Payton Presser: My early season Bears thoughts

Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro (15) leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos. Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Denver. The Bears won 16-14, (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

After the season-opening loss to the football team from Wisconsin, the wait for the Bears’ Week 2 match-up with the Broncos felt like an eternity. There were a lot of questions leading up to this game. How would Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense bounce back after their lackluster output in the opener? Would Matt Nagy establish and commit to the run game? Could defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano’s defense force some turnovers and maybe even put points on the board? Let’s just say the Bears still have some explaining to do. Nagy’s squad escaped with a 16-14 win over Vic Fangio and the Broncos. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win in the NFL. They don’t come easy and Sunday showed that. Let’s jump into what I saw from the press box at Empower Field over the weekend.

The Trubisky Report
Mitchell Trubisky came into the Week 2 contest under a big microscope. Just like last week, he left the fans wanting more. He finished the day going 16 of 27 through the air for 120 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. It seems like teams around the NFL have caught up with Nagy, Trubisky and the Bears’ offense. So it’s going to be on Nagy to put his guys in better situations to be successful. The confidence is missing in Trubisky’s game. What’s the reason for that? He’s still learning, it’s his second offense in just three years in the NFL and he came in with limited snaps in college. I knew it would take some time. How does he get confidence? Simple, playing more. That might not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. Confidence comes when you have a firm understanding of your job on the football field. That’s when you can play freely and let your athleticism take over. I study and watch Trubisky. He works hard and is dedicated to his craft. All of this is not to say Trubisky can’t be great. But we’re going to have to wait a little longer to figure that out. Overall he protected the ball and made a couple nice plays, like his play on 4th and 15 to Allen Robinson setting up the game-winning field goal. That’s the confidence Number 10 has to play with at all time. Trubisky has the athleticism and confidence. Let’s just hope Nagy can find a way for the offense to evolve and not dip into a second-year slump.

The Running Game is so Key
David Montgomery and Mike Davis didn’t see the carries they probably hoped for this week. We saw a more balanced attack from Nagy in Denver. The Bears ran the ball 29 times. 18 of those carries went to Montgomery, who rushed for 62 yards and his first NFL rushing TD. Montgomery is slowly becoming the featured back in this offense and it’s evident why when you see him in live game action. He’s a special talent and, if the passing game isn’t going to be reliable week to week, the Bears will have to rely on the running game if they want to win ball games.

Defense did their job…once again
What more can I say about the Bears defense? The second straight week they held strong and gave the Bears a chance to get a victory. Chuck Pagano’s defense notched two sacks against Joe Flacco. The defense also racked up their first interception by Kyle Fuller late in the game. The Bears defense is just as good as they were last season and I see them getting stronger as the season rolls along.

I think we have a kicker now
Eddy Pineiro’s path to the becoming the Bears starting kicker certainly is interesting. He played soccer in high school, only playing in seven football games, handling mostly kickoffs and extra points. He went on to play soccer at ASA Community College before enrolling at the University of Florida on a football scholarship. At Florida, he set a couple records and then went undrafted, signing with the Raiders. After spending the first year on injured reserve for the Raiders, the Bears traded a conditional seventh round pick in the 2021 draft. After winning the kicking competition in the preseason, Pineiro would finally get his chance to kick his first NFL field goal in Week One. So, for what was the biggest question coming into the season, he has been the most consistent early in the season, going 4 for 4 thus far. Pineiro hit kicks from 40, 52 and of course the 53-yarder to win the game that was most special for the kicker and all of us! It’s early, but most of us in the media didn’t give Pineiro much credit heading into the season. So far, he’s shown us over the last two weeks he’s not afraid of the big moments. If I told you that the Bears kicker would be putting more points on the board than the offense after two games, would you’ve believed me? Probably not.

Through two weeks, I’ve seen a Bears defense that’s championship-ready and an offense that is still searching for their identity. The one thing that sits right with me is this team’s ability to find a way to win a tough game on the road. That takes character and grit. Bears fans, we’re going to have to take this season one game at a time. We were looking so far ahead after last season. Last season is over and this year has its own challenges that Matt Nagy’s team will have to conquer. The Bears have a bigger target on their back after last year’s success. Opponents have a full season of film to watch and the Bears’ schedule is tougher than last year. That’s the price you pay to win championships. It’s not easy.

Next up for the Bears is a Washington squad they should beat. As we all saw in Sunday’s game against Denver, nothing comes easy in the NFL. Beardown.

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