Monday night’s football game between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings should be the last time the Bears are seen in a national broadcast in 2017 and that is quite fine.
Not only should NFL nation not have to be subjected to games that stand at a 3-2 score for one half plus (except maybe Jerry Jones, in an infinite loop, with his eyes taped open), but no upcoming Bears contest against the likes of the Lions or Browns will come close to showcasing so much of what 2017 really is for Chicago’s pro football franchise.
The 20-17 loss was a perfect snapshot for the Bears, who trotted out their latest prized rookie savior amid a beautiful night along the Chicago lakeshore, a night where they played hard, played dumb at crucial times and in the end were outmanned and settled into their spot as a minor distraction as we wait for the Cubs to play again.
To no one’s surprise Trubisky was not the best quarterback on the field Monday night, that was the rescuing Case Keenum, who saved the game for Minnesota after starter Sam Bradford proved himself not up for the job on this evening.
Trubisky, unfortunately, wasn’t the best thrower on his team though. Pat O’Donnell’s brilliant execution of the fake punt pass called in the third quarter to give Benny Cunningham his first score as a Bear was by far the most accurate Chicago pass of the game and its 38 yards accumulated made it the longest Bears pass play of the season.
Willing to believe that play stays in the top ten of that category by season’s end. If the new starting QB can bump it down to No. 10 at some point then we may really be on to something with this Trubisky fella.
Keeping it Tru
But #TRUbisky (real playas say Tru) showed some real flashes of the type of on-field energy and athleticism that most of the Bears fandom was thirsting for out of the QB position, the types of traits that Trubisky teased us with in the preseason.
There were some good scrambles, some passes with zip and there was also so-so connections (12 of 25 completions), a Mike Glennon-like five yards per completion and towards the end, with the game still in dispute, an interception that would have made Jay Cutler offer the kid a hit off his short square.
The good thing though is that none of this was beyond the pale for a 23 year old calling signals in his first NFL start. With Kendall Wright as his top receiver. And Markus Wheaton as his second, meaning that there is no second. And against a top-five defense in the league.
Mitch was money in one drive, though the eventual score was as adventurous as starting a rookie QB in Week 5 is on its own. Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo tipping the ball to Zach Miller could be seen as a sign of good fortune to come, but the two-point conversion that followed was a sign that #MoneyMakingMitch can be called on to show some flash.
That Play, Oh, That Play
In a nod to our “Instant Reaction” posts here, I’ll just let some tweets do the work for me.
Line Backed Down
There’s no arguing that Danny Trevathian deserved some punishment for his helmet to helmet hit of Davante Adams in the blowout loss to Green Bay two Thursdays ago.
As he missed Monday night’s game due to his one game suspension (reduced from an initial two) one could only think of the good fortunes involved in Trevathian not having a past record of dirty play and Adams being able to play — and help Green Bay win — just a week later.
If just one of those things wasn’t the case maybe Trevathian gets that second game and then the Bears would be without their top three inside linebackers for a yet another week.
Oh, wait, make that top four inside linebackers…
John Timu’s mid-game injury Monday was bad news on top of more bad news for a Bears linebacker corps that has to be sick of it. Timu and Christian Jones came into Monday night with 29 starts between them, less than two whole regular seasons and thousands of less pro reps than the likes of Trevathian and Jerrell Freeman, who is weeks into his stint in Injured Reserve.
Add on the hobbling of the still hopeful young defensive play caller Nick Kwiatkoski with an injured pectoral and the Bears had a mashed unit (in search of a MASH unit) on detail up the middle of its defense and in the second half against the Vikings various runners took advantage of inexperience and ill preparedness that had to have made Trubisky feel like everything would be alright.
Several times Jerick McKinnon looked like the kind of player who will certainly keep Minnesota’s offense moving in the wake of losing star rookie runner Dalvin Cook for the rest of the season, his 95 yards rushing and 5.9 average were deadly in the second half and Case Keenum’s ability to roam the pocket didn’t help the Bears, who had gained confidence with pressuring the wobbly Sam Bradford. By the time McKinnon ran off a 58-yard score late in the third quarter the Bears were a long way from the first quarter safety produced by Leonard Floyd.
Certainly Floyd was a bright spot, but edge rushing isnt an issue right now for the Bears and a team that can tout both him and Akiem Hicks will find ways to occupy opposing teams’ backfields a few plays a game, but what about the other 50 or 60 a game?
That’s where it helps to have inside LBs who can occupy running lanes, read QBs pre-snap and perform effective delayed blitzes among other things.
The Bears can’t have much confidence in their inside guys to do those things at a level to beat most teams and as long as injury and inexperience stand in their way of doing so, close losses like Monday’s will be the best they can do.
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