Bears And Lions Both Struggling, But Something's Got To Give

It's make or break time for Chicago and Detroit
Lester A. Wilftong Jr
Thu, November 7, 5:23 AM EST

I can’t even say it was fun while it lasted, because there has been nothing about the 2019 Chicago Bears that didn’t give me some angst. Now I know their season still has eight games to go, but at 3-5 and in last place in the NFC North, and behind several other wildcard hopefuls in the NFC, this season is toast. Through eight games the offense has never gotten into a rhythm, and whether it was Mitchell Trubisky or Chase Daniel at quarterback, the ‘version 202’ of Matt Nagy’s playbook has been a failure.

The blame game from the media and fans in trying to pinpoint where all the problems arise from has been exhausting, and unfortunately, it’s an all too common thing in Chicago. If you’re anti-Nagy, you’re assumed to be pro-Trubisky. If you’re pro-Mitch, you’re blaming everything on the play caller. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle of the argument. Trubisky has regressed. He’s simply not the same player from a year ago. Has Nagy put too much on his plate? Has Trubisky put too much pressure on himself? Are the two of them unsure how to deal with the expectations that come with a 12-4 record? The questions have been endless surrounding the Bears’ offense, and unless something changes from them this team will continue their downward spiral.

But what has to change? From the play caller’s standpoint, he has to get Trubisky outside the pocket, but that’s easier said than done. Defenses are cognizant of him running and are frequently keeping a spy on him. They’re also rushing to keep him in the pocket and forcing him to beat them as a passer, something he hasn’t been able to do this year. The best way to get Trubisky on the move would be to commit to the running game which would open up more play action roll outs. This commitment to the run nearly lead them to a win against the Chargers, but ineptness in the red zone did them in that afternoon. Failure to score is a byproduct of struggling on offense, so if they find some offensive consistency I feel the scoring should follow. The Bears need to sprint him out on designed passes to cut the field in half and force him to move and react instead of sitting in the pocket and thinking.

The pass defense of the Detroit Lions is exactly what Nagy and Trubisky need at this time to try and get out of their funk. The Lions allow 288 passing yards per game, which is 30th in the NFL, and they’ve only picked up 14 sacks his year, which is tied for 27th. Chicago’s pass protection has been up and down all year and they should be able to play things honest this week against Detroit’s front seven. But more importantly for the Bears is Detroit is equally as bad in stopping the run. The Lions have the 27th ranked rush defense by allowing 135 yards each game at 4.7 yards per carry. The Bears should give them a heavy dose of rookie running back David Montgomery which should keep them in manageable third downs.

Trubisky has had some recent success against Detroit by throwing for 3 touchdowns and 355 yards one year ago, so maybe some familiarity is what he needs for things to click. The Bears swept Detroit in 2018 with Chase Daniel throwing for 230 yards and 5 TDs in their Thanksgiving Day win, so Nagy might have a comfort zone facing this defense too.

Detroit’s running game has struggled since Kerryon Johnson went down with an injury, but their passing attack led by QB Matt Stafford has been good all year long. If the Bears’ offense only manages to hold the ball for twenty minutes like they did a week ago in Philadelphia, this one could get ugly. But if Nagy can find a rhythm as a play caller and Trubisky figures out how to relax, the Bears could get back into the win column.

 

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By Lester A. Wilftong Jr

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