Payton Presser: Bears shine under MNF lights
The Bears went into Week 3 in Washington with a must-win mentality. Matt Nagy’s squad also wanted to get on track offensively, and defensively get back to taking away the football. Well, if it was a bounce-back game they were looking for, they got that under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. The Bears departed FedExField with a 31-15 victory and a 2-1 record. Time to jump right into my takeaways from Monday night.
The Trubisky Report
No one needed a bigger night more than Mitchell Trubisky. Starting the season with two lackluster performances, Trubisky and the Bears offense needed to get going in a hurry. After only scoring one touchdown in their first two contests, Trubisky engineered a solid second quarter with three touchdown passes to Taylor Gabriel, none more impressive than the 36-yard strike to Gabriel before the half. Trubisky felt the pressure, stepped up in the pocket to avoid the rush, and connected on a dime to Gabriel, who miraculously controlled the ball while keeping both feet in bounds. Trubisky finished the game 25 of 31 passing for 231 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 116.5 passer rating. It wasn’t all good for number 10. His interception to Allen Robinson in the end zone is one that Trubisky wishes he could have back. It was a fade throw that should have been his fourth touchdown on the night. Trubisky also missed some throws early in the game, but that has been the case for him early in the season. The Bears struggled on third down in their first two games of the season. On Monday, they were much improved, ending the night going 8 for 13 on third downs. The biggest takeaway is the Bears offense got a nice shot in the arm, which they needed after a rough two weeks to start the season. Nagy put his QB in more situations to use his legs, either throwing outside the pocket or more designed runs to help boost his confidence. The tough part is balancing his health and safety during that process. Trubisky’s performance will probably hold off the haters for one more week until he has to face off against a solid Vikings defense.
Give the Ball to Montgomery…More
I will keep writing about this each week until Nagy hears me. The Bears have to find a way to get the ground game going. David Montgomery carried the ball 13 times for 67 yards with three receptions for 14 yards on Monday night. After getting out to a slow start, Montgomery ran the ball when the Bears needed him to and that was in the fourth quarter. Every game I’ve watched him play this season, he’s shown off his elusiveness and tough-nosed running. I understand Nagy is trying to make sure Trubisky is feeling confident, but he can’t forget about his secret weapon that he will have to rely on down the road. I also think the run game and Montgomery can be the backbone of the Bears offense.
Defense Set the Tone
Chuck Pagano and the Bears defense showed once again on the big stage how dominant they are. Khalil Mack set the tone, making his presence known early in the contest. He tallied two sacks and two forced fumbles in the first half. Bears got back to what they were known for all last season: creating takeaways. They picked off Case Keenum three times. HaHa Clinton-Dix was a recipient of two of those. His first was a pick-six to give the Bears their first points of the game. To be honest, there is no telling how good this defense can be this season. One thing is for sure. If the Bears offense can put some points on the board early in games, the defense can pin their ears back and do what they do best and that’s get to the QB. They sacked Keenum four times on the evening. If I was an opposing QB heading into my match-up against the Bears defense, I wouldn’t be sleeping easy.
The Bears were one of the healthiest teams last season which helped them get to 12 wins and a wildcard berth. They dealt with some small issues with star players like Trubisky, Mack and Allen Robinson. Heading into the Monday night’s game, Nagy’s team was still healthy, but would leave the contest with some banged-up guys. Akiem Hicks suffered a right knee injury in the fourth quarter. Eddy Pineiro who came into the game with a knee issue was visibly limping all night while he attempted extra points and field goals. The word after the game is he has a pinched nerve in his kicking leg. The man who had the biggest night, Taylor Gabriel, suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter. Right tackle Bobby Massie was scratched before the game with what Nagy called a small case of vertigo. Injuries are going to happen playing football and will require guys lower on the depth chart to step up. We just need to see if that happens. Hopefully it’s not necessary for any extended period of time.
As a Bears fan, Monday night was so much fun to watch. I saw the team playing free and having fun like they did last season. It was a much-needed confidence booster for the offense and defense. Moving forward, the real test is ahead as the Bears take on divisional foes the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Soldier Field. Minnesota is the most balanced team the Bears will face so far this season. The thing I will be looking for is if they can generate the same energy they had against Kirk Cousins and company. We will really be able to gauge where this team is at as they play against better competition. The other teams in the NFC North have started out hot so it’s only right to see where this Bears team stacks up in the division. We should have a better take after Sunday’s game against the Vikings. Till next time, Bears fans. #Beardown