- Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky after reviewing the game tape from last Sunday’s victory over the Vikings:
- Having said that, I think Dan Pompei at The Athletic may have some reservations as gives his thoughts after last Sunday’s game:
“Our confidence is way up from earlier in the season when it just seemed like we were a little unsure about what we wanted to do and who we wanted to be. We have more of an identity right now. It starts with running the football and then the play-action/movement game that comes off that. It’s just being efficient on first and second down and being a balanced offense. Guys are buying into it. There’s more passion and excitement at practice over the last few weeks.” — [Mitch] Trubisky , on the team’s energized mindset
Though I really don’t believe that the Bears can be an elite offense while cutting the field in half in the passing game, this sort of offense can definitely be effective as conclusively shown by Kevin Fishbain at The Athletic when he reviewed the all-22 film.
No one else in town seems to be too alarmed by the way the current offense has been designed so perhaps I’m wrong. It’s going to be interesting to see.
It’s good to run the football when the opposing defense invites the run as the Vikings did. It’s better to run the football no matter what the opposing defense invites.
Pompei echos my concerns on this. The Bears haven’t really played a good defense in a long time. The Vikings were covering for multiple deficiencies and were thin at cornerback. They had players in the defensive back field that had to be protected and they couldn’t afford to pack the box to stop the run the way that they ordinarily might have.
Eventually the Bears are going to run into a defense that is going to challenge this run-first approach. There are multiple questions that will need to be answered at that point.
- Will the Bears be able to run against a team that is determined to stop them from doing it?
- If not, will they continue to run anyway, as they surely will need to do and…
- …will they be able to make up the deficit by living or dying by the pass?
The Bears might not meet a defense that will force them to answer these questions unless they make the playoffs. The Jaguars rank 18th against the run and, if they stop the Bears from doing it, 28th against the pass. The Packers, as far as I can tell, never really concentrate on stopping the run. They let Aaron Rodgers get them a lead, then play the pass.
But eventually, if they survive, the Bears will meet a truly good defense. At that point, we’ll find out what they are made of.
The Packers may well wrap up the number one seed next week in which case they will surely rest their starters. But otherwise, they have tormented Trubisky in the past.
The most notorious example was in week 1 of the 2019 season when the Bears scored just 3 points on a miserable night for Trubisky. After the game, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said, “We wanted to make Mitch play quarterback. We knew they had a lot of weapons, we knew they were dangerous, we knew all of those things. But we knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback, that we’d have a chance.”
The Packers did a good job of keeping Trubisky in the pocket that game, thus forcing him to make decisions under pressure and keeping him from using his legs. Playing from the pocket is undoubtedly Trubisky’s biggest weakness.
So the Packers know very well how to beat him. They have a good, veteran defensive coordinator in Mike Pettine who undoubtedly has seen this before, knows how to stop it and, at least as far as the passing defense goes, has the personnel to do it.
Despite the fact that it would be better for the Bears playoff chances if they didn’t, I find myself actually hoping that the Packers need to win that last game. Right now, I’m trying to figure this team out and whether there’s any long term hope associated with this offensive plan. To me, this is a greater priority than the opportunity to make a weak run in the playoffs. A challenging game against an elite team with a decent defense would be helpful.
I know the Bears were excited when they drafted Kindle Vildor this year and he looked good (aside from the Adam Thielen touchdown), fast and aggressive with good tackling. And Duke Shelley was the first guy off the bench behind Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine. Any chance the Bears view these guys as future starters or merely solid depth guys? With Skrine’s reported dip in production this year, I would think the Bears should consider Shelley or Vildor as potential (more affordable) replacements next year. — @ckindra_23
Shelley played pretty well starting in place of Johnson and I thought Vildor, outside of the mixup you reference with Shelley on the Vikings’ first touchdown Sunday, also looked solid. It’s probably premature to make any kind of judgment on whether Vildor has the upside to emerge as a starter, but you wouldn’t want to put a ceiling on him. I don’t think Shelley is a guy a team would want to lean on as a starter on the outside, but he’s gaining experience and could rise to the level of a solid depth player. It’s possible the Bears explore options at nickel for next season and Shelley or Vildor would both be cheaper than Skrine. This will be worth monitoring because the Bears need to find ways to create salary cap savings, and they also should continue to address their depth at cornerback. A regular training camp next summer, or close to regular, and a full preseason would be a good time to see where Vildor is at.
My problem with Shelley is that he’s 5’9″. That’s going to set the Bears up for some serious mismatches with tight ends and big wide receivers if they put him on the field on a regular basis in the nickel back role.
My feelings on Vildor are less concrete and based upon watching him for one game. He looked athletic. But he also looked to me like a guy who was still learning the game. He looked occasionally lost. He also looked excitable which sometimes make me doubt a player’s ability to concentrate. But I say that fully understanding that its not at all fair after just one game.
- Myles Simmons at profootballtalk.com quotes Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the Chiefs turning to running back Le’Veon Bell with Clyde Edwards-Helaire likely out until the postseason:
“He’s had success everywhere he’s been,” Mahomes said. “He’s been a top running back for a long time now and I think he fits into our locker room really, really well. He’s done a great job in the amount of snaps that he’s gotten so far, and I’m sure that he’ll continue to do better and better as he gets more and more snaps.”
Bell is only 28 years old but to me he looks like he’s running like he’s about 5 years older than that. I don’t see much explosion.
Bell sat out a year after the Steelers refused to pay him what he wanted and you have to wonder if he believes that leaving the team was the worst decision he ever made. Pittsburgh had a running game that seemed tailor made for Bell’s running style that allowed him to be patient behind an excellent offensive line before darting through cracks to big years.
One Final Thought
For whatever reason, I haven’t seen him do that either during his absolutely miserable stint with the Jets or with the Chiefs. You have to wonder if he’ll ever find the right fit to display what skills he has left again.
“I got a few messages like that,” Mann said. “But whoever says something like that, I don’t think they ever tried to compete at something like this. For us, we get paid to play. We get paid to win.”
I think fans need to settle down when it comes to things like this.
The truth of the matter is that if you have a good organization, you don’t have to tank for draft order to get good players, including quarterbacks. If you don’t have a good organization, it won’t matter whether you tank or not.