Wow. A week after the Chicago Bears eek out a close victory from behind in Arizona, they absolutely destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in every phase of the game. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky fueled the win as he tossed 6 touchdowns in a 48-10 shelling at Soldier Field.
And Jacob Infante along with Steven Schweickert were both there to watch the game. Consider me eternally jealous of that fact. Prepare for an optimistic overload as I present my notes from this historic beat down.
EDITOR: Josh Sunderbruch was on the field yesterday too, so ECD can be extra jealous of that one.
@JPSTATS shares insights w @WCGridiron on how @ZebraTechnology tracks game data for @ChicagoBears & all @NFL teams pic.twitter.com/dTYtBrk86g— Therese Van Ryne (@ThereseVanRyne) September 30, 2018
Now on to ECD’s Notes...
- The Bears lost the coin toss....we’re doomed!
- Right from the first play, Matt Nagy elected to utilize more of the ground game. He went with three straight runs involving Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, and Mitchell Trubisky.
- After missing on a deep shot at Allen Robinson II, Trubisky picks up 23 yards on a designed read-option play. Not unlike some plays that he ran at UNC, no less.
- And this is where the real magic begins. After initially stumbling over himself and getting his feet hog-tied, Trubisky planted his feet and just launched the ball to a wide-open Trey Burton for the first score of the game. The overall throwing motion of Mitchell was a piece of art, and looked much better than from what we saw last week.
THIS is what we're talkin' about!@Mtrubisky10 hits @TreyBurton8 for a 39-yard TD on the opening drive of #TBvsCHI. pic.twitter.com/TC9Asz6700— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
- The Bears’ O-line started off strong with huge blocks both at the LOS and downfield. There were some pretty nice flapjacks being served in just the first few minutes of play.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, aka “Fitzmagic” came in as the starter of the game for the Buccaneers at QB. And he was quickly walked off the field as Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd lead the effort to a 3-and-out.
- Tarik Cohen isn’t just a nice weapon on offense. He’s a valuable returner, too.
- This is the one forgettable series on the Bears’ offense. First, Cohen got dropped behind the LOS for a 2-yard loss. Then Trubisky missed rookie Javon Wims who was open on an out route. And THEN Mitchell got dropped for a 10-yard sack by Jason Pierre-Paul. Cue the “oh no, we suck again” meme from the cult classic film The Waterboy.
- Meanwhile, the Bucs looked to get going on offense. Fitzpatrick went deep and had a big drop from Mike Evans. He followed up with three straight completions which moved the chains downfield.
- Akiem Hicks is a monster. He recorded his 3rd sack of the season that ultimately shuts down the Bucs’ second drive of the game. They also benefited from the first of a ton of penalties that constantly put the Bucs in bad positions.
- Taylor Gabriel might wanna ask about how much a hybrid RB/WR is worth in terms of contracts. He got his 4th designed run of the season that generated a swift 1st down.
- This Cohen guy looked familiar....and fast. Oh, wait, he was actually utilized heavily on this series. His combination of physicality and speed would set Trubisky up for two nice shots to Robinson. The drive is capped with a gorgeous deep throw to the back corner of the end-zone with Robinson earning his first touchdown as a Bear.
L kin' forward to a lot more of this from 10 & 12!#TBvsCHI | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/BcuhmcghdR— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
- On the same drive, James Daniels started rotating in at LG with Eric Kush. And he looked pretty good, too. I’m willing to bet Daniels will be the starting LG following the bye week.
- For those wondering if Cody Whitehair will be kicked back to LG and James Daniels will take over at Center: I find that highly unlikely. Whitehair had himself a fine game today, as he stonewalled Gerald McCoy for a good part of the game.
- Here come the Buccaneers. DeSean Jackson is pretty fast...check that, he’s really fast. He slipped behind the Bears’ linebackers and picked up 48 yards on a deep strike from Fitzpatrick. However, after sprinting down to the 17-yard line, the Bears’ defense stiffened up and forced the Bucs to settle for a field goal. I’d say this is the one negative series on defense for the entire game.
- On a side note, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan bring so much speed to the Bears at inside linebacker. It’s a ton of fun to watch.
