3 and out: Trubisky era brings hope but still ends in a loss

It was all change at quarterback in Chicago as exciting rookie Mitchell Trubisky replaced the ponderous Mike Glennon, but in the end it was the same old story. Turnovers and a loss. Dave Usher reports…

So Mitch did ok…

Mitchell Trubisky did ok on his much anticipated first start. Not great, not terrible. Just ok. His stat line looks bad but the eyes told a more positive story. He made mistakes, as you’d expect, and he wasn’t helped much by the lack of talent around him in the offensive huddle (and some of the play calling), which again was to be expected. He looked calm and confident though and his ability to escape the pocket and make plays gives the Bears something to build on.

He had two turnovers, the first of which he had no chance with as Everson Griffen took a chance and jumped the snap count to blow by Charles Leno before he was even out of his stance. Mitch didn’t see him and the time between the ball being snapped and then being stripped from the rookie’s hands was less than two seconds. Later in the game Griffen tried to do the same thing and was called offside, so Leno just got a bit unlucky on the first one, as did Trubisky.

The INT late in the game was a mistake though and hopefully Trubisky will learn from it. I’ve seen far worse INT’s than that one and it was a pretty well thrown ball, but Harrison Smith made a great break on it. That’s why Smith is a Pro Bowler and you can’t take chances like that with him. This is what happens when you’re practising against the Bears secondary every week, as a QB you get lulled into a false sense of security because they haven’t intercepted a pass since Charles Tillman retired, or at least it feels that way.

Mitch did throw his first NFL touchdown, although it’s not one he’ll look back on with any great satisfaction as there was a large slice of luck involved. Rolling to the right and throwing across his body to the middle of the field is Jay Cutler behaviour, and it almost ended with a trademark Cutler redzone pick. Fortunately for Trubisky, not only did Viking safety Andrew Sandejo fail to secure the interception, he succeeded only in batting it up and into the arms of a gleeful Zach Miller. Still, it was impossible not to be impressed with the way Trubisky bought time for himself before gesturing to his veteran tight end where he needed him to run.

Even better was to follow on the two point conversion when Dowell Loggains rolled out a beautiful double option play that saw Trubisky hand off to Howard, who then pitched it to Miller who tossed it back to Trubisky for a walk in score. It really was a work of art and it energised an entire fan base. Soon after the Bears had the ball with a little over two minutes remaining and a chance for Trubisky to complete the fairytale. It wasn’t to be, but this was still a fun ride all things considered.

Leonard Floyd showed up big

The D put forth a sterling effort again all things considered. They were completely dominant in the first half, which was partly due to Sam Bradford not wanting to be out there and falling to the floor any time a defensive player so much as breathed in his vicinity. He was clearly hurt and couldn’t escape the pocket, but even allowing for that the Bears defense played great.

Akiem Hicks was monstrous again, Leonard Floyd had his best game of the year and John Timu was killing it until he had to leave the game after a nasty looking fall. The top three insider linebackers on the roster were already out, and with Timu departing too that left Christian Jones and 6th stringer Jonathon Anderson back there and the Vikings were eventually able to capitalise on that by running the ball and running a hurry up offense that caused some confused for the Bears makeshift linebacker group.

The Bears defense is almost always competitive and with an offense that could actually score some points they’d look even better. They just don’t take the ball away though and it’s tough to win when you lose the turnover battle almost every week.

More trickeration please!

The two point conversion was great, but the play of the game was the fake punt that completely fooled the Vikings and saw punter Pat O’Donnell chuck to a wide open Benny Cunningham who beat two defenders to find the end zone. The Bears never do stuff like this and it was fantastic. More of this please, Foxy.

Obviously they’ll need to pick their spots, but really what do the Bears have to lose now? As things stand John Fox would be extremely fortunate to keep his job given his overall record as the Bears coach. Grinding out one or two extra wins won’t be the difference in him staying or getting fired, the key to that will be how the team looks. Are the Bears getting better, is there something to cling to moving forward? Playing it safe isn’t going to cut it because the team aren’t talented enough to win without taking some risks.

 

 

Fox needs to up his game though because his use of time outs was clownish on Monday. 4th and 2 deep in Vikings territory with no score in the game, Fox decides to go for it but then with the play clock counting down he calls time to think about it. He then sends on the punt unit – presumably to try and confuse Minnesota – but quickly brings them off and sends out the offense again, only for them to not get the play in and pick up a delay of game penalty and lose 5 yards and have to punt anyway. Appalling.

Then in the second half the Vikings call time out and then before they run the next play the Bears call one themselves. What a waste. They could have used that late on when the Vikings ran the clock down before kicking the winning field goal with only a few seconds left on the clock. Things like this separate the good teams from the bad ones.

The extra point:

I keep saying it, but the worst thing about the NFL are the refs. They were brutal in this game and while it wasn’t totally one sided by any means, as a Bears fan I’m more aware of the rough calls that went against my team, and there were several. They were game changers too.

Jordan Howard had a long TD run wiped off because of a hold by Markus Wheaton. It may have been a hold but if you wanted you could call those on every single play. Having said that, there was a much more obvious one that wasn’t called in week 3 when Howard scored a game winning overtime TD. You could argue that balances out this one, except that the one against the Steelers wouldn’t have even been necessary if the refs had done their job and not wiped out a terrific TD run by Tarik Cohen a couple of plays before.

Trubisky had the Bears moving the ball well in the first half but penalty after penalty kept killing drives. There was an offensive pass interference called against Tre McBride that was an absolute joke. Just let them play and stop throwing flags for trivial things. And while I’m at it, the league needs to ban players from wearing stupid bright yellow gloves and socks because it’s confusing as hell and it looked like there were flags being thrown on every play. Yes Laquon Treadwell, I’m looking at you, ditch the yellow clobber.

The coup de grace came right at the end when the Bears were trying to get the ball back following Trubisky’s INT. It looked like they’d stopped the Vikings and sent them backwards for what would have been a long FG attempt when Floyd sacked Case Keenum, but Floyd was flagged for a phantom indiscretion. That was effectively game over as the Bears could not stop the clock to get the ball back, and it put the Vikings into chip shot field goal territory.

It would be too simplistic to say the refs are the reason the Bears didn’t win, but they sure as hell made it more difficult than it should have been. Good teams find a way to overcome such things, bad teams are sunk by them. We know what the Bears are.

A game ball for…

Leonard Floyd. The Bears need last year’s 1st round pick to be explosive in his second year, especially with Willie Young now out for the season. He was great against the Vikings, recording a safety and a couple of other sacks. Hopefully he can build on this as he’s shown flashes but never put a consistent run together.

Dave Usher

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David Usher
Site Editor / Bears, Bulls & NFL Correspondant
Day job is writing about footy for 'the Liverpool Way' and ESPN FC. Love the Bears and Bulls too though, which is why I'm here.
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