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Game Notes: Recapping a 31-15 Bears victory in Washington

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The Bears improved to 2-1 with their primetime victory on the road on Monday night.

Chicago Bears v Washington Redskins
After a rough first two weeks of the season, Mitchell Trubisky bounced back with a solid outing on Monday night.
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Mitchell Trubisky’s primetime woes came to a halt as the Bears picked up a 31-15 win against the Redskins on Monday night.

The third-year quarterback wasn’t asked to do too much, but he executed the offense well and delivered several accurate throws. Chicago’s defense dominated early, creating enough cushion to secure their lead when Washington’s offense bounced back late in the game.

Though it wasn’t a perfect game for the Bears, it was a hard-fought outing in which they proved on a national level that they are not to be forgotten. Here are some takeaways from last night’s action.

Offense

All eyes were on Trubisky heading into this week, and he put together a good outing under the bright lights of FedEx Field.

The Bears relied on many short, one-read passes and RPOs to wear out Washington’s defense and prevent Trubisky from overthinking, and their plan was very well executed. He went 25-for-31 and threw for 231 yards, an indicator of the strategy the team had throughout the game. His accuracy, while still not perfect, looked better than it had in the first two games of the season. He looked mobile in and out of the pocket, and he delivered a dime on the run to Taylor Gabriel for a 36-yard touchdown.

Oh, yeah, Trubisky finally scored a touchdown. Three of them, actually.

His footwork still needs improvement, and Chicago’s play calling implied that they don’t trust him to stretch the field very often. Plus, his lone interception to Josh Norman was poorly placed and did not have enough distance and touch underneath it. However, for what he was asked to do, he did a good job and lead his team to victory.

His performance was aided greatly by Allen Robinson and the aforementioned Gabriel, who both played at very high levels this week. Gabriel came into halftime with a whopping three first-half touchdowns, and he ended the game with six catches for 75 yards. In addition to his electric playing style, he showcased physicality and focus in tight windows and the ability to adjust his body to make tough grabs. Robinson finished with six catches for 60 yards, and his ability to consistently get open and make physical catches was on full display, as it was in the first two weeks of the year. Both wide outs played very well, and that benefitted Trubisky in his best game of the young season.

The Bears also gave a handful of opportunities to David Montgomery, and he continued to look promising on 13 carries and 67 yards, as well as three catches for 14 yards. Though 25 of his rushing yards came on one run—albeit a run that showed off impressive patience and lateral agility—he showed off the tough running style that fans have come to see from him to start the year. With only five of Chicago’s 24 carries going to other running backs, it’s clear that Montgomery already plays an important role in their gameplan.

Chicago’s offensive line struggled on running plays, and though Cornelius Lucas wasn’t dreadful in place of the vertigo-stricken Bobby Massie, nobody on the line had a truly fantastic game. Granted, Washington’s defensive front is a talented unit, but the Bears will need to do some fine-tuning as they prepare for a tough Minnesota front next week.

The Bears executed their plan well on offense: don’t make Trubisky think. Their quarterback did what they asked him to do, and their weapons played well as a whole. It’s not flashy, but it got the job done.

Defense

When talking about the Bears’ defensive performance this week, it starts with two players who stood above the rest: Khalil Mack and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Mack putting on a clinic in a Bears uniform is not a new sight for fans. He finished the game with two sacks, two quarterback hits and two forced fumbles, and he was able to put Case Keenum under constant duress throughout the game. His dominance is well-documented around the league, and he flat-out manhandled a shoddy Washington offensive line.

Clinton-Dix played solid in his first two games with Chicago, but last night served as his coming out party, and against his former team, no less. He came away with two interceptions—one of which having been returned for a touchdown—that gained a total of 96 return yards. He also had nine tackles and two pass deflections, further adding to his impressive production totals. Clinton-Dix and Eddie Jackson form one of the most rangy safety tandems in the league, and the former was able to prove on Monday that he can still play at his former Pro Bowl caliber at times.

Danny Trevathan and Nick Williams also contributed sacks, with the former coming in second for the team lead with eight tackles and forcing a key fumble in a 4th-and-1 situation. Kyle Fuller picked up his second interception of the young season last night, but he also gave up a lot of cushion in coverage and had a lot of uninspiring reps. Though the ball-hawking production of the All-Pro cornerback remains in tact thus far, he needs to iron out those inconsistencies and be sharper in off-man and zone coverage.

Leonard Floyd quietly had a good game, beating his blockers in one-on-one situations multiple times and still playing at a high level after a minor injury. Akiem Hicks left the game due to a knee injury, and while the severity remains unclear, the expectation is that he should not miss too much time because of it.

The Bears played a bit too conservative on defense in the second half, allowing 270 yards after halftime and lacking aggression in coverage. However, they were able to prevent Washington from further narrowing the lead, and they came out on top after what was a mostly impressive performance.

Three and out

3. The Bears needed a sizable victory in this game, and they came away with exactly that.

Despite the two touchdowns they allowed in the second half, Chicago’s defense was, in all, its usual self. For the first time this year, though, their performance was complemented by a solid offensive attack that finally resembled an NFL-caliber unit. With teams like the Vikings, Saints, Chargers, and Eagles coming up on their schedule in the next month and a half, the Bears could not afford losing against a team whom many perceived as an inferior opponent.

2. Allen Robinson has been stellar, David Montgomery has shown several signs of promise, and Taylor Gabriel exploded with a fantastic game in Week 3. However, not every Bears weapon has been impressive, and the likes of Anthony Miller, Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen fall into that category.

Cohen finished with a total of negative 1 yard on four carries, and though he broke free for a 24-yard reception, his other reception was only for two yards. He has provided very little on the ground thus far, and his plays through the air have been hit or miss. Davis has just uninspiring completely, as he now averages just 2.4 yards per carry and has had three yards on four carries in the last two weeks. Miller, whom many believed would take a leap in his sophomore season, has just two catches for 17 yards to start the season. The athleticism is clearly there, but the focus and decision making hasn't been.

Cohen and Miller in particular would be helpful to have playing at a high level, as the former offers rare big-play ability and the latter precise route running. Luckily for the Bears, some of their other weapons have stepped up, but Trubisky hasn’t been the only underwhelming offensive player thus far.

1. Eddy Piñeiro played through a tweaked nerve in his knee this week, and his approach and kicking mechanics were hindered by his injury. As a result, he missed a 44-yard field goal, but that’s to be expected when you can’t follow through with a kick without limping.

Still, Piñeiro was able to nail a 38-yard kick through the injury. While one could debate if playing him was a smart idea, he showed toughness working through the injury.

And, for what it’s worth, Cody Parkey missed three kicks last season that were 38 yards or shorter.