LANDOVER, Md. — It looks pretty on paper for the Bears, but the performance that beat the Redskins 31-15 on Monday won’t be enough against the tougher opponents that await them.
That part of the schedule is soon, by the way, and this effort won’t beat the Vikings on Sunday.
The Bears were sloppy and needed huge defensive plays to help their on-again, off-again offense. Despite that, they managed a 25-point lead by halftime and mostly coasted the rest of the night.
Coasted too much, perhaps. The game wasn’t done until Danny Trevathan came through with a marvelous stop on fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter when the Redskins were threatening to make it a one-score game.
The takeaway is that you can get away with a lot against the Redskins, who are taking the express elevator to the bottom of the NFC East. The Bears buried them like they should’ve. Mission accomplished.
And Mitch Trubisky was better after stumbling through the first two games. He finished 25-for-31 for 231 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
But he and the Bears have been here before.
It was just about this time last year that Trubisky lit up the Buccaneers for six touchdown passes and 354 yards against a team that finished 5-11 and had a below-average pass defense.
It was a confidence boost, and maybe playing well and winning comfortably against the lowly Redskins will be one, too. If this sparks a higher level of play, that’s what the Bears need — not a duplicate of this.
The defense was overpowering, but that’s never in question with this team. The Super Bowl aspirations hinge on whether the offense can match that.
“We had some missed opportunities in the second half, which are very easily correctable,” receiver Allen Robinson said. “We definitely want more. We want to be the best offense in the league.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy went to a more conservative approach at the beginning of the game, and Trubisky eventually got rolling after the opening drive capsized with two incomplete passes and a 14-yard sack that dragged them out of field-goal range.
The offensive line seemed to revert a bit, and one possible explanation was the absence of right tackle Bobby Massie due to vertigo. The Bears started journeyman Cornelius Lucas III in his place.
Whether it was Lucas’ fault, right guard Kyle Long’s or someone else’s, Redskins defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis plowed through the right side of the line and came very close to dropping Trubisky for a safety.
The offensive line had multiple issues that contributed to the Bears racking up 50 yards in penalties in the first half. Center James Daniels and left guard Cody Whitehair each committed holding, and the Redskins declined a hands-to-the-face flag on Long.
They rose at the end and powered the Bears to 47 yards on seven carries in a must-run situation as they drained 5:12 off the clock late in the fourth quarter.
“That’s awesome by us,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “That’s a plus. We want to keep Mitch clean the whole time, and we’ve still got some things to work on there. It’s always a work in progress, man.”
All of it, really, was fine against the Redskins. It’s fine to have an occasional game like this, regardless of the opponent, as long as everything is generally clicking.
But that’s not been the case for the Bears. The first two weeks were worrisome, and they nearly fell to 0-2 in Denver. The most alarming part is that this is the most favorable part of their schedule. It gets dramatically more difficult starting with the Vikings’ arrival.
The Chiefs loom in December, and the true goal for the Bears is to be at their level by then. They have to be. And it’s nice to rock the Redskins on the road, but this wasn’t proof that they’re climbing toward that peak.