By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
Wow, where has that been all season!
Maybe the Chicago Bears need to play the Cowboys more often, as evidenced by their clear defeat of Dallas by a score of 31-24 on Thursday night.
Don’t be fooled by the score, it was decided much sooner than a typical one-score win, in fact it was a complete whooping executed by the Bears. Easily the best victory of the season, this game saw the Bears keep their playoff hopes alive while dealing the Cowboys a major blow.
Certainly everything is on fire in Cowboys world and the talk nationally is about their disappointment. But for Bears fans it was a night of fun, optimism and even better the Bears earned the right to play a huge game in Green Bay next week. It was a total three-phase victory for the now 7-6 Bears squad.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was awesome both through the air and with his legs. Head coach Matt Nagy called one of his best games of the season as the offense ran as many fans dreamed it would. Defensively it was much the same, a good called game by defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and executed by the players on the field.
Even more fuel to the positive fire was the fact the Bears overcame adversity with constant injury issues leading into the game and during. The Bears will now get to enjoy a 10-day break before their next crucial game.
Here are a few more observations from Thursday night’s victory.
What the Mitch?
Trubisky has been playing much better since the infamous “benching” against the Rams. It really does look and sound like something has clicked for the young quarterback.
Now that doesn’t mean Trubisky is the future and or he’s the answer at quarterback but he also isn’t completely a bust. When Trubisky uses his legs he becomes a much different quarterback and that part of his game needs to show up consistently. Because when defenses are scared of Trubisky’s legs, then it opens up the passing game which happened Thursday night.
On the night, Trubisky had a quarterback rating of 115.5 with 244 yards passing, 63 yards rushing, 4 touchdowns (3 through the air and one dazzler on the ground), and a 7.9 yards per attempt. Those are terrific numbers and if Trubisky plays this way the next three games then the Bears might be in the playoffs.
Regardless, it is important to see this improvement from Trubisky. Rarely do teams not pick up the fifth year option on drafted first round quarterbacks, only when guys are extremely bad like Blake Bortles. Fans will see what they really have at quarterback this week.
Remember its the defining third year for Trubisky and he’s played poorly on the road in his career. Next week is a road game in Green Bay against Aaron Rodgers with the season still on the line — we should learn a lot about Trubisky there.
Confidence is Key
Somehow, someway the Bears have become a somewhat dangerous team in the NFC, which is a miracle based on their mainly dismal season.
Nagy deserves credit for turning things around, even if he added to the mess for most of the season. But Nagy is a young head coach learning on the job and its starting to look like he’s figured some things out. The play calling has improved and so has his quarterback. The coaching staff has talked about a point in the season where enough is enough. It feels like it based on the coaching and the preparation by the team.
A lot, or maybe all the Bears, could have quit a while ago with the playoffs being so unlikely. Yet the Bears played their best game of the season with a lot of backups and injured starters. For once this year the team is showing grit, heart and nastiness. This victory doesn’t absolve the mistakes of the season but it gives hope to the growth and learning a young head coach must go through.
Suddenly, offense is back in Chicago and this team is a threat for any of the opponents who play them the rest of the way if they stay this good. Imagine if coach Nagy can get a big time victory in Green Bay…
Remember, Remember the Month of December…
That said, the Bears have about as tough a road as anyone to close out the season. On the road in Green Bay followed by the 2019 home finale against the Chiefs and the regular season finale in Minnesota. It is very unlikely the Bears win out which they need to do in order for any playoff hopes.
This is an opportunity for the Bears to really grow and develop. Everyone knows the Bears have talent but look at the Cowboys team they defeated. How many years have we said the Cowboys are one of the most talented teams yet they have won nothing. Talent is the foundation of every good football team but the equation progresses and then it turns into using talent effectively.
On Thursday the Bears were the more talented, hungrier and better-coached team. If this becomes a trend over the month of December then it at least gives hope to a 2020 campaign that a few weeks ago looked as bleak as 2019. This is the best time for the Bears to play the Packers but they must stay humble and focus on hard work rather than success.
Maybe in a month we will be talking about a completely improbable playoff run but even still this road in the month of December is an opportunity for better days ahead if the Bears make it one.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR