Bears grades: Quarterbacks, secondary, coaching earn low marks in loss to Packers



Mitch Trubisky completed eight of his first nine passes for 99 yards on the Bears’ first two drives, and had a rushing score in that outstanding first quarter stretch. But after those two drives — which resulted in 10 points — Trubisky’s line wasn’t good: 15 completions on 26 attempts (58 percent) for 72 yards, good for an average of 2.8 yards per attempt. And that one incompletion he threw on the first two drives was a missed throw to an open Allen Robinson in the end zone. 

Both coach Matt Nagy and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone were pleased with how Trubisky commanded the huddle and handled the pressure of Sunday night at Lambeau Field, but neither the numbers nor the tape bear out much positives beyond the first quarter (an 11-yard third pass to Anthony Miller on third down late in the fourth quarter was among the few highlights). 

Ideally, Trubisky’s conservative, no-turnovers play would’ve been enough to get the Bears a win behind a strong defensive effort, but the offense’s stagnation didn’t give the defense much time to rest and allowed the momentum at Lambeau Field to firmly shift behind Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Nagy was self-critical when discussing his playcalling on Monday, and that contributed to Trubisky’s meager stat line in the final 45 minutes, but his play did, too. 

Trubisky and the Bears need to figure out how to translate his solid play on first two drives — which featured plenty of scripted, unscouted plays — into the rest of a game. His performance wasn’t up to standard on Sunday, but he and the Bears will treat it as a learning opportunity buoyed by the good things he did early in the game. 


Jordan Howard had 82 yards on 15 carries (5.5 yards per attempt) and showed his usual good patience, instincts and power with the ball in his hands. Specifically, his 11-yard run on a second-and-13 late in the fourth quarter set up a makable third-and-two from the Packers’ 14-yard line (with more on that later in the “coaching” section) — but that run was magnificent, he patiently waited for a hole to open up to his left before cutting back and picking up a good chunk of yards. 

Howard also caught all five of his targets for 25 yards, while Tarik Cohen carried five times for 25 yards and picked up two first down on RPO plays. Cohen also had three catches for 16 yards. 


Allen Robinson did some good things, like a spectacular 33-yard grab on the Bears’ second drive and should’ve finished that series off with a touchdown had Trubisky not missed a throw in the end zone. Taylor Gabriel had a nice 31-yard reception in the first half, but wound up losing six yards behind the line of scrimmage. Anthony Miller dropped a pass on third-and-two when, as wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said, he tried to make a quickly-closing Packers defender miss before he caught the ball (had Miller caught the pass and made the defender miss, he could’ve got the first down). Kevin White was on the field for 12 snaps, nine of which were passing plays, and wasn’t targeted. This group can be better on its own, but does need more help from its quarterback going forward. 


This isn’t an F based on this group doing some decent things in the run game to aid Howard, but the lack of impact in the passing game was a major disappointment. Trey Burton was targeted six times but only had one catch, the product of A) Some poor technique on his routes and B) How the Packers’ defense played him. Dion Sims dropped a deep throw and didn’t run a good route on that failed third-and-one passing play. Also, in the second quarter, Sims tried to cut upfield instead of running toward the sideline (and first down marker) on a third-and-13 that he might’ve been able to convert had he ran for the sticks. Burton should be better, but this group might be missing Adam Shaheen more than we expected. 


There was both good and bad in this group. Some of the bad: Cody Whitehair getting beat on a third-and-one Howard run in the second quarter the Packers stuffed for no gain, and the Bears’ center sailing a bad snap that resulted in a three-yard loss as soon as the Bears got near the red zone late in the fourth quarter. Some of the good: Paving the way for Howard to average 5 1/2 yards per carry, largely keeping Trubisky upright and, for a standout play, Kyle Long sustaining a block on the edge on a screen pass to Tarik Cohen. This group holds itself to a higher standard, though, than just being “okay” or “fine.” 


Akiem Hicks (one sack, one hurry, one TFL, one forced fumble) and Roy Robertson-Harris (one sack, three hurries, one TFL) terrorized Green Bay’s offensive line in the first half, and Eddie Goldman showed up in a big way in limiting Jamaal Williams to 47 yards on 15 carries. Robertson-Harris’ pressure of DeShone Kizer on a blown-up screen led to Khalil Mack’s pick-six. This group’s impact was limited in the second half (Hicks seemed to be banged up, though he finished the game) in part because of the Packers’ get-it-out-quick gameplan, but there still was an awful lot to like from Jay Rodgers’ unit on Sunday. 


