By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
What a historic and fun day Sunday was out on the lakefront as the Chicago Bears defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-10.
This performance by the Bears revealed a potential ceiling for the entire club, from coaches to players in all phases, all deserving of credit in this rare complete domination of an opponent at Soldier Field.
Offensively, Chicago produced the best game of Mitchell Trubisky’s young career, giving fans much needed relief over the most fretted about area of the team’s development. The Bears’ defense continued to do what they do, and in a league without many great defenses, theirs are rising to the top.
The Buccaneers did their part in securing this victory as well. The Bucs never got anything going anywhere, it seemed like this explosive squad could only offer shells of themselves out on the field, with the actual players and coaches left back on the bus. Fitzmagic ran dry in its fourth week as Tampa Bay’s offense sputtered the whole game. It was even uglier on the other side of the ball as Tampa did their best to prove they have the worst pass defense in the league.
Dirk Koetter was quoted after the game saying everyone on the field for the Bucs should have been fired, including the coaches. Its hard to disagree with that assessment after how bad Koetter’s team looked Sunday, but for the Bears and a long-suffering fan base it was a performance to dream of.
Here are some takeaways from the best victory yet by the NFC North-leading Bears as they head into their bye week.
Right Where You Want to Be
The season has quickly become a story of how far can Mitch can take the Bears? After his first three weeks, a lot was left for fans to desire, but it seemed the whole way that Trubisky’s teammates were riding with him.
Trubisky has been developing and getting more and more comfortable in the new offense. All Mitch needed was a great performance to halt all the ridiculous criticism. Sunday everyone’s faith was rewarded.
Trubisky has talent but he does not have experience and most of his issues were correctable things that should come with more experience, this can be said about his pocket awareness or even his inaccuracy questions.
You know how you get better against the blitz — you play against it. You know how you get better at reading the field — you get reps in the field.
Trubisky looked as comfortable as he ever has in his career on Sunday. It didn’t look like he was thinking through plays or trying to remember what reads to make, instead he looked like he was reading the whole field and working through his progressions with precision. Everything else in his game worked smooth because of how calm his mind was.
In finishing the day with six touchdowns, tied for second most-ever in an NFL game, Trubisky even more encouragingly maintained a near-perfect passer rating (154.6), only Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have had a better rating in a game. Even the made up stat of QBR was great for Mitch, he scored a 98.9 out of a 100.
One game doesn’t make a player, but what a perfect time it is for Mitch to have the game he did. Now the offense can go into the bye week feeling confident, and perhaps they will be able to grow even more with some self-scouting during the time off.
Defense Wins Championships
Fans: take note of the Bears defense as compared to the rest of the league. There haven’t been many performances in the NFL like the Bears have consistently had throughout September. The Bears’ D played “poorly” for a half in Green Bay and a quarter in Arizona, that’s it.
Everything else has been great and just about dominant, with even more big time numbers put up by the entire unit. The Bears added four sacks, with another strip sack from Khalil Mack, which he has now done in every game as a Bears. As a team Chicago has a total of 18 sacks and are second overall in creating turnovers with 11.
In today’s pass-oriented NFL, when you can take the ball away and bring consistent pressure then you are a feared defense. The Bears’ front seven has to arguably be the best in the league based on how they have played so far.
The secondary is growing and getting really good themselves, looking more stingy from week to week. Kyle Fuller is routinely shutting down prime receivers, Eddie Jackson is a legit ball-hawking safety, Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan continue to be solid in the run and pass. The Bears were down for a time to their third string corner in Kevin Toliver II and he still played solid.
Side note, the Bears might have found a steal in Bilal Nichols with what he has shown as a fifth-round pick.
All things are working for the Bears from the starters through its depth ranks and that is a mark of a great defense. This is a pass happy offensive league but defenses still win championships, as we saw from the Eagles last year, and it looks like the Bears defense has Super Bowl potential.
Failing to Prepare = Preparing to Fail
Chalk this up as another impressive week for the Bears coaching staff in getting the Bears prepared for another opponent. It has been so refreshing to see the Bears come into every game prepared for battle.
The only question marks remaining have been the play calling on offense, with some questionable in-game decisions from the first three games. The coaches had a brilliant game plan this week on every side of the ball. Often you hear from players and coaches saying how important it is to bring the practice habits to the game.
The Bears’ practice habits look like they are transitioning to the field routinely. If the Bears continue these good game plans in their preparation, continue being confident running the scripted plays, and continue with solid in-game adjustments then the sky is the limit for this team. There is a Rams-like mix with the coaching staff here — the young play caller with the genius offense and a veteran established defensive coordinator who’ve been through the ringer.
It’s too early to compare the two teams and their coaching staffs but there is a weird similarity going on. Let’s see what Nagy does with two full weeks to prepare for the 3-1 Dolphins.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR