In the midst of a full rebuild, the Chicago Bears have been really tough to watch this year, especially on offense. Averaging just over 290 yards of total offense and 17 points per game (both 29th in the league). Coming into this week’s road date with the Bengals, the Bears were seen as underdogs by mostly everyone as they should be.
From the very first drive it was apparent things were going to be different this week. With the run game led by Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, the offense marched right down the field and scored their first opening drive touchdown of the year, and never looked back scoring on all but three drives (Not including the turn over on downs at the end of the game) throughout the game.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky continues to take strides in becoming a franchise guy. Putting up his best performance of his young career. Trubisky completed 25of 32 pass attempts for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with one coming through the air and the other on the ground on Sunday. His continued development is evident with each game he plays. This week the game seemed to slow down for him, his reads were crisp, ball placement was nearly perfect throughout the game, and his most impressive attribute he has improved on is his ability to not only extend the play but also keep his eyes downfield instead of running.
This was on full display on a 3rd and 12 late in the first half, when Mitch dropped back and immediately the pocket collapsed; he stepped up and threw a shovel pass to running back Benny Cunningham for a decent gain despite being well short of the first down. Even though the play was short it was a complete summary of his development as a quarterback this far into his career. He still needs to improve as a decision maker, but that will come with time.
None of what Mitch did today would have happened with out the incredible effort by everyone around him today. Jordan Howard went off for 155 yards from scrimmage including two touchdowns. His backfield mate Tarik Cohen had a nice game himself, adding another 85 yards from scrimmage. With the run game getting going very early it set up the play action game that left the Bengals guessing on almost every play.
The receivers and tight ends really stepped up for Trubisky today. Kendall Wright, who had really been a non-factor as of late had his best game as a Bear, catching 10 of 11 passes for 107 yards. After the game when Mitch was asked about his connection with Kendall he talked about how they kept working on getting the ball to him on option routes and sticking with him. Well he listened and we can see the connection growing. Wright wasn’t the only one who stepped up on Sunday, rookie tight end Adam Shaheen who his teammates refer to as “Baby Gronk” showed flashes of that today catching four balls for 44 yards, including a beautiful over the shoulder touchdown grab that sealed the game early in the fourth.
The thing that stood out to me was the fact that Dontrelle Inman, who the Bears traded for this season and has been the most consistent threat in the passing game; not only wasn’t targeted once in this game, but has only been targeted twice in the past two. If he is going to be the play maker the Bears expect him to be he needs to touch the ball.
The MVP of this game on the offensive side was the offensive line. They dominated the line of scrimmage in both aspects of the game. As a whole, the line blocked for 482 yards (250 passing, 232 rushing), allowing only two quarterback hits. Both quarterback hits happened to be sacks unfortunately, but in the run game you could drive a truck through the holes the line opened up. Overall it was the most dominant and cohesive this line has looked all year.
This week the Bears showed what the fans have been waiting to see for quite a while on offense. A mix of good play calling, which has been hard to come by this year, great play all around from everyone and explosive play after explosive play, showing what the future could potentially look like on offense in the coming seasons.
The only real negatives I took away from this game was the constant lack of discipline in terms of penalties. It seems like all year the Bears shoot themselves in the foot with some type of dumb, drive killing penalty, which didn’t change this week. The difference was the offense was scoring so it didn’t matter much. Of course, there’s the fact that John Fox needs to have his eyesight checked. He consistently challenges plays that aren’t going to be overturned and are an obvious waste of a challenge and a timeout. Other than that, the offense was clicking on all cylinders. Hopefully the momentum from this week can carry on in a short week on the road in Detroit.