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Bears mailbag: Mitchell Trubisky’s ceiling, Matt Nagy Coach of the Year and Eddie Jackson All-Pro?

In this week’s mailbag, we tackle a load of questions including Trubisky’s ceiling, Nagy’s status for Coach of the Year and looking at the team’s secondary that should have multiple Pro Bowlers on it

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

At (7-3), the Chicago Bears are off to their best start since the 2012 season, which is also the last time this team has had a winning streak of four games.

For as big of a statement win as Sunday night was, the Bears now head to Detroit on a short week to face the Lions, in what could end up being a deciding factor (for Chicago) in who wins the NFC North. A win on Thursday for the Bears would not only give them an (8-3) record, but would also put them in prime position to be at least 2 games up in the win column with five games left.

Even so, Bears fans should enjoy Sunday night’s win. In what was the biggest game for this franchise in at least the last five years, the home team finally came through and delivered that “statement game” many doubters had been calling for over the last few weeks.

With just six games left in the regular season, this team looks primed for a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. For more on this week’s mailbag, let’s just dive right in.

I don’t, personally.

I know the popular comparison for Mitchell Trubisky right now is Blake Bortles, but I just don’t see a lot of parallels. Yes, they are both inconsistent at times, but Trubisky is surrounded with about six different dangerous targets, a good offensive line and most importantly, an innovative head coach that happens to be offensive-minded.

I think the Bears have done a much better job of placing pieces around Trubisky early in his career, but the big difference is between the two coaches. He wasn’t good last year and was a large work in progress due to John Fox. There’s no denying that. But, the amount of strides he’s taken this year and some of the “wow” throws he’s made, lends me to believe his ceiling is higher, but more importantly, his floor is much safer.

Also, don’t forget about the athleticism that Trubisky brings to the table. After 11 weeks of football, he leads all NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards. Not only does that add extra value in the stats department and give opposing defenses more to account for, but his ability to throw on the run is something that gives him an element that not many quarterbacks in this league have.

My original pro comparison for Trubisky was a more athletic Matt Ryan and I’m sticking to that. Albeit, I think the second-year quarterback has a better arm.

I’ve received quite a few questions about Trubisky, but this one was one the better ones that covered all of the bases regarding his latest performance.

Trubisky didn’t have a great game last night but even so, his progression from Week 1 on the same stage against the Packers to what we saw in Week 11 was quite the upgrade. It’s also best to keep in mind that the second-year quarterback has now faced four of the top 10 defenses in the league over the course of the season.

Yes, Trubisky needs to play better and being consistent from week-to-week is a big part of that, but I don’t think he was awful by any means last night. His first interception was a fantastic throw but not a great decision into triple coverage. His second was partially on him, but don’t overlook Allen Robinson being bullied on his route and flat out giving up on the ball.

Consistency is something that has lacked in his game to start off his NFL career, but that’s 100% to be expected at this point. They are 10 games into a new and very complex offense. The fact that he is making the majority of the calls from the line and still putting his team in a position to win on a weekly basis cannot be understated. The consistency aspect just requires time and patience — as hard as that may be for a lot of us right now with a guy like Patrick Mahomes lighting it up in Kansas City.

A lot of that starts up front with the team’s interior offensive linemen. I think to a certain extent, we witnessed Nagy try to get Howard more involved and with some success against the Vikings. All the East to West (jet sweeps, etc) we saw to start the game, makes defenses think more and not be able to stack their linebackers in favorable positions close to the line of scrimmage to shut down those inside zone runs.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t think Howard is a great fit for this offense, but I do think that Nagy will continue to get creative at the start of games to help Howard create better success up the middle. The big key in that is knowing when to stop and that was something the Bears were a little late on in the second half on Sunday night.

I’m not sure he’ll ever truly get going to what we are accustomed to seeing but he should be at least serviceable for the remainder of the year.

To be fair, Coach of the Year is decided strictly on regular season games. So, what the Bears would do in the playoffs would have no bearing on the voting process.

From the perspective of him winning that honor as a whole, I think he has as good a shot as any coach, but keep in mind that there are currently a pair of one-loss teams that have dominated the NFL. Granted both of them made the playoffs last year, but it will really depend on the angle of the voters. If they value a (5-11) team going from worst to first over candidates like Andy Reid, Sean Mcvay or Sean Payton making big steps, then it could work in Nagy’s favor.

As far as Trubisky gaining national respect, until he starts putting up games like Week 4 or Week 10 on a national stage, he isn’t likely to get the type of positive attention most fans are hoping for. It’s also worth keeping in mind that many of his critics have already written him off, so those same people swallowing their pride to admit they are wrong is going to take a lot. Trubisky has an uphill climb in that department. The good news? Outside opinions don’t decide football games or determine careers.

All-Pro? Probably not.

Pro Bowl? Absolutely.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Eddie Jackson may be the team’s best defensive back, even with the recent uptick in play from Kyle Fuller and breakout season from Bryce Callahan.

Jackson’s presence on the back end has not only become something that we can rely upon, but also someone that we can count on big plays from. That’s something this team hasn’t had in quite a while but even so, I still think he’s another big year away from any All-Pro consideration.

Anthony Miller finds himself in the same situation that every other Bears pass catchers does right now. Each week seems to feature a different player. Whether that means a 100-yard day or Trubisky’s go-to target in big situations, it seems like Nagy’s game plan allows for new players to flash each week.

With that being said, Miller’s role has grown considerably since his return from the shoulder injury he sustained in Week 3.

When looking at his targets over the past four games (not counting Sunday’s weird game), Miller has averaged (6.5) targets per game, which is a big uptick from his first three games, in which he averages (3.67) per game. His role from a week-to-week standpoint may not be consistent, but he has three touchdowns in his last four games and is gaining more of a rapport with Trubisky each week.

Miller’s future is bright.

This is a great question and one that thoroughly screwed over Akiem Hicks just a year ago.

For whatever reason, the NFL’s position designations for their ballots has never made much sense, especially when you’re talking new aged schemes where positions like nickel corners and five-techniques are more of a norm than they were 10 years ago.

Last year, Hicks was classified as an edge rusher, instead of a defensive lineman, which hurt him because he didn’t have nearly the sack numbers or overall flash as a true edge rusher that’s primary job is to get after the quarterback.

Now, you’ve got Callahan who has been one of the better corners in the league as a whole, but since he plays a position where it’s not considered a part of a traditional “base package” defense, he’s left off the ballot. Being that this is the NFL running the voting, I think that someone with a bit more knowledge on modern day defensive schemes and concepts needs to step in and stop snubbing good players out of this honor.

I’m not really sure there’s a right answer for this question.

If you’re looking at it from a purely standings perspective, you’re best bet is to root for the Packers. With a Bears and Packers win, Chicago would then have a two and a half game lead (basically three due to both team’s ties) with five games remaining. That would mean that either one of the Vikings or Packers would have to go 5-0 with the Bears finishing at 2-3 or worse, in order to win the NFC North.

If you’re looking at it from my perspective, I’d still rather not see Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs over Kirk Cousins.

There’s a strong possibility that if the Bears win the division, they’ll be facing the sixth seed, which is likely to be either the Packers or more likely, Vikings. When looking at it from that point of view, I’ll take facing Cousins at home 100% of the time over having to see Rodgers again.