- Mitchell Trubisky has apparently seen the light. From this point forward, Mr. Biscuit channeled his inner Rex Grossman, saying, “eff it I’m going deep,” and launched the pigskin all over the field. He finally hit Taylor Gabriel on the deep crossing route that’s been open since week one. Moments later, he finally hit Cohen on the wheel route that drew a matchup with a linebacker. The maligned quarterback is getting comfortable in this offense, and it’s demonstrated in this drive. Trubisky capped this drive off with a laser to Cohen, after having consecutive completions of 33 and 35 yards to Gabriel and Cohen, respectively.
⚡ LIGHTNING STRIKE! ⚡— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
Trubisky gets it to Cohen to make it 21-3 @SoldierField. pic.twitter.com/JoNQhOa0t8
- Oh yeah, and that whole narrative about Trubisky not being able to throw to his left? Both of those big completions came while he was throwing....to his left.
- Khalil Mack. Destroyer of Worlds. He recorded his 4th consecutive game with at least one strip sack. Mack is the first player since Simeon Rice to accomplish such a feat.
- Trubisky, again. He found Trey Burton open for a 47-yard beauty of a play, then he made an even better throw to....Josh Bellamy(!) on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Another deep pass to his left, no less!
#10's makin' it RAIN! This one goes to @jbellamydareal.#TBvsCHI | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/9HbUr49f5r— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
- Another series, another 3-and-out for the Bears’ defense. I began to legitimately question the effort of the Bucs’ players at this point.
- Aaron Lynch has, quietly, had a strong season so far. In addition to notching a pair of his own sacks, including one today, he’s been a force in the run game. He laid the hammer on Peyton Barber in the aforementioned series.
- Seriously, what is going on with Mitchell Trubisky? Who is this guy? Wasn’t he supposed to be a one-read chump who can’t complete a deep ball?
- The sixth series for the Bears’ offense took off from where their fifth ended. Trubisky had another deep completion to Gabriel for 30 yards, then scampered for another 26 yards on the ground three plays later.
- This is the one play design that I didn’t like, at all. They bring in Chase Daniel as another...uhm...idk what he’s even lining up as here. People will say “running back,” but both Trubisky AND Daniel are calling for the snap. What is this? Some sort of Siamese Twin formation featuring two quarterbacks? Did one of the meatball fans DM this to Matt Nagy in the hopes of seeing the backup quarterback get on the field? Ugh.
- Oh, look at that, a false start on Kyle Long after the Bears lined up in this “unique” formation. That was also Long’s only negative play of the game. And here I thought they would abandon the play altogether.
- Nope. Matt Nagy called for the exact same formation just a few moments later.
- To make matters worse, this play design actually worked! Trubisky shoveled the “pass” to Gabriel, and recorded his 5th passing touchdown of the game. I feel bad now.
✨ Magic Mitch ✨— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
This toss to Gabriel makes 5 for him in the 1st half. pic.twitter.com/sXqgdqRm07
- It was later revealed after the game that this play is known as “Willy Wonka.” I suppose the name fits....Trubisky certainly won the golden ticket today.
- It’s worth noting that Mitchell Trubisky is, now, the first quarterback in Bears history to record 5 touchdowns in a single half.
- Fitzmagic tried to start a comeback at the end of the first half, hitting a home run to DeSean Jackson for a 42-yard gain. Thankfully, Adrian Amos had the range to prevent this from being a touchdown.
- Eddie Jackson will be named to the Pro Bowl. He demoted Fitzmagic back to Fitztragic after baiting the bearded wonder into throwing a huge interception.
.@EJackson_4 is a BALLHAWK!#TBvsCHI | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/SdIxfd30lL— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
- After the play, Akiem Hicks was ejected from the game for contact with an official. On one hand, he knows better than to even breathe on a referee. On the other hand, this was a soft call, one that resulted from the official putting himself in harms way as he forced himself between two beefing players. C’mon, man.
- In addition to Trubisky having a historic day, Tarik Cohen truly took over the game from here. He accounted for 49 total yards on the next drive, 31 of which came from finding grass following a well executed screen from Trubisky. The play looked identical to the one that resulted in an interception from the previous game against the Cardinals.
