Raise your hand if you had the courage to start Mitch Trubisky in your fantasy playoffs. Since you’re not the cat in my lap, I’ll have to just tell you that I’m raising my hand. I put a little faith in our perplexing pigslinger and he certainly rewarded me. I’ve been saying all season that Trubisky’s issues seem to be primarily in his head space. Which is frustrating because it’s impossible to measure and difficult to know if it will change. But it appears something has changed. It was noticeable in the previous two games, but undeniable last night. Good Bear.
The Cowboys won the toss, decided to take the ball, scored first, and had the privilege to feel good about themselves in Soldier Field for about 15 minutes. The Bears first drive may have ended in a red zone interception, but it ultimately felt like an extended penalty after a forgettable Cowboys’ three and out served as a speed bump on a confident stomping Bears march down the field. Once the Bears took the lead, they didn’t look back.
Trubisky was confident and aggressive with refreshingly-precise ball placement. He made some risky throws, but he frequently put the ball in position for a receiver to maintain momentum after the catch or earn a leverage advantage over a close defender. The most obvious difference today was legs—and boy do they go all the way to the ground. Trubisky has looked run-shy most of this season, but he believed in himself last night and looked especially spry on his scrambles.
Speaking of legs, Nagy has been slowly incorporating more bootlegs into this offense and they seem to be working. Maybe he’ll keep that up?
It was a good day for undrafted tight ends. J.P. Holtz rumbled through a tackle-averse Cowboys defense for impressive yards, racking up impressive YAC. Jesper Horsted followed his impressive debut with more display of good route running and solid hands. The two combined for 7 receptions on 7 targets for 92 yards. That’s how the tight end position should have been looking all season.
Obviously the most impressive defensive play of the game was Trubisky’s tackle of Jaylon Smith after a David Montgomery fumble. #BiscuitSZN
Seriously though, #backupSZN is in full swing in Chicago, and the Bears weathered the storm effectively against one of the league’s best offenses. Kevin Pierre-Louis and Nick Kwiatkoski held down the all-backup middle of the field with ursine tenacity. Kevin Tolliver only proved to be a liability on one big play—never mind that it was a touchdown. And an Akiem-Hicks-less line held Ezekiel Elliott to only...4.3 yards per carry and two touchdowns. Have I mentioned that I miss Akiem Hicks?
Khalil Mack chasing down Dak Prescott and closing the deal with a diving sack was pure joy to watch. It’s so much more satisfying when it looks like they might get away.
The defense didn’t play at an elite level last night. They didn’t get a single turnover. But they got a lot of stops against a good team and repeatedly past the baton to an offense that was finally ready to do its part. I’ll take it.
For fun, let’s imagine a different kind of “best case scenario” with Mitch Trubisky. He continues to show promise this season, but also continues to make poor decisions and sprinkle in some head-scratchingly inaccurate throws. The Bears decide to invest in him and sign him to a discounted long term contract. Half of Chicago is furious, jerseys are burned and countless silly behaviors echo through the depths of social media. Next year, he takes the leap we were all hoping he’d make this year, the new CBA makes his contract look even better, and he proves to be one of he best values in the league.
I’m not saying this will happen, but it’s a nicer thought than my go-to of fearing he will do just enough to earn a contract and then never enough to carry the Bears past wildcard weekend.