What has happened to this team? In the past two weeks, the Chicago Bears have completely fallen off the wagon. Mitch Trubisky seemed unsure in the pocket and the defense looks nothing like it did before the bye week. The usually stellar special teams unit was not special this week as they allowed two touchdowns against them. Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kick-off for a touchdown and Dont’a Hightower blocked a punt that was picked up and returned for a touchdown. Both of those plays came at crucial moments. The Bears just took a commanding 17-7 lead before Patterson’s touchdown tightened the gap to 17-14. The blocked punt return gave the Patriots a late third quarter lead, 31-24. The Bears had a chance when Trubisky launched a ball into the air with no time on the clock and Kevin White came down with it, but he was stopped at the one-yard line and the Bears fell to the Patriots, 38-31.
A developing story is the disappearance of the Bears' defense. After an unbelievable start to the season they have become very mediocre. The last two weeks they’ve given up 31 and 38 points. They’ve barely put pressure on the quarterback; Tom Brady was only sacked once yesterday. After a historic start to the season by Khalil Mack, his ankle is proving to be an issue. He injured it last week, was limited in practice and only recorded one tackle on Sunday. We’ve seen what a healthy Khalil Mack can do, and we’ve seen what an injured Khalil Mack can do, making sure he is healthy should be No. 1 priority for the Bears.
Trubisky had a career high in pass attempts with 50, with Coach Matt Nagy having no confidence in the running game. Trubisky was inconsistent to put it mildly. He was able to use his legs and scramble for 81 yards on the ground. When he was unable to run for positive yards he forced some balls into spaces he probably should not have. He was unable to find his receivers downfield. Overthrowing his target multiple times and underthrowing his target a few times led to two interceptions. Both of his interceptions came at bad times as they both were caught inside New England’s 25-yard line. With that being said, Trubisky is a smart player. He knows that those mistakes were made, he is going to study the film and he is going to come out next week better than the week before.
As I touched on before, Matt Nagy has no confidence in this running game. He was asked after the game if he was happy with the run game and he said, “No. No, our run game needs to improve … it has to get better.” He was encouraged by Trubiksy running the ball, but he does not classify it as part of the running game, he classified it as good quarterback play to make something out of nothing. This is not the first time Trubisky has led the team in rushing, and I don’t think it will be the last. One thing that was pointed out during the broadcast were the Bears' tendencies. When Tarik Cohen gets the ball, it is an outside run, and when Jordan Howard gets the ball it is an inside run. When defenses know where the ball is going then it is easy to stop the run, Coach Nagy needs to break those tendencies. Both of his running backs have the skill to run inside and outside. Let them do it.
The schedule gets easier from here. That is a good thing, the Bears are entering must-win territory with the division being as close as it is. Bears safety Eddie Jackson knows it. “We’ve got to get this next win. That’s the main focus. No ifs, ands or buts.” The Bears get to remain at home this week as they prepare for the New York Jets. The Jets season has been full of ups and downs. They have a rookie QB in Sam Darnold who has been wildly inconsistent. He has 10 touchdowns coupled with 10 interceptions on the season. He’s had a few stellar games but is coming off arguably his worst game of the season. If the Bears are going to stay in the playoff picture they have got to take advantage of this young quarterback and his inexperience. On paper it looks like the Bears are the better team, and if they can return to half the team they were to start the season they should win this game. Playoff teams must win these types of games. Coming off two tough losses to two tough teams, they need to win to get back above .500. It looks like rain is in the forecast (50 percent chance) so the Bears better be ready to attack with their running game. I think the fans help them get out to an early lead, let’s see if the defense can hold it this week. Bears 27, Jets 16.