While there almost certainly won’t be another game quite like it, Sunday’s performance by the Bears offense was far from a fluke.
After falling behind Arizona by 14 points, Mitch Trubisky started to look more comfortable. Suddenly the pressure was off and it looked like the Bears had an actual offense. Here’s how the Bears did in that second half:
- Field goal
- Field goal
- Punt — after trying to kill the clock.
From halftime in Arizona, the Bears scored on 11 of their next 16 drives. One of the non-scoring drives was a single play before halftime. Another was simply an attempt to run out the clock.
The Arizona game should’ve been a sign that something better was coming. They scored 13 points in the second half of that game, a good half for any team. And against Tampa Bay, it all clicked.
That isn’t a coincidence. Nagy and Trubisky got together and figured out how to turn three into seven, according to what the Bears coach told Peter King in his Football Morning in American column:
“Our lessons this week was let’s just sit together and let’s figure out why we’re struggling on our offense and see if we can find some answers,” Nagy said. “We on offense had by far our best week of practice all week long. More specifically, in the red zone, because that’s where we’ve been struggling.”
Here’s how the Bears opened against Tampa Bay:
- Field goal
The immediate lesson learned is that Mitch needed to be comfortable, even if that meant simplifying the offense. Nagy admitted to doing just that — while also denying it, making for an odd quote:
“We’re not pulling back,” Nagy said. “What we’ve done though is just dissected a little bit. Maybe tweaked a few things, whether it’s the progression of a play for Mitch, whether it’s too many options at the line of scrimmage. I think the combination of that and just really guys offensively honing in on, worrying about what they do best and worrying about their own position and not worry about anybody else.”
The offense itself was never really broken. The plays were there to be made, but the quarterback wasn’t making them. Nagy had to find a way to fix that and it sure seems like he did.
Not every game is going to go like this. In fact, it’s very likely that no other game will go like this. But we saw what this offense is capable of as long as the quarterback plays confidently and in control.
Nagy seems to have found a way to make that happen.
• As for Mitch, he deserves a ton of credit too. Remember those deep balls that he had been missing? He hit those. And that was no fluke either. According to Nagy, Trubisky stayed after practice throwing deep balls, trying to master the craft. Against Tampa Bay, he was damn near perfect.
The Bears don’t need Mitch to be perfect, they just need him to be adequate. If they get that, they’ll be tough to beat.
• You just get the feeling that Tarik Cohen is going to be more featured than Jordan Howard, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. My biggest question is if Cohen can hold up getting 20 or more touches a game. It’s easy to think yes but with small guys, but the answer is usually no.
• The Bears leading the NFC North isn’t fluky. They don’t just have the most wins, they’ve scored the most points and allowed the fewest, both by pretty wide margins. They don’t just have the most wins, they’ve been the best team.