Payton Presser: Bears are happy to have Mack and Robinson back in the fold

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Chicago Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan (37) sacks Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

There is a lot at stake over the next few weeks for this Bears team. As the wins continue to pile up, we can start talking about the possibility of making the postseason. It’s fun to do that as a sportscaster, but even more fun talking as fans. After beating up on the Jets and the Bills, it was time to rumble with the division. I wanted to see what kind of message Matt Nagy’s squad would send to the Lions and the Vikings, who will be game planning for them next week. They didn’t send mixed signals. Their message was loud and clear for the NFC North. The Bears took care of business beating the Motor City Kitties 34-22. There is a lot to cover in this week’s Presser, so let’s not waste any more time and jump into my takeaways from the game.

Since the 2018 season started, we have talked about how Mitchell Trubisky has been very hot and cold. I understand people’s concerns, but I’ve been preaching patience. With a new system and also a new vibe at Halas Hall, the kid is getting better. We saw that on Sunday as Trubisky was red hot from the start and maintained it for the entire first half leading the Bears offense to touchdowns on the first 4 drives of the game. There wasn’t much let down from Trubisky in the second half, either. Last week, I was very critical of Trubisky and his ability to throw the deep ball and Nagy’s unwillingness to call chuck yardage plays. Swaggy Nagy dove into his call sheet this week with Allen Robinson back after two weeks off with a groin injury. The Air and Water Show was on full display Sunday at Soldier Field. Trubisky was 23 for 30 for 355 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 rush TD and no Interceptions. His prettiest pass of the day was the second drive of the day, 3rd and 15 on the Lions’ 35-yard line. Trubisky looked at the 3 wideouts on the backside, then stepped up in the secure pocket the O-Line set up for him and threw a dime to Robinson for the score. It’s that kind of play that excites me as a fan of this team.

One thing is for sure: The Bears’ offense missed Allen Robinson the last two weeks. He finished the day catching 6 passes for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 targets. When he’s on and making plays, opposing defenses have to play this Bears team a lot differently. Robinson’s play opened the door for rookie Anthony Miller to go off. Miller caught 5 passes for 122 yards and a big-time touchdown. Nagy has shown me a lot, but one thing is clear: He will keep defenses guessing each week with his play-calling. For a person that wants to see more balance in the offense, I’ve starting to understand that the goal is to keep the opposing defense on their heels. The absence of the Bears’ running-game still concerns me. There is going to be a time when this team is going to need to lean on it. I could see it being next Sunday when Minnesota comes to town.

The Bears’ defense has held it down the last two weeks without Khalil Mack. But Sunday, they had their guy back on the field and you could see the difference. I’m not telling you guys anything that you don’t already know, but a healthy Mack makes this Bears defense very scary for their opponents. Mack energized a defense that was coming off a light performance in Buffalo. You could say his return was perfect timing. He recorded 2 sacks on the afternoon, picking up where he left off before the Dolphins game.

The takeaway trend continued Sunday as the Bears defense had three on the day. That’s a great sign heading into the back end of their schedule. I continue to be impressed with the play of Bryce Callahan. He keeps getting more opportunities and he’s taking advantage of them. Then there is rookie linebacker Roquan Smith. No need to say anything. He seems to get better and better every game he plays. Smith recorded a sack and 10 tackles against the Lions. Finally, hats off to Leonard Floyd on getting his first sack on the season. Back to Callahan. The Bears need to offer him a longer contract and now more money. Can we get that done, please?

The biggest issues on the afternoon were the missed kicks by Cody Parkey. The missed kicks are trending when you Google his name, but it was taken to a whole new level on Sunday. Not only did Parkey miss 4 kicks, he would find a way to clank them all on the goalpost. Not sure he could do that again if he tried. Most fans are calling for his job. But let’s look at this two ways. The Bears signed Parkey to a four-year deal in the off-season, and don’t forget about the $9 million in guaranteed money. The Bears’ hope is the 5-year vet can turn it around. The Bears invested money in Parkey, so it’s no surprise hearing Nagy say he’s not going anywhere. I also think Ryan Pace and Nagy are discussing a possible plan B, but there is no need to let us in on that yet. I know they don’t want to lose a close game down the stretch because of a kicker. Let’s hope Parkey can turn it around. He didn’t do himself any favors to start the back half of the schedule, but it looks like he will be around for the time being.

Nagy isn’t a secret anymore. People are on notice that the Bears are for real and trending up. The NFC North is on notice as well, but the journey is far from over. The Bears will have to prove themselves next week when they host the Vikings on Sunday Night Football. Covering this team, Nagy has not only preached being obsessed, but also his philosophy to keep the blinders on week after week. For us Bears fans, Sunday was a game where we see the potential of this team. No one knows what the future holds this season, but they control their destiny each game they win. Winning division games puts them even closer to the goal of making an appearance in the postseason. The best part about this season is anything can happen. You play well, you stamp your ticket. Sunday was a great start to the second half of the season for Nagy’s team. Now, the biggest thing is, can they recreate this play next week with a good Minnesota team coming to town. What I do know is, the Bears are fun to watch and probably scary to go up against. Same time next week, Bear fans. #Beardown

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