Heading into Sunday night’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, the Chicago Bears were a team who had proven dominant against weaker competition. Their 6-3 record was aided by an easy schedule, with a win against a team at the .500 mark being their toughest win of the year.
They exited the matchup proving that they are a legitimate playoff threat, and one that can compete with any team in the NFC.
The Bears were always a talented team, but their 25-20 victory in prime time confirmed it to the rest of the country. They proved that they can beat top-tier competition, and they flashed the ability to take firm control of any game. Despite a down game from Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago’s defense stepped up and overwhelmed a lackluster Vikings offensive line. Khalil Mack wrecked havoc off the edge, Akiem Hicks was a constant penetrating force on the interior, and Leonard Floyd put pressure on Kirk Cousins.
Even with a mediocre performance, the second-year quarterback came through in the clutch and stepped up in tough situations. He threw two interceptions, but he completed just under 65 percent of his passes. He showed poise in the pocket, and ample athleticism when avoiding pressure. Trubisky is not perfect: he will have his ups and downs for the rest of season. Many tend to forget that this is still his first season in a new offense, which heightens the challenges of making a sophomore leap.
When Trubisky is at the top of his game, he is an above-average quarterback in the NFL. He’s not elite yet, but he has shown significant improvement since his rookie campaign. That enough will likely propel the Bears to the playoffs this season. With the talent around him, he merely has to be competent to win games.
The next step for Chicago is to develop Trubisky into one of the best quarterbacks in the game. This goal is basically unattainable this late in the season, but it is one that they can work on over the offseason. From this year alone, he has improved his mechanics, his footwork, his pocket presence and his accuracy. With another offseason in Matt Nagy’s system, he can reach even bigger heights in 2019.
The Bears are currently a legitimate playoff team with high-end talent on both sides of the ball. For the first time since 2010, they look like a team that can realistically do damage in the playoffs. And while their defense may be one of the scariest units in the NFL, the scariest thing of all is how much better they can still become.