While the start of the 2019 season has been disappointing to Chicago Bears' fans, there is a parallel to be drawn to what transpired a year ago in the Windy City. Both seasons started off with a frustrating loss to the Green Bay Packers, which was followed up by an ugly win in week two. Chicago's offense under Matt Nagy has now limped out of the gate for two straight years, so maybe this is just how things are going to be with him running the show.
Maybe this is just a byproduct of sacrificing preseason reps for the starters.
Nagy's Bears will look good from a health standpoint, since all the key players remain sidelined, but his offense will struggle to find their rhythm early without any "live" action. I've always been on board with Nagy's sit-the-starters method, but I'm starting to second guess it. Chicago's offensive line made a key position switch by flipping Cody Whitehair and James Daniels at center and left guard, and those two had rough games in week one. In fact, the entire offensive line looked lost against the Packers. Those five guys up front rely so much on the cohesiveness they build with each other by playing week in and week out that Nagy should probably get them reps in the preseason. Knowing how the guy next to you passes off a stunt, or how he reacts to a blitzer, is the kind of stuff that has to happen on feel alone. The offensive linemen can't be caught thinking out there, because when a player is thinking he’s not reacting, and thus he ends up a split second late on doing his job. They played much better last week against the Broncos, which I detailed here, so the hope is they are coming into their own.
Lack of preseason reps could be what has ailed the Bears for two straight years now, but with a trip to Washington D.C. up next on Monday Night Football the Bears have an easier opponent to get things together on offense and find their rhythm.
Defensively speaking, Washington has allowed two quarterbacks to put up nice numbers against them this season. In week one it was Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz that threw for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns, and in week two it was Dallas’ Dak Prescott that went for 269 yards and 3 TDs. The two quarterbacks combined to complete 78% of their passes against Washington’s 25th ranked passing D, so even a struggling Mitchell Trubisky should be able to find some receivers to throw to.
Trubisky has not resembled the player we saw a year ago. Part of that is defenses now have plenty of film on him and Nagy’s offense, but part of that is also him missing guys. If Trubisky can’t play better, the Bears aren’t going anywhere this season. Even with a fantastic defense, the Bears still need at least serviceable play from their quarterback, and so far, he’s been less that ideal.
But the bright side is we’ve seen him play well in the past, so it’s in there somewhere, and Monday Night could be exactly what he needs to get his 2019 on track.
Washington is not only bad against the pass, but they are the 31th ranked defense against the run. They allow 5.2 yards per attempt, so we could rookie David Montgomery be a big part of the gameplan this week.
On offense, it’s been the Case Keenum show for Washington so far, and while I think he’s an underrated quarterback, he’s about to face Khalil Mack, Eddie Jackson, Akiem Hicks and company. They’ve yet to get their running game going and if they remain one dimensional, Chuck Pagano’s defense will eat them alive.
But back to Trubiksy and the offense. In 2018 it took them three full games of playing below average before getting things going in their week four contest against the Buccaneers. In that game Trubisky and the O exploded for 48 points, then went on to play decent on offense the remainder of the season.
If the Bears truly are who I think they are, an offense fighting through some early season rust, then they should win this game. But if this two week sample size is who the 2019 Bears are, then there are bigger problems than just this season.