I had to travel for work today, and my bus was supposed to arrive 30 minutes before the Bears’ game, giving me plenty of time to check in to my hotel, sit down with the TV and laptop, and get ready to enjoy some good ol’ Cardinal stompage. My bus was half an hour late, I had to watch the game on my phone walking to the hotel in the rain and blowing through my data plan, the hotel couldn’t figure out my reservation for 15 minutes while I had to talk to them while watching the game, the hotel TV didn’t have the game, the wifi didn’t work at first, and the Sunday ticket randomly kicked me out twice.
The Bears start to the game was unequivocally worse than my viewing experience. This left them with a great opportunity to make a comeback. They pulled it off in an ugly, unsatisfying, but ultimately winsome manner.
Full box score can be seen here.
So much for the first drive scoring streak
The first offensive drive was looking pretty good with some big runs by Cohen and Howard and some efficient passes by Trubisky. It all imploded on 3rd and 6, when the Cardinals went all in blitzing from both edges and were rewarded handsomely. There was no visible hot read on the broadcast tape, and Biscuit made the suboptimal decision to run backwards. The result was a 17 yard sack placing the Bears into difficult field goal territory Cody Parkey failed to convert.
The second drive was worse. After moving the ball effectively off a 10 yard starting point, a barely-forced fumble gifted the ball back to the cardinals for an easy TD.
Penalties favored the Bears today
I don’t care for the new happy-flag roughing-the-passer officiating, and the first half calls against the Cardinals mainly just gave the Bears more opportunities to screw up in the end zone, give me anxiety, and make Trubisky more flustered. But in the second half, some crucial penalties kept Bears drives alive, and frankly, they needed the boost.
Bradley Sowell an eligible receiver?
Please...He’s barely an eligible lineman.
Linebacker coverage disasters
The Cardinals’ two early touchdowns were direct results of three big plays with players outmaching linebackers. The first, Khalil Mack ended up alone with Christian Kirk on a play where Danny Trevathan blitzed, and Kirk caught the ball for a large easy came. That drive finished with Seal-Jones beating Trevathan on a corner route, with some confusion added in by a receiver crossing ahead of him. Finally, the second touchdown was the result of a one-play drive where David Johnson beat a linebacker on a deep corner route as well.
Trubisky has been inconsistent for the first three games this season, and it certainly gets frustrating to watch the rushed and off-target throws. The encouraging part is that he always comes back with some good plays and good throws.
He gets flustered, but he doesn’t stay flustered. That’s one of the more important traits in a quarterback, but on its own, its certainly not enough. What I want to see is a game that starts out poorly, and then he comes back to finish strong and win. Instead, I am seeing a microcosm where he starts a drive poorly, then finishes well. He makes a bad play, then follows it with a few good plays, then a bad one.
It’s fair to say Trubisky has played poorly these first three games. On average, I think he’s played worse than he did last season. But he manages to show something positive every game. I believe as he gets more experience and more comfortable with the playbook, the ratio of good to bad will continue to improve. Whatever you believe, all we can do as fans is wait and hope.
O line problems
The Cardinals managed to get a lot of pressure, and not just on blitzes. Charles Leno, Jr., understandably, had more trouble with Chandler Jones than he’s had with any edge so far. Even when the O line didn’t get beat, they were pushed back more often than usual, especially in the passing game.
In addition to the O line troubles, there were a lot of unblocked blitzes. The Cardinals game plan seemed to be a lot more aggressive than it was in their first two weeks, and the Bears, and Trubisky in particular, were not prepared for it.
D line solutions
Let’s not get technical. I’m counting Mack in the D-line. The Bears front continues to impress me every game, with at least a few plays exhibiting complete domination. Sometimes Hicks and Mack meet at the quarterback, sometimes it’s Mack and Roy Robertson-Harris. Sometimes they do it two plays in a row. Sometimes Aaron Lynch gets pressure while Mack distracts. And at least once a game, Mack forces a turnover. And then Bilal Nichols comes in with a crucial tackle for loss forcing the 4th and 5 which led to Bryce Callahan’s game-winning interception.
Floyd has been quiet in terms of pressure these first few games, but he’s been playing well in coverage and the run game.
Roquan showing his presence
The Bears’ first-round linebacker hasn’t flashed any amazing plays yet, but Roquan Smith had several good run stops including a great pounce into the backfield in this game. He also had a delightful tackle of David Johnson, gratuitously tossing him backwards on a play that was voided by a penalty.
Get well soon, Prince Amukamara
Amukamara was stingy in coverage and had an impressive pass breakup before leaving the game with a hamstring booboo. Kevin Tolliver came in when Prince left, and showed his inexperience quickly, getting beat on a double move for a big gain. I’m happy to have Tolliver on the roster, and think he has exciting potential, but I’m not happy to see him on the field during crucial moments in his rookie season.
This game had plenty of frustrating moments for Bears fans, but ultimately, the team continued playing hard throughout a surprisingly difficult road game.
The Bears are now 2 and 1, meaning they have a winning record for the first time since 2014 and the best record in the NFC North.