It wasn’t pretty, but the Bears got their first win on the road this season after getting blown out in their first two attempts at Tampa Bay and Green Bay. It also was Mitch Trubisky’s first win after his second straight start so milestones all around for the Bears.
While Trubisky had few attempts and looked like he purposely played conservative in throwing away 6 of just 16 passing attempts. You can tell that was the game plan and team focus and was likely drilled into him all week long. He also seemed to have learned from the game-ending pick he threw the week previous against the Vikings. While he did not pass the ball prolifically Trubisky did play a smart efficient game which is a good sign for a rookie in only his second start against a good defense with the many exotic looks and a ball-hawking secondary the Ravens show and on the road no less. He also made some plays in big moments to help his team win too. Some plays that few players can make in this league. Even though it didn’t result in a positive gain for them the play where Cody Whitehair snapped the ball over Trubisky’s head near their own goal line (which would have been at minimum a safety for the Ravens if not for his athletic prowess) was a play most Quarterbacks don’t make. Especially Mike Glennon. So this team has already improved since week four (Glennon’s last game started) just by having a Quarterback with playmaking ability and the ability to bail out a teammate on a mistake.
The Defensive Line was dominant rushing the passer albeit against a statue in Joe Flacco who is not playing well at all. That also benefitted the secondary who finally got some picks again, off of a very subpar passing team. The hope here for the Bears is that this performance opens the floodgates and the takeaways keep on coming. The linebacking crew also had a very good game, both the Outside and Inside group. Offensive Line did enough but although they did help run on a Raven defense no one runs on nor historically has, they also had a ton of tackles for losses and stuffs at the line of scrimmage as well as a hand full of minimal one and two-yard gains. Bobbie Massie continues to give up pressures and QB hits along with sacks and Whitehair is having a hell of a time snapping out of shotgun formation.
Special teams also had some colossal breakdowns and gave up two touchdowns including one that led to a game-tying two-pointer with under two minutes to play in the game. Now with the grades and breakdowns in key plays.
As mentioned above Trubisky didn’t light the world on fire with eye-popping fantasy football numbers, but he did make some tremendous plays with his athleticism in huge spots of the game and played a smart albeit conservative game versus the Ravens. The only thing that did prevent me from grading an A is the fact he did not pass a prolific game statistically. He was asked not to blow it and make enough plays in key spots while the Bears took advantage of the matchup versus their front to run the ball to victory. It’s even more impressive that his first win came on the road against a defense that can confuse a veteran let alone a rookie with their blitz packages and coverage disguises. It was also the first loss to a rookie Quarterback during John Harbaugh’s reign as the Raven head coach.
On this play, Trubisky makes the biggest play of the game outside of the game-winning field Goal in overtime. Here, Trubisky navigates his way through a dirty pocket beautifully finding a passing lane and at the last fraction of a second throws the ball to Kendall Wright who breaks open on a deep dig route. He also had Tanner Gentry as an option on an even easier more wide open option, but he had guys bearing down on him and had to make a quick decision. The throw was a tad high and behind but considering he had to throw quickly and off his back foot it was still an impressive throw.
Bears start out in 10 personnel (1 RB/0 TE) as Zack Miller plays the slot as a Y receiver. He runs an out, Tre McBride runs a fly, Gentry looks like he wanted to run a quick out but adjusted as the corner took it away with outside leverage and forced it inside and Wright of course the dig. Two routes became open the other two were covered well and Trubisky hit Wright who made an excellent adjustment to the high slightly thrown behind him pass for a huge completion essentially setting up field position for the game winning Field goal. He stepped up in the pocket after Kyle Long gives up pressure to his right and Jordan Howard gets over to block the blitzing Defensive Back and Trubisky navigates right and throws off his back foot as he gets pressure in his face and delivers the completion to Wright.
Of course, he missed some too. Like on this critical sack fumble. First of all, it was a very well designed Safety blitz. The safety walks up late and sells the idea of him putting a check on Miller. Even pointing at him and likely verbalizing I got him or something to that effect. The execution was good on LaDarius Webb’s part too. You can see on the second still he even gets real low and hides behind the line out of Trubisky’s view. Looks like he missed him and anticipated him being in coverage because he looks that way initially. You can see that combo route was his first read along with the 9 route by Tre McBride along the left sideline. If they looked covered check it to Howard on the quick out. Eventually, that route opened up as the blitzing Safety left a Defensive Back alone to defend two routes. A reverse Smash combo route concept if you will. Instead of a short in and corner Miller runs the quick out and Gentry the post. If Trubisky would have stayed with his read he’d have had Gentry streaking up the seam as the Corner chose Miller on the out route. The single high safety was 15 yards away from Gentry too.
Running Backs: A
This is kind of a mixed bag. I was tempted to give a lower grade but when your stud Running Back runs for more yards against the Ravens than any Running Back has in their history on the road anything less than an A is unacceptable. There were a lot of losses and short gains, but that was more on the Offensive Line than the Running Backs. There’s also the fact that Howard was fed the ball 36 times and wore that Ravens defense down and made his biggest runs late in the game. Like the 53 yard overtime run I’m about to break down.
On the big Overtime run that put the Bears in a great position in Ravens territory the Bears start out in a predictable run formation. They have both wides tight to the formation on each side of the field and two Tight Ends with Dion Sims on the left with his hand in the dirt next to Charles Leno and Miller offset and in a stack look between Offensive Tackle Massie and Tanner Gentry in what essentially is 12 personnel with Howard empty 8 yards back on the right hash. This formation shows how confident the Bears are in their ability to blow the Ravens off the line of scrimmage as they bring an extra two defenders in an already stacked 8 man box by having the receivers close to the formation bringing the Corner Backs in on the play. The big block was by Sims who seals the edge allowing Howard to get the sideline and then he comes off his initial block to put enough on the pursuing defender to give Howard some more space to break it all the way from the Bears 7 to the Ravens 40 yard line. Miller motions from the right side to the left to Sims outside shoulder to max block that side where they run Howard.
Offensive Line: C
Underwhelming would be the way I’d describe the Offensive lines performance. Massie and Whitehair really brought the lines grade down with their subpar performances. Still, on the road with a rookie at the helm they did enough in the run game to give the Bears the win so I graded them at least average.
On this play, you can see both the creativity on Loggains play design and the confidence the line has in blowing the Ravens front off the line of scrimmage. The Ravens have 10 guys in the box. They are not even contemplating the possibility of a pass as the Bears have only one Wide Receiver running a pattern to the left of the formation. You can see the Ravens are thinking right side of the formation as Michael Burton lines up that way, but on the snap, he runs left to take out the Edge defender and does so expertly. The line just angle blocks the Ravens front right out of the way to the left leaving a huge hole for Howard to run through for the 11 yard gain while Burton completely stymies the Ravens Edge defenders momentum and stands him up.
This group had some issues blocking the edges at times, but for the most part blocked well and contributed to that huge running yardage the Bears laid on the Ravens Defense. They also made some huge catches including two of the Bears touchdowns.
This play shows both Loggains creativity and the Bears inconsistent line play. It also shows off Trubisky’s athleticism and arm talent to make off schedule plays. Here the play was designed to be made out of the pocket. Trubisky gets flushed out because Long missed a block and allowed his man to pressure Trubisky up the gut and Trubisky was able to roll out to his right and change his launch point. Also, Massie is standing there with no one to block but still just allows a linebacker to come in late and give Trubisky a tremendous shot. Another example of why Massie needs to be sat down. The Bears run a clever route combination out of trips which confuse the Ravens as two defenders go to cover Miller on the out route that leaves Sims wide open on the seam route. You can see Sims put his hand up signaling how open he is. He sees Trubisky rolls out and turns in the direction Trubisky is going on a heads up play and changes his route to a corner route. One of the defender’s that went after Miller recovers and ges there just a fraction too late and Sims makes a great catch ripping it away from the defender for the score.
Front 7: A
The only thing giving them an A+ is they did allow 123 yards on the ground. However they pressured the Quarterback, Christian Jones and Danny Trevathan teamed up to create and recover a fumble and the Edge guys held the Edge and pressured from the edges. They also held well in coverage when asked to do so.
Here the Bears line up in their standard nickel defense but leaving a huge gap in the middle of the right side of the formation. At the snap Hicks and Floyd run Fangio’s staple texas stunt but get double and neutralized, however, Trevathan stays close to the line and sees the huge hole created by the stunt with no one between him and Flacco and starts towards him. He leaps to make Flacco pull it down then sacks him.
Defensive backs: A+
The entire secondary played their best game since this regime took over and have been under the direction of Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio. Kyle Fuller was amazing, the Ravens didn’t even throw over to Prince Amukamara’s side, Bryce Callahan continues to star as the Nickel corner. Amos is playing his best ball and it appears in year three he has finally developed into what the Bers expected from him as their hard hitting Strong Safety. He’s also now making plays on the ball to boot.
Here is the big Pick 6 off the pass defense of Fuller. Bears are in cover 2 and Amos was where he needed to be and took advantage of the excellent play by Fuller and snags the deflection before it sails harmlessly out of bounds. nothing fancy here. Amos shows off his athleticism making an amazing run weaving in and out of traffic to take it to the house. One other note, Leonard Floyd makes the correct read and take the Tight End in coverage taking away that option for flacco and forcing the throw to his Wide Receiver which even allowed this play to happen.
Special Teams: D
The only thing saving them from an F is Connor Barth making all his kicks including the high-pressure OT clutch game winning Field Goal.
The only thing preventing this from an A is Specia teams assistant Rodgers not having his unit aware and prepared to stop two Touchdowns on his unit. Otherwise the game plans were solid on both sides of the ball and Loggains showed some creativity in his play calling in both the run and passing game.