After what’s felt like a two week period of frustration and sheer boredom, the Chicago Bears return to action following their bye in week six of the regular season.
Tough news was plentiful during this time. From Jon Gruden humbling Matt Nagy in London, to losing Kyle Long for the year and Akiem Hicks for at least eight weeks, there hasn’t been much of a positive vibe lately. Then again, the Bears floundered in Miami against the Dolphins in their 5th game last season too.
The Bears’ record is currently 3-2, which is identical to last season’s record after the first five games. And, some good news has been revealed over the past few days. None bigger than Mitchell Trubisky’s return as the team’s starting quarterback.
Like him or love him, the Bears’ offense is better with Trubisky in the lineup
“Dude, the Bears should totally trade for Josh Rosen...he just got benched and would be super cheap!”
“Nah, man. Ryan FitzMagic all dah way.”
“What’s Jay Cutler up to these days...?”
Enough with all this nonsense.
Just two games ago we saw the Bears’ offense come to life against the Washington Redskins — basically enough cherries picked for a pie — as Mitchell Trubisky finally had himself a decent game in the 2019 season. Then, in an unbelievably frustrating turn of events, he gets knocked out by the Minnesota Vikings with a dislocated left shoulder. There’s no telling what type of game he would have had if he weren’t hurt to begin with.
Chase Daniel happened at home vs. the Minnesota Vikings. Then, the real Chase Daniel happened at London against the Oakland Raiders. He’s a backup quarterback who went 1-1 in extended action this season. Not bad, but not good, either.
The offense, for all the problems we’ve seen this year, is a better unit with Mitchell Trubisky on the huddle. Since 2018 the Bears are 14-4 when Trubisky starts and finishes a game. And, where Trubisky makes more mistakes than Daniel does, he’s also able to make magic happen.
Plus, his athleticism will give the Bears an edge that attacks the Saints’ defense’s one major problem.
Mobile quarterbacks have produced against an otherwise stout defense
There’s no question that the New Orlean Saints’ defense has stepped it’s performance up substantially this season in Drew Brees’s absence. They rank 11th in points allowed per game, and 10th in total yards per game. This will be no cake walk for Matt Nagy as far as his playcalling is concerned.
If there has been one chip in their armor, it has been containing mobile quarterbacks. Two notable games, week one against the Houston Texans and week three against the Seattle Seahawks, featured matchups against Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson who thrive when making plays with their feet. Yes, the Saints won both games; their defense also struggled to contain both QB’s.
Then, there has been the question regarding how they’ve fared when covering explosive receivers from the slot. So far, their results have been mixed, at best. Players like Chris Godwin, Cooper Kupp, Tyler Lockett, and DeAndre Hopkins did a ton of damage while attacking the seams vertically.
P.J. Williams, their primary player at nickel, will not be available due to his two-game suspension. In his place will C.J. Gardner-Johnson, a rookie who’ll see extensive action in New Orleans’ secondary for their next pair of games. This should be a favorable matchup for Anthony Miller, Trey Burton, and even Allen Robinson when in the red zone.
“I’m an idiot if I take his legs away”
Following practice on Wednesday, Matt Nagy was asked about how Mitchell Trubisky hasn’t been featured in more designed QB runs this season. Well, his answer was certainly a gem.
“His legs are a weapon for us. I would be a real idiot if I take his legs away from him.” - Matt Nagy
“There’s one for honesty,” as my Chief would say during basic training. It’s been a hallmark trait of Trubisky, a quarterback who plays better after scrambling for yardage instead of sitting inside the pocket all day. Oddly enough, there hasn’t been a great number of roll-outs, bootlegs, or sprint-outs called in 3 games with a healthy Trubisky available.
That will likely change starting this coming Sunday. The more that Matt Nagy calls a game of “keep away” from Cameron Jordan, the better of a day he’ll experience in front of the home crowd. The offensive line hasn’t been particularly strong this season, yet they’re athletic and built for a moving pocket. It’s time to use his resources to his advantage.
Taylor Gabriel’s return will be a boost as well. His speed when dragging over the middle pairs nicely with Trubisky’s ability to extend plays from outside the pocket. Prior to Trubisky’s injury, Matt Nagy got into the habit of having his offense line up and call the plays quickly at the line of scrimmage. Usually, bootlegs and other roll-outs are quick-hitting plays, which plays to Trubisky’s strengths.
As I’ve learned so far this season, it’s been almost impossible to predict what Matt Nagy will do on game day. One thing he cannot, and will not ignore, is the real need to protect his quarterback. I’ve broken several tables over their lack of a running game, yet Nagy can also put Trubisky in a position of success by coaching to his abilities.
It’s time to just let the young QB do his thing on offense. Use common sense with the game plan, let #10 run around like it’s backyard football, and strike the Saints’ defense quickly. Let’s get this season back on the right track and see complimentary football be played.