By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
There’s not gonna be much to this column, mainly cause I’m writing this later than usual and I don’t want there to be much to it.
Also, this wasn’t that much of an inspiring game to write about. Its funny how these things play out. I could have written all night about the first game of the season, mainly out of anger, and last week I had a reprieve from the Bears and took my first league-wide approach to the column, in doing so I had a buffet of items available to me in what was a particularly notable Week 2 of the NFL season.
Week 3 was pretty fun too across the league, even if the Chicago Bears’ 16-14 win over Arizona was far from aesthetically pleasing and way too stressful than we really needed it to be, at least it didn’t go down with the other upsets, which is what this week will have to be remembered for.
In the end, it would seem we underestimated a Cardinals defense that while not as talented as its been in recent years, still has retained some talent, enough talent to rattle Mitchell Trubisky, who in the pocket is getting closer to “Shaggy and Scooby in a haunted house status” with the likes of Chandler Jones only needing to cover themselves with white sheets to spook him.
It seemed that Arizona wanted to run the pressure up on Trubisky early on, they did that, and so did the Cardinals’ offense on the Bears’ defense, which shockingly allowed 14 points in the first quarter and those were the first 14 points in the game, as the Bears ended their early season streak of scoring in their opening drive as they did against Green Bay and Seattle.
In a busy Sunday where Tiger Woods was capturing his first PGA win in forever and Ol’ Hawk Harrelson was warbling his last good-byes at the park he opened and saw through numerous corporate name changes, the Bears were considerate enough to make their first half play worthy of remote action before recovering in the second half, outscoring the Cardinals 13-0 in the third and fourth quarters and continuing a comeback started late in the second with a somewhat-satisfying field goal drive.
That second half pretty much started with a nice Eddie Jackson interception and it should have ended with one too, a pick-six on top of that, if not for Khalil Mack of all people being called for an off-sides penalty.
Though it goes down as Mack’s first noticable mistake as a Bear, I choose to look at it positively as a sign that Mack is not actually a impossibly-programmed cyborg who was sent back in time from a defense-less NFL — our only legislatively accepted form of entertainment in a dystopic America now run by a cabal including Kylie Jenner, Milo Yiannopoulos and Michael Strahan — to tear down the League while it was in the initial stage of becoming a place where Clay Matthews would have to ask for permission before physically engaging any quarterback.
Short of being The Terminator IRL, Mack is already the front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year and could maybe make himself into a rare contender for League MVP if he keeps up performances like those of his first three weeks.
There wasn’t the sudden sting involved in Mack’s performance and the defense’s overall as there was in Weeks 1 and 2, where they came out banging and ended each game giving up multiple scores in the fourth quarter.
In reverse, and really more encouraging, the Bears nuevo-Monsters shut down the opponent for the final three quarters and forced Arizona into the wrong-headed decision of debuting rookie QB Josh Rosen against maybe the most intimidating defense in the game right now and while asking him to win in come-from-behind fashion. Rosen looked like a snack and we don’t mean that he was looking cute on Instagram.
Back to Trubisky — who in Rosen’s failing moments had to feel thankful that he doesn’t have to play against the defense he shares a locker room with — he’s going to continue to feel the heat for his sub-par performances but he’s not going anywhere. As much as it would seem that Chase Daniel should be trotted out to game-manage the rest of Sunday’s game, such a benching would seem way too reactionary for a team that yes, is in 1st place.
And you may say that I very much buried the lead by just mentioning that the Bears entered first place due to their winning ugly and the Packers and Vikings just being ugly yesterday, but Chicago can only be excited about this because its been almost five years since the team has led the NFC North at any time and that makes no sense.
But slow and steady wins the race and while the Packers were using up the best years of Aaron Rodgers’ career and winning no Super Bowls in the process, now they are seeing him hobble his behind off to stay close in a game with Washington. And as for prohibitive 2018 North favorite Minnesota — Josh Allen is y’all daddy until further notice. And also — how does that tie taste?
Has to taste worst than almost losing in Arizona, because you either lose or you don’t and the Bears are making themselves more acquainted with not losing at quite an opportune time.
Look at the weaknesses of the teams the Bears are competing with, they are either drastically unexpected or unwanted. If Rodgers takes another bad hit to the knee the Packers are done, and if Minnesota’s defense can’t keep Buffalo to less than 27 points then what are they supposed to do with any team that isn’t bound for the top-5 of the 2019 Draft?
Meanwhile, the Bears are simply developing a young QB — in the meantime those receivers are still gonna make catches (when the ball is in range), Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are still gonna make defenders miss or run them over and the defense is gonna make anyone in front of it pay for even thinking it can control a game against them.
In other words, really the only words this column needed:
On to Tampa!
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR