Despite not having Khalil Mack or Allen Robinson on the field, the Chicago Bears left Soldier Field with their third win at home on the year.
Taking on an offensively-depleted New York Jets, the Bears held a lead for all but nine minutes and 36 seconds of the game and finished the game with a 24-10 victory. Now at 4-3 on the year, they are in a favorable situation heading into their Week 9 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. These are my notes from Sunday’s action.
The Windy City lived up to its name yesterday, with winds reaching roughly 20 miles per hour throughout the game. Needless to say, it did have some effect on Mitchell Trubisky’s accuracy.
Trubisky completed just 55.2 percent of his passes this week, his second-lowest percentage of the year. He struggled with ball placement on a handful of throws throughout the first half, and his continuous decision making issues showed up in flashes. This was far from his best game, but he didn’t make any truly terrible decisions. His pocket presence was overall solid, as he did a good job of not panicking under pressure and knowing when to scramble. His production on the ground continued, as well, as he added 51 yards on six carries to his 220 passing yards. Trubisky threw two touchdown passes, giving him 13 touchdowns in the past four games, a total that ties Sid Luckman in 1947 for the most by a Bears quarterback in a four-game span. While the second-year signal-caller hasn’t been perfect by any means, he has shown improvement from the beginning of the year and didn’t play terribly in unfavorable conditions.
Jordan Howard put together one of his best performances of the year, tallying 81 yards and a touchdown on carries, marking his second game with 80 or more rushing yards on the season. Although 53 of those yards came in the fourth quarter, his playmaking helped the Bears seal the deal late in the game. His ball-carrier vision and explosiveness were both missing for most of the game, as has been the case throughout the year. However, he flashed a lot of promise late in the game. At this point, it seems unlikely that he will retain his former glory this season, but he can still carry out his niche as a heavy-hitting back who can do damage on opposing defenses and tire them out.
Tarik Cohen also had a good game. He finished up with 40 rushing yards on five carries, as well as catching one pass for a 70-yard touchdown. The dynamic tail back had nothing but daylight ahead of him on the screen, as the Jets rushed seven on the blitz and had no defenders in coverage at the second level. It was a great play call on Matt Nagy’s part to give one of the most explosive backs in the league acres of green grass to outrun New York’s secondary.
The Bears didn’t have Allen Robinson, but they still managed to put together a solid game through the air. Taylor Gabriel and Josh Bellamy - yes, that Josh Bellamy - led the team with four receptions each, while Anthony Miller and Trey Burton each snagged in three balls, with the former scoring his third touchdown of the year on a corner route in tight coverage. Kevin White even got in on the action with one catch, as well as another catch that got called back due to a penalty. Chicago did a good job of involving several weapons in their offense despite poor throwing conditions, which proves that their spread offense concepts are working well.
The Bears gave up some pressure off the edge, and their run blocking was not all that impressive for a good chunk of the game. James Daniels, in his first game in the starting lineup, had a good game, though, as he executed his assignments well and made his fair share of good blocks. With the unfortunate injury to Kyle Long, Daniels’ spot in the starting rotation is likely secure barring an injury.
Chicago missed Khalil Mack, as they only managed to sack Sam Darnold once all game. Pressure off the edge was lacking, with neither Aaron Lynch nor Leonard Floyd stepping up in the All-Pro’s absence. Darnold’s poor completion percentage - just 48.3 percent on the day - serving mostly as a result of the performance Bears’ secondary and the rookie’s own mistakes.
Save for a poorly-timed interception attempt, Kyle Fuller had a solid game. He managed to keep up with New York’s depleted group of receivers step for step, as did Prince Amukamara. Bryce Callahan also had a fantastic game, breaking up three passes and notching the Bears’ lone sack. He should be a priority for them to bring back this offseason. Adrian Amos was quiet, though, as was Eddie Jackson, save for an unnecessary roughness penalty that helped the Jets score their only touchdown of the game.
The Bears shut down the Jets’ ground game, only allowing 57 yards all game. Isaiah Crowell and Trenton Cannon both averaged less than two yards per carry, with Sam Darnold being their own player to pick up a gain of more than eight rushing yards on a single play all game. Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols both had three tackles, while Eddie Goldman had four. All three did a good job of eating up gaps and swallowing the Jets’ running backs whole. Danny Trevathan led the team with seven total tackles as he continued his resurgence, and Roquan Smith picked up five tackles of his own. The Bears entered the game as the third-best defense against the run, and they backed up the numbers with their outing this week.
Three and out
3. Edge rusher may be a bigger need for the Bears than previously thought. Save for Khalil Mack - obviously - they don’t have any reliable pass rushers at the outside linebacker position. Aaron Lynch has been decent, but he’s a rotational piece at best. Leonard Floyd has done next to nothing as a pass rusher this year, Isaiah Irving didn’t have a single snap on defense before this week, and Kylie Fitts hasn’t played a down this season. Chicago won’t have a high draft pick or an excess of salary cap to spend on another starter, but here are a few collegiate pass rushers that could be available in Round 3 or later in next April’s draft:
- Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois
- Chase Winovich, Michigan
- Austin Bryant, Clemson
- Carl Granderson, Wyoming
2. The Bears may be better off resting Robinson and Mack next week, too. With Derek Anderson at the helm and several holes on the roster, Buffalo doesn’t project as much of a threat to Chicago, even with the game taking place at New Era Field. Mack’s long-term health in particular is far more important than having him play in a game that shouldn’t be much of a tough one, as the Bears need both him and Robinson at full health for when they play five of their six divisional games late in the year.
1. Bears players dressed up as their favorite legends in the franchise’s history before the game, showing up to the field in throwback jerseys. Mitchell Trubisky showed up in a top-notch Mike Ditka costume, and Matt Nagy showed up to his postgame presser in a George Halas jersey. The best jersey choices, though, have to go to Pat O’Donnell and Patrick Scales, who chose Brad Maynard and Patrick Mannelly, respectively. Much love for two legend who helped represent the pinnacle of Bears special teams play.