- On that screen pass to Cohen, Kevin White served a big ol’ pancake to an unfortunate member of the Bucs’ secondary. That had to feel good for the former 7th overall pick.
- Another acquisition who’s been a big upgrade to their respective position? Bears kicker Cody Parkey. He nailed a 50-yard field goal to close out the first half.
- Speaking about that last scoring drive, here’s where the Fox gameday crew really ground my gears. They kept complaining about how Matt Nagy allowed so much time to run off the clock, instead of deploying a blitzkrieg concept and going for a touchdown. First of all, the Bears were already up 35-3, and there’s no need to risk giving the Bucs a chance at creating a big play before the end of the half. And second, the Bears still scored points while running out the remaining 2:17 off the clock. That’s called good clock management.
- We’ve finally reached the 2nd half. Ryan Fitzpatrick is benched in favor of Jameis Winston, and fans in Tampa Bay hoped for some sort of spark.
- That spark was extinguished in record time. Despite completing his first handful of passes, the Buccaneers committed the ultimate cardinal sin in pass protection. And that was leaving Khalil Mack unblocked.
- Khalil Mack, again. He beat the tackle cleanly off the LOS and disrupted Winston’s pass. Danny Trevathan secured the arm punt and toted it downfield for a nice gain. And I’m absolutely loving the downfield blocking from the defenders as the interception is being returned.
Eatin' good today! @Grindin_59 in on the action.#TBvsCHI | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/wP1U8uB5Af— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
- Trevathan is another player to watch for a Pro Bowl nomination. He’s been that good thus far this season.
- Did someone think the Bears needed to work on their deep game? Yet another bomb is launched from Trubisky, this time a deep 29-yard completion to Cohen. This play was a freebie to begin with, as Cohen was initially held a good 12 yards off the ball. Cohen fought through the hold easily and barely stepped out of bounds at the 4-yard line after securing the catch.
- And then, a few plays later, this happened:
Six so far. One more, and #10 has a team record.#TBvsCHI | #DaBears pic.twitter.com/wmOrMO19Y6— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 30, 2018
- Mitchell Trubisky, officially, is the first Bears quarterback since Johnny Lujack to record 6 passing touchdowns in a single game. Lujack achieved that feat in 1949. Sid Luckman still holds the record with 7, which dates back to 1942.
- Trubisky is also the second quarterback in the NFL (with both happening this year) since Aaron Rodgers to record 6 touchdown passes in a single game. The other this season was Patrick Mahomes, and that Rodgers’ game happened in 2014 against....the Bears. [rolls eyes]
- Roquan Smith can hit, man. He drove Barber back into Roy Robertson-Harris for a tag-team takedown on a 3-yard gain.
- Hello, Bilal Nichols. He split a sack with RRH that dropped Winston backwards for a loss of 7 yards.
- What is up, Bilal Nichols!? He recorded yet another tackle for loss, and a big one too, as he crashed into Ronald Jones II in the backfield for a loss of 4. Something tells me he’ll get a lion’s share of the reps if Akiem Hicks gets slapped with a suspension from the league.
- I still find that flag and ejection of Hicks to be complete BS.
- The ensuing Bears drive on offense results in their only other 3-and-out for the day. Lame. Trubisky under-threw his pass by a slight margin to Robinson on 3rd down. Then again the Bucs’ DB made a pretty good play on the ball. More or less, one of a very small number of passes that you could consider “questionable” from Trubisky on the day.
- As the Bucs received a rare gift on offense, they were looking to go down field on every play. Meanwhile, the Bears’ defense made them earn every single yard. Lot’s of soft zone was featured for the remainder of this game.
- Kevin Toliver had a respectable game against top-tier competition in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. He also shut their tight ends down completely. He’s earned some more snaps moving forward.
