By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
Whoever came up with the idea that wins “can’t all be pretty,” would have been proud of themselves after watching the Chicago Bears in their 24-10 victory over the New York Jets this past Sunday.
After all, we all like to be right, right?
The Bears were right in this week’s game but only somewhat, a lack of style points could be held against them but they were able to get the win, which is exactly what they needed to do.
Big news before the game involved the health situation of twin high-profile 2018 acquisitions Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson who both were inactive for the game — Mack dealing with an ongoing ankle issue and for Robinson a groin issue, these same injuries hampered them last week against New England and leave each player’s status for this coming Sunday against the Buffalo Bills to be monitored closely.
Mitchell Trubisky’s performance was oddly similar to what it was last week against the Patriots with his legs being a greater and more consistent source of offensive momentum than his arm could be.
Unlike in the game against the Patriots, the Bears were able to establish a more conventional run attack between Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard but lost a key member of the offense in the course of battle. The defense needed a rebound after a couple of lack luster performances against the Dolphins and Pats and they showed up this week against a struggling Jets team.
So the end product the Bears manufactured on Sunday sufficed and they moved to 4-3, back at the top of the NFC North division after its three other teams all lost yesterday. More good news to go along with three takeaways from yesterday’s victory.
Coming into this game, the focus around Chicago was certainly on the big name injuries to the Bears, but the Jets were the team really limping into this one.
The Jets offense and its rookie quarterback Sam Darnold had no one to throw to — for them the key was to be effective with their ground game and that literally was a non-starter against a Chicago run defense had been MIA the last two weeks but held the Jets to 57 total rush yards this week. The Bears secondary responded as well by completely blanketing a set of wide receivers ready to be out-classed.
With the Jets offense shut down, the Bears offense had the opportunity to put the game away. It wouldn’t work out quite like that as the Bears offense allowed the Jets to stay in the game even though they were on life support. Trubisky was once again more lethal as a runner than a thrower with far too many missed throws. The run game was better but mainly because Nagy stayed committed to it.
A reoccurringly frustrating part about the Bears offense throughout this season really has been the seemingly endless amount of plays being left on the field, that continued to stunt Chicago’s efforts against New York, at least during the first two quarters.
Clearly there is still a disconnect somewhere from the play call all the way through to the final execution of the play. Open receivers aren’t getting the ball, blocks are being missed and too many overall break downs. Instead of wallowing in doom and gloom, it should be noted that every week the offense continues to show the flashes of what they can become. The best drive of the day by the offense came after the Jets cut the score to 17-10 in the fourth quarter.
Needing to respond, Trubisky was at his best running and throwing to lead the Bears down into the red zone. The red zone part was taken care of by Jordan Howard as he got into the end zone with relative ease and secured the victory. The final score appeared closer than it should have been had the offense been more consistent.
Helping keep the score closer than it should was the Bears’ defense having its worst series of the day, also in the fourth, with a couple undisciplined plays made by Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller.
Playing with fire will get you burned and these inconsistencies will burn the Bears again unless they do something about it. However, this group is developing and as bad as things may seem, they won. Now its on to Buffalo.
Down Two In the Second
Many NFL teams break their season down into quarters, each one comprising of four 4-game stretches. The Bears had a great first quarter in going 3-1, but it has been a different story in the second.
Next week the Bears’ will wrap a second quarter played exclusively against the AFC East. So far Chicago has dropped two games in this quarter with close loses to the Dolphins followed by the Patriots. As the overall schedule turns to November things starts to get really tough and a bit more personal with a bunch of division games and an eventual meeting with the league-leading L.A. Rams.
In order to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Bears needed to win against an absolutely depleted Jets team, a similar energy will need to see them through this week as well. Three games into the second quarter, the Bears can finish with a 2-2 split and an overall record of 5-3 with a win against the Buffalo Bills, whom winning against would be an especially because the Bears are suddenly in first place again and set the pace with the Vikings, Packers and Lions with each new win.
The Jets win put the Bears back in control of the NFC North and a win against Buffalo would keep the Bears in first place before three straight games against the division.
It’s Injury Season
The Bears have stayed relatively healthy all the way through their bye week. Then things started turning against Miami, Khalil Mack hurt his ankle and he hasn’t been right since.
The following week Allen Robinson hurt his groin and was unable to finish the game against the Patriots or even dress against the Jets. In the fourth quarter of the Jets game, Kyle Long went down with a leg injury and had to be carted to the locker room. Add it all up and the Bears are down arguably their best overall player/defensive player, their best receiver and their best offensive lineman.
Injuries happen to all teams in the NFL but suddenly the Bears have a serious injury situation. Fans will be waiting with bated breath for Long’s diagnosis, which could be season-ending, while knowing Mack and Robinson are expected to be back sooner than later at least.
If the Bears keep getting dealt these big-time injuries then the coaches and the rest of the team will have a much tougher time trying to win the division and get this franchise back into the playoffs.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears for WARR