By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
Not to take anything away from the hardworking Adam Hoge, but I ventured into this controversy last week, in the wake of what could be considered a less convincing game.
Of course the Chicago Bears can be considered good against the Buffalo Bills, right? Who wouldn’t (besides the Godawful Jets…)? But that game said little to nothing in regards to the Bears’ long-time credentials, it may have said a little more in regards to their chances over the next couple months.
Still, the Bills game, and the entire month-long excursion against the AFC East could only be seen as a warm-up for more important games to come and another unique stretch started Sunday — three divisional games in 12 days, two nationally televised games, three chances to shit the bed and derail a once-promising season by conceding control of an NFC North that is finally Chicago’s for the taking again.
A couple dominant quarters later, included in an overall solid 60 minutes and the Bears and its fan base can breathe a bit easier — one down, two to go after downing Detroit 34-22 Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field.
The glowing stat from this game, surpassing all those compiled within the game itself is two years and 11 days, which is the amount of time that passed in between Bears wins in their division.
Couple that embarrassing tidbit with the Bears horrible recent record against their real most hated rival (1-9 in the last 10) and this match-up had the normally delusional Lions fans feeling even more of that sweet gas that supplants anything close to actual fuel, the kind of stuff that a desperate franchise and fan-base needs to boost itself after another eight games wasted (3-5) and another coaching hire that’s reeking of disappointment.
I almost want to feel bad for them, but they bring it upon themselves.
Just as we can say plainly that the Bears are a good team today, it can be said today and yesterday and the previous day that the Lions are a bad team, they’re a bad team with a mediocre overpaid quarterback with young, unproven talent in their offensive skill positions and spotty talent but nothing all too special on their defense — basically they are the Bears during the previous 10 games in the Bears/Lions series.
The loss of standout corner back Darius Slay for this game put a final nail in the coffin even before kickoff but that wouldn’t be clear until the Bears came out in the first quarter and did something that a good team does — attack a newfound weakness in the opponent with confidence and skill.
Without Slay the Lions had no one to match-up with Allen Robinson and though AR was playing his first minutes since the Patriots game three weeks ago he had no signs of rust on him. A brilliant first quarter featuring 3 catches for 98 yards and a 36-yard touchdown showed just how much Mitchell Trubisky anticipated having his best physical option available to him in the pass attack.
Trubisky was also impressive with another tough young WR available to him, Anthony Miller, who had his best all-around game of his rookie season (5 rec., 122 yards, 1 TD).
Seeing 11 combined receptions from Robinson and Miller and 3 TDs shows the confidence the team has in those two to eventually be the top receiving threats on the roster and that was great to see (it also gives reason to think that they may have read our guy Ryan’s 4th and Goal(s) post this week..)
Without its best one on one pass defender in Slay the Bears were able to beat a good pass defense (4th in the NFL entering Sunday) at its own game, it would have been nice to see Taylor Gabriel get a hand on the ball (maybe one of Tarik Cohen’s 6 rec for 29 yards?) but it would seem given the number of weapons the Bears have that odd men out will exist in some weeks. Trubisky still managed to spread the ball out to six receivers in the game.
In a game where he came out gunnin’, Trubisky barely missed a target in a fantastic 23-of-30 performance with 355 yards and 3 TDs. Things are starting to look more and more effortless for Money Makin’ Mitch week after week, he still may be too happy to make the average broken play with his feet, but he’s not moving his feet nervously at this point of the season. Whether in pocket or not, Trubisky is viewing things much more assuredly down field and outside of the Tampa Bay game this game most showed how dangerous the current Bears QB could be with his collected receivers in open space.
Which brings us to former NFL executive and current bloated taking head Michael Lombardi, who tried his best this week to discredit Trubisky this week while trying to make Bears fans everywhere feel stupid for believing in our guy, who anyone with an actual unbiased view of things could see has made strides in his second season.
Lombardi tried it and he’s deserving of our derision, but I’ma chill and just let his words speak for him, his words which severely dismiss his ability as a talent evaluator, just as his inability to maintain a job in the NFL did.
Before wrapping up, two things: not much to say about the defense this week, they were fine and they forced turnovers again and they made good on having Khalil Mack back, who after missing two games he didn’t necessarily have to miss had to have been the most motivated person in Soldier Field to hit someone…up until everyone had the urge to smack the holy hell out of Cody Parkey.
The pretty expensive acquisition from the past off-season proved himself to be just the kind of kicking savior you could expect for winters by Lake Michigan after starting his career in the variable-free environment of Miami.
A lot of re-thinking was done as each ball pinged off the uprights as was a lot of pining for the still-active Robbie Gould, but in the end we all just got to take this one.
For one, Matt Nagy minced no words regarding Parkey’s job security, and it should be admired that the coach set the tone for an overall team reaction after the game that was all about picking the little guy up and not showing him the door Jazzy Jeff style.
To be real, replacing a place kicker is not the kind of thing a winning team does after Week 10 of the season unless an injury requires it. Given that none of the eight points Parkey left on the field wound up playing a part in the game’s decision, he can afford to get a mulligan on this one.
But the games are getting tougher and more involving, maybe no more so than the coming game this Sunday night with the Vikings acting as the latest team trying to discredit the Bears while trying to hold on to their tenuous position as a playoff contender.
Its looking more and more like the North is going to be a 1-playoff berth division. The North is becoming like Highlander and the Bears currently have the sharpest sword. Some say the pen is mightier, but ask Michael Lombardi what a reckless pen game will get you.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR