It was Mitchell Trubisky’s final pass at Ford Field that gave his team the lead for the first time all game.
With 1:54 remaining in the game, Trubisky aired the ball along the right sideline into Anthony Miller’s outstretched hands for the deciding touchdown. Chicago entered the fourth quarter with a 17-point deficit, but the Bears’ 21 points helped the team rally back to secure a 27-23 victory over Detroit.
Trubisky’s stellar fourth quarter, where he completed 8 of 10 passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns, fueled the Bears to their first Week 1 win since 2013. That was a positive.
It was everything else though in the other three quarters that highlighted areas that must improve for the Bears as the 2020 NFL season unfolds.
Trubisky’s Rollercoaster Game
Before Trubisky dominated Matt Patricia’s defense in the final quarter, the 26-year-old looked similar, if not worse, to how he played in his 2019 season. There were passes thrown behind receivers, questionable decisions and careless plays, like a sack, fumble that went for a 28-yard loss.
“First half didn’t go how I wanted, how our offense wanted,” Trubisky said during his postgame Zoom conference call. “We knew we had to be better on third down earlier in the game, especially in the red zone.”
Trubisky at the end of three quarters threw for just 153 yards on 12 of 26 passing attempts. His one-quarter of excellence doesn’t erase everything he did prior. If anything, Sunday’s game was representative of the inconsistency that is still prevalent in the fourth-year quarterback.
Trubisky may have saved himself to start next week with his late-game heroics, but there is still plenty to be desired from the quarterback position.
For Trubisky to truly change his narrative (and to keep his job), he must figure out how he can lead the offense to have faster starts. If Trubisky is unable to do that in the next coming weeks, Nick Foles will get his opportunity to start, and that could indicate the end of Trubisky’s career in Chicago.
Still Searching for the Pass Rush
Seeing Trubisky’s up-and-down performance shouldn’t have surprised anybody, but witnessing what was supposed to be a top-10, possibly a top-5, defense struggle throughout the entirety of the game was eye-opening.
The Lions had a rookie in Jonah Jackson starting a right guard and backup Tyrell Crosby starting at right tackle. For the casual fan watching their first NFL game, they wouldn’t have noticed that was the case for the Lions.
Akiem Hicks failed to win his favorable one-on-one matchup against Jackson, and Khalil Mack (despite having a high pass rush win rate) didn’t make many impactful plays. What was supposed to be a field day for the two elite pass rushers ended with just one sack on the day for Chuck Pagano’s defense, thanks to Hicks.
When Hicks was asked why the defense wasn’t playing like they were accustomed to, the nine-year veteran couldn’t point to a specific reason.
“I would say this, we have a high expectation for ourselves,” Hicks said during his Zoom conference call. “We look to come out and play ball the way this defense plays football. But we also know we’re human and we’re going to make our mistakes …”
Last season, Pagano’s defense struggled to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks, finishing 24th in sacks with just 32. Even though the Bears were without big-ticket free agent Robert Quinn, that’s no excuse for the lack of pass rush against a Detroit team that gave up 2.7 sacks per game a season ago, according to Team Rankings’ website.
Quinn can’t be the one and only answer that solves this now recurring problem for the defense. For the Bears to have any shot at being competitive and to potentially make it back to the postseason, the defense must be elite.
Anything less will result in another disappointing season.
Along with the offensive and defensive areas of concern, there were also lapses on special teams and in Nagy’s decision making, specifically with how he managed the final 1:05 seconds in the second quarter, which resulted in his offense to go three-and-out and the Lions to capitalize to make it a 13-6 game going into halftime.
It wasn’t a clean victory for the Bears by any means, but as any coach would say, it’s easier to address the issues in a win than it’s in a loss.
“We’re 1-0 right now and we appreciate that,” Nagy said during his Zoom press conference. “We know that we have a lot more to go, but it’s hard to win in this league, so to be able to win right now it just really helps you for the future.”