Bears grades: A closer look at Mitch Trubisky, and another standout game for Khalil Mack



Mitch Trubisky competed two of his six passes that traveled 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage in the air, with his most notable strike a 39-yarder to Allen Robinson that sparked a third-quarter touchdown drive. But not included in that total is a missed throw toward Robinson that could’ve resulted in a touchdown in the second quarter; instead, he threw the ball behind his receiver but was bailed out by a roughing the quarterback flag (that drive still ended in a field goal). Only two other completions traveled 10 or more yards in the air, and those two went for about 10 and 11 yards, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats. Otherwise, the rest of Trubisky’s completions were short throws, and 17 of his 24 total completions traveled five or fewer yards in the air. 

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given where he is in his development right now, and Trubisky does deserve credit for not turning the ball over in the second half and leading the offense on three consecutive scoring drives in the second half to take the lead. But between his fumble, interception (which was partly due to an excellent play by Chandler Jones and partly because he didn’t get enough loft on the short throw), not recognizing a numbers advantage and flipping an innacurate fade to Robinson near the goal line, an ill-advised throw that should’ve been picked off on the third quarter touchdown drive, some early issues with Arizona’s exotic blitzes and those missed deep shots, there was a lot he could’ve done better, too. 

On the Bears’ first drive, they reached Arizona’s 13 before Trubisky took a sack that lost 17 yards. He rolled to his right and, with the benefit of a second look, it appeared he could’ve had Kevin White — who was farther away on the field side, to be fair — for at least a completion, if not a first down on third and six. Instead, Trubisky took the sack, and Cody Parkey missed a field goal that would’ve given the Bears points on their opening drive for the third consecutive game. 


The final stats for Jordan Howard (24 carries, 61 yards) and Tarik Cohen (five carries, 53 yards) don’t look great, though that’s partly because five of Howard’s runs went for negative yardage (-14), the reason for which falls on the offensive line and Howard not making run blitzes (like safety Budda Baker) miss. Cohen had runs of 17 and 21 yards, with his 17-yarder setting up Howard’s one-yard touchdown run. Both running backs fared well in the passing game, with Howard’s preseason pass-catching focus continuing to pay off with two catches on two targets for 20 yards, while Cohen caught all three of his targets for 15 yards. Benny Cunningham got his first action with the offense in 2018 on Sunday, too, and did some good things as a blocker (he helped set up Cohen’s 17-yard run) while catching one well-designed pass for nine yards. 


Kind of a weird grade here, given the general lack of offensive production, but the thought here is the Bears’ receivers got open more times than Trubisky could find them. A better throw from Trubisky would’ve found Gabriel for a 36-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and two plays later a more accurate throw could’ve led to a 21-yard touchdown to Allen Robinson. Anthony Miller did some good things while gritting through an injury, though he did have some issues getting lined up or shifting. Overall: There are signs that the talent is there at wide receiver, and that’s encouraging going forward so long as Trubisky can consistently get the ball to these guys, preferably downfield more frequently. For example: Robinson executed a good double move to get open for a 39-yard reception in the third quarter. 


Trey Burton ran an excellent route on a 25-yard catch that was Trubisky’s second-best throw of the day (the best being a 39-yarder to Robinson). Dion Sims and Ben Braunecker (snaps) were used plenty as blockers both on running and screen plays and did some decent things in those areas. . 


Three penalties were assessed to this group: A false start on Bobby Massie, a false start on Eric Kush and a chop block on Kush. There wasn’t a consistent push up front generated on inside zone runs, though this group generally kept the pocket clean for Trubisky when the Cardinals didn’t send exotic or overload blitzes. 


Akiem Hicks had another strip-sack while Eddie Goldman had a strong game in the interior to help limit Arizona running back David Johnson to just 31 yards on 12 carries (and that was with the Cardinals playing with the lead for most of the game). Hicks also had three hurries, while Roy Robertson-Harris added one. But the play of the game for this unit came on a third-and-2 right after the second half two-minute warning, when rookie Bilal Nichols plowed his way from the interior into the backfield to drop running back Chase Edmonds for a three-yard loss. 


Khalil Mack had another ridiculous game, with two sacks, a forced fumble, three hurries and a tackle for a loss while also leading the Bears with five tackles. Leonard Floyd and Aaron Lynch both had relatively quiet games, but Mack is having the kind of start to a season that can win him defensive player of the year if he keeps it up. 


It looked like both touchdowns Arizona scored could be pinned on Danny Trevathan, possibly. On the first one, Lynch shoved tight end Ricky Seals-Jones into Trevathan, who looked like he was going to carry him over the middle. Instead, Seals-Jones broke for the corner and caught a 35-yard touchdown with nobody around him (that could've been a coverage bust on Prince Amukamara, too). Johnson’s 21-yard touchdown was an excellent route and play design, on which Trevathan didn’t stay with him. Roquan Smith missed a tackle early in the fourth quarter but delivered some solid plays, and this unit’s grade is boosted by its contributors to stopping Johnson and the Cardinals’ running game all afternoon. 


Sherrick McManis was the star of this group with an interception and game-ending sack, but Kyle Fuller and Amukamara both had strong games despite not getting in on the pick party (Amukamara may have been at fault for Arizona's first touchdown, though). Bryce Callahan and Eddie Jackson did, though, and four of the Cardinals’ five second-half possessions ended because of a play made by a defensive back (three interceptions, the game-ending sack). Callahan in particular had an excellent game, and held his own when shifted outside, too. Undrafted rookie Kevin Toliver II did struggle some when he had to come off the bench for a banged-up Amukamara, and was beat on a double move by rookie Christian Kirk for a big-chunk gain in the fourth quarter. 


Parkey missed his first field goal attempt of the year in the first quarter, going wide right from 46 yards. But that was the only major ding to this unit — Parkey hit three other field goals, including the game-winner from 41 yards, while McManis made an outstanding tackle on a 61-yard punt by Pat O’Donnell. Cohen had a solid 21-yard punt return as well, which was one of those he didn’t try to break for a touchdown — he took the yards that were there, and it was successful. 


The Bears were sloppier from a penalty standpoint, committing seven penalties for 45 yards (and, really, it was nine because the Cardinals declined one flag and accepted a 15-yard penalty over a five-yard one that were called on the same play). Credit Vic Fangio with dialing up a blitz against a rookie quarterback on the game-ending play instead of dropping eight or nine back in coverage, though the defense’s showing in the first quarter wasn’t inspiring. Nagy committed to running the ball, though it wasn’t with much success, and his decision to call a timeout and then not go for it on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line in the first half merited some second-guessing. 

Contact Us