By Thomas Gibbons
The Bears took care of business on the lakefront Sunday afternoon in a 16-6 dominate win over the Minnesota Vikings. They were without five starters, including a surprising inactive of LB Roquan Smith for personal reasons, and lost Mitch Trubisky in the first offensive series made matters worse for their starting group. But Chase Daniel stepped in and drove the Bears down the field for six and set up three field goals after that. The Bears defense, well, they are the best in the NFL.
Let’s get into my takeaways from Sunday’s win on the lakefront.
Mitch Trubisky injured his left shoulder during the first series, exited the game and did not return. After seeing the replay, Trubisky landed awkwardly on his left shoulder and it did not look good. He would immediately leave the game and did not return.
According to David J. Chao, he believes by video that Trubisky dislocated his non-throwing shoulder. Here’s more from Chao from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Typically, this means surgery. But since it is Trubisky’s non-throwing shoulder, surgery can wait. He can play with a shoulder strap/harness. If it were his throwing shoulder his season would be done. (Blaine Gabbert similarly dislocated his non-throwing shoulder and was ultimately put on injured reserve by the Buccaneers.)
Even though he can play, an acute dislocation is quite painful and the risk of re-dislocation would be very high if he were to return Sunday. Indeed, Trubisky was ruled out today. He likely will miss the next week and possibly two. The Bears have put the rest of the game and likely more in Chase Daniel’s hands.
Again, this is all speculation from watching the injury. We should know more on Trubisky on Monday when Nagy meets the media. Worst case scenario is Trubisky misses next week in London vs. Oakland, recovers over the bye week, and make it back for the Saints on October 20th. And if it is a dislocated shoulder with a torn labrum, another note Chao said, this amount of rest would be the best medicine for Trubisky.
Chase Daniel came in and executed the offense well enough for the Bears to put up enough points to win the ball game. Also, being backed up by a dominate defense is going to help you out a lot too. It was a nice game from Daniel no question about it but he is not going to take over games for you. The Bears have bigger games down the road and are going to have to put up points. Daniel is a game manager while the upside of Trubisky can lead this offense to new heights. The Bears do have a first place schedule and they need their young quarterback ready to go when the lights are the brightest.
Without both Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith out, the Bears depth was going to be tested. Defensive linemen Roy Robertson-Harris and Nick Williams along with linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski were going to have to step up. Did they? You bet the did.
Robertson-Harris- 3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for loss
Williams- 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss
Kwiatkowski- 10 tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss
A performance like this against Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offense is quite amazing. Akiem Hicks and Roquan Smith were missed but these filled the void. Their performances was just a flash of how effective they can be in this defense and when everyone is healthy, the Bears will be two or even three deep at some positions in their front seven. That is dangerous.
Robertson-Harris and Williams are nice finds by General Manager Ryan Pace. Robertson-Harris was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He is finally reaching his potential and it is great to see. Williams on the other hand was drafted by the Steelers in 2013. He bounced around from the Steelers to the Chiefs to the Dolphins then signed by the Bears last season. He recorded his first career sack this season against the Broncos.
Hicks injured his knee in Washington last week and did not practice all week. His status for Week 5 in London vs. Oakland in unknown. Smith was a surprised scratch. The Bears later announced it was for personal reasons. Nagy was asked about Smith after the game but said he was going to leave it at personal reasons.
Matt Nagy backed up Monday night’s win in Washington with another nicely called game Sunday. The coach calls the plays and the players have to execute it. The play calling under Nagy for the first two games of the season was highly criticized. The offense struggled and did not get into a rhythm, something that should not be happening with all the weapons they have on offense.
Daniel executed the offense pretty well like I referred to earlier. It would have been nice to see Trubisky with the original game plan. Maybe the Bears punched in a touchdown or two instead of settling for field goals. Going back to Daniel, he made some nice throws to keep the sticks moving. And David Montgomery had 21 carries but only 53 yards. It is going to be very important to get Montgomery and the entire running game going week in and week out. There were a few runs he was close to breaking it for a big gain. Keep feeding him the rock and he will break some big runs.
Javon Wims had his best game as a pro on Sunday, catching four passes for 56 yards. It was good to see Daniel connect with one of his biggest targets on Sunday. The former 7th round pick from last year is getting a big opportunity in this offense. He was announced as a starter on Sunday and was effective.
The Bears receiving corps looks nice on paper but not everyone has put up big numbers on the field. Taylor Gabriel has three touchdowns to his name and everyone else is still looking for their first one. It has been a weird start for the Bears offense but their last two games have been a step in the right direction and Wims is apart of it. Whoever it at QB, you got a big receiver on the outside who can get those 50/50 balls. I hope we see more of Wims being productive.
Eddy Pineiro was 3 for 3 on fields goal and made his only extra point attempt. Pineiro has been dealing with a right knee injury. He has sat out some practices but he gutted it out Sunday afternoon. Even Matt Nagy took notice of it.
It is a huge sigh of relief for not only the Bears but the fans that they chose the right kicker. Pineiro sealed the deal in Denver, extended the Bears lead on Sunday all while dealing with an injury. During the offseason and the preseason, it got annoying hearing about the kicking position. Fans wanted to hear about Trubisky and the offense, not how wide did Pineiro miss a field goal at Halas Hall. It is not the most enticing news. Yet it was a topic of discussion all the way up to opening night. All in all, the Bears got it right with Pineiro and he, along with Khalil Mack, will face his former team in the Raiders this Sunday in London.
Even with Trubisky’s status up in the air, you have to feel good about where the Bears are right now. Vic Fangio’s departure was unfortunate. The Bears defense was one of the best in the league in a lot of categories under Fangio. The coach may have left, but the players did not. Chuck Pagano brings a more aggressive system and the Bears have flourished. The thought that the Bears defensive unit would regress after losing Fangio seemed silly. And so far, the Bears have proven all those people wrong.
With this defense, the Bears can win games even with a limited offense. I would say Trubisky misses two weeks, one being the bye, giving him plenty of time to get ready for the bulk of the season. The Bears are 3-1 and while they can get a whole lot better on offense, you could not have asked for a better start.