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Halas Intrigue Bears Report: Previewing Week 9 vs. Eagles

A much-needed victory would get the Bears back to .500 and stem the discussion of a season spiraling out of control.

Mitchell Trubisky throws a pass against the Eagles in the 2018 playoffs.
Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo

The good: The Bears have had just one player, linebacker Isaiah Irving, on their injury report ahead of Sunday’s game against the Eagles. (Airing at noon on FOX.)

The bad: After puffing their chests over the franchise’s storied history, they’ve utterly stumbled in the present.

The ugly: The Bears’ schedule doesn’t get much easier from here with road games against the Rams, Packers and Vikings, plus home matchups against the Cowboys and Chiefs, coming up.

Let’s get to it ...

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Offense: Code Red Zone

Not that the Bears’ offense looks particularly good on the other 80 yards of the field, but their issues in the red zone were laid bare in the loss to the Chargers. On one sequence, the team ran six plays inside the 5-yard line without being able to punch it in. On another, Kyle Fuller returned a pick inside to the Chargers’ 4, yet the offense settled for a field goal after generating zero yards on three plays.

The Bears are 21st in converting red zone chances to touchdowns this year, per Football Outsiders. If a high-powered offense is out of the question, they at least need to take advantage of the chances afforded to them.

Did you know?

  • With 46 catches through seven games, WR Allen Robinson is on pace to become the first Bears player with 100 catches in a season since RB Matt Forte five years ago. Robinson set a career-high with 80 catches for the Jaguars in 2015.
  • QB Mitch Trubisky’s average completed pass travels just 4.3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, per NFL Next Gen Stats. That’s 36th out of 38 qualified quarterbacks, ahead of the Dolphins’ Josh Rosen and Luke Falk, who already got released by the Jets.
  • In the red zone, Trubisky has completed just 41% of his passes for 34 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. RB David Montgomery has ran 15 times for 18 yards and three touchdowns.

Defense: Looking More Like It Should

With linebacker Roquan Smith regaining his form, the Bears’ defense looked more like itself, and that’s probably not a coincidence, writes Mark Potash. Asked about his physical and mental state, Smith said, “I definitely feel like I am where I want to be.” And All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson has been looking forward to the rematch against the Eagles. When asked about it, he said: “They took the playoff game from us and I wasn’t able to play. But it’s time to finally see them again.”

Did you know?

  • Khalil Mack leads the Bears with 19 QB hurries this season. The rest of the defense has recorded just 26 combined.
  • DL Bilal Nichols continues to play with a broken right hand, reports Jason Lieser.
  • In two games against the John Fox-era Bears, QB Carson Wentz threw for a combined 417 yards with four touchdowns and zero turnovers in a pair of Eagles victories. QB Nick Foles, now in Jacksonville, started for Philadelphia in the postseason last January.

Special Teams: Communication with Pineiro is ‘spot on’

The Bears did little this week to shed light upon what happened with Eddy Pineiro and his hashmark preference before the game-ending kick against L.A. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said communication between Pineiro, Tabor and Matt Nagy was “spot on” and “there’s no story.” Read more on the situation from Jason Lieser.

Did you know?

  • Among players with 10-plus punt returns this season, nobody averages more yards per return (11.9) than RB Tarik Cohen. Only two players – the Saints’ Deonte Harris and the Chargers’ Desmond King – have returned punts for touchdowns in 2019.

What They’re Saying

  • After Eagles coach Doug Pederson told reporters RB Miles Sanders was “day-to-day” with a shoulder injury Monday, the rookie running back returned to practice Thursday. He put up 118 total yards and a touchdown off just six touches against Buffalo last weekend.
  • The Eagles acquired pass rusher Genard Avery from the Browns before the trade deadline. Here’s how Avery described himself after the deal: “A monster on the field. A wrecking ball. I’m going to go out and play my heart out. I’m a guy that loves the game.”

From Our Notebooks

What’s Next?

After facing the Eagles this weekend, the Bears return home for an important divisional matchup against the Lions on Nov. 10 before a tough road matchup against the Rams the following week.

On the Podcast

In the latest edition of Halas Intrigue, the hosts discuss Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor’s refusal to offer details on Hashmark-Gate and the Bears having Mitch Trubisky watch the game broadcast on mute.

Listen here.

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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