Despite somewhat of a weird game, the Chicago Bears find themselves at (2-1) heading back home for a pivotal match-up against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon. Yes, it was a lopsided game but in a lot of ways, it was still a sloppy game.
The final score (31-15) may have not looked like a rout but in most ways, it was. Even against a winless Washington Redskins squad. For two straight games, the Bears had long weeks, now they’ll experience their first short week of the year and it’ll be a big one. With that in mind, let’s enjoy the second win of the season and highlight some standout players from Monday night’s second win of the season.
WR Taylor Gabriel
Any time you have three touchdowns in game, let alone one half, you’re going to get a game ball.
Now it’s worth noting that two of those touchdown catches were simply him being open on short throws but that’s not something that he should be faulted for. The Bears have needed receivers to get open all year and Gabriel did that in a big way tonight.
He finished the game with six catches for 75 yards and a trio of touchdowns. He did leave in the third quarter with a concussion but even so, it was a career performance for the former Atlanta Falcon.
I’ll say this much- Gabriel’s 36-yard touchdown catch (pictured above) was one of the more impressive catches I’ve seen from a Bears receiver in a while. Not only did he have to get both feet down (after it was initially ruled incomplete) but the amount of body control that went into it was vastly impressive. That was something he was not able to do in Week 1, either. So that’s worth noting.
The hope is that Gabriel will clear protocol before Sunday’s game, but that seems unlikely. Even so, his performance tonight was much needed on multiple levels.
Honorable Mention: QB Mitchell Trubisky
The offensive line was not great tonight. Trubisky was also nowhere near perfect and his final line may have appeared a little more impressive than his actual performance. Even so, he finished the game (25-of-31) for 231 passing yards, with three touchdowns and a single interception. This was by far his best performance of the young year.
It was also clear that head coach Matt Nagy changed the approach drastically on Monday night and I think it was the right call. Early on Monday, I pointed out that Jared Goff’s success was in large part due to head coach Sean McCoy’s ability to get Goff up to the line of scrimmage quickly and help him diagnose the defense pre-snap. That’s exactly what Nagy did for Trubisky and it worked well. They also ran a bunch of crossing routes and quick passes, which helped him get into a rhythm.
By no means should this be the finished product for Trubisky but more importantly, it was a much needed step in the right direction and something that he can absolutely build on in the coming weeks. That’s all most Bears fans were asking for going into Week 3.
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
All off-season long, it was Bears vs Packers fans on twitter. More specifically, it was Adrian Amos vs Clinton-Dix. Who was better? Who got the better value?
These were all talking points for both fan bases and so far, both teams have to be happy with the results. I’m not going to dive into what Amos did in Week 1 but I do want to talk about what Clinton-Dix did against one of his former teams on Monday night.
Clinton-Dix finished the game leading the team with nine tackles, with a pair of interceptions (including a pick-six) and also had a pair of defended passes. That’s exactly the type of product the Bears were hoping they would get out of him. Especially on a one-year deal.
Now, obviously we shouldn’t expect that type of performance on a weekly basis but having another ballhawk in the secondary is a big win for a defensive unit that had just one takeaway coming into Week 3’s game. They now have six, which is much more like their 2018 product. This was a big game for the former Redskin and Packer and more importantly, this was the type of game he needed to get back on the radar as a pending free agent after the 2019 season.
OLB Khalil Mack
When the lights come on and the national spotlight comes out, the highest paid defensive player in NFL history tends to show up in a big way. That’s exactly what Mack did in the team’s lone Monday Night Football appearance this year.
The three-time All-Pro finished the game with three tackles, a pair of strip sacks, and multiple pressures (including a pair of quarterback hits). Coming into Week 3, the Washington offense had started fast and scored points. On Monday night, Mack took the defense on his back early and often.
Coming into the game, many had felt like Mack’s presence hadn’t been the same as 2018 but failed to see the amount of total pressures he had in the first two games of the season. After tonight, we can all rest assured that Mack is still the best player on this roster and a factor that every team has to scheme for on a weekly basis.
Especially with the injury to Akiem Hicks, Mack’s presence was massive because he impacted the game in multiple different ways. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mack was worth everything the team gave up and then some.
Oh and I think we can bury the talk that the Bears defense is set for some sort of regression. As much as I like Vic Fangio, his defense has zero sacks and zero turnovers through three games with multiple playmakers. The difference? The Bears have the most talented defensive unit in the league and that didn’t disappear when Fangio left for Denver.