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Bears vs. Vikings: Notes from a nail-biting 20-17 loss

Progress was made, but ultimately the result was the same.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Mitch Trubisky’s debut wasn’t pretty, but there were flashes of potential.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
  • Mitch Trubisky looked impressive on his first NFL drive. Sure, the end result wasn’t ideal, but the offense looked much more efficient than it ever was under Mike Glennon. Trubisky completed three of his four passes for 30 yards, and his only incompletion was a drop by Dion Sims. The Bears utilized his athleticism and ability to throw well on the run by running bootleg plays, which would be a precursor of things to come.
  • The Bears called a timeout on their gutsy fourth-down conversion attempt early in the fourth quarter. They came back from that timeout to a delay of game and ended up having to punt. Great job communicating and coaching, John Fox.
  • Leonard Floyd had what was likely the best game of his season on Monday. He ended the game with two sacks, the first of which resulted in a safety. Sam Bradford seemingly had all day to let go of the ball on that 3rd and 15 play late in the first quarter, but Floyd’s high motor and incredible ability to bend off the edge won out against Vikings right tackle Mike Remmers, resulting in a sack in the end zone.
  • After a relatively slow start to the season, Floyd now has three sacks in his last two games. One can only hope that he builds upon that momentum going forward.
  • The Bears were lucky that, when Bradford was playing, it was through an injury. Throughout the game, it was clear that he wasn’t at full strength. That seemed to have affected his confidence, and, as a result, his performance. Case Keenum did a better job overall when he was placed into the game.
  • Akiem Hicks had an overall solid game. He ended up with two sacks, and he was very consistent in terms of pressuring the quarterback and getting into the backfield. Although Floyd initially got credit for the sack that ended up in Bradford ramming into his own center, Hicks played a much bigger role on the play, and was rightfully given credit for the sack later in the game.
  • If you would’ve told me earlier this weekend that a Monday game in Chicago would have a 3-2 score halfway through the game, then I would’ve bet that it would be the Cubs’ game against the Washington Nationals. Alas, that’s what the score was when the Bears and Vikings headed for the tunnels. What a weird score for a football game.
  • It really is a shame to see John Timu go down with an injury. He had five tackles before he got hurt, and displayed that intelligence that we’ve come to be used to since he joined the team in 2015. He has never been the best athlete in the world, but he has proven to be a solid player in his tenure with the Bears. Thankfully for them, Danny Trevathan will be returning from suspension on Sunday. He will bring a much-needed spark to a now-abysmal inside linebacker position.
  • Penalties hurt the Bears on offense throughout the first half. They lost 45 yards on six penalties, one of which being the result of a Jordan Howard touchdown run being called back. It was tough for Trubisky to get the offense going when his own men were preventing them from advancing the ball. Although this slowed down a bit in the second half, a penalty by Leonard Floyd after a third-down stop ended up biting the Bears in the long run.
  • For a team whose play calling is typically quite conservative, it was shocking to me when the Bears decided to go for a fake punt on 4th and 6 in the third quarter.
  • Nonetheless, it was fun to see Pat O’Donnell throw a touchdown to Benny Cunningham.
  • Building off of that, who would’ve guessed that Pat O’Donnell of all people would’ve thrown a touchdown before Mitch Trubisky did? Certainly not me. Hats off to the punter.
  • Up until Jerick McKinnon ran for a 58-yard touchdown, the Bears actually did a decent job stopping the run. Prior to that play, Minnesota only had 57 rushing yards through 42 minutes. Their inside linebackers did pretty well in the first half, but they starting falling apart in the second half, especially once Timu got hurt.
  • Speaking of which, the Bears’ defense as a whole wasn’t very impressive in the second half. The Vikings’ ground game was better, and their aerial attack looked better under Keenum. Chicago didn’t put nearly as much pressure on Keenum as they did on Bradford.
  • With all of the bad luck that the Bears have had with injuries this season, they’re lucky that Kyle Long wasn’t seriously injured when he tweaked his ankle. He has been great all season, and it would’ve been a crushing loss if his injury were serious.
  • Tarik Cohen was surprisingly quiet this week. He finished the first three quarters with four carries and two yards, in addition to one catch for a loss of three. Although it’s unlikely that Trubisky will completely refrain from using the Human Joystick in the passing game, the fact that he can actually throw the ball downfield may mean that more touches will go to wide receivers, rather than Cohen and Howard.
  • Trubisky’s first career touchdown came off of a tipped pass that ended up into the hands of Zach Miller. While it wasn’t a pretty play, it got the job done. Good job by Miller for finding the ball before it hit the grass.
  • That two-point conversion was a thing of beauty. While Dowell Loggains has made his fair share of bad calls in the past, that was a phenomenal call on his part.
  • The Bears reportedly worked on that play in training camp, and it paid off there. Simply marvelous.
  • McKinnon just ran all over the Bears in the second half. 82 of his 86 rushing yards came in the third and fourth quarters. Christian Jones was decent in the first half, but he simply wasn't ready to take on the big role that he had to take on when Timu went down.
  • Immediately, fans are going to freak out about Trubisky’s late-game interception. The decision definitely wasn’t the best, but props to Harrison Smith for doing a great job blanketing Zach Miller on the play.
  • The Bears ended up with the loss, but expecting the rookie to come in right away and lead the team to a dominant win is delusional. His debut wasn’t great by any means, but one could argue that he kept the team closer in the game than Glennon would have. With the lackluster weapons that Trubisky has, he’s not going to put up flashy numbers in his rookie year. This season will mostly be about baby steps for the No. 2 overall pick.