It was not even close.
Bears kicker Connor Barth had a chance to send the Bears to overtime on Sunday but sailed it wide right. Barth made three field goal of 40+ last week vs. Green Bay leading many to believe his struggles may be behind him. Though that was not the case.
Mitch Trubisky led the Bears down the field on the final drive, including a remarkable 4th down conversion where the rookie avoided being sack and ran it for 19 yards. It was an athletic play, all instincts, and proved why his play making ability made him a No. 2 draft choice.
The Bears offense did look very different on Sunday, especially on the first drive going 70 yards on 13 plays. Loggains involved Tarik Cohen a lot more, put Trubisky in read-option situations, and got Adam Shaheen involved in the offense. If we see this kind of play calling and consistent play from the Bears best players, we will see better numbers and ultimately wins.
For the defense, pass coverage was a problem all day, giving up 299 yards through the air. The Lions run game was held in check, only averaging 2.7 yards a carry. The Bears defense looked to become somewhat of a top defense in the NFL all the way up to two weeks ago. Vic Fangio’s crew has only forced one turnover and allowed 50 points in their last two contests. With the offense making some progressions, the defense has to do a better job in getting off the field.
In the injury department on Sunday, pass rusher Leonard Floyd seemed to suffer a serious knee injury after colliding with teammate Kyle Fuller in the fourth quarter. He did not return and their is no further update on his status at the moment. Fuller was also hurt on the play but returned. Other injuries included Akiem Hicks, appeared to be a leg injury, returned to action shortly after the injury. Also NT Eddie Goldman hurt his wrist but did make it back on the field. The Bears did not have Dion Sims, Danny Trevathan nor Bryce Callahan for a second straight game
In this column, Thomas Gibbons will now look at three things that stood out from Sunday at Soldier Field.
When it comes to crunch time, Mitchell Trubisky was up for the challenge. The rookie started from his own 17 with just 1:31 left in regulation. Trubisky found Tre McBride twice in a row to move the chains. Then on second and 10 on the Bears 31 with : 58 seconds left, he found Daniel Brown for 10 yards to move closer to field goal range. After overthrowing Markus Wheaton and throwing the ball away, Trubisky got sacked setting up a long 4th and 13. Avoiding a sack, the former Tar Heel scrambles and picked up a gain of 19. A remarkable play to keep the Bears hopes alive.
A 15 yard completion to Dontrelle Inman set up a 46 yard field goal attempt for Barth and you know the rest.
Trubisky did not put up big numbers through the air on Sunday, 18/30 179 yards 1 TD, but he made some great plays which showed maturity and development he is making every week. Loggains opened up the play book and got Trubisky a chance to get some rushing yards too. He finished with 53 yards on the ground displaying his athleticism and making the smart play when no one is open. As the franchise QB, Trubisky continues to win over the fans every week with his clutch play and flashes of what he can be.
Sitting at 3-7, playoff hopes are pretty much out of the picture. The Bears and Loggains have to continue to put Trubisky in a great spot to have success and put together a great a solid six renaming games to go into the offseason on a high note at the quarterback position.
The Bears ran for 222 yards, 125 coming from second year pro Jordan Howard. On just 15 carries, Howard ran for over 100 yards for the fourth time this season and punched in his fourth touchdown.
Trubisky’s TD strike to Shaheen was set up by a 50 yard Howard run. He is so patient and does a great job reading his blocks, finishing the day averaging 8.8 yards a carry. We know the Bears are going to continue to preach a run first offense, and you can rely on Howard and Cohen.
He may not be the fastest running back, but Howard is a downhill runner who will get you three, four yards a carry and has the ability to break a big run. Howard currently sits at 5th in the league in rushing with 716 yards. Now, there was a reason he was not on the field during the last drive. His pass blocking is no very good and is not a threat in the passing game. Those two are flaws in his game but you cannot deny his ability to take over games on the ground.
At this pace, there is no reason the former Hooiser cannot eclipse at least 1,200 rushing yards on the season. I see another pro bowl selection too.
With Leonard Floyd going to miss a significant amount of time, guessing the rest of the season, Isaiah Irving will have a chance to impress the staff and get meaningful playing time.
The rookie from San Jose State has had a consistent role on specials teams for the Bears and now will see his first big opportunity of his young career.
Irving had two sacks in the Bears preseason finale and showed enough overall for the Bears to keep him around. He now gets a chance to prove his worth.
Looking ahead, the Bears will travel to Philadelphia next Sunday for a battle with the Eagles. After that, the Bears will play three of their remaining five games versus teams with losing records, the Bengals, 49ers, and the Browns. While the playoffs seemed possible but now turning into a far fetched dream, the focus shifts to development of the younger players.
It is inevitable, John Fox will not be returning as the Bears head coach. There is no case for him to stay. His record vs the NFC North is atrocious and continues to be out-coached. The Bears focus will switch to finding a head coach that can develop Trubisky and change this culture for the better come black monday. But for now, Trubisky is a reason to turn on the game even if the Bears continue to load up the loss column.