Halas Intrigue Bears Report: Previewing Week 8 vs. Chargers

A look at what’s more troubling: Mitch Trubisky’s deteriorating play at quarterback or the defense’s two-week nose dive?

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Danny Trevathan and the Bears’ defense will look to regain their form this week.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo

The good: The Bears will wear their alternate orange jerseys for Sunday’s home game. (Airing at noon on FOX.)

The bad: In the last two games, rookie RB David Montgomery has 13 carries for 31 yards. And a fumble. Oh, and coach Matt Nagy insists the Bears will be running more this week.

The ugly: In their last two games, the Bears’ defense is in the bottom five in yards allowed (411 per game), rushing yards allowed (160 per game) and takeaways (one per game).

Let’s get to it ...

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Offense: A little sympathy for Mitch?

Is it possible to muster sympathy for QB Mitch Trubisky? The incompletions and indecision are his fault. But the circumstances aren’t.

Criticism of Trubisky too often centers around who he’s not instead of who he is. He hasn’t won the NFL MVP like the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes or become the face of the franchise like the Texans’ Deshaun Watson. General manager Ryan Pace took Trubisky over both quarterbacks — and doubled down on his conviction by trading four draft picks to move up one spot and take him.

Trubisky will forever be linked to the two, and might never finish higher than a distant third. Bears fans are reminded of that fact every time Mahomes throws a no-look pass or Watson describes a play in painstaking detail during a press conference. Patrick Finley takes a deeper look.

Did you know?

  • Among 29 NFL quarterbacks to start more than four games this season, Mitch Trubisky averages the lowest passing yards per game (167.8). That’s down from 230.2 yards per game last season, and even lower than his average (182.8) in a dozen games under John Fox as a rookie.
  • The Dolphins and Jets are the only teams averaging fewer yards per play than the Bears. Those two teams have a combined 1-11 record this season.
  • One positive from the Bears’ offense? They have committed turnovers on only 9.2% of their offensive drives, which is the ninth-lowest rate in the league. For all of Trubisky’s problems, he has thrown only two interceptions and avoided fumbles this season. The Chargers, on the other hand, have ended 16.4% of their drives with a turnover, tied for 27th in the league.

Defense: ‘D’ has been earning an F

The unthinkable has happened: The Bears have been one of the NFL’s worst defensive teams the last two weeks. They have allowed 60 points over two games, cutting the offense’s safety net.

The defensive dropoff is jolting because that’s the one thing no one ever worries about with the Bears, Jason Lieser reports.

Did you know?

  • LB Khalil Mack leads the Bears with 4.5 sacks and 53.5 since the start of 2015. He has 17.5 sacks and 7 TFL in 26 career games against AFC West opponents.
  • The Bears rank fifth in the NFL for fewest points allowed per game (17.5), are tied for fifth in TO margin (+4) and tied for fourth in fumble recoveries (6).
  • Chargers QB Philip Rivers has faced the Bears three times and is 1-2, passing for 750 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Special Teams: Eddy Monster living large

Remember all the kicker drama in the offseason, training camp and preseason? Seems like ages ago. That’s a credit to kicker Eddy Pineiro, who is 9-for-10 on field goals this season and a perfect 11-for-11 on extra-point attempts.

Did you know?

  • K Eddy Pineiro’s s 90.0 FG percentage ranks third-best in the NFC behind the Eagles’ Jake Elliott (100.0) and Packers’ Mason Crosby (90.9).
  • KR Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff 102 yards for a TD last week and now has seven career KO’s returned for TD’s, which is third all-time in the Super Bowl era, only behind Josh Cribbs (8) and Leon Washington (8).

What They’re Saying

  • The Chargers listed 13 players on their Thursday injury report, including star receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) in a surprise move. Allen had not been listed on the Wednesday injury report, but he dealt with a knee issue in September.
  • Chargers coach Anthony Lynn on running back Austin Ekeler: “When he’s not the primary back, he has a versatility role where we can do that ... Keenan Allen is a No. 1 guy, no doubt about it. But, you get Austin Ekeler on a linebacker, that becomes a No. 1 target.”

From Our Notebooks

What’s Next?

After their second consecutive game at home, the Bears hit the road next week for a Week 9 matchup against the Eagles, who will be returning to Philadelphia after a tough three-game road stretch. The rematch of last year’s Wild Card game should be a fun one.

On the Podcast

In the latest edition of Halas Intrigue, the hosts ponder what’s going on with a struggling Smith and analyze the mood around Halas Hall after back-to-back losses.

Also, got any questions for the Bears? Email us or tweet at @suntimes_sports and we’ll see if we can get them answered in one of our next newsletters.

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