Khalil Mack was a menace in the first half, but felt he could’ve done more in the second half to impact the game even with the Packers scheming to mitigate the Bears’ pass-rush with an up-tempo, quick-throw offense (“you really can’t make excuses,” Mack said after the game). Outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley was satisfied with what Leonard Floyd did against Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, though he only showed up in the stat sheet with one tackle for a loss and didn’t record a pressure. Still, what Mack was able to do gives this group a grade no lower than an A, even with the second half. 


Nick Kwiatkoski played 47 snaps and, while his tackling was strong, his ability to get to those tackles was lacking. Roquan Smith only played eight snaps but recorded a sack on his first play from scrimmage in the NFL, and his speed and instincts showed up as soon as he got on the field. Danny Trevathan made a number of plays in the run game. This group, though, was asked to play plenty of coverage snaps and carries some culpability for allowing the Packers’ second-half surge. Expect it to be better, though, when coaches feel comfortable enough in Smith to start him. 


The Bears probably could’ve sustained a bend-don’t-break approach of keeping everything in front of them as the Packers’ offense adjusted to quick throws and up-tempo play in the second half, but four daggers stand out:

— Rodgers heaving an outstanding 39-yard pass to the back corner of the end zone to Geronimo Allen for the Packers’ first touchdown, with Kyle Fuller beat on the play. “We can just have a tad more lead position,” defensive backs coach Ed Donatell said. “That was a very fine-placed football. And to beat that throw, you gotta be up top.”

— A 51-yard completion to Davante Adams, who beat Prince Amukamara on the play.

— Fuller dropping what would’ve been a game-icing interception on the first play of what wound up being the Packers’ game-winning drive. “That’s a catch we want to make,” Donatell said. “When they’re impacting at the end of the game, we want to make it. We’ll do everything we can to make sure that happens next time.”

— Eddie Jackson diving for the ball instead of staying on Randall Cobb’s top shoulder on a broken play, allowing Cobb to sprint into open field and the end zone for the game-winning 75-yard score. “We just tell our guys when plays break out and there’s loose plays, we want to stay on the top shoulder,” Donatell said. “And that’s what he’ll do next time.”

The Bears only allowed 14 plays of 35 or more yards in the entire 2017 season; 11 of those were passing plays. To have three come not only in one game, but in one half, was an absolute back-breaker for this defense.


Three of the Bears’ five penalties came from this unit, with Josh Bellamy flagged for holding on a punt that wasn’t going to be returned, a delay of game being called while in punt formation and Deon Bush being whistled for an illegal formation on kickoff coverage. But those were the only real blemishes for this group, as Cody Parkey hit all three of his field goals (from 26, 33 and 32 yards) while Pat O’Donnell averaged a shade over 50 yards per punt, including a 63-yard boomer. Cohen chipped in with a 42-yard punt return, too. 


First, what the Bears’ coaching staff did right: The opening offensive drive was full of unscouted looks and misdirection, and Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich’s scripted plays worked nearly perfectly. Coupled with a dominant showing on defense, the Bears completely controlled this game for the first 36 minutes of gameplay. 

But the offense began sputtering before the Packers got on the board, managing only 10 plays for a net of six yards on its final three possessions of the first half. After a 12-play, 45-yard drive opened the second half with a field goal, back-to-back three-and-outs followed. There were two questionable third-and-short play calls in the second half: The first, on which Trubisky rolled to his right and threw back across the field to Sims for no gain; the second, on third-and-two in the red zone when Trubisky threw incomplete to Anthony Miller. Had the Bears converted either, the outcome could’ve been a different story; the one that hurts the most was the red zone miss, which followed Howard’s most impressive run of the game. 

Nagy was critical of himself in his press conference Monday, specifically when it came to getting Howard more carries and a few of his play calls (like back-to-back screens, which he didn’t like). 

Defensively, perhaps Vic Fangio could’ve done some things differently in the second half (like utilize press coverage more), but a lot of the issues were with player execution: Fuller dropping the interception, Rodgers making an incredible throw, Amukamara getting burned, Jackson getting beat. 

Lastly, worth noting: The Bears only committed five penalties for 35 yards against the Packers eight penalties for 72 yards. 

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