Payton Presser: Bears lose a heartbreaker in Miami
The good vibes were brewing over the Bears bye week and rightfully so. Matt Nagy’s squad headed into the bye week on a high note after beating the Buccaneers 48-10. So, how would the Bears follow up their best performance of the season after a week off against Miami? Sunday in Miami was a dog fight that required overtime, with the Bears ultimately coming up short, losing 31-28 to the Dolphins. So much to break down from this one, so let’s not waste any time and jump right into it.
So far this season, the Bears have been riding the outstanding play of their defense. On Sunday, it was the Bears offense that put the team on their back. After not putting any points on the board in the first half, the Bears offense exploded in the second half and put up 28. Another week passes, and I like the growth I saw in Mitchell Trubiksy. Trubisky wasn’t perfect on the afternoon, but he did what he had to do to put his team in a position to win the game. The young QB was 21 of 31 for 316 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception with a 122.5 passer rating. Yes, the interception hurt. But, for a QB that is starting his 17th game in the NFL and his fifth in a new offense, Trubisky is making the progress I was hoping to see before the season began. He started out the game a little shaky which was uncharacteristic for a QB who has performed well with scripted plays to start a contest. Trubisky eventually would settle in and show off his long-range ability. The one thing that I keep preaching is patience and progress when it comes to the development of Trubiksy. On Sunday, I felt like Number 10 took another step in the right direction. That’s all we can ask for.
Once again, the Bears got big games from Taylor Gabriel and Tarik Cohen. Gabriel was the big recipient of the long balls from Trubiksy. He would end his day catching 5 balls for 110 yards. His catch down the sideline in the 2nd quarter was just a taste of what he can do for the Bears offense. Known as a guy that plays inside, he showed on Sunday he can be a big-time threat for Trubisky on the outside as well.
Cohen, once again, displayed that he is a jack of all trades in Nagy’s offense. Cohen had himself a big-time game carrying the ball 5 times for 31 yards, with a rushing touchdown and 7 catches for 90 yards. His versatility has made him an integral part of Nagy’s offensive scheme, which has vaulted him over Jordan Howard when it comes to offensive touches the last 2 games. The question I struggle with is: Will the changing of the guard continue? Look, I think the Bears need both guys in the fold. Hence the last drive before the missed field goal by Cody Parkey. Howard’s skill set was on full display on back-to-back runs gashing the Miami defense. Both guys probably had trouble sleeping after they each coughed up the ball in critical situations on Sunday. Howard lost a fumble on Miami’s 1-yard line in the second quarter and Cohen fumbled in the last two minutes of regulation. The turnovers for the Bears offense were just too much for them to overcome in this game. I’ve had games like that. But both guys will learn and grow from their mistakes. I would like to see more sets with both guys in the backfield. But for now Cohen keeps making it hard on Nagy to abandon what’s been working the last few games.
Sunday morning, when I saw the news that Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was ruled out for the contest, I thought this would be an easy one for the Bears defense. With Brock Osweiler under center for the Dolphins, all I could foresee was a feeding frenzy for the Bears front 7 at Hard Rock Stadium. Things didn’t go as I had envisioned. The Bears defense that we’ve seen over the previous four weeks was nowhere to be found on Sunday. No highlights on this one for Khalil Mack. Mack would suffer an ankle injury early in the game and was a non-factor in the contest. The Bears did get two Interceptions from Kyle Fuller on Sunday, but the Bears secondary played a very sloppy game overall. One guy that keeps making progress is LB Roquan Smith. He led the Bears in tackles on Sunday. Smith is also showing that he is feeling more comfortable with his assignments which is allowing him to play more freely within the defense.
Miami Head coach Adam Gase had a heavy dose of Frank Gore with a splash of Kenyan Drake for the Bears defense. Gore became the first running back this season to rack up 100 yards on the Bears defense. Vic Fangio’s unit wasn’t able to record a sack on the afternoon and let Osweiler throw for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Bears defense gave up a total of 541 total yards to Miami. They will have to get back to the drawing board this week with Tom Brady and the Pats coming to town.
Nagy’s decision to run the ball on 3rd and short in overtime kept me up late Sunday night. I understand that Jordan Howard gave the Bears two big runs of 19 and 15 yards on the previous plays, but I would have tried a simple route combo to give Cody Parkey a better chance to end the game. For a coach that has talked a lot about being aggressive since taking over as Bears head coach, this was a situation that was an opportunity to do so.
Just like after the loss to Green Bay in Week One, this one is going to sting for a while. The Bears were 7-point favorites after it was announced that Osweiler was going to be under center. Unlike two weeks ago, the Bears couldn’t get all three phases of football on the same page. As Bears fans, we can’t revert back to our “85 way” and think this defense is going to carry us to a Super Bowl Championship. When you look back on that 85 squad, the offense could hold their own as well. That’s the same thing that has to happen now. There are going to be more games like this down the line and the Bears will have find a way to win. They were so close on Sunday, even with all the turnovers. The one thing that’s for sure, this Bears team has so much potential and with the potential comes me trying to look over the process. The Bears have to put on blinders and focus on correcting some of the mistakes made on Sunday. The Monsters of the Midway welcome in the Patriots this coming Sunday. That means Tom Brady is coming to town. Just another test for Nagy’s squad. The Bears won’t have much time to hang their heads. Watch the film, look ahead to New England and stay off of social media. Who cares what the haters have to say. Just keep the blinders on. See you guys next week. #Beardown