After a blowout loss against the Philadelphia Eagles and an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, it was nice for the shoe to be on the other foot this Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green called losing to the Bears in lopsided fashion “definitely embarrassing.” Quarterback Andy Dalton called it a low point in his career and added he had never been beaten like that in high school, college, or the NFL.
The Bengals were already coming off a disheartening loss on Monday Night Football to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a physically demanding game where the team blew a 17-0 lead. To lose at home against what was a 3-win Bears team with its head coach all but fired served as a final blow to an awful week.
- WGN Radio’s Adam Hoge came away from Sunday’s win impressed with Mitch Trubisky, writing that bringing home a win like that is the kind of confidence builder the team’s young players needed – especially at this point in the year after riding into the game with a five-game losing streak.
- So while getting premier position for the 2018 NFL Draft would be ideal, tangible player development is more important than where the Bears will pick in April. Full stop. With that in mind, it’s important to note that JJ Stankevitz’s highest-graded position groups at NBC Sports Chicago featured players who will be expected to contribute to the team’s success in the years to come.
- And it wasn’t just Mitch Trubisky (who played his best game with the Bears) and Jordan Howard (who made team history on Sunday) either. Kyle Fuller posted a 42.4 passer rating in coverage (via Pro Football Focus) and Eddie Jackson created two takeaways. Rookies Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen provided a spark to the offense. Roy Robertson-Harris picked up a sack while playing on 35.2 percent of the team’s defensive snaps – his highest total since Week 2 against Tampa Bay.
- Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic explains how the Bears’ rookies carried the load en route to a road win. And while it’s not a win that changes John Fox’s future as head coach, nor does it make up for the 26-51 record since dumping Lovie Smith, the win should serve as a baseline of what to expect when the Bears are good again. Yes, we said when the Bears are good again. Things will be fine if Trubisky is good. They’ll be even better if Howard continues to be a work-horse back, Cohen develops into a weapon who is a threat as a rusher and receiver, and Shaheen blossom’s into a reliable and virtually unguardable red zone target.
- A fun little factoid from Trubisky’s day from Fishbain, who notes Trubisky’s 78.1 completion percentage is the third best for a Bears signal caller who threw it at least 30 times since 1950 and the highest completion rate (minimum 30 attempts, of course) since Shane Matthews completed 80.6 percent of his passes against the 49ers in 2001.
- Draft picks plucked by GM Ryan Pace (on both sides of the ball) were instrumental to the Bears’ win. That’s what makes this game stand out as opposed to wins against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Carolina. Balance on both sides fueled success, rather than just relying on defense and hoping Trubisky doesn’t make a mistake when he puts the ball in the air. Pace faced a ton of heat in the wake of the team’s Week 13 loss against the 49ers, but the bounce back a week later being led by his draft picks shouldn’t go unnoticed.
- Trubisky didn’t look like a rookie on Sunday, which is a step in the right direction altogether. He looked poised in the pocket, scanned the field from left to right and right to left, as well as vertically looking to throw deep and working down from there. Trubisky threw 11 passes that traveled 10+ yards in the air on Sunday after attempting just two such passes a week earlier. And the resulting pass chart is a thing of beauty:
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) December 10, 2017
- Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly sees the Bears’ win as a new beginning for a franchise that seems to be just three weeks away from turning the page completely and writing a new chapter. Arkush lists contributions from Trubisky, Howard, Cohen, Shaheen, Fuller, and Jackson, as well as the likes of Akiem Hicks, Danny Trevathan, and Kyle Fuller as significant. Those players represent the Bears core right now. Arkush’s complete group features six draft picks (including five by Pace), two free agents signed, an undrafted free agent (Roy Robertson-Harris), and a reclamation project (Christian Jones) left behind from the Phil Emery era.
- As bad as things are for the Bears (remember, they’re still just 4-9 and this team isn’t quite ready to start printing Super Bowl tickets just yet) things can always be worse. Take the Bengals for example, who reportedly explored the idea of turning wide receiver John Ross into a defensive back. Cincinnati, mind you, is only months removed from using the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft to pick Ross at wide receiver. And while Ross played some cornerback at high school and college, his development as a receiver has gone totally off the rails. Alas, the next chapter to this particular tale won’t be written until 2018 as Ross was put on injured reserve last week.
- Mike Nugent’s revenge game wasn’t perfect. He hit both of his field goal attempts, but missed a PAT. Also, someone on FOX’s graphics crew didn’t complete their weekend assignment. Don’t worry, nobody else noticed but us:
— thanos schwarber (@jakeyner) December 10, 2017