Chicago lost to division rival Detroit in a 20-10 defeat that never felt even half that close. With the loss, the Bears guaranteed themselves a fourth consecutive season with double-digit losses. It can get draining knowing how to take a season like this. So, Windy City Gridiron is going to look for the upside while Josh dwells in “Foxville” (i.e. a state of football-induced depression). Whether or you’re ready or not, here’s the Week 15 Bears Overreaction (10 Losses And Counting! Edition).
Robert Zeglinski: I thought it was odd when John Fox said that Mitchell Trubisky “played arguably the best game of his season” considering the turnovers Trubisky had, and the general inconsistencies of the offense on Saturday. When you take a deeper look, and allow Fox to expand on his point (which to be fair, he never does well), there was a degree of truth to this statement, at least in one regard: command.
For the first time all year, the Bears truly put the entire game into the hands of Trubisky. Since they fell behind 13-0 early, they were forced to press offensively and have Trubisky throw 46 times. He did anything but pass with flying colors but you could see pre-snap recognition from him, lining teammates up, working the offensive construct. Which is all the more impressive considering the absentee coaches he has. The fact that he can be this comfortable to essentially work on his own (out of necessity), shows how far he’s come. His turnovers will be the result of a young quarterback trying way too hard to bring his team back into the game, especially of the ill-advised decisions and bad throw variety.
Overall, Trubisky did take a meaningful step in progression against the Lions. Now it’s about being honest about his mistakes and sanding off the rough edges for the next adverse situation.
Josh Sunderbruch: The number three seems really important this week. As in “the Bears traded up from the third spot to take a quarterback who threw three interceptions,” or as in “for three years under Ryan Pace, the Bears have lost at least ten games.”
Boy, No. 10 was doing his best to emulate the guy he replaced. I’m not counting Mike Glennon, because he was obviously a placeholder, keeping things interesting and draining cap space. Meanwhile, Trubisky could be nurtured into the perfect Chicago quarterback - a guy who shows just enough talent to offer hope while still playing badly enough to leave that hope unfulfilled. It’s obvious that Trubisky has a gift - and that gift is for the defensive back nearest the ball.
Robert: As I said, being honest about Trubisky’s mistakes is what’s important. This was the first multiple interception game of his career. This was the first time he had ever thrown a pick on third down. Up until this point, he had been very careful and meticulous with the ball, showing he’s not the Jay Cutler of old, a different type of passer. Saturday was a step back in that department, and that’s okay. It hasn't been a trend.
Let’s jump over to the defense that had another stellar effort even while playing handicapped because of a lackluster offense. Yes, the Lions had some key injuries on the offensive line to Travis Swanson and Rick Wagner, but credit the Bears for taking advantage with four sacks - two from Lamarr Houston - and 13 quarterback pressures. This battered defense did enough to win, as almost usual, or at least keep the Bears in the game. If not for Trubisky’s turnovers, this might’ve been a different story in regards to the defensive effort.
To expand on Houston, he looks to be earning himself back a spot with Chicago next season as he's on a current four-sack tear since returning earlier this month. That's what happens when you're healthier by the week. The Bears will be needing a ton of outside linebacker depth, including a starter. Houston at this level of play on the cheap next year can serve as the quality depth behind Leonard Floyd and a new young guy, should the team so choose.
Josh: The Chicago defense misses Adrian Amos. Think about that for a moment. This is a team so bereft of defensive talent that losing a replacement-level player put the Lions in a position to move the chains seemingly at will. Yeah, there were some nice plays, but against a thoroughly reshuffled offensive line the Bears allowed 91 rushing yards and 13 passing first downs.
The reality is that the game should have been more lopsided, and only the quality of the opponent prevented the Bears from being blown out by even more.
Robert: The Lions aren’t a bad team, though. Matthew Stafford should be a realistic MVP candidate. Darius Slay and Glover Quin are two Pro Bowlers in an underrated secondary. They have one of the better receiving corps. in the NFL. There is a lot of good talent on this roster. For the Bears to enjoy any semblance of success against a team farther along than them, to keep it close, is indeed nothing to be ashamed about.
Which, to that end, I know it’s not a high bar but how about Markus Wheaton finally making some kind of impact. Take what you can get. The 2017 free agent bust has been a complete non-factor through 14 games, yet there he was actually making tough catches in traffic (two) and drawing a holding penalty downfield with the Bears attempting a late rally. Literally 300-percent more quality plays than he’s made all season with his previous one reception. Something to build upon, if even small.
I’m almost certain Wheaton, an easy cap casualty, doesn’t return to Chicago next year. Perhaps, however, the Bears elect to use him more in the final two games and we see a little more burst that will make them think twice about that decision.
Josh: It’s a good thing that Fox-coached teams are so disciplined, right? I mean, it would be terrible if a team were to give up nearly a hundred yards of penalties and allow a team four first downs from flags, right? I mean, that would be really unfortunate for a team trying to develop its younger players.
Thankfully, the discipline of Fox … oh, right … look - this was a clunker. It just was.
The Bears are a mess. It’s looking like they will play well enough to miss out on a top-five pick, not well enough to be meaningful. That way, Pace can draft another wide receiver with a top-10 selection.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron, and contributor to The Athletic Chicago. Josh Sunderbruch is the numbers man for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow Robert on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.