Editor: Aaron’s usual game balls article will be replaced by his 10 Takes moving forward here at WCG. He’ll still give us his game ball award winners (within the takes), but he has so many thoughts on each game he wanted to elaborate even more for you guys each week.
The Chicago Bears find themselves at (2-0) for the first time since 2013, which was Marc Trestman’s first year as the team’s head coach. Much like in 2013, the team has given fans quite the ride in the final minutes of both games, but regardless of how you cut it, they sit perfect on the year with a group of winnable games in the coming weeks.
Has either win be overly pretty? No. Has this team put together a full four quarters of good football? No. Even so, a (2-0) start is a nice way to start off the season and one that any team in the league would take. With that being said, let’s dive into Week 2’s nail biter a little more.
1. This team looks much closer to the 2018 version in the early going
It’s easy to get overly emotional in regards to how the Bears have won both of their games so far this season. Their margin of victory has been by a grand total of eight points and both teams they’ve played are winless so far on the young season. All of this is true.
Even so, these are two games they would have found a way to lose just last season and that’s important to note moving forward. In 2018, this team found a way to find games while they established an identity. That’s exactly what it appears they are currently doing now in a new season.
Obviously as the season moves forward, you’d like to see more convincing wins and them not take their foot off the gas against lesser football teams. At least in 2018, that came in due time. Winning is what is most important right now, especially against divisional and conference opponents which accounts for both of their wins to date and that should not be overlooked.
The biggest key will be the quarterback situation and at least to this point, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky looks closer to his 2018 product than his 2019 product. The only real difference is that now expectations have changed and most have accepted that this is more than likely who he is. Even so, this is still a team capable of winning more games than they lose and that’s nothing to scoff at, even in the early going.
2. After a lackluster 2019 draft class, 2020 is shaping up to be an impactful group
When looking at the 2019 draft class for the Bears, there’s one player making any sort of contribution and that’s running back David Montgomery (more on him in a few). Yes, the team didn’t pick until the middle of the third round that year, but having fourth-round pick Riley Ridley as a healthy scratch again in Week 2 doesn’t exactly line up as a good value draft. Especially for a general manager in Ryan Pace who has been known for finding good value in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft.
With that being said, 2020 has shown to be a different story so far.
Second-round pick Jaylon Johnson has been outstanding in his first two games. Despite missing the majority of training camp as he worked back from shoulder surgery, he has yeiled just three catches on seven targets, with no touchdowns and five pass breakups so far.
Fifth-round pick Darnell Mooney not only caught three passes for 36 yards, but he had his first NFL touchdown late in the second quarter. On top of all of that, he has already found himself as the team’s second receiver, playing the second most snaps in Week 2 and forcing the Bears to make veteran Ted Ginn Jr. as a “healthy scratch”.
In due time, rookie tight end Cole Kmet will play a bigger role, albeit he had his first NFL catch on Sunday as well. Cornerback Kindle Vildor may be the X-factor to this class and how he develops could make this one of Pace’s more intriguing in his tenure with the Bears.
3. Montgomery’s role and overall impact was exactly what Bears fans should expect moving forward
Looking back just a few weeks ago, Montgomery’s Week 1 status seemed in doubt after a groin strain in practice put him on the shelf. The original worry was that he’d miss a good chunk of the season. Then the concern was that he’d miss the first few weeks of the season, but lo and behold, the second-year running back was not only active for Week 1 but has played a big role in both team’s wins.
On Sunday, Montgomery accounted for close to (50%) of the team’s yards with 127 total yards. That included 82 rushing yards and a receiving touchdown. He also had two big runs on the final offensive drive of the game that ultimately got them into field goal range (despite the miss).
While the performance wasn’t anything that will win him any accolades this week, it’s one that shows his value and overall role in this offense moving forward.
4. Eddie Jackson’s almost Pick Six should have been a Pick Six
Shortly after the game, Jackson tweeted out that the official who originally called him for pass interference (wiping out a big play), admitted he was wrong in making the call.
Worst Call I Ever Seen Ref Had The Nerves To Say His Bad...smh— Eddie Jackson (@BoJack39) September 20, 2020
After further review, I have to agree with Jackson’s assessment and say that was not pass interference and in hindsight, it almost cost the Bears the game. The rule states that if a player (either offensive or defensive) is going for the ball, they are entitled to make a play on it. That’s exactly what Jackson did.
Here’s a similar play from 2018 where Leonard Floyd ends up with the interception and the play was properly called.
In the end, the game was not impacted by this missed call and yes, the officials didn’t get a preseason either, but this is simply a call where the officials didn’t understand the rules and it could have been costly. Not to mention, who doesn’t love a Pick Six?
5. Game Balls of the week go to...
As most know, I usually do a game balls piece each week (win or lose). I figured moving forward that instead of solely doing that, I would just include them within my 10 thoughts for the week, which is what I’ll start doing this week.
Offensive Game Ball: Montgomery. This was a pretty easy one for me. Montgomery accounted for more offensive yards than anyone outside of the quarterback, plus he had one of the team’s two touchdowns.
Defensive Game Ball: Johnson. This was a close one between he and Kyle Fuller, who have both played outstanding through two weeks. The rookie added another two pass breakups and has looked nothing like a rookie in his first two games.
6. Despite four sacks, the pass rush has been disappointing through two weeks
Seeing Robert Quinn on the field was a welcomed sight for all Bears fans on Sunday. On his first series with his new team, he had a strip sack and Khalil Mack came up with the fumble. All in all, the team had four sacks and if you purely looked at the box score, you would think that was a good day at the office for the team’s high priced defensive front.
At least on first look, that was not the case though. The pressure was few and far between and they lacked getting to Daniel Jones in key situations, in which the Giants found themselves converting on late down situations consistently in the final few drives of the game.
It’s worth noting that the team is clearly still distributing snaps as evenly as possible early on due to conditioning, but at some point soon you’d like to see the team’s defensive front start consistently pressuring like we saw in 2018 under Vic Fangio.
7. Speaking of the defensive front, they really miss Eddie Goldman
Back at the end of July, it came out that Goldman would be opting out of the 2020 season. It’s an understandable decision for any athlete but especially one in Goldman who holds a higher risk in playing due to his size.
Even so, the Bears have sorely missed him in the first two games of the season. When you look at Sunday’s numbers, you may wonder why I’d say that as the Giants totaled just 75 rushing yards on 18 attempts, but before Barkley went out of the game it didn’t look overly pretty for the most part.
Against better offensive lines and running backs who don’t leave half way through the game, this is likely to continue to be an issue. Whether the resolution is signing someone like Damon Harrison Sr. or simply moving Bilal Nichols out of the nose tackle role, I’m not sure. Either way, something is going to need to improve because they’ll get eaten alive, but good running backs in the coming weeks if they don’t.
8. It may be time to pump the breaks on giving Cairo Santos the kicking job for the season
Last week, I gave Santos an honorable mention in my game balls selection. He was perfect in Week 1 & up until the final offensive play of the game, he was perfect on Sunday as well.
The problem? He missed a 50-yard kick in a big situation and one that didn’t even look that close until the very end of the kick. Now, I do believe that part of the fault for this miss needs to go to Matt Nagy and his approach within those final three plays but even so, if your kicker can’t make kicks like that when it matters, you never just hand him a job and don’t question it.
Admittedly so, Santos has been better than I thought he would be, but as we’ve seen with other good teams (namely the Chiefs and Harrison Butker), making 50-plus yard kicks is a part of the job and one that needs to at least look close, especially in key situations.
This isn’t me saying that they should cut him as soon as Eddy Pineiro is healthy, but I do think that miss is exactly why Pineiro should at least have a chance to get his job back once he’s healthy and returns from Injured Reserve.
9. Is it time to be concerned about Danny Trevathan yet?
In Week 1, the veteran looked a step or two slow to be on the field. That all came to a head on the final drive where he was burned twice in the final three plays. One went for a big play to Danny Amendola and the other was wiped away by a D’Andre Swift drop in the end zone.
On Sunday, Trevathan played just (48%) of the snaps and was regularly subbed for safety Deon Bush.
Considering the team just gave him a three-year, $21.75 million deal (with two void years to lower the yearly cap hit), this is not exactly the type of start you want from him in Year 1 of that three-year deal...
10. Gut feeling... but I think Allen Robinson gets extended this week
On Sunday during the game, I tweeted out that Robinson’s effort on both of the interceptions wasn’t exactly the best I’ve seen from him before. On second review, I believe only one was a play he should have made and that was on the second throw. Even so, that doesn’t change how I feel about him as the team’s best offensive weapon and the urgency the Bears should have in getting an extension done for him.
With that being said, I think something breaks this week in regards to his extension. There’s been reports that both sides aren’t exactly close on perceived value, but after a multitude of receiver extensions coming in over the last few weeks, valuation of any deal should now be clear.
Especially after extending Tarik Cohen on Sunday, the onus on Ryan Pace to get a deal done with Robinson should be high priority and ultimately I think it will be.