Mitch Trubisky silenced his doubters with a stunning six touchdown performance in the Chicago Bears surprising 48-10 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Bears dominated both sides of the ball and their position on top of the NFC North is perhaps not as temporary as most felt it would be. Dave Usher reports…
This was incredible. I’m still struggling to believe it actually happened. When was the last time the Bears played like this on both offense and defense? I certainly don’t have the answer, but I’ve only been watching the Bears on a weekly basis since 2009 when the advent of streaming made it possible.
Long time Bears fan and ESPN Chicago radio host Marc Silverman (of the Waddle & Silvy show) described the first half as the best Bears performance of his lifetime. His partner on the show, former Bears wide receiver Tom Waddle, said it was the best he’d seen since since he arrived in Chicago in 1989.
We just watched the best half of #Bears football in our lifetime. Seriously!
— Silvy (@WaddleandSilvy) September 30, 2018
A lot of people far more knowledgeable than me were worried about Mitch Trubisky, so it stands to reason I would be. There hadn’t been much to hang your hat on if you were a believer in Mitch, but this game is huge now. It’s credit in the bank. Next time he has a bad game it will be because he had a bad game, not because he isn’t a capable NFL quarterback. We know now that he can do it. Before this game we didn’t, we only hoped he could. This has removed a lot of the doubts.
It doesn’t necessarily take the pressure off him as he still needs to perform consistently, but this one game has at least proved that he has it in him. As Trubisky himself pointed out afterwards though, he couldn’t have done it without the rest of the offense all doing their jobs. The o-line gave him all day to throw, the receivers made plays and Matt Nagy called the perfect game.
It seemed as though everything Nagy dialled up worked. At one point the Bears had two QB’s in the backfield. A play they named “Willy Wonka”. It resulted in a shovel pass from Trubisky to Taylor Gabriel for a TD. It felt like Nagy completely caught the Bucs by surprise. The Bears offense is invariably just a mix of runs and screen passes and it’s relatively easy to defend against, especially when you know it’s coming.
Trubisky’s inaccuracy had made anything else difficult. He had been unable to get the ball down the field and had missed a lot of throws you’d expect an NFL quarterback to make. Nagy had obviously seen something in how Tampa’s defense sets up to know that they could have great success throwing downfield, as Mitch came out slinging. Watching this was surreal. Was this actually the Chicago Bears?
Don’t tell me how bad the Bucs were, because it doesn’t matter. They were 2-1 going into the game and Ryan Fitzpatrick had become the first QB in the entire history of the NFL to throw for 400 yards in three consecutive games. So yeah, don’t tell me this performance was because the Bucs were bad.
There are plenty of bad teams in the NFL. The Bucs aren’t one of them but they clearly had a bad day. How much of that was because of the pressure the Bears put them under? How many teams could have lived with the Bears in this form? Not many I would suggest. The NFL is a week to week league and what you see one week means nothing the week after.
Last week the Bills went into Minnesota and whupped the Vikings. This week they got stomped in Green Bay. You just never know what to expect. The Bears have been great defensively so far but the offense had shown virtually nothing. Maybe the Bucs defense were complacent? No-one would have expected Trubisky to have five TD passes in the first half.
Receivers were running open all over the field. Trubisky has had accuracy issues, especially with the deep ball, but this week he managed to hit the open receivers (barring one underthrown ball to Allen Robinson that would have been a certain TD) and it was incredible to see a Bears offense functioning like this. It was like watching Drew Brees and the Saints, or Matt Ryan‘s Falcons. The Bears don’t do this on offense. The Bears have never done this on offense. Yet here they were, doing it on offense. Wow.
The defense smothered the Bucs and Khalil Mack was a beast again. Four games, four strip sacks. Incredible. He also had an assist on an INT when he hit the arm of Jameis Winston and the ball popped up for Danny Trevathan to haul in. Last year the Bears had eight INTs on the season. The year before it was the same. They’ve already got eight through only four games this year. They lead the league in sacks too.
After the unconvincing win in Arizona a week ago, Nagy addressed the team afterwards and admitted that the defense is carrying them right now, but insisted that the offense would catch up. I doubt that he believed it would be the very next week though.
There was so much to love about this game. So many great plays. So many great individual performances. I think my favourite play of the game was the touchdown for Josh Bellamy though. The Bears have been throwing bubble screens to Tarik Cohen out of that formation all year long, and it’s been trying to the patience of a lot of Bears fans who have been complaining about how predictable it is. Sometimes you can use that though.
The Bucs thought they knew what was coming. Trubisky pump faked and two defenders moved towards Cohen, leaving Bellamy wide open down the sideline. Cohen was signalling for a TD even before the ball had left the hands of Trubisky because he saw that both defenders had taken the bait. It was great to see. Nice for Mitch to throw TD number six on the day, and nice for Bellamy to get a score after some of the problems he’s had with drops over the past couple of years.
The Bears have a bye now, which comes at the worst possible time really as you’d want to build on this kind of momentum. Still, 3-1 after the first quarter of the season is a solid start and this team is clearly better than most people believed they would be. They’ve got a Super Bowl calibre defense so what happens now depends entirely on how the offense can progress. They still have a long way to go but at least we’ve seen what is possible when it all clicks.
A Game Ball for….
Mitch Trubisky. How could it be anyone else really after a performance like that?