A three-game win streak. And this one feels way better than the last one in 2013 under Marc Trestman. Why? It just does.
The Bears are turning a corner. The defense is nasty. The offense had it’s the best game of the season. And most importantly, fans are enjoying the product on the field. It’s been a long time coming since that fateful night against Green Bay in 2010, the last time Bears fans had something to really cheer for.
On the Bears pregame show, a question was brought up. Was this the biggest home game since that playoff game in 2010? I definitely think so. Sunday’s game was a chance to have a three-game win streak since 2013, go 3-1 into the bye week, and stay atop the NFC North. All three of those were accomplished in the Bears 48-10 win over the Buccaneers on the lakefront.
Let’s dig into my takeaways from Sunday. And for the third week in a row, they are all pretty positive.
Mitch Trubisky played like a franchise quarterback in front of the home crowd on Sunday. He was accurate with the deep ball, made plays with his feet on read-option play calls, and set his receivers up for success.
Coming into Week 4, Trubisky had yet to put together a stellar performance. Everyone was watching Pat Mahomes break NFL records in an offense very much like Matt Nagy’s Bears. Yet Trubisky was still experiencing a learning curve. And you cannot fault him for that. Mahomes had an entire season and offseason in the system. Trubisky just got the playbook in OTAs. It was going to take some time.
Everyone thought Trubisky’s coming out party would be in Arionza against a struggling Cardinal team. Instead, he was average and left a few throws out on the field. The defense showed up but the offense was still not there. Well on Sunday, the units were battling to see who would have better stats.
“I’m hype,” Danny Trevathan said about the offense’s performance. “I’m hype over there. I”m trying to sit down and get my time, but you know every time they make a play, I can’t help but be happy for those guys.”
Trubisky did just about everything right on Sunday. He made some spectacular throws and most importantly, did not turn the ball over, a trend of the previous weeks. The second-year pro had command of the offense and he ran the show. His final stat line came out to be 19/26 for 354 yards and yes, 6 touchdowns. The offense was clicking.
There is still plenty of work to be done. Trubisky’s pocket presence and awareness are still flaws in his game and will have two weeks to continue to work on that. But the game is slowing down for him. It was only a matter of time until the young kid from Ohio had a coming out party and showed why he deserved to be the second overall pick.
What else is there to say about Khalil Mack. He’s a freak. A generational talent. And every day I still cannot believe he is wearing a Bears uniform.
Mack had another strip sack on Sunday, his fourth of the season. Unreal. The Cardinals at one point had three guys trying to block him and yeah, they failed. He has single-handedly brought the Bears defense to another level and has turned them into playoff contenders.
NFC Defensive Player of the Month anyone? No one has even come close to what Mack has accomplished. I’m at a loss for words for what Mack has been able to in Chicago. How many times are we going to say “worth every penny” or “he’s a freak”? He’s a gamechanger and he’s had a hand in every Bears victory.
Oh, and we are only four games into the season.
Tarik Cohen totaled 174 yards of total offense on seven catches and 13 carries. Remember I said last week that he needed an uptick in carries? Well, Nagy delivered and he was the centerpiece of the gameplan vs. Tampa Bay.
A guy like Cohen with his speed and ability to make people miss in space, he needs the ball in his hands 12-14 times a game. The Bears have a lot of weapons and every one has a role, but when you have a guy with that amount of talent, he needs to be a priority. Cohen gets to the edge with speed and linebackers do not even have time to blink or he’s gone. Nagy did a great job with his play calling and putting his players in a position for success.
We talk about Cohen’s speed and versatility a lot, but one part of his game that does not get hyped up enough is his route running. On his touchdown score to go up 20-3, Cohen ran a follow route out of the backfield.
Another great route for a guy like Cohen is your basic wheel route. Matchup Cohen on a linebacker and its game over.
Given his breakout game today, expect Cohen to be a big part of the game plan week to week. He needs those touches because he can move those sticks on outside runs and routes out of the backfield.
I’m here to tell you that you do not need to worry about Jordan Howard. No, he is not hurt. The third-year pro was just not apart of the gameplan today for obvious reasons.
