of the game. Saturday, it was back to the team that we’ve seen in the second half of the season. If you want to gauge a team, I say look at how they play within their division. This season, the Bears are 0-5 in the NFC North. In the 3 seasons under John Fox, the Bears are 3-14 in the division. That just won’t cut it. Finishing strong was the motto heading into this week’s matchup. But the Bears couldn’t stack back-to-back wins as they fell to the Lions 20-10.

Each week we break down Mitchell Trubisky’s performance. We have seen him all over the board since taking over the starting spot. The main goal for him this season was to make more positive plays than negative, but ultimately learning. The trend continued with Trubisky on Saturday in Detroit. The rookie finished the game 31 for 46, passing for 314 yards, a touchdown, three interceptions, and a 66.8 passer rating. The three interceptions are troubling, but that comes with the territory when you give a rookie a higher volume of passes. Trubisky’s second pick was the one that troubled me the most. With the Bears knocking at the door, down 20-3 in the 4th, Trubisky never looked off Lions safety Quandre Diggs who intercepted the ball while sitting on the route coming his way. As always, with the bad comes the good. There were times in the game when we saw his live arm on display. He also showed flashes of going through his progressions, which show me he is getting more comfortable with all of his reads and his understanding of the offense. The good thing is his flashes are becoming less flashes and more consistent positive plays. As time goes on, the hope is he can put it all together and be the savior everyone hopes he can be. I’m not going to bash Trubisky and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains for slinging the ball around the yard more on Saturday. That’s what we’ve been asking for all season, right? Like I said earlier, mistakes are bound to happen with a young QB. Just learn from them. This season is all about having a baseline we can judge from next season.

The Bears couldn’t recreate their rushing performance from a week ago. Jordan Howard, who has lit up the Lions since becoming a Bear, wasn’t able to get the ground game going. Howard had 10 carries for 37 yards. When the Bears can’t establish the run early, it messes up the plans for their play action game, which is their bread and butter. If you show me the Bears rushing yards after the game, without showing me the score, I can tell you if they won or lost the game. Looks like Howard will have to wait another year to claim the rushing crown.

When you’re a team that has no room for error, mistakes and miscues will cost you. Penalties once again hurt the Bears from mounting any comeback on Saturday. They committed 13 penalties for 97 yards. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. The biggest came after the Lions scored to make it 13-0. On the ensuing kickoff, Tarik Cohen returned the kickoff 90 yards. The return was wiped out by a holding penalty by DeAndre Houston-Carson. Show me a highly penalized team and I’ll show you an undisciplined team. It’s as simple as that. Penalties not only put a damper on scoring opportunities, they also hurt momentum.

The defense came out to play early in the contest, holding the Lions to a pair of field goals, but couldn’t hold on for long against Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense. Through the air, Stafford put up slightly better numbers than in the two teams’ first meeting of the season. He went 31 of 46 for 314 yards and two touchdowns. The difference this go-around was the worst rushing team in the NFL found a way to establish their ground game against the Bears. The Lions gained 91 yards on the ground, which isn’t much, but it’s 14 more than their season average. That little bit helps when you already can throw at will, like the Lions.

I’m not here to start no trouble, but I am here to say this losing thing is driving me nuts. The high that I was on last week leaving Cincinnati is how I want to feel in years to come. With changes on the horizon, I just hope things will be clearer moving forward because this gray area is not a fun place and it’s an all-too-familiar place for Bears fans. I can’t tell you how much I dislike writing after losses and since being in the media and covering the Bears it’s happened way too often. I will say that the guys on this this current roster are putting in the work. They just aren’t making enough plays when needed. This team could use a few more playmakers in all three phases of the game. After last week’s game, I said the rookies give me hope and that is still my belief. But until we know who will be leading this team into 2018, it’s hard to be settled about the future. There is work to be done and changes to be made. The hardest part, or easiest, depending on how you look at it, would be not making any changes. Hope the people that are making decisions choose wisely. That’s all we can ask or hope for. #BearDown

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