After a gut wrenching loss to the Packers, it’s time to assess the damage and see what’s salvageable from the 24-23 loss for the Chicago Bears.
There were both highs and lows, and certainly the coaches will have more than enough to give both praise and correction in the upcoming week. Here is the Chicago Bears final report:
In my head, as a coach, I still see it in slow motion… Mitch Trubisky takes the snap, he drops and scans the field. Clay Matthews rushes off the backside against Charles Leno. Leno sets, he punches, he stops Matthews’ initial charge and rides him wide left. But then, Matthews realizes that Leno is overextended, he plants and goes underneath him to the inside, Leno is helpless, and Trubisky is a sitting duck. Hit, strip-sack, defense recovers, ballgame.
While this was just one of many plays that contributed to the loss, and it wasn’t even the one that most directly contributed to it, it most certainly was the biggest gut punch. On a must have play, Leno was left one on one against one of the better pass rushers in the league. That was a lot to ask, but that was his assignment, and unfortunately he didn’t get it done. It was par for the course in the second half for the team.
Yet, while there is more than enough blame to go around, from Coach Matt Nagy, to his staff, to the players, there were some gold nuggets that came out of the pan. Today, we’ll take a look at both.
Trubisky will take his fair share of criticism. He missed open receivers, he got happy feet, he didn’t keep his eyes downfield, and had other mechanical issues, but he also did throw some excellent passes. They question in many fans minds is, “Why did he fall apart so badly in the second half?”
This is a fair question. Trubisky finished the first half 11-14 for 109 yards and a rushing TD, but in the second half, the wheels seemed to fall off. Why? For that answer, let’s take Mitch at his word.
In his post game press conference, Mitch said that they had been prepared all week for the Packers to play man-to-man. This means that the quarterback Coach Dave Ragone worked him against Cover-1, Cover-0, and Cover-2 man (most likely). However, at halftime, Green Bay’s defense switched things up and went mostly zone, and specifically zone blitz in the second half. An inexperienced quarterback, running a brand new offense, could not sort through things quickly enough to make the split decisions necessary to move the ball.
Which brings us to a more important point that we’ll touch on later, why was he having to throw so quickly? The answer to that is that the line gave up a ton of pressures in the second half, and seemed befuddled by the Packers sudden attack.
Twists, Shouts, Inside-Outs, the Packers threw it all at the Bears hoping that they could catch them thinking with the new offense, and it worked. Trubisky was moving far too much off of his spot to be accurate, and far too quickly to process the change in the defense. It was a brilliant coaching move by Green Bay Coach Mike Pettine, and it worked.
It won’t be the last time that defenses switch things up on the Bears in hopes of catching them off guard. In fact, now that Seattle’s coach knows that it can work, I’d expect him to prep two different defensive game plans, one for each half, and see how the Bears respond. Other teams will do it too until they show that they can stop it.
Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 107 yards rushing and 41 yards receiving, and while it’s fair to question whether this should have been more given the situation, Coach Nagy and Mark Helfrich felt that Green Bay was vulnerable to the screen pass given their aggressive blitz packages. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way that they thought it would.
Yet, Howard caught all five passes thrown his way with no drops, including one that was out in front of him (an area that he struggled in last season). He and Coach Charles London worked on it extensively this off-season. If he can sustain this ability to catch the ball, then he becomes a bigger threat and he will force the defense to assign a defender to him in the passing game which will open things up for other receivers.
Cohen had a quiet game, but part of that appears to have been a focus on not letting him get into space on the part of the Packers. He seemed to always have someone under him, and just like in basketball, the defenders were always putting themselves between him and Trubisky. This is not a bad strategy given Cohen’s height.
Trubisky would have to be Joe Montana like to drop a touch pass over a defender that much taller. Yet on the one play where he could have, for a touchdown, he missed. That truly was, I believe, the low point for Trubisky in this game and will be the focus of much film study. Cohen on the other hand, deserves a ton of credit and praise for beating his man so soundly that he gave Trubisky the opportunity.
The running backs were a bright spot for the offense, and that should continue moving forward.