The Chicago Bears notched their first win of the 2018 season Monday night with a 24-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. While coming away with a win is always nice, it was far from a perfect game. There were some bright spots; however, there were also some signs of concern that will need to be corrected in the coming weeks.
They won’t all be pretty but a win is a win. But let’s take a look at how they got there by examining the good, the bad, and the ugly from Monday’s game.
The strength of this team is clearly the defense. After a solid first game against the Packers, the Bears proved it was no fluke in Week 2.
It all started in the run game where the front seven of the Bears held the Seahawks to just three yards per carry on 19 attempts. Akiem Hicks and newly extended nose tackle Eddie Goldman anchored the interior and held the Seahawks to just 2.7 yards per carry on inside runs.
The stellar run defense forced Seattle into multiple third and long situations. They faced 15 third downs in this game with an average distance to go of 7.8. That puts a lot of pressure on a passing offense, specifically one with a sub-par offensive line like the Seahawks.
And the Bears took advantage totaling six sacks and 24 total pressures, including one sack and six pressures from newly acquired superstar Khalil Mack. They also forced three fumbles and, of course, Prince Amukamara had the pick-6, which essentially sealed the win.
Through two games it appears the defense is legit. Maybe even good enough to take them to the playoffs despite their offensive deficiencies. According to Pro Football Focus, they have the highest graded defensive unit with a score of 85.8, which is bolstered by their top-rated run defense (87.8).
Next week against the struggling Arizona Cardinals those numbers should only improve.
Part of the defense’s success was due to a change to their starting lineup and rotation. After the Bears collapse against the Green bay Packers in Week 1, fans, myself included, were calling for starting inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski to be benched in favor of first-round pick Roquan Smith. And deservedly so given Kwiatkowski’s lackluster performance:
When targeted Nick Kwiatkowski gave up 56 yards (32! After the catch) on 5 of 6 passes. The one incompletion? Khalil Mack’s interception. Roquan Smith needs to start next week
— Stephen Letizia (@StephenLetizia) September 10, 2018
The Bears coaching staff seemed to have agreed with fans as Smith started his first career game Monday night against the Seahawks.
He was on the field almost the entire game playing 59 of a possible 66 snaps. In those snaps, Smith was credited with nine solo tackles including three “stops” which are tackles that constitute a “loss” for the offense according to PFF. For his first time getting substantial playing time in the NFL those are both solid numbers.
His speed and athleticism were evident, and, despite his size, showed the physicality he displayed in college could translate to the pro level. Considering this was his biggest knock on him coming out of college, it’s an encouraging sight to see.
He showed some bad as well, including two missed tackles, but he was usually in the right place at the right time. Overall he put together a solid game from which he can build confidence. The arrow is pointing up for the first-round pick.
I want to start out by saying that I believe Mitch Trubisky has all the tools to be a successful quarterback in this league. With more experience, he should only get better as the season progresses.
But there is no denying he simply is not there yet. He showed some good things in this game which kept him out of the “Ugly” category but the bad has so far outweighed the good.
He threw the ball 34 times on Monday night completing 25 of them for a very good completion percentage of 73.5. But when we dive a little deeper the numbers get less impressive.
Of his 34 pass attempts 26 of them were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage
On passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air he was 2 of 8 for 27 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, good for a passer rating of 41.15. Now, one of the interceptions was not his fault as it was tipped at the line. But the other he did not set his feet and underthrew Allen Robinson down the sideline for an easy interception. The disconnect between his lower body and upper body continues to be his biggest issue as a passer.
However, the biggest issue I had with him in this game was not a mechanical issue or a physical deficiency but a mental lapse which is inexcusable even with his limited experience. It came on a play that will go down as a simple incompletion in the box score, but it could have been much worse.
The Bears were driving at the end of the first half and were on the Seahawks’ 7-yard line facing a third-and-6. Trubisky panicked from a clean pocket, which actually put him more in harm’s way, and threw into double coverage that should have resulted in an interception. Had that been the case the Bears would have gone into halftime with a 7-3 lead, possibly changing the outlook and switching the momentum to Seattle.
Luckily, this is fixable but for now, the Bears are going to have to win in spite of their quarterback rather than because of him.
After a strong showing on the ground in Week 1, the Bears really struggled to get anything going this week, which only made things more difficult for Trubisky.
The Bears only managed 3.8 yards per carry on the day, but If you take away Trubisky’s three scrambles for 28 yards that number drops to just 2.4. Their biggest issues came on outside runs where they averaged an abysmal 1.8 yards per carry. Their longest non-scramble or jet sweep run of the game went for only seven yards.
If the Bears have any hope of making the playoffs this season, the offense needs to be better and that starts with the run game. The defense can only take them so far. Given their success on the ground against the Packers, it’s possible this game will be an outlier on the season.
Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are too talented for this to be the norm. In this game, the offensive line did not hold up their end of the bargain. While all five starters received passable grades from PFF in pass blocking (With Kyle Long, Bobby Massie and Cody Whitehair earning above average grades), all five earned below average grades in the run game.
While PFF grades are not gospel, they echo what I saw from watching the game. The offensive line was simply not getting the push they needed for the running backs to succeed.
There was a lot of good, some bad and some ugly, but the Bears came away with the W. And that is all that matters.
The important thing is that all the negative aspects of this game are easily correctable. It’s a brand new offensive scheme for everyone, not just Trubisky, so there will be some growing pains along the way. With each passing week, the list of good should grow while the bad and ugly fade away.
One thing’s for sure, the Bears are a team on the rise and with some small tweaks here and there they should be competing for a playoff spot.