Probably the most frustrating part of the 2nd quarter of this season was that we had seen the Bears perform in the past. Last year sucked, and they couldn’t get out of their own way, but in 2018, we saw Mitchell Trubisky hit receivers and run for nice chunks of yardage. This past off-season (despite being stunted by COVID) was encouraging, with a new, rookie TE in Cole Kmet and a steady veteran TE in Jimmy Graham to show the way. While Slauson and Long were gone, Whitehair had become a pretty good linesman, and with the upgraded TE position, there was hope that Trubisky might get some time this year.
My biggest complaint about Trubisky from the start was the seeming inability to lead his receivers. Pass after pass, even in 2018, the receiver would have to adjust on the ball, and where you might have seen Allen Robinson break away for some touchdowns if he was hit in stride, we saw him make miraculous circus catches across his body, and take tough hits instead. Radio sports shows focused on his inability to scan the field and find the open guy, or make the smart play. But even with multiple cameras, we have limited visibility in what is really happening.
In the first few games of this year, Trubisky seemed to be able to connect with receivers more naturally, but he was always rushed in the pocket, or getting hit. To me, this has always been an issue with the offensive line. We saw Foles come in and fare even worse behind these guys, so some of the heat came off of Mitch. And, when it was time for Trubisky to come back and lead, he absolutely has. The o-line seems to have found their sweet spot with a few key changes, and while we’re still not talking about pro-bowlers across the line, I believe the coaches are finally tapped into the max potential of the players they do have.
And, along the way, they upgraded at receiver, too. Somehow, we have 3 good options, plus 2 TEs that can catch, run, and block. For the last 2 weeks, this offense has scored 30+ points, convincingly—not to mention within the division. Trubisky QB ratings in the past 3 games have been 108.3 (Detroit), 126.7 (Houston), and 97.7 (Minnesota). This puts a bit more focus on the defense, which has allowed nearly as many points each game, but look like they’re an injury recovery or two away from being elite again.
At this point, I’d love to see them make a run and keep it together, but I have no earthly idea what the team or management or coaching staff will look like next year. I heard folks talking about an 8 and 8 seasons early on, but don’t think they had a clue how that would look, and right now, we have a team that’s smashing the teams it should smash, and may have punched their ticket into the playoffs with this win over the Vikings. Playoffs? Playoffs?!!
It sure seems like they have the makings of a pretty good team if they can draft a premier offensive lineman and get Eddie Goldman back in decent shape. Santos Claus has already been a gift. But I’d trade playoffs for a win over the Packers on the last week of this season. I just want to know that they can, even if it doesn’t count.