It was a stunning afternoon at Ford Field in Detroit, as the Chicago Bears stormed back from a 17-point deficit and beat the Lions 27-23 on Sunday afternoon.
The game was looking rough for the Bears for quite some time, but with three touchdown passes from Mitchell Trubisky in the fourth quarter and some strong defensive play in the closing minutes, Chicago was able to get their season off to a winning start.
Here are some of our positives and negatives from the season-opening triumph:
Mitchell Trubisky’s Fourth Quarter Heroics
We’ll get to Trubisky’s early struggles later, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Trubisky during his time with the Bears, it’s that he tends to play his best when quick and decisive action is needed, rather than when strategic game-planning is required.
That was on full display in this game, as he had a fourth quarter to remember for Chicago. His touchdown passes will get plenty of attention, including the go-ahead score to Anthony Miller late in the game, but his work in guiding the Bears down the field on their previous possessions is also worthy of praise, as he was crisp with his passes and made sure to execute them with good timing and poise.
If we saw more of that Trubisky, there would be significantly less criticism of him as a player.
Jaylon Johnson Finds Success
The Bears came into this season needing their cornerbacks to step up in a big way, and they got that in spades on Sunday, with Johnson finding immediate success in his first professional game.
The cornerback played a huge role in the Bears’ interception of Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter, as both he and safety Eddie Jackson jumped the route and tipped the ball up to Kyle Fuller for the critical pick. He also knocked down the final pass of the game, keeping the Lions from scoring a heartbreaking touchdown in the closing seconds of regulation.
There is still plenty Johnson will need to learn in his NFL career, but he had a solid and mostly steady debut for the Bears on Sunday.
The Bears’ Run Game
A person can be forgiven for becoming tired of the complaining by fans and media alike about the Bears’ inability, or unwillingness, to run the football last season, but there were definite signs of life in that department on Sunday, as the team averaged 5.3 yards per carry en route to racking up 149 yards on the ground.
David Montgomery showed no ill effects from his groin injury, gaining 64 yards, but the big story was the effective usage of Tarik Cohen out of the backfield, as he ended up with 41 yards and showed that he could potentially be a threat to run or catch the football this season, rather than serving as a one-trick pony that is easy to gameplan against.
The big question for the Bears will be whether or not they’ll continue to use Cohen in that role as the season wears on. With fresh legs and not much hitting in training camp, Cohen is undoubtedly plenty healthy right now, but as more games are played and he’s hit more, he’ll have to show some serious resilience to continue acting as a dual-threat out of the backfield.
Mitchell Trubisky’s First Three Quarters
As we alluded to earlier, Trubisky had some huge struggles in this game, especially in the first half, when it came to finding open receivers and converting in key situations.
Yes, there were some drops sprinkled in for good measure, but Trubisky’s throws were wide of the mark quite often in the first 30 minutes of action, and his footwork, something that he’s been working on throughout the offseason, looked tentative and sporadic rather than calm and fluid in the early stages of the game.
Whether that’s going to continue to be an issue remains to be seen, but Bears fans have plenty of experience watching Trubisky struggle early in games, and he has a lot of work to do to prove the naysayers wrong when Chicago next takes the field.
Non-Existent Pass Rush
The stat sheet will tell you that the Bears had five quarterback hits in the game, but the reality is that the team struggled to put pressure on Stafford throughout the game. Linebacker Khalil Mack registered two solo tackles and two assisted tackles in the game, but didn’t get any hits on Stafford against one of the league’s worst offensive lines.
It did not help matters that the Bears were without Robert Quinn in the game, but the fact remains that with players like Mack, Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols, the team has to do a better job of pressuring quarterbacks in order to help a secondary that, despite their performance Sunday, still remains a question mark heading forward into the remaining 15 games of the regular season.