- Then there’s the one fluky play that Winston is capable of generating. Khalil Mack had a rare miss on a potential 20-yard sack. So did Eddie Goldman. Winston stepped up, and shook off a couple more defenders, before launching the ball to Chris Godwin that fell incomplete. Toliver was flagged for pass interference, except there was no pass interference. [rolls eyes again]
- Kudos to RRH for pulling off and avoiding a kill shot on Winston after he released the ball. So far, the Bears are the only defense to not be flagged by the ridiculous “roughing the passer” calls that have tainted the quality of play league wide this season. [knocks on wood]
- After burning a total of 5:54 off the clock, and with just over 13 minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Bucs finally got their first touchdown. Whoopie.
- Oh, hi there, Jordan Howard. In an effort to grind out the clock, Nagy finally fed Howard the ball and chewed up the Bucs on the ground. The Bears succeeded in staying in bounds and forcing the clock to stay in motion.
- Did you really think Nagy would stop calling for Trubisky to take shots downfield? After zipping a few more passes to Gabriel and Cohen, they got into field goal range and Parkey extended their lead to 48-10.
- I have a suspicion that Nagy was looking to give Trubisky one more shot at tying Sid Luckman’s record. That would have been glorious to see. However, he likely asked himself, “is it really worth the risk of injuring my young quarterback, when the game is already locked up?” The answer appeared to be a firm “no,” as he started pulling starters out from the game.
- As a result, that scoring drive ended the day for a good amount of starters on both sides of the ball. I fully agreed with this decision.
- Mitchell Trubisky completed 19 of 26 passes (73%) for a career high 354 yards and a ridiculous 6 touchdowns. His passer rating finished at 154.7, and he committed 0 turnovers. Oh, and he picked up another 53 yards in rushing, pushing his total to 407 yards. I think the Bears have themselves a quarterback.
- The Bears had two different players go over 100 yards receiving. Tarik Cohen led the way with 121 yards of receiving and a touchdown on 7 receptions. Taylor Gabriel wasn’t far behind, with 104 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns on 7 receptions. Allen Robinson II, Trey Burton, and Josh Bellamy each received touchdowns of their own, too.
- If I’m not mistaken, that is the first time the Bears had two different players record over 100 yards receiving since 2013. And this might have been the first time in franchise history when three different players recorded at least 80 yards receiving and at least 1 touchdown a piece.
- The ground game was also featured aplenty today. Trubisky and Cohen tied for the lead with 53 yards each, Howard had a quiet 25 yards, and Gabriel had his 10-yard handoff in the first half. Including the yards “lost” from Daniel’s kneel downs, the Bears totaled 139 yards on the ground. Not bad.
- My fantasy team doesn’t appreciate the lack of Howard’s usage in the ground game, Matt! Then again he probably doesn’t care about fantasy football. Cohen had the hot hand all day long, and Nagy wisely stuck with Cohen as part of their Pony Express.
- Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter elected to go down guns blazing. They continued with quick hitting plays, which placed Winston in harms way as they looked for respectability to end what had been an abysmal game.
- Just as the Bucs were driving downfield, Aaron Lynch denied them of the endzone. He picked off an errant pass from Winston to essentially tie the bow on the defense’s game.
- By the way, the Bears’ defense has now matched their season total of the previous three consecutive seasons in interceptions (8). In just their first 4 games. Khalil Mack, who is a direct factor for all these turnovers, is a clear cut favorite for league MVP at this early part of the season.
- At the end of the day, the Bears’ defense recorded 4 more sacks to a league leading 18 sacks through their first 4 games. The Bucs mustered a grand total of 317 yards, which included 251 yards passing between two quarterbacks. Prior to this game, the Bucs had the league’s top ranked passing game at over 400 yards per game. They took the ball away 4 more times, too. That is scary good.
- This game was the 3rd time in 4 weeks that a change at quarterback was made to the opposing team. These past two games were directly tied with the performance of their respective starters.
The Chicago Bears will be on a bye week this coming week. Not only are they entering their bye at 3-1, a record few “experts” thought Chicago would achieve; they’re in sole possession of 1st place in the NFC North. It’s also huge to already have 3 wins against NFC teams, in terms of positioning themselves for the playoffs at an early stage.
Their next game is scheduled to be at the Miami Dolphins on October 14th, with kickoff at 12 C.T. The Dolphins were handed a 7-38 defeat at the hands of the Patriots earlier today.
Make no mistake. These Chicago Bears are for real.