A crazy game, but an unfortunate outcome.
After a slow start, the Bears responded in the second half but fell to the Miami Dolphins 31-28 in overtime on Sunday afternoon. The Dolphins, led by backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, played the Bears touch and it was a fun, competitive game.
Matt Nagy and the Bears had two weeks to prepare for Adam Gase and the Dolphins but they came up short. Did too much time off ruin the momentum from the three-game win streak? One can make the argument. It was a hot one in Miami, the heat index was in the upper nineties at kickoff, but that is no excuse. The slow start, multiple turnovers, and a questionable coaching call in overtime were reasons why the Bears came up short.
There were a lot of positives, Mitch Trubisky, and Tarik Cohen, but plenty of negatives, tackling and pass rush. So let’s dive into my takeaways from Sunday’s contest.
Mitch Trubisky’s development is the key to success, and he played a pretty good game on Sunday. The second-year starter went 22/31 for 316 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT. He made throws all over the field and also rushed for 47 yards.
We have talked about in recent weeks about Trubisky’s pocket awareness and moving from his first to the second read. We know it’s going to be a process and he is not going to be a star overnight. And Sunday was another step in his quest to being one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. He showcased his game by making plays with his feet, throwing the long ball, and executing the offense. I was pleased with Trubiksy’s performance and he will have one of his biggest tests of the season next week with Tom Brady and the Patriots in town.
Let’s take a look at some of Trubisky’s top moments from Week 6.
Trubisky keep on a zone read
A big part of the Bears offense is RPO’s (run-pass option). Here the Bears are aligned in TRIPS left or a 3×1 set. Jordan Howard is the lone back. The play call is zone left and Trubisky’s job is to read the backside defensive end. If he crashes down the line, he will keep the ball and get to the edge. If the DE runs upfield, it’s a give to the running back. Meanwhile, the wide receivers at the bottom of your screen are running a screen. But the Bears do not have numbers so Trubisky does not even look over at the TRIPS side. On this play, he keeps the ball and finds green grass for a gain of 28 on the first play of the second half. But watch Howard here. His run fake is very important to the success of RPO’s if he does not get the ball. These play calls are frequent in Nagy’s system and play to the strength of Trubisky.
Trubisky and the deep ball
Here the Bears isolated WR Taylor Gabriel on the weak side of the formation. His wide split above the numbers yells a fade route or a deep post or crossing route. In this case, he runs a fade route and Trubisky’s throw in on the money for a gain of 54. It would set up a 21-yard touchdown run from Tarik Cohen.
With Trubisky’s deep ball accuracy improving, Nagy will give him more chances to hit his receivers downfield. Allen Robinson, Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Try Burton all have the ability to be deep ball threats. The Bears offense will continue to evolve and deep routes such as fades, posts, and crossers (post-corner) will be more frequent.
A perfectly executed back shoulder throw
This was my favorite throw of the afternoon. Robinson is isolated on the backside of the formation and runs what looks to be like a STEM route. He breaks inside then plants hard to the outside and Trubisky delivers a strike to only where Robinson could get it.
Trubisky is growing and while there is still a long way to go, his performance week to week has been promising. His performance vs. Tampa Bay was sensational and his first of hopefully many big games in a Bears uniform. But is he going to put up those numbers every week? Bears fans would love that. But Trubisky came back down to Earth on Sunday. He made some smart decisions but some poor ones too. He is not going to be perfect every game but he has to limit the bad decisions if he expects to have success.
Tarik Cohen is turning into a very special player in the NFL and Nagy’s system compliments his skill set very well. The second-year pro ran for 31 yards and a touchdown adding 90 yards through the air.
Last week, I wrote that getting Cohen 8-10 touches a game is a good baseline. He has the play-making ability with his speed and ability to be an efficient route runner whether it’s from out of the backfield or in the slot. In Miami Gardens, the speedy, shifty back had 12 touches and was a huge part of the offense’s success. He is becoming the featured back with Jordan Howard watching from the sideline.
I did not just pull Cohen’s touch count out of a hat. He needs the ball in his hands enough times to be effective. Outside Zone, stretch, jet sweep, and routes out of the backfield are what Cohen does really well. His role in the offense will continue to evolve every week.
Kyle Fuller had two interceptions in the loss, matching his career high for picks in a game ( had 2 INT’s in 2014 @ SF). It was good to see Fuller be around the ball after not having an interception since the Browns game last season.
No one is going to forget his dropped pick vs. Green Bay to open up the season. It would have sealed the victory. Outside of that, he had not made a lot of noise, good or bad, these past few weeks. After that big free agent contract, he was one of the under-performing players through fives games. But it all changed Sunday and turned in his best performance of the season. Fuller had a monster year last year to earn his contract and they need him to be even better for years to come.
Speaking of Jordan Howard, his fumble put him on the sideline for a majority of the second half. A fumble in the red zone is an easy way to get yourself benched.
Howard has been subject to trade rumors in recent days due to the injury of Jay Ajayi in Philadelphia. I do not think the Bears will move him because their price will be too high but they really should think about it. He really does not fit in this offense and if you can get value for him, I’d move him.
Look, Howard is a fine player. He rushed for over 1,000 yards his first two seasons in the league and proved he can handle the workload of 20-25 carries every game. The former Hoosier runs zone very well and is a patient runner, but he lacks the speed and pass catching, route running ability to be a big part of Nagy’s offense. If he does not get moved before the deadline, he could be moved this offseason. Regardless, the Bears should target a versatile back in April’s draft who can take a beating between the tackles and be a threat in the passing game.
Leonard Floyd and the Bears pass rush was nowhere to be found on Sunday. Khalil Mack was dealing with an ankle injury and it obviously hindered his performance.
But let’s focus on Floyd. Where is he? I get the first two games he was dealing with a club on this hand and that hurt his ability to work his pass rush moves and disengage from blockers. Now, he is playing with minimal protection on the right hand and has not yet recorded a sack this season.
Mack cannot do it all. Floyd and Aaron Lynch have to contribute. It’s not too convincing to see Floyd not getting home to the QB but we heard so much this offseason about his progress. He showed plenty of flashes his first two years in the league even though they were both cut short by injury. But you saw the speed and strength on tape to feel good about 94. The Bears have to hope he starts playing better because he was supposed to be the featured outside linebacker before Mack showed up.
Roquan Smith led the team in tackles with 13 and was flying around the field. One thing I want to point out is Smith was going to have this huge microscope on his this season being a first-round pick and them missing all of training camp, but with the addition of Mack, he almost becomes an afterthought. Do you see what I’m seeing? I hope so.
My statement does not mean that Smith’s impact is not important. The Bears drafted the Georgia Bulldog to be a force, a leader of the defense for the future. His aggressiveness along with his speed makes him a special player and arguably was the best college football player last season. Smith will continue to make significant steps this season and will have some performances that will make us jump for joy.
This game was one to forget for Eddie Jackson, who had several missed tackles and a blown coverage on Nick O’Leary’s touchdown.
Jackson had two interceptions and a forced fumble this season screaming the potential to be an All-Pro safety. But Sunday’s performance was far from his best. You watch the tape, learn from it, and move on. We know Jackson is a much better player then what we saw in Miami. He’ll bounce back and will have to be at his best vs. New England.
Cody Parkey missed the game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime, giving the Bears bad memories of kickers past. Ever since the Bears moved on from Robbie Gould, they have failed to find consistency at the kicker position. And Parkey missed his second of the season on Sunday.
The Bears guaranteed Parkey $9 million over four years. That’s a nice bag of change for a kicker. There are going to be a lot of close games this season and beyond and the Bears need someone they can trust. The Bears offense did its job. It set up a kick in Parkey’s range but he did not execute. The snap was low and it could have thrown off his rhythm, but the hold was fine. Again, time to move on and the Bears are going to rely on Parkey many more times this season.