By Thomas Gibbons
The Bears win Monday night in the nation’s capital can be summed up in a few words: a team win.
Mitch Trubisky did not play good football in the first two games of the season. Monday night was a golden opportunity to get back on track against the struggling Redskins. And he did just that throwing for three touchdowns and completing over 80 percent of his passes. It was a step in the right direction for the third year starter. As for the defense, five turnovers is a recipe for success and the offense capitalized off those turnovers. They took care of a bad team and kept pace in what is shaping out to be a tough NFC North division.
Let’s get into a few takeaways from Monday night.
After a rough start out of the gate in the first two games, Trubisky played his best game of the season when he needed to.
The home opener could not have been any worse for the Bears offense. Trubisky looked like a rookie all over again and could not get his unit in a rhythm. In Denver, Trubisky was not phenomenal but did make the throw to Allen Robinson to set up the game wining field goal. He took care of the ball but was not very convincing after another offseason in Matt Nagy’s offense. So you could imagine the eyes on Trubisky in primetime Monday night but he delivered.
One stat that sticks out is Trubisky on third-down. He went 10-11 for 133 yards passing. The Redskins third-down defense was pitiful and the Bears took advantage. Going back to the first two contests, the Bears were 6 of 26 on third-down. Not a great recipe for success. We saw first-hand the success you can have when you convert and keep the drive going.
Looking at Turbisky’s three touchdown passes, all were to his speedy receiver Taylor Gabriel. The first two were wide open throws. The third one was probably Trubisky’s best throw of his young career.
All you can say is wow after watching this. It was that kind of a throw. These are the kind of flashes that get you excited about Trubisky. He needs more of these. He has weapons all over the field. It all goes back to execution.
Execution goes hand in hand with the playcalling, and I thought Nagy called a pretty good game. Fans have thrown out the phrase “Nagy is getting too cute” and it’s hard to argue that sometimes. The Bears playbook is big. Can you imagine being handed that file at the start of OTAs? Overwhelming. Nagy has to put his quarterback in the best position to get the offense going and I thought he did a good job of that Monday night. There was a nice mix of quick game, RPOs, and while the Bears did not run the ball a whole lot in the first half, it was a priority in the second half.
I always like to look at the pass chart after the game for Trubisky. As expected, Trubisky does well completing passes in the 10-15 yard range. His deep ball accuracy is still a work in progress. In the coming weeks, I really want to see Trubisky take shots and complete throws to the likes of Anthony Miller, Allen Robinson and Trey Burton. It should be a big part of the offense and Nagy has given Trubisky the chances to do so but has not hit on the throws. It’s the part of Trubisky’s growth that is missing and will not be a great quarterback unless he can hit on the deep ball.
Up to this point, Trubisky has shown flashes of being a franchise quarterback and others times where you ask yourself if the Bears made the right decision on draft day a few years ago. We cannot wait forever for him to develop and in year three as a starter and year two with Nagy, it’s go time. Monday night was a good game on Trubisky’s resume. He has to build off that and start stacking good games in order to convince the Bears he is the long-term answer. The contract being handed out at the quarterback position is insane money but they are players who have shown up time and time again. It’s time for Trubisky to flip that switch and I believe he can do it.
The Bears need to run the ball more!
David Montgomery finished with 67 yards on 13 carries Monday night. It was a solid night for the rookie running back and his longest run of 25 showed off his patience and burst into the open field. But I want to see more of Montgomery and I hope it’s a bigger part of the game plan going forward.
Tarik Cohen is not going to be used as a traditional running back. A player with his stature cannot take the beating of 15-20 carries a game. You have Montgomery and Mike Davis to handle the beating in the trenches. We know Nagy is not afraid to go pass heavy at times to get the offense going but you invested in Montgomery for a reason. When Montgomery got the ball in his hands in the fourth quarter, it lead to points. He is going to find the hole and burst while refusing to go down to get that extra yard or two. He’s a tough kid and his role in the offense will continue to increase.
The Bears will play host to the Minnesota Vikings Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. Their defense is one of the league’s best but if they can get the run game going, it opens up the pass game for Trubisky and Co. Davis, Montgomery, Cohen, and even Patterson should get their looks in the backfield.
What run plays do I like for the Bears? For Cohen and Patterson, getting them to the edge favors their speed. Montgomery and Davis are more of downhill runners. Zone, power and trap should be in the game plan this week. You have to have a mix of schemes vs. a stout Vikings front seven.
Remember when the defense was supposed to take a step back this season? Yeah, me either.
The Bears defense was in mid-season form Monday night against Case Keenum and the Redskins offense. Chuck Pagano’s group was lights out, forcing 5 turnovers. And when they brought the pressure, they finished. Let’s highlight a few players performances.
Khalil Mack put on a clinic. It looked too easy for the All-Pro pass rusher. Mack would finish with two sacks and two forced fumbles. It was yet another highlight reel for 52.
Looking at this sack, Vernon Davis is put up to the task to block Mack. We saw last week in Denver Noah Fant’s attempt to block Mack and it did not end well. Putting a tight end on this guy is not the best move. Mack simply beats him with speed.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was a Redskin not too long ago and you always get a little more juiced up going against your former team. Oh boy did Clinton-Dix show up. A pick-six got the scoring going and he was all over the field Monday night. He finished with nine tackles, two interceptions, two passes defended and the score. He’s a natural playmaker and that is why the Bears brought him in. The duo of Clinton-Dix and Jackson is dangerous. Both are ball-hawks who can play the middle of the field and break on the ball. When you watch Clinton-Dix’s second interception, he’s playing as a high safety in the middle of the field. He reads Keenum’s eyes and breaks on the ball perfectly.
Last player I want to highlight is Danny Trevathan, the leader and play caller of the defense. Trevathan has seen success in the early stages of Pagano’s scheme and last night proved it.
I did not notice the move Trevathan put on the right guard until I watched it a second time. Veteran move here and it’s a good one. Pagano is not afraid to be aggressive with his linebackers on passing downs. The other big play from Trevathan was his forced fumble in the fourth quarter. Keenum extended the ball over the pile and and Trevathan punched it out of his hands.
Nagy is going to get creative and we saw that when the Bears got down to the red zone.
Cordarrelle Patterson was brought in to be a kick returner and to be a gadget guy for Nagy. He can be used in a variety of ways on offense and we saw yet another way Nagy can scheme for Patterson to be a playmaker Monday night.
This formation is called Full House. With the ball on the right hashmark here, it leaves plenty of green for the Bears to get to the edge. Patterson is lined up to take the direct snap. You can do a lot of things out of this formation. It could be a handoff to Cohen, who is on the right side of Patterson. It could be double lead with a handoff to Montgomery. But in this instance, Patterson takes the snap and takes it around the left edge with all three backs lead blocking. This is a look we could be seeing more from Nagy. I think it’s something that should be brought out at least once or twice a game knowing the athletes the Bears can put in the backfield.
Stay with Windy City Chronicle all week for more Bears coverage from myself and Johnny Hatelak.