To many, the Chicago Bears put up more of a valiant fight against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday than expected. Any time a team that went 3-13 the season before is six yards away from an upset of the defending NFC champions, eyebrows everywhere will perk up.
Collectively, as a team, the Bears did plenty of good. They also had a lot of backbreaking mistakes that will have to be corrected if anything tangible is to come out of the 2017 season. There's no such thing as moral victories or getting credit for "almost-wins."
Some of those adjustments might entail monitoring defensive snaps. It could mean placing Mitchell Trubisky in as starter sooner rather than later.
Here are this week's question regarding those issues and the like.
Were you surprised Sam Acho played significantly more than Willie Young? #AskWCG— Kyle Beckrich (@KyleBeckrich) September 12, 2017
To a degree, yes, logically Sam Acho shouldn't be playing more than Willie Young. One player is a more of a journeyman and solid locker room presence in Acho, while the other has been a rotational quality edge player in the NFL for some time in Young. In fact, a 40 to 20 snap disparity between the two seems excessively egregious.
However this might point at a concern I had going into the season which is whether Young could hold up or be as useful as he's been in the past at almost 32-years-old. For the most part in his career, Young has mostly been the swing defensive end or edge outside linebacker on any defense he's played in from Detroit to Chicago. He's been more effective in that spark role and is more how he should be evaluated and used properly.
With Pernell McPhee's injury issues of late, the Bears have been forced to start the veteran in Young full-time next to Leonard Floyd in the last two seasons. On the surface, he was fine in 2016, leading Chicago in sacks with 7.5. You take a deeper look and see that the brunt of the snaps took it's toll on an aging player. He simply might not have it anymore. Even in playing a limited 20 snaps last week, Young had one tackle on Sunday. One. That's a problem if he's going to be your man on the other side next to Floyd. At this rate, the Bears might feel a younger and more fresh Acho might be more effective regardless of if he's a true impact player.
If we look ahead with all of this mind, the Bears badly need a complementary top pass rusher and edge player in next year's draft. Floyd can't do it all on his own without even any tangible quality depth behind or next to him.
Were you surprised that we didn't see Adrian Amos? #AskWCG— Simon Herran (@SimonHerran96) September 12, 2017
This question likely refers to Quintin Demps' magnified struggles against the Falcons on Sunday, most notably a confusion play where tight end Austin Hooper scored on an 88-yard touchdown after stiff-arming Demps quite nastily. Demps didn't have the best of days or time on that one individual play. On occasion, he looked like the safeties of recent Bears' past: out of sorts and out of mind.
But a defensive captain wasn't going to be benched in his first game. And if you think one of the Bears' prized rookies in Eddie Jackson, who I thought was quite competent in his first NFL game would've been benched, that's also mistaken. Jackson is going to get a lot of opportunities to prove himself and make plays.
Part of that is because the Bears like their new safety duo and its potential, and part of that is because Adrian Amos simply isn't good. The Bears have seen enough of him in two seasons to understand his ceiling and who he is as a football player. He's a generally solid tackler in the box with the penchant for the big hit and is a complete liability in pass coverage with no ball hawk ability (zero interceptions in any of his starts). That's not going to cut it in the modern NFL.
Amos is firmly locked in as the Bears' swing safety and is more of a special teams performer (all 23 of his snaps came in the third phase on Sunday). Barring injury or more disastrous breakdowns on a consistent basis, you won't see Amos come in on defense and fill in.
Does not having game film to study from make it easier for the Bears to be competitive w/ the Falcons? Does it get harder from here? #AskWCG— Brian (@magnetman42) September 12, 2017
Yes and no.
The Bears unleashing all-purpose freak Tarik Cohen in the fashion they did against Atlanta had to have come as a major shock. No NFL team had quite understood his skill set or had any film to work him on how to stop the spark plug so the Bears took advantage quite well.
That element of surprise however, is now gone, as offensive versatility and more creative game planning will have to win the day moving forward. But that's how it always works in the NFL. As more game film from the current season matriculates, both offensive and defensive coordinators are making constant adjustments and installing as much as they can in a short amount of time to stay ahead of the curve and try and keep opponents on their toes. Discussions of over-complication arise in these scenarios, sure, but that's how the league works.
There are always tendencies that schemes will be able to point to, but any of the Bears' struggles due to a lack of a game film available on them won't be inherently unique compared to any other NFL team. It's the nature of the beast.
Who will be the guy that causes the first turnover for the defense? #AskWCG— Ryan Cox (@MrRyanCox) September 13, 2017
If we're being quite literal here, it'll be Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, as in the guy that will simply give the ball away to Chicago on Sunday as one of the more turnover prone passers in the league. Winston was second in the NFL in 2016 with 18 interceptions and added five lost fumbles to that figure. If the Bears can't get a takeaway or two off of him, they'll struggle with anyone in this department.
That being said, I'd expect Leonard Floyd to have his 2017 coming out party on Sunday and be the reason for Winston's woes. Tampa Bay's offense is very different from the Falcons' in that the Buccaneers prefer to deploy a lot of deep shots, seven-step drops, and play action: everything is slow developing. You run this kind of offense when your quarterback has a cannon like Winston and when your receivers are Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
What that does though, is leave your quarterback susceptible to hits and give pass rushers more time to pin their ears back and get after him. This isn't an efficient offense with quick releases and versatility at every level. It's part of the reason that Chicago had four sacks of Winston and consistent pressure on him in their blowout 36-10 loss at Tampa Bay last season. I would expect much of the same numbers this year but with better overall team defensive results and Floyd being the man to break through the glass ceiling of this year's first forced turnover.
WHY WON'T THEY PUT TURBONSKI IN— PUT TURBONSKI IN (@John_Faker) September 12, 2017
Intentional misspelling and making light of fans' penchant for mistaking player's names aside, it's difficult to pin an exact reason on why the Bears won't start Mitchell Trubisky yet.
If it's because they're afraid they'll stunt Trubisky's development or leave him susceptible to being "broken", then that's a flawed mentality. If he's the future, you see what you have now and whether there's anything there that you can build upon to take this franchise to the promised land. Playing a veteran placeholder such as Mike Glennon that can do everything he does and is on level with him makes no sense and is only wasting the organization's time.
It doesn't matter if Trubisky's a rookie or not, you let him take his lumps now and develop and learn from these mistakes so he's refined sooner. Sitting behind Glennon and learning on the sidelines isn't the same as sitting behind Brett Favre like it successfully was for Aaron Rodgers for example. One of those names had a lot more to offer regarding quarterback knowledge (hint: it's not Glennon).
The other argument is that Chicago's receiving core at the moment is too barren for any quarterback to have success throwing the ball which is completely unsound. A good quarterback, or at least an athletic one, can improve his receivers' play time and again. Just look at the entirety of the Jay Cutler era and some of the early receiving corps he had to work with. Trubisky theoretically would do the same.
And even despite a mediocre receiving core, it's not as if he would receive little to no help from the rest of the team. This isn't an expansion year. There's a lot of talent on this roster in place to help support a rookie quarterback.
From an offensive line that allowed only 28 sacks last year, a stable of talented and electric running backs in Jordan Howard and Cohen, to a solid defense that can make sure Trubisky doesn't have to force the issue to win games when he has the ball. For the most part, the Bears have the makings of a roster that can help a quarterback develop on the fly already. All they have to do is throw him into the fire and put the franchise on the fast track.
This discussion isn't completely fruitless, though. Something tells me Trubisky is on the very close horizon to start.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is an editor for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.