The Buccaneers front seven is a legit group. Gerald McCoy, Vinny Curry, Jason Piere-Paul, Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David just to name a few. Those guys are going to bring it every Sunday. It’s tough to run inside zone on those guys, Howard’s bread and butter. Coming into Sunday, the Bucs defense was among the best in stopping the run, ranked only behind the Bears and Eagles. Even with the Bears offensive line, it was going to be tough to run on them for four quarters. Howard still got some carries, 11 rushes for 25 yards, but was not a focal point in the offense.
This is not going to be a daily occurrence. Howard is a big part of the Bears offense as we have witnessed the last two seasons. He sets the tone in the run game and with his improved pass catching, he’s way more valuable. Inside and Outside zone, stretch, and the power run game will continue to be where Howard earns his game check. The Bears will head to Miami after the bye and they gave up 175 on the ground to the Patriots with no answer for Sony Michel. Expect a solid outing from Howard.
After years of suffering from bad free agents classes, Ryan Pace’s 2018 class showed up in the big win. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton all found the end zone.
We have seen the worst of the worst when it comes to Pace spending money and the production not being there. Markus Wheaton, Antrel Rolle, and Mike Glennon come to mind. Free agency is hit and miss. We know that. But Pace did not have a good track record in signing marquee players his first few years in Chicago. Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan were home runs, but that’s about it. It had to feel great in the building to see your money lead to 48 points on Sunday.
It’s still early, but where the heck is Leonard Floyd? Could you imagine if we did not have Mack right now? Floyd has been playing the shadows of Hicks, Mack, and even Aaron Lynch. He has to get going because his emergence will make this defense go from great to elite.
Floyd had to deal with a club for the first two weeks of the season. Try rushing the passer with one hand. It’s tough. So I’ll give him a break for that. But in Arizona, the club was removed and he had just a small hand cast and still no sacks.
The bye week comes at a great time for Floyd. He can get his hand 100% for Miami and hopefully earn his first sack of the season. The speed is there but everything else is not. The Bears need him because the talk of the offseason was how much he improved and the anticipation of him becoming an elite pass rusher. It’s just four games but I am a bit worried. There has been so much to talk about Trubisky and Mack that Floyd has become an afterthought. I like Floyd and I want to see him have his breakout game because the Bears need to find out if he is worth the long-term investment.
With Prince Amukamara in street clothes, rookie Kevin Toliver II started opposite of Kyle Fuller. An undrafted free agent out of LSU, the 6′ 2″ 195 lb cornerback had his hands full in his first start. Matching up against Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson is not an easy task, but I liked what I saw from Toliver. He made some mistakes but those were expected. It will be interesting to break down the tape and see how his technique has improved from the preseason.
I was shocked when Toliver made the roster. He seemed to be a prime candidate for the practice squad because there was a minimal chance he would beat out a veteran for a cornerback spot. Backups got to play special teams and a guy like Cre’Von LeBlanc could do that for you. But the Bears were sold on Toliver and probably had a feeling he may have not cleared waivers. Attitude and issues aside, he’s extremely talented. And it’s pretty rare to find a combination of his size and speed at the cornerback position. I’m glad he’s around and I think he can develop into a starter.
Eddie Jackson had a sweet interception late in the game, his second of the season. The former Alabama standout read quarterbacks Jameis Winston’s eyes and it took him right to the pick.
Another late round draft pick is showing up for Pace and I am quite possibly the biggest Jackson fan. I loved the pick last offseason and is becoming a leader of that defense. Excited to see his continued growth.
James Daniels made his first appearance in the regular season, replacing Eric Kush at left guard in the first half. I bet the Bears will roll with Daniels at guard coming out of the bye week.
Defensive end Bilal Nichols recorded 4 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and two tackles for loss in Sunday’s win. The fifth-round pick out of Delaware showed strength and speed after replacing Hicks in the trenches. Hicks was thrown out of the game for deliberately pushing an official.
Nichols is not gunning for Hicks’ job, but he has proven he can be a playmaker in limited snaps. Given the Bears depth, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio can use Nichols at his disposal in certain situations. Third and long is one of them. I’d expect Nichols to continue to see an uptick in playing time as long as he produces.
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