The Bears’ 41-17 walkover against the Jaguars on Sunday had plenty of highlights — but also mistakes they can’t repeat against the Packers in the regular-season finale as they try to make the playoffs.
Let’s analyze what went right and wrong, with an eye toward Sunday’s win-and-they’re-in game:
He did what?
On first down at the Jaguars’ 13-yard line with 35 seconds left in the first half, quarterback Mitch Trubisky took a shotgun snap with running back David Montgomery to his left and wide receiver Darnell Mooney to his right. Two receivers were lined up right, with tight end Cole Kmet split left.
Kmet ran a crossing route right, Montgomery a wheel up the left sideline.
Trubisky rolled left, almost to the numbers, then doubled back right. He almost made it to the other set of numbers seven yards further back when he heaved the ball toward the back right corner of the end zone.
All of Trubisky’s receivers had run to the right when he scrambled right. None was open. When linebacker Joe Schobert intercepted the ball, four of the six people closest to the ball, and six of the nearest nine, were Jaguars.
It was a baffling decision.
“The longer the play gets strung out like it did there, a lot of bad things can happen,” quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo said Monday. “It’s one of those things, obviously, that can’t happen, especially in that point in the game — in the red zone, tied up 10-10.”
Trubisky led the Bears to points on the next five drives: a field goal after Roquan Smith’s interception, followed by four touchdowns in the second half. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won’t give the Bears the gift of momentum with a pick the way the Jaguars’ Mike Glennon did before halftime.
The Bears had first-and-goal 18 inches from the end zone in the second quarter and had to kick a field goal. Why? Four words: tight end fly sweep.
On first down, they played three tight ends and an extra blocker — backup tackle Rashaad Coward. Kmet, lined up as a wingback on the left side of the line, went in motion, took the handoff from Trubisky and was tackled for a loss of three by former Bears linebacker Aaron Lynch, who slipped between right tackle Germain Ifedi and tight end Jimmy Graham.
Once again, the Bears were too cute by half in the red zone. The Jaguars rank 26th in red-zone defense. The Packers rank 17th. When the Bears get inside the 20 — or even the 2 — they need to find a way to score.
After a two-yard run and an incompletion to Allen Robinson, they settled for the field goal.
They actually had lined up to run the fly sweep one play earlier, but Trubisky coaxed an offside penalty. Tight ends coach Clancy Barone said he eyed the Jaguars sideline, saw that coaches didn’t seem to be calling in a new play and figured the Bears would get the same defensive look. They didn’t.
“I said, ‘Shoot, go ahead and call it again then,’ ” Barone said. “And then they did adjust, whether it was by design or not. And then, yeah, we all saw the results. So I will take the hit on that one.”
Barone said the Bears called the same play two weeks ago from a different formation. From the Texans’ 1, they were flagged for 5 yards for an “abrupt shift” and then ran a different play.
One play before the failed fly sweep, Trubisky put his hands under center and barked, “Blue 80, set, HUT!” Jaguars defensive tackle Daniel Ross jumped across the line.
Teams typically don’t use hard counts so close to the goal line; they fear a false start and figure the reward — in the Bears’ case, an 18-inch gain — isn’t worth the risk.
But Trubisky, although he’s no Rodgers, is turning into one of the league’s great hard count specialists. He drew two neutral zone infractions Sunday, bringing his total to seven in the last four games. In the four games before that — including three starts by Nick Foles — the Bears drew none.
The Bears’ quick tempo forces the opposing defense to set itself quickly and then, maybe, jump. And Trubisky has a knack for selling it.
“There’s some guys that don’t have that projection of their voice, and how it inflects, and different volumes to it,” Nagy said last week. “But then it’s also when you do it and why you do it.”
The Bears’ field-goal operations have been close to perfect this year. Against the Packers, the rest of their special teams have to be mistake-free.
There was a near-disaster with about five minutes left in the first half Sunday when the Jaguars faked a punt on fourth-and-two from their own 35 with the score tied. Upback Andrew Wingard ran right for nine yards and a first down — or so it appeared.
A penalty saved the Bears. The Jaguars had four blockers to the right of the long snapper to block four Bears. Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson shot the gap between the right guard and tackle and was grabbed by Dakota Allen, who was called for a hold, forcing the Jaguars to punt for real.