There were so many things that I was focusing on this week as the Bears hosted the Buccaneers down by the lakefront. Could Mitchell Trubisky be consistent leading the Bears offense on the ground and through the air from the 1st quarter through the 4th? Would the Bears defense be able to keep up their stellar play? Also, how would Matt Nagy take the next step in his offensive play calling? All the questions I had leading into this game and more were answered on Sunday. The Bears played what I would call their first complete game of the 2018 season. Now, things weren’t perfect. But I left Soldier Field feeling that the Bears stock is on the rise. Nagy and his squad absolutely demolished the Bucs 48-10. Let’s jump into some of my thoughts from the game.
Let’s start with Trubisky and the Bears offense. Over the last three weeks, they have been the topic of conversation and it wasn’t for their productivity. For all of us that wanted to see Trubiksy air the ball out, we got to see the young QB at his finest. Throughout the first three weeks of watching the coaches’ film, I struggled to see Trubisky really have a firm grasp of Nagy’s offense. On Sunday, I saw him take a big step in the right direction. Trubiksy was on fire in the first half. He and the Bears offense put up 38 points before halftime. Trubisky’s final stat line read like this: 19-of-26 for 354 yards (13.6 YPA), 6 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 154.7 passer rating. The last time Bears fans saw a QB throw for 6 touchdowns was when Johnny Lujack did it back in 1949. He was calm, cool and collected. His confidence was seen with almost every throw that left his hand.
Along with airing the ball out, the offense not only kept drives going but was able to tack on points often. The Bears offense had drives of 75, 73, 77, 73, 70 and 60 yards. I have to say, I was proud of Trubiksy because he needed a game like he had on Sunday. With the heavy expectations on his shoulders, he has always stuck with the script that he and Nagy preached the opening day of training camp. Now the goal is to stack more games like Sunday’s under his belt. That is the growth that all Bears fans want to see from the young QB. For all the Tubisky haters out there, I hope his Week 4 performance finds you well. Will Trubisky struggle at some point down the road this season? Yes. But we got a chance to see growth in his performance. I have a feeling we will look back at Sunday’s performance as the beginning of something special for Trubiksy.
The Bears skilled position players were on full display Sunday afternoon. Ryan Pace went out and got his QB a lot of new weapons this past offseason. But after three games it looked like one football wasn’t going to be enough to keep them all happy. Sunday, Nagy took care of that by spreading out the love and called his best game as Bears head coach. He got Mitch into a groove early in the game by taking what the defense was giving them. If there was a glaring issue with the Bears offense so far this season it has been the inability to produce in the red zone. Over the first three games, the Bears offense was 4-10 in the money zone. Sunday, Nagy’s offense was a perfect 4 for 4 in the red zone.
His wideouts/tight ends got a lot of work on their touchdown dances. Both Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton caught two of the touchdown passes on the day. Josh Bellamy, Tarik Cohen, and Allen Robinson also reeled in touchdown passes. Gabriel had himself a day. He went for a career-high 104 yards along with his two touchdowns on seven catches. Tarik Cohen had 7 catches for 121 yards on 8 targets to go along with 13 rushes for 53 yards. Nagy has been trying to get him more involved in the offensive game plan and he did that this week. Jordan Howard wasn’t heavily involved with only 11 carries on the game with 8 of those coming in the 2nd half. In no way do I think Howard will be missing from future game plans, but some weeks will call for Howard to have a less of an impact. The offense had a nice flow and balance to it on Sunday. We talk about Trubisky growing as a QB every week. This week we saw head coach Nagy grow as a play caller. Great game plan Swaggy Nagy.
Vic Fangio doesn’t have to get me anything for Christmas or Kwanzaa this year. His defense has brought me so much joy during the first 4 weeks of the NFL season. Charles Tillman was interviewed during the 1st quarter of the game and said this defense reminds him of the ’05-’06 Bears team that went to the Super Bowl. That’s high praise coming from one of Orange and Blue’s finest. Let’s not forget, The Bucs were the 5th best offense heading into Sunday’s contest, the 2nd best passing behind the Chiefs and were scoring 34 points a game. Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (aka Fitz Magic) would leave the lakefront completing only 9-of-18 passes for 126 yards with no touchdowns and one interception before getting pulled for Jameis Winston. It’s not fun being an opposing QB going up against the Bears defense.
We all know they have the making to not just be special but a dominating force in the NFL. Sunday was all about the takeaway. The Bears defense recorded four sacks and forced 3 turnovers, all on interceptions. Khalil Mack once again made a game changing play, which he seems to do every week. Mack had another strike sack and put a hit on Jameis Winston that contributed to a Danny Trevathan interception. Mack is playing at an MVP level and I still believe he’s only scratching the surface on how good he will be in a Bears uniform. I’ve said this over the past few weeks
There is no telling how far this Bears team can go if all three phases play like they did on Sunday. I’ve been a firm believer that you take it one game at a time. That’s what it sounds like from the Bears locker room and their head coach. Never get too high, and never get too low. Football is a long season. The fact that the Bears are sitting 3-1 heading into the bye week is simply amazing. Growth has always been what I’ve been looking forward to watching this season. I saw it today. I saw it with Mitchell Trubisky and his performance. I saw it with Matt Nagy and his play calling. I saw it in the defense that continues to show why they are a force to be reckoned with. What was supposed to be a development season has now turned into playoffs or nothing to most Bears fans. A few weeks ago, I talked about the Bears as a whole taking the next step together. That’s what they did Sunday and what came out of it was their best performance of the season. The hope is we can keep this thing going. Man, you can go from worst to first in an offseason. Have a great off week everyone and we will reconnect in two weeks. #Beardown