Chicago Teams

Hub Arkush: Bears seemingly win in spite of themselves

CHICAGO – It was great to see the Bears snap their four-game losing streak with their 20-13 defeat of the Lions on Sunday, and even more a real relief to see Mitch Trubisky get on track a bit with three touchdown passes.

Defensively the Bears were OK, but the Lions at far less than full strength clearly had something to do with that.

It’s fair to give the “D” a pass on the Lions’ opening drive behind Jeff Driskel, in for the injured Matt Stafford, as Driskel led the Lions on a 13-play, 72-yard drive that took 6:18 off the clock before settling for a Matt Prater field goal.

The Bears clearly spent all week preparing for Stafford, who is having one of his best seasons and is playing at a Pro Bowl level, and it’s not at all unusual for a team to let down just a bit when it finds out an hour and a half before kickoff the guys you’re playing will be without their only realistic chance to beat you.

After that, the defense did a lot of what you’d expect, but it was unable to generate consistent pressure on Driskel, and there were more missed tackles Sunday than all last season.

Unfortunately, Danny Trevathan went out early with a serious elbow injury that looked similar to the one Akiem Hicks suffered in London, but Nick Kwiatkoski came on in relief and was the best player on the field from either team the rest of the way.

At the end of the day, you can argue a win is a win, but it’s not as if the Bears actually figured anything out.

That the Lions got the ball back at midfield with 3:31 to play is pretty disturbing. That the Bears managed only 226 yards of total offense against the Lions’ 30th-ranked defense is beyond alarming. And that the game came down to the final play was inexcusable.

The offense was again nonexistent for the first 20 minutes, play selection at times was more confusing than a mystery novel, and at the final gun the Lions simply had more bullet holes in their feet than
the Bears.

A significant game note is that starting tight end Adam Shaheen was a healthy scratch, and when Ben Braunecker caught his first NFL touchdown pass for the Bears’ first score, there was reason to think things might be heading in the right direction.

The Bears’ other big move of the day, however, made little sense and smacks more of desperation than creativity or wisdom.

The problems with the Bears’ offense this season have had little if anything to do with the play of James Daniels at center and Cody Whitehair at guard, each player’s natural position.

Nonetheless, Bears coach Matt Nagy and company elected to switch the two players’ spots, something that has never come naturally to either.

Yes, the offensive line has struggled with communication, and Daniels was learning to make all the line calls on the fly, but that could also have been fixed by simply letting Whitehair – who’s made the calls the past three seasons – do it from his guard spot.

With the lineup change, the Bears still managed only 81 yards rushing on 24 attempts, mostly after they opened up a two-score lead, and Trubisky was sacked five times and pressured a half-dozen more by a defense that came in with only 14 sacks in its first eight games, tied for 27th in the league.

I am smart enough to know that I’m not qualified to call plays in the NFL. There are maybe 20 or 25 guys in the world actually good enough for that, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that lining up in the I formation and running the ball out of that look 20 to 25 times a game and getting Trubisky on the move, rolling out and making the bulk of his throws that way where he clearly is the most effective is the best way to improve your offense and your offensive-line play.

Why the folks running this team refuse to do it is clearly the question of the hour.

If they ever do, then there might be something to celebrate.

• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at harkush@profootballweekly.com, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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