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Game Notes: Bears hold on late, defeat Giants to improve to 2-0

The game wasn’t perfect, but the Bears played just well enough to hold onto their lead and win their second straight game of the new year.

NFL: New York Giants at Chicago Bears Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a far from pretty start to the regular season, but the most important takeaway is that the Bears are now a 2-0 football team.

A hot first half saw the Bears enter halftime with a comfortable 17-0 lead, and even without scoring a single point in the second half, they came away with a 17-13 after their defense held up in the red zone on the last drive of the game.

Chicago showed flashes on both sides of the ball, but they also showed plenty of inconsistencies. They will have plenty of things to work on between now and next Sunday’s matchup against the Falcons, but for now, they can enjoy starting the season undefeated.

Here are of the key takeaways from Sunday’s Bears win.

Offense

The Bears’ offensive performance was basically the polar opposite of their win last week.

The offense looked inspired and electric in the first two quarters. Mitchell Trubisky threw two touchdown passes and went 13-for-18 with 159 yards in the first half. The Bears were able to move the chains and consistently move the down the field through both the air and the ground, and that helped them win the time of possession game rather handily.

In the first half, Trubisky looked like a solid starting quarterback. He delivered some impressive throws, showed some sharp improvisational skills and made some pretty good decisions when all was said and done.

However, the passing game stalled considerably in the latter half of the game.

Trubisky completed five of his 10 passing attempts, with two of those incompletions resulting in interceptions. While his fourth-quarter interception to James Bradberry could arguably be attributed to Allen Robinson allowing the defender to strip the ball away from him in a jump-ball situations, Trubisky’s third-quarter pick to Julian Love, though, showcased the quarterback making a questionable read and forcing a throw.

Those turnovers played a role in the Giants turning over the tide of momentum into their direction. While New York wasn’t able to put together enough offensive firepower to win the game, the game still ended up much closer than it needed to be.

The Bears’ receiving options didn't do Trubisky too many favors, however. Robinson finished with three catches for 33 yards, while Anthony Miller didn’t catch a single pass, despite being targeted three times. It was another good game for Darnell Mooney, though, as the fifth-round rookie caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. In a game where Chicago’s wide receivers had just eight receptions all game, the Tulane speedster stepped into a big role in Week 2 and performed well, given his Day 3 draft status.

For all of their inconsistencies through the air, the Bears put together a solid game on the ground, particularly from David Montgomery. The second-year starter ran for 82 yards on 16 carries and contributed 45 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. Eight of his carries resulted in gains of seven yards or more, with four runs of 11 yards, 10 yards, nine yards and 23 yards helping the Bears wind the clock down and move the ball down the field late in the fourth quarter. The interior offensive line generated some good pushes up front, while Montgomery showcased agility, vision and power as he continued his hot start to the 2020 season.

It was far from a perfect performance on offense, but the Bears had their fair share of exciting plays throughout the game. Now, they will have to work on ironing out some wrinkles in their play and putting forth a more consistent product.

Defense

Much like the Bears’ offense, their defense started off strong and fell apart to an extent in the second half. However, they came together and secured the win when their backs were against the wall.

The Bears’ defense held the Giants to a shoutout through the first 35 minutes of the game, sacking Daniel Jones three times and intercepting him once in that span. Robert Quinn didn’t make a huge impact on a down-by-down basis, but he notched his first sack as a member with the Bears early in the first quarter with a nasty strip sack off the speed rush. That sack was crucial in helping his team get out to a two-score lead early in the game.

Akiem Hicks tallied his second sack of the 2020 season, having sacked Matthew Stafford once in the win against the Lions. He was a powerful presence along the interior and drew plenty of attention throughout the game. Khalil Mack was also very tough to stop and looked more disruptive than he did in Week 1, including reaching his first sack of the year. That “Rule of 3” made an impact in this week’s game and showed promise in regards to their future in Chicago’s defense.

Roquan Smith tied for the team lead with eight tackles on the game and looked solid in run support overall. The Georgia alumnus held a tie for the highest total with Eddie Jackson, who looked reliable in run support and when bringing down ball-carriers after the catch. He also had an impressive pick-six in underneath coverage, but it was called back for defensive pass interference. He appeared to be solid in coverage, though heading to the tape will tell the full story in that regard.

Jaylon Johnson also brought about another impressive performance after putting on a show in Detroit last week. He finished with two pass deflections and was targeted less often, likely coming from a combination of his shutting down his opponents and New York’s deciding to not test him very often. As is the case with Jackson, watching the All-22 tape will provide a clearer perspective, but Johnson looked very good at first glance.

If the Bears struggled in one particular area, it was in their playcalling in the second half. With a 17-0 lead heading into the second half, Chuck Pagano was far too conservative in his gameplan. They blitzed very little with the lead and relied heavily on passive zone coverage, and Jones and the Giants’ offense were able to dissect it with relative ease. The middle of the field was essentially wide open for much of the latter half of the afternoon, and Evan Engram finishing with six catches for 65 yards summarizes the Bears’ struggles in zone.

The Bears decided to take their feet off the brakes far too early, and that gave Jones plenty of time to get into a rhythm and move the ball down the field. They were able to get it together late in the final drive of the game, and allowing just 13 points is still a pretty commendable feat. It wasn’t a bad outing by any means for their defense, but there is still room for improvement.

Three and out

3. The Bears’ offensive line proved on Sunday that their performance on Week 1 wasn’t a fluke.

While not as great of a performance as last week—they allowed four sacks and an additional quarterback hit—Chicago’s big hosses put together another nice performance in the ground game. The interior offensive line in particular was able to control defenders at the point of attack and generate some drive on the ground. Heading to the all-22 will determine for sure how the offensive line did, but kudos to Cody Whitehair, James Daniels and Germain Ifedi for stringing together two nice games back-to-back.

2. I don’t consider myself to be much of a pessimist most of the time. However, I can’t help but be concerned with Danny Trevathan’s performance in the first two weeks of the season.

He has 10 tackles through the first two weeks, and while that total is fairly respectable, he hasn’t looked like himself to start the year. He has been a liability in coverage, even more so than in 2019, when he allowed 87.5 percent of targets thrown his way to be completed: the third-worst percentage in the league. The veteran, who has generally been a reliable player on Chicago’s defense since arriving with the team in 2016, has looked much slower and clunkier than he has in past years.

There’s still time for him to turn things around, but Trevathan will need to step up in future weeks. With the way his contract is laid out, they don’t have a reasonable out in his three-year contract. That extension could prove to have disastrous effects for the cash-strapped Bears in the near future if he doesn’t turn things around.

1. Don’t be fooled by their 0-2 record: next week, the Falcons could prove to be the toughest competition the Bears have faced so far this year.

In their first two matchups, Atlanta has scored a combined 64 points. They feature two extremely talented wide receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, as well as a tight end in Hayden Hurst who could prove to be a matchup nightmare across the middle of the field. Their defense has allowed an abysmal 78 points through the first two games, and their coaching appears to be questionable, at best. However, to their credit, they took on two talented teams in the Seahawks and Cowboys.

The Bears enter the matchup with the better record, but the Falcons’ offensive firepower will certainly test Chicago’s vaunted defense. They will likely need to cut down on some crucial mistakes in order to keep their undefeated